If you are vacationing in Athens, you might want to take a few days off from the city to visit the beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf. All it takes is an hour ride on a high speed boat and you get to enjoy the relaxing island life, picturesque surroundings and inviting waters. Closest to Athens is the island of Aegina and it is, consequently, the most visited of all Saronic Gulf islands.
For a more authentic feel of the island, sail directly to the main port of Aegina rather than the resort town of Agia Marina. You will be greeted with a port buzzing with busy energy, from the crowded marina to bustling waterfront restaurants and cafes. If you get hungry from the delectable aroma of grilled sea food, walk a short distance from the harbor until you reach the fish market.
Seafood options here are fresher and much cheaper than the ones you will find right at the waterfront. After taking your fill of the yummy offerings, it is time to go exploring. Start within the town’s vicinity; you can do this on foot but if you are going for romance or comfort then opt for the horse-drawn carriage.
Neo-classical buildings are plentiful around the Aegina Island. Not far from the port is the 19th century Markelos Tower which was once the headquarters of the Greek government. Nearby, you will discover the cathedral of Ayios Demetrios and its famous square bell towers. You will also have the opportunity to visit several enchanting villas that are an attraction in themselves. It is worth stopping by one for a bit of sightseeing.
You can also visit the famed lone ancient Doric column on the island – what remains of the once splendid Temple of Apollo. The ruins may not be all that impressive but the spectacular vistas you will experience from there makes the visit worthwhile. If you are up for a hike, you might want to check out the ruins of Paleohora sprawled out over the hillside. These ruins date back to the 9th century, which may be of interest if you are a history buff but if you are just out to enjoy an excursion, you will also find the place worth exploring.
The 5th century Temple of Aphaia is also a must-visit. It is beautifully situated on a pine-covered hill of Mesagro and you will discover more than just crumbled rocks here. Unlike the Temple of Apollo, Aphaia’s is well-preserved. With most of its columns and the altar still standing, it is not impossible to imagine the magnificence that it once was. You will also get a full visual treat from the stunning views of the Saronic Gulf which can be enjoyed in this area.
After a whole day of sightseeing, you can retire by the beach and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Pass by the seaside village of Perdika for its lovely little beach and delightful restaurants. A scrumptious dinner by the sea is definitely the perfect way to end your day in Aegina.