Has anyone visited the island of Aegina? We are traveling with another couple and plan to spend two nights there at the end of September before going the R/S Tour. We are interested in hearing from others who have visited this island and can recommend a hotel there. Also, we will be flying into the Athens Airport late Friday morning (if there aren't any delays) and hope to take the conventional ferry in the afternoon to Aegina. The schedule for the fall hasn't been published yet.
Once in Early June year I had a 2-day wait for an infrequent ferry and spent it on Aegina ... and really enjoyed it. Later I found a terrific photo-album showing the highlights of a daytrip - and have used it ever since. My observations:
AEGINA in a DAY - http://www.flickr.com/photos/36264706@N03/sets/72157621604646139/detail/
As it shows, plenty to see... interesting port town, a stunning temple, major church, beaches, etc. At the Port you can either rent a car for the day, do a combo of bus plus taxi. If it's good weather, there is now rental of E-bikes... with pedals but motor-assist.. the roads are good, and if you're a cyclist, this is a great option.
FERRY CHOICES --- As photos show, a big part of the enjoyment is the 1-hr ferry trip ... with "conventional" ferry you can sit out on deck, enjoy seascape - huge freighters, cruise ships, 3-mast schooner, sleek motorboats etc. But if you instead book a hydrofoil u r stuck inside, salt-rimed windows, no view. To be sure of open-deck ferry, check any ticket agency near your hotel, & buy a ticket for the right ferry -- currently there's a conventional ferry at 8:30 am, then not until noonish. Also check return timetable. Of course, as long as you can get an open-deck one-way, u could do hydrofoil the other way, if it suits your schedule better. This day-visit trip report on Trip Advisor - https://tinyurl.com/46w3sdn3 -- tells (on item #5) what one couple did on e-bikes & how they liked the open ferry.
GETTING to PIRAEUS -- Green Line Metro from Monastiraki station takes just 30 mins to this port (v efficient, but do be aware of pickpockets if its crowded). Even easier, with 4, to have hotel get a taxi (cost = €22-25? from Central athens). Good to arrive Piraeus at least 30 mins before sailing, to have time to find gate and board -- there's a cafe on board for coffee, pastry.
AMBIENCE - Be aware that this is a favorite quick getaway for Athenians, even in Autumn, so weekends could be busy - M-F it's quietest. . Aegina is mainly greek residents, many of whom commute daily to work in Athens ... so the back-streets of the port town are shops for locals... fun to browse groceries, houseware stores, to see Greek products. At sundowner time, having a drink at a portside cafe, -- it's likely you mainly will hear greek spoken around you.
HOTELS -- Because I didn't rent a car and e-bikes weren't yet offered, I stayed at the edge of the port town in a small pension & used busses.... I swam at Ag. Marina & had lunch there, but found the beach a bit narrow -- in June now I'd stay at Marathonas Beach, just about 5 mi away from port. However, in late september, I think perhaps the only hotels and the most active restaurants may be in the port town, and one would drive or bike to a beach (the port-town beach is n.g.).
Thanks Janet for the links. The island is a place we are looking forward to visiting. You must be a world traveler because you have responded to the many threads throughout the Rick Steves Forum. We appreciate all your knowledge, including to Aegina. We won't be renting a car or riding bikes but mainly walking or taking public transportation or even possibly hiring a guide. Should we stay closer to the port? I assume the center of town is close to the port also.
The town IS the port ... and as I said, probably best to find something there, and "commute" to the beaches; your hotelier will be happy to share info on best beach that time of year, plus best cafes, any places for evening music, etc. Since you have time, it's often a good idea to use booking dot com or similar, to browse hotels for location, good reviews etc... then book direct via email -- IF you can book using credit card, not a bank transfer-deposit (latter is easy/cheap in EU, but $$ and hassle for US/Canada). DIrect booking saves them 5% and they're grateful! A complementary email (we've heard so mch about your island's beauty etc) i've found, assures a warm welcome; in Greece smaller hotels are family-owned & run, and for them, hospitality is personal.
To find the "usual" September ferry schedule, a clever trick is to use this website - http://www.openseas.gr (if it comes up Greek, click the UK flag to get English). Type in Pireaus / Aegina, then roll the calendar BACKWARD to sept 2022.. and u will see the normal sailings. Only AGIO NEKTARIOS is conventional ferry... and last year (and most years) its sailings were 8:20, 12:15 and 16:15 (3:15pm), time for you to have a cafe snack before boarding.
I'm flattered u think me a world traveler; can't be, a retired journalist and everybody knows that signifies modest means! No, it's that I save up & mainly go to Greece... wanted to see it all my life, didn't get there until my 60s, but it was all I'd hoped ... so I've gone back 12 more times. Discover new things each time...
Thank you. We will use all of your helpful advice and links to plan our trip.