Is one day enough for Aegina?
This small island with a territory of 87 sq metres, being just 1 hr and 15 minutes by ferry away from Athens is definitely worth a visit. Although easily accessible it is not crowded at all, so you can enjoy your time there in peace and serenity, especially if compared to the busy streets of Athens. So, coming for one day to Aegina can be enough if you have a car or you come with a tour bus. This would give you a chance to visit all the important sites and not be dependant on the shedule of the local bus.
If you come for several days, I would advise you to take a look at the timetable of the local bus which is on the window of the ticket booth right in the centre of Aegina town – just a three minute walk when getting off the ferry boat. Making a photo of it would help you to easily plan the spots you would not like to miss. The buses depart approximately every 1,5-2 hours.
For example if you take a 10.15 bus it would be in the Monastry of Agia Triada (Holy Trinity) and Agios Nektarios church – one of the most important monastery complexes in Greece – in about 15 minutes. The Monastery and church of Agios Nektarios is dedicated to Agios Nektarios, one of most well-known Greek Orthodox saints. The location is called Palaiochora which has several other outstanding monasteries and churches which you can visit.
Proceeding with the bus, another 10 minutes further you can see the Temple of Achaia – an imposing doric sanctuary dedicated to the mother-goddess Aphaia which is on top of a small hill overlooking the Saronic Gulf. Take your time to admire the majestic ruins of the temple which was built in around 490 B.C. over the ruins of an earlier temple which was destroyed in a fire. According to a legend Aphaia was a virgin or a nymph who was chased through the forests by the Cretan king Minos, from whom she escaped by jumping into the sea. It is also believed that she either threw herself into fishing nets or became invisible to escape. According to one version the fishermen found her and brought her to Aegina. The sanctuary is now at the spot where she disappeared. Aphaia is therefore associated with nets and hidden things as well as fertility. Take a look also to the museum and admire the amazing view of the sea on both sides of the temple.
Descending from the temple and heading towards Agia Marina there is a small road to the right taking you to the Monastery of Agios Minas, just 800 metres from the main road. If you would then like to proceed to Agia Marina, I would suggest you’d take a walk of half an hour – about 1,5 kilometres – and admire the nice view of the bay just as jou are descending towards the port. You have to walk a few hundred metres on the asphalt road and then follow the sign which says Agia Marina Shortcut. The path taking you down is quite an offroad and you should be careful staying on this path – after turning right from the main road there is shortly a sharp turn left which takes you down to this small and picturesque town in just about 15 minutes. The road itself is part of the whole beauty this town has to offer – with all the flowers and nice yards on the way and cosy tavernas and local shops in the town.
So, if you want to indulge into the history and the ruins as well as the religious heritage or a local town vibe, you most probably can’t do all the things on one day as the last bus from Agia Marina to Aegina town is leaving at 15.00. But it is wise to have a taxi number in your phone, I would advise you take the number from the information stalls at Aegina town, so you can always call a taxi. It has fixed prices to all the important sites.
While in Aegina town, you should definitely visit the Temple of Apollo and the museum as it is again an important historical site in beautiful location overlooking the Saonic Gulf. Remains of the Temple of Apollo can be found on the Kolona hill right next to the main harbor of Aegina. The word Kolona is derived from the word Columns which was an important landmark for sailors throughout centuries. It was built ca 6 c BC, was destroyed and rebuilt several times later. This is a large archeological area, with lots of ruined structures. There is an Altar of Apollo Temple, remains of Sanctuary walls, residential quarters etc. On the site there is also an Archeological Museum of Aegina, which holds findings from the sites of Aphaia and Apollo Temples, among them a Sfinx statue.
If you are tired of the temples and ruins and would like a small hike in the nature, I would suggest you should take a walk to the Cape of Plakakia, just 20 minutes from the Temple of Apollo and 25 minutes from the port. The walk under the pine-trees with charming views over the gulf can definitely nurture your spirit and boost your sense of beauty. If the weather is fine, you should take a swim in clear waters of this rocky and picturesque beach.