The island of Aegina is just 40 minutes from Athens and is in the Saronic group of islands. It is so close that many people live and commute between the two and this makes it a year round destination as well. With some significant archeological sites and historical attractions, good weather, great food and nice beaches, a day trip to Aegina from Athens is one of the most enjoyable and affordable ways to spend a day, or even more.
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Where is Aegina?
Aegina is one of the Saronic Islands, which are located in the Saronic Gulf between the Attica and the Argolis peninsulas, with the Aegean Sea to the east.
It is just 17 miles (27 kilometres) from Athens, so Aegina is very easy to visit from the capital.
When to visit Aegina
Like most Greek islands, the best time of year to visit is Spring and summer. Between May and June the weather is sunny and getting quite warm (average 17 to 21°C) and tourist crowds aren’t yet as big as they become in the high season (July to September).
Temperatures in the high season can reach highs of 34°C and it can get busy but Aegina does not get cruise ships or the crazy crowds that can occur in places like Santorini or Mykonos.
Towards the end of the year the temperature drops but it is not too cold either making it a great time for hiking and sight-seeing. December to February see highs of around 15°C and lows of around 9°C.
That said, it’s still much warmer than a lot of Europe in winter and there is also a weather phenomena in the Saronic Islands referred to as Halcyon Days. While cool, these days are clear and very pleasant and are the reason the Saronic Islands are often suggested as the best winter islands destination in Greece.
How to get to Aegina
Being so close to Athens visiting is fairly straightforward. Being in the Sporades Islands and one of the closest islands to Athens means it is open year round and is a popular day trip destination, with regular ferry routes connecting Aegina to Athens.
Ferry to Aegina from Athens
There are four ferry companies that run between Athens’ port, Piraeus, and Aegina, all of which leave from the east side of Piraeus Port at Gate 8. The ferries have a range of different times and prices, comprising 15 daily connections throughout the year.
Those companies are Anes Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Saronic Ferries and Aegean Flying Dolphins. Prices start at around €12 per person although the faster Flying Dolphins, costs €19 per person.
Ferries to Aegina usually start at 7:20 a.m. and run until 8:30 p.m. Journey time takes between 40 and 70 minutes depending on the service you choose.
You can purchase tickets on the day of travel from the ticket offices at the Port, or in advance online. In summer these ferries can fill up so booking in advance will insure you get a seat at the time you want. If you want to take a car onto the ferry to Aegina, then that will cost around €30.
Also there are three ports on Aegina – Aegina town, Aegina Marina, and Souvala, although most of the ferries go to Aegina town.
Aero Highspeed Ferries to Aegina
How to get to Piraeus from central Athens
Catching the ferry is one thing but how do you get to Piraeus port near Athens?
There are several options:
1. The train
If you are staying in the ancient center you can catch a train from Thissio Station ( the next one after Monastraki – a short walk and much less crowded) on the Green Line. When you go back look for the train going to Kifissia, the end of the green line. The trip takes about 15 minutes and the train station in Pireaus is right across from the Port. When you walk out the main door turn left and walk two blocks to Ferry Gate 8.
The quickest bus is the X80 from Syntagma, which takes about 30 minutes.
3. Private Transfer
Book a transfer with our trusted partners and receive door-to-door service. This will take between 15-30 minutes depending on where you are staying.
There are many taxis in Athens and many meet the ferries in Pireaus too. You can usually flag one without a booking but be sure to ask and agree on the price before you get in. If you are ever going to get scammed in Greece ( which is very rare) it will be a Taxi in Pireaus. Many will quote you 40 or 50 euro but it should usually be no more than 20. If you use the app Freenow, you can book online and even the Uber app works this way too ( but only sends you a taxi, there are no private cars).
Further reading: Handy Apps for Greece
Pireaus Train Station
Getting around Aegina
Two-thirds of Aegina is rugged and mountainous, while the north and west consists of fertile plains, beaches and Pistachio orchards. The island is quite green and covered in forests and vegetation in many areas.
Getting around Aegina isn’t too difficult due to the island’s size. Aegina has an area of around 87.41 square kilometres (33.75 square miles), so you’re never too far from anything.
There are a number of transportation types :
One popular way to get around Aegina is by cycling. With scenic routes and coastal roads to pedal along at your leisure, it’s no wonder that getting around by bicycle is such a thing on this island.
If you don’t have a bicycle to bring with you, bicycles are available to rent on Aegina. There are some really beautiful routes to tackle for all levels of fitness. The downside of course is that you’re limited by how far you’re able to cycle before you get tired!
Buses on Aegina
Aegina’s bus network is run by KTEL and is well used by tourists to get around the island. The bus service is regular and connects the dots all over the island, from beaches to tiny villages.
The only downside of the bus is that they’re not always frequent – even during the height of the summer. There are only around five buses a day, so it’s not always the most convenient way to get from A to B.
However, the buses are cheap! A ticket costs around €2 one way, which makes sightseeing pretty affordable. Buses leave from the central bus station at Ethnegersia Square, but you can look at the timetable information at the bus stop to see where else you can pick it up.
Buy your tickets at the bus station or aboard the bus.
There are three main routes:
- Aegina to Perdika (20 minutes)
- Aegina to Vagia (30 minutes)
- Aegina to Agia Marina (35 minutes)
Taxis on Aegina
These are perhaps a more convenient but less affordable way to get around, helping you to get around with relative ease. You’ll find a selection of different taxi companies on Aegina.
Obviously, getting a taxi is a bit more expensive than using the bus, but it can be more cost-effective if there are a few of you travelling around at the same time (i.e. you’re with friends or family). There is a sign at the taxi rank at the Port that listed the most popular routes and rates. You can often ask a driver to take you around for a day and/or collect you from various places over time, which will be cheaper than catching a different one every time.
Car and Scooter rental
Having your own set of wheels means you can travel at your own pace and not have to worry about bus timetables or waiting around for taxi drivers.
Although car hire sounds like an expensive option, it can work out as quite cost-effective when compared to taxis. It’s also an affordable option if you’re in a group and can split the cost of car hire.
The price of renting a car in Aegina ranges from €30 to €50 per day. In high season you should try to book your car hire in advance as there’s only a limited number of cars on the island and high demand from visitors.
You’ll find both local and international car rental companies offering their services across Aegina. Alternatively, you could opt to hire a scooter or motorcycle. This is a cheaper option and very popular, too, costing somewhere around €20 per day.
Further reading : Driving in Greece
Aegina restaurants and food
Being surrounded by the Aegean Sea, food in Aegina is characterised by fish. There is a fresh food market right in Aegina town where the catch(s) of the day are sold each morning. Needless to say the Taverna’s around there are some of the best on the island and Sardine’s are an Aegina specialty.
But it’s not all about seafood. There are plenty of traditional dishes and produce that hail from the island to try out. If you’re a fan of pistachios, for example, then you’ll be pleased to know that these are grown and are a specialty of Aegina.
Horiatiki – Greek Salad, is found everywhere as is padaika – lamb chops and potatoes, Greek style. Moussaka, with minced meat, aubergines and potatoes, can also be found across the island. and Vegetarians will enjoy a range of delicious dishes including various casseroles, and stuffed vegetables.
Some of the best tavernas on the island include Ouzeri o Skotadi, Pantarei and Palaisos in Aegina Town and Remetzo and Saronis Fish Restaurant in Perdika. If you are visiting the Temple of Aphaia try and have lunch at Taverna Argyris in nearby Mesagros.
In Aegina town there are many excellent tavernas around the Port and in the backstreets and many cafes and bars too. Unsurprisingly many items on the menu feature Pistachios and there are several big market stalls selling Pistachio products such as Pesto, Liqueuer, nougat, honey and the nuts themselves.
Many locals love to go to Perdika in the south for long lunches and lively dinners. The small harbour is ringed with many traditional tavernas and has a charming village atmosphere.
To Steki taverna
Aegina Sardines – butterflied and deboned
Aegina town fish market
Perdika Harbour & tavernas
Things to do on Aegina
Even though Aegina is a small island it’s packed with things to keep you entertained during your trip. There’s something for everyone, from exploring ancient ruins to spending lazy days on the beach.
One of the best things to do on Aegina is simply to relax and enjoy kicking back by the sea. You’ll find beaches in the main towns, but if you have transport you’ll be able to explore and find remote beaches more easily.
The best beaches are Agia Marina and Souvala which are well organised and have lots of great tavernas, watersports, sunbeds for hire, and hotels too. Perdika is also a popular choice.
Across from Perdika is the small, uninhabited island of Moni which has some great beaches which you can visit on day tours during summer. There are also tame wild deer on the island and quite a lot of sea life too. You’ll see several boat tours on offer along the main harbor that go to Mani and sometimes further afield.
The island’s history stretches back millennia. Minoan artifacts have been found here that date back to 2000 BC. Many different civilizations have left their mark, from the Romans to the Ottoman Empire.
The remains of ancient Greek temples can be seen to this day. One of these is the Temple of Apollo, close to the port of Aegina.
There is also the Doric Temple of Aphaia, one of the most significant temples in all of Greece! The temple is located within a sanctuary dedicated to the Goddess Aphaia and it was built in 500 BC (on the site of an even older temple). There have been significant bronze, pottery, and pediment sculptures found at the site, many of which can be seen in the small but fascinating museum that adjoins the site.
The Archaeological Site of Palaeochori is located on the hill behind Aegina town and was made into a fortress capital after the invasion by pirates in the 9th century. The citadel and indeed the entire island fell to numerous captors over the years including the Ottoman pirate Barbarossa who took the town in 1537 and destroyed it. Today it is often described as the ‘Mystras of the Gulf’ and is a fascinating area to explore.
The Archaeological Museum of Aegina is located in Aegina Town and was founded in 1829, the first of its kind after the war of Independence! Here you will find many fascinating artifacts from the Temples of Apollo and Aphaia. There is also a very good Folklore Museum.
Churches and monasteries
Churches dot the island, too. Aegina Paleochora, mentioned above, was once thought to be home to over 330 churches and today 30 remain.
The most important Church in Aegina is the Monastery of Agios Nektarios, established by Saint Nektarios in 1904.
There’s also the 17th-century Monastery of Chrysoleontissa, an imposing structure built in a remote locale to protect it from piratical raids, and up in the hills in the center of the island is the imposing Virgin Mary Chrysoleontissa Holy Convent.
Like many islands, there is a decent number of shops selling food, drinks and particulalry selling local produce and pistachios products. There are also numerous small boutiques, souvenir shops, art galleries and even toy stores. It’s definately worth taking a few special items home.
Nature and Agriculture
At the centre of the island at the base of Mount Oros is the beautiful valley of Elaionas. Here there are ancient Olive Groves with trees over 400 years old. In this area, visitors will find an array of wildlife and animals like sheep, goats and rabbits and birds such as partridges and doves.
Temple of Aphaia
Aegina Cathedral of Nectarios
Events on Aegina
Held on 17th July, this religious festival features music, drinking and dancing in the town of Agia Marina.
One of the most important festivals in Greece is the Dormition of the Virgin. Taking place on 15th August, this event is often referred to as the “Easter of the Summer”. There are many different panigiri (island festivals) taking place on Aegina, but the largest is held on 15th August at the Monastery of Chrysoleontissa.
Feast of Agios Nektarios
Arguably the most well-known festival of the island, this festival takes place on 3rd September and 9th November. Crowds of pilgrims make their way to the Monastery of Agios Nektarios, named after the patron saint of the island.
The Pistachio Festival takes place on Aegina every September. The festival celebrates the promotion of local products and particularly the famous pistachio nuts of Aegina. The main events are found in Aegina Town, but you will find other events all over the island including cooking courses, theatre performances, musical concerts, art exhibitions, and ceramic workshops.
International Music Festival
The International Music Festival of Aegina has been taking place every August since 2006. Every year, it hosts classical and jazz performers, choirs and bands with the aim to promote new and emerging artists.