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2-3 nights island recommendation near Athens - Aegina?

I will be traveling to Athens in mid-April to attend a conference and will have a few days post-conference to enjoy on my own. I have never been to Greece and feel that an island stay is a must. I know zero about Greek islands and I'm looking for suggestions as a starting point. A friend recommended visiting Aegina, which it seems is between a 40-75 min ferry ride from Piraeus. This sounds like it could work. A few questions:

  • Is there an area on the island I should stay (or avoid)? I will not have a car.
  • Would it be possible to leave the island in the morning to arrive at the airport in time for a 12:30 flight, or should I plan on heading back to the mainland and finding a place to stay near the airport the night before?
  • Any must-see places on Aegina?
  • Is there a better recommendation that would max out my island time?

Thanks for the suggestions!

Posted by
949 posts

While I have not yet been to Aegina I have done a lot of research on it. It appears to be a very nice island with a lovely main town which would be your best bet for accommodations. There are several other towns/villages that would be good but Aegina Town would be the best in your case. There are archeological remains just a short walk from the town plus one of the best temples in Greece located near the middle of the island that's easily accessible. There is an abandoned village in the hills with numerous churches going back several centuries. There is good hiking and walking routes, an ancient olive grove and Aegina is known as the Pistachio Capitol of Greece.

There are numerous and regular ferrys going back and forth on a daily basis so you should be able to get back to Athens for your flight.

I think Aegina is one of those islands that people overlook because it's so close to the mainland and people think it won't have much to offer, but I believe they would be wrong.

Again, I haven't been to Aegina but it is one island that I would definiately consider going to.

An alternative would be Hydra, which I have been too and is a little further out but still a very lovely, small island with one of Greece's prettiest waterfronts and town. A little more upscale and very popular with day trippers. No beaches to speak off, no archeological sites with eating and drinking being the main forms of entertainment, which I guess isn't really that bad. The best thing about Hydra is that no motorized vehicles are allowed. All transportation is done by donkeys which will give you a feel for the "Old" Greece. But Hydra is far from Old Greece but still worth a short stay.

I think Aegina or Hydra would be your best choices for a Greek Island experience without having to travel too far out in the Aegean.

Posted by
2852 posts

I recommend Aegina, stayed there 2 nights once just on impulse, because couldn't get my ferry to Sifnos. It's got a lot more to it than Hydra -- the latter is promoted by Steves as "no-cars" island but in point of fact, Aegina has VERY little car traffic at all, off season. It has an interesting port town, lots of tavernas & shops. Since it's so convenient to Athens, it's a favorite getaway for Athenians so something is always going on.

It's the closest island; there are 2 types of vessels (1) Hydrofoil 45 minutes, do NOT recommend because all closed in, now view, and (2) regular ferry, 1 hour, thse have sheltered open decks where you can sit out, and enjoy views as u leave piraeus, and all the water traffic -- from freighters, cruise ships, ferries, to small private craft ... on a sunny windy day in April maybe even sailboats. And YES, there are frequent ferries so you could readily catch a 7 AM ferry, arrive 8 AM, get an X93 bus (€5) that would take you straight to the airport in about 70 minutes max.

I'd advise staying in the port town ... but you can take a bus to center of Island, to Temple of Aphaia, the bst-preserved ancient temple on any Greek island (although the sculptures were ripped off in 1830 or so by a couple of BRit Oxford types & sold to a museum, grrrr). From the temple, theres a long road (and a quick downhill shortcut path) to the beach at Ag. Marina & you can lunch there & catch a bus back. Here's a wonderful photo album of a daytrip to Aegina The Official Island website has this section on highlights, v. informative ... A lot of locals there actually commute to the mainland daily for jobs .... and if you have a sunset drink in a harborside cafe, there are lots of these socializing ... and (as you'll discover) almost all Greeks under 40 are fairly fluent in English, I always find sociable types at harborsides. lists Aegina Town accommodations, I suggest looking fairly close to harbor, perhaps Electra Pension, nothing is that noisy in April ... places with pools out on a beach are a longer walk to tavernas, cafes etc.