The island of Aegina is just 16 miles from Athens in the Saronic Gulf. Ferries travel regularly from Piraeus and take about an hour and 15 minutes.
With ancient ruins, idyllic fishing villages and lots of beaches, the island makes a good day-trip from Athens.
Sites of interest include:
The 5th century BCE Doric Temple of Aphaia (Afea), a local goddess of fertility, is a beautiful monument in its own right, but it’s especially interesting because it is built on the site of a Mycenean Mother Goddess sanctuary, which dates to at least the 13th century BCE.
Near the Aegina harbor, the Kolona archaeological site is easily recognized by its lone column, all that stands of a Temple of Apollo, which was destroyed by Christians in the 4th century. The site was continuously inhabited for two thousand years from about 3000BCE and sporadically thereafter. There are remains (mostly rubble) of a theater, a stadium, numerous temples, civic buildings, a synagogue, tombs and a port. If you’re an archaeology nerd, you’ll love exploring this place. If not, it may try your patience. The lovely views should satisfy anyone. The Archaeological Museum helps make sense of this very complex site and documents the history of other parts of the island as well.
Paleachora (which means Old Town) was the site of the island’s capital for a thousand years (9th-19th centuries CE). Remains consist mostly of Byzantine churches, 38 of them, to be precise. Scattered across a steep hillside, the churches are connected by footpaths and range in condition from newly restored to quite decayed. Nearby, the very beautiful, 20th century Agios Nektarios church honors a saint who died in 1920 and is a popular pilgrimage site.
Perdika is a sweet fishing village, with cafes and bars facing the small harbor and Moni Island beyond. It’s a popular place for fish lunch. Across from the harbor is the Camera Obscura, built in 2003 for the Light & Image Exhibition. A 360-degree image of the surrounding landscape is projected, upside down, on the inner walls of the cylindrical building though small holes in the walls.
The coast road is dotted with equally quaint villages.
And now a plug for Animal Protection Aegina Agistri, just because. It’s an animal welfare charity and founding member of the Panhellenic Animal Welfare Federation that shelters dogs and cats, vaccinates, neuters and finds homes for hundreds of animals annually. Check out their FB page!