Aegina is the second largest island in the Saronic Gulf, its name rooted in Greek mythology. The island is said to be named after Aegina, the daughter of the river god Asopus, who was whisked away to the island by Zeus, smitten by her beauty. Back then, the island was known as Oenone, but was later renamed Aegina in her honor.
Aegina is definitely worth a visit! This charming island, rich in history and blessed with natural beauty, offers something for everyone. Aegina is not just about clear, blue waters and sun-drenched beaches. It’s an island that perfectly blends the tranquility of traditional Greek life with vibrant local cuisine, all set within a landscape that boasts ancient temples and scenic trails. From the historical Temple of Aphaia to the bustling local markets offering the famed Aegina pistachios, the island enthralls every sense. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply someone seeking relaxation, Aegina is a destination that promises to create unforgettable memories.
After carefully choosing the best area to stay in Aegina. I found myself perfectly positioned to explore everything this captivating island has to offer. The island is a treasure trove of experiences, and I can’t wait to share my top picks with you.
1. Dive into the Crystal-Clear Waters
Upon arrival, your first priority should be to get your nose sun-kissed and your hair salty from the sea breeze. Take a leap off the rocks at Dexameni in Agia Marina, over and over again until your ears start ringing, just like the carefree days of your childhood. And here’s a pro tip: Don’t forget to try the yogurt with sweet pistachio at the Panorama restaurant (tel. +302297032202), run by Mr. Stavros, just a few meters from Dexameni. Sometimes, they serve it in a galera dish – a local classic that’s super delicious.
2. Savor the Local Cuisine
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, your midday will find you sipping ouzo at the Aiginitissa tavern on the road to Perdika, enjoying the sunset one day, and sampling incredible dishes – with the exceptional barley being a highlight – at the Skotadis ouzeri on the beach of Aegina the next. If you find yourself in the quaint little harbor of Perdika, be sure to try the local Katsoules (a fish found in the Saronic Gulf) at Miltos.
3. Explore Aegina's organized beaches
And because I wouldn’t want you to think I’ve only shown you one spot for swimming – and an unorganized one at that – let’s head over to three more organized beaches so there’s no room for complaints. Enjoy a swim until the sun goes down at Sarpa or Kleidi beaches in Perdika. You’ll find sunbeds, lounge music, clean waters, and the best dakos (Cretan salad) you’ve ever tasted.
4. Sports and Cocktails at Aeginetissa Beach Bar
On the road to Perdika, you’ll also come across the equally organized beach of the Aiginitissa beach bar, which even boasts a special court for matkot (beach paddleball)! If you’re a sports enthusiast, you can take part in their annual tournament. Are you hooked yet?
Cocktail Alert! Try the Pistachio Mojito, an invention of Stelios and Ria, and you’ll be raving about it. It’s a classic Mojito with pistachio spoon sweet.
5. Explore Aegina Town
A stroll down the narrow streets will make you fall even deeper in love with Aegina Town, embedding it forever in your heart. Neoclassical ochre-colored buildings, courtyards that smell of jasmine, and colorful doors framed by red and white bougainvillea create a vibrant mosaic that’s perfect for an afternoon walk. Somewhere there, you’ll also spot our house.
6. Coffee Breaks and Shopping
Pause! If you’re not into shopping, sit for a coffee at Remvi (a friend still mourns the absence of their cold chocolate drink) or at Nisos, located at the island’s port, and let your partner roam the narrow alleys. The highlight? The accessory store named “Fistiki” (it means pistachio, you didn’t see that coming, did you?).
7. Taste the Sweet Treats of Aegina
If you’re not up for coffee, alternatively, and more summer-like, try the ice cream at the traditional pastry shop “Aiakion”.
9. Attend Summer Festivals and Events
If you find yourself in Aegina in July, chances are you’ll also be present at the ‘X Days in Aegina’ festival that takes place on the island. It’s an unforgettable experience that captures the vibrant culture and lively spirit of this charming Greek island.
The diverse events of the Aegina Fistiki Fest kick off in mid-August and run until the end of September. These include concerts, significant art exhibitions (often related to the artists who live and work on the island), rural seminars, and children’s entertainment. This annual festival truly showcases the rich culture and community spirit of Aegina, making it a must-visit for both locals and tourists alike.
10. Explore Aegina by Car or Bike
In Aegina, you’ll need a car to explore the entire island. If you’re a motorcycle rider, it’s worth the effort to bring it along. For your information, the island has surely one Vespa per inhabitant. I can confirm this.
With your motorcycle, you’ll enjoy a ride along the coastal road at sunset, from Aegina Town all the way to Agia Marina. You’ll reach the unique Temple of Aphaia and on your way back, you can visit the Monastery of Saint Nectarios. You can also go a bit further and walk around Palaiochora, the medieval castle town of Aegina.
11. Bonus Trip: The Ancient Olive Grove of Aegina
Consider taking a bonus trip to the ancient olive grove of Aegina. This is the location where the renowned Hermes fashion house held a famous photoshoot, although many people aren’t aware of its existence. It’s a place of rare natural beauty with four hundred-year-old olive trees.
12. Hike to Mount Marathon
To get there, you’ll need to ascend from Marathon, approximately an hour’s walk. You’ll need good shoes and great company. The tranquility of the landscape and its beauty will reward you while, in the distance, you’ll see the peak of the mountain faintly visible. If there are clouds, there’s a good chance a light rain will follow.
13. Pay a Visit to Moni Island
Lastly, be sure to visit Moni, the neighboring islet of Aegina. Access is via a small boat from the picturesque Perdika. In just 15 minutes, you’ll find yourself in a small paradise inhabited by peacocks and deer.
15. Catch a Movie at the Akrogiali Open-Air Cinema
Experience the magic of the Akrogiali open-air cinema, where you can enjoy a film while the scent of the sea wafts in the air. You can’t get a more authentic summer experience than this!
16. Taste Fresh Green Pistachios
Remember to sample the fresh green pistachios. Aegina is renowned for its pistachios, so don’t miss out on this unique treat.
17. Savor Galaktoboureko
Indulge in a serving of Galaktoboureko – a heavenly creamy custard pie – from the Pagoudis Pastry Shop nestled in the heart of the town. It’s a sweet delight that will leave you craving more.
18. Take a Traditional Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
Finally, take a leisurely ride in one of the traditional horse-drawn carriages. This charming mode of transportation offers a delightful way to tour the island and take in the sights.