Aegina is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Greece, as it is the closest island to Athens (only 16.5 sea miles from the port of Piraeus).
According to myth, the island took its name from a nymph, daughter of the river god Asopos, whom Zeus fell in love with and took to the island. Between 1827 and 1829, Aegina town was the temporary capital of the newly founded Greek state. It was during this period that Governor Ioannis Kapodistrias had impressive neo-classical mansions built to house his headquarters.
Even though the island is small, it boasts a great number of sights and natural attractions, the highlight of which is the famous Temple of Aphaea, which forms an equilateral triangle with the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion, the so-called Holy Triangle of antiquity.
Aegina town, the capital of the island, stands out for its well-preserved buildings. On the outskirts, you can find charming little villages with distinctive traditional character, such as Kypseli, Agii and Vagia as well as organised tourist resorts like Agia Marina, Perdika, and Souvala. Aegina is also surrounded by many smaller islands (Moni, Metopi, Diaportia, Lagouses, Kyra, Dorousa, Spalathonisi and Anonyma) that can be reached by boat from the port of Aegina.
In the town of Aegina you can visit the Archaeological Museum; the Historical and Folklore museum; the Christos Kapralos Museum; and Governor Kapodistrias’ Residence. Also visit: the Markellos Tower (built by Spyros Markellos, a 1821 War of Independence hero and later governor of the island, which now houses the Kapodistrias Spiritual Centre); the Kapodistrias Orphanage (the first public building during Kapodistrias’ administration); the Eunardeio (a 1829 building in Doric style); and Aegina Cathedral (the first cathedral of the modern Greek state, which was also the first parliament of the modern Greek state).
Explore ancient monuments and old monasteries
• The Temple of Aphaea Athena
Close to Agia Marina lies the 500 BC Doric Temple of Aphaea Athena, the most important monument on the island. The most impressive part of the temple is its wonderful sculpted pediments, a large part of which are exhibited at the Glyptothek in Munich. Findings from excavations are on display at the Archaeological Museum of Aegina.
• The Sanctuary of Apollo Delfinios, Kolona
Located a short distance from the harbour, the area took its name from a standing column (of Doric type), the only one remaining from a 6th Century BC temple. Mount Kolonas was a religious centre of the ancient town. In front of the archaeological site lies a museum bearing the same name.
• Paleohora, Agia Marina
The site of Paleohora represents Aegina during Byzantine times. This site once had 565 churches, 28 out of which (with exceptional wall paintings) have withstood the ravages of time, just like the ruins of a medieval castle and two incredible monasteries.
• St Nektarios Monastery
Near Paleochora, on the road to Souvala, lies the impressive Monastery of St Nektarios, one of the largest monasteries in the Balkans. It was built in the 20th Century (between 1904 and 1910) on the site of a small Byzantine monastery.
• Perdika, a quiet pebbly beach in the traditional village of Perdika.
• Souvala, distinctive for its warm, therapeutic waters suitable for treating rheumatism.
• Agia Marina, a cosmopolitan organised tourist resort with many hotels, rooms to let, beach bars and restaurants.
• Marathonas, two sandy beaches, one next to another, 4km away from the town.
• Vayía, a small sand and shingle beach, with tavernas. A coastal path leads to more isolated coves.