Aegina – accessible Greek retreat

aeginaAegina is perhaps the most accessible of Greek island idylls.  It’s the playground of holidaymakers from Athens, but has also long been popular with European tourists who are looking for a quintessentially Greek experience.

The island is named after Aegina, one of the 50 daughters of the river god Asopus. It is located only 25 km from Athens, and is part of the Saronic group of islands. European tourists will likely arrive at the airport in Athens: it’s the nearest airport to the harbour and ferry terminal of Piraeus. The bus ride from the airport to the port takes between an hour and an hour and a half. The ferry takes about 75 minutes and takes passengers conveniently to the centre of Aegina town.

First capital of modern Greece

This island has plenty of history and charm. From the 13th century until the start of the 19th, Aegina was ruled by a host of invaders – the Franks, Catalans, Venetians and Turks. It was actually the first capital of modern Greece. It’s a small town but an important one in the history of the country.

aegina boatThe picturesque waterfront buildings house restaurants and bars offering both Greek and international dishes. There are traditional menus offering authentic dishes in rather smart al fresco restaurants. There are kebabs in cafés. There are coffee shops selling sweet, sticky and addictive pastries.

Cocktails and well-presented plates

Nisos Café has a vibrant ambiance, contemporary decor and a Mediterranean menu. It’s a perfect pit-stop from breakfast to lunch; an ideal chilling spot for snacks and drinks on warm afternoons; night time sees a change in vibe and attracts the smart set looking for cocktails and well-presented plates. One could be gastronomically wafted back to all those countries fringing the Med. A sophisticated eatery with the best of locations.

For those looking for the best of Greek food then take a short drive (taxis are numerous) along the coast and visit a family restaurant with a view and a great reputation. Restaurant Remetzo is set on the Saronic Gulf. A meal here is one over which to linger. Its menu will charm anyone looking for some of the best Greek food on the island …and beyond. Remetzo doesn’t put a foot wrong. One could choose any menu item and not risk disappointment. The fish is ocean fresh, the salads are crisp, the seasoning is authentic, and the beer is chilled.

pistachioPerfect with a cup of coffee

Greece is famed for its food, that’s true. Along with fresh produce there is always the temptation of a sweet treat and there is no better place than Eakion to find both traditional and unique pastries – and many of them use pistachio nuts. These pastries are perfect with a cup of coffee while people-watching by the harbour. They make a rather wonderful gift for the folks back home, although It’s likely you won’t be able to keep your hands off them that long!

The Aegina Fistiki Fest is held in September and celebrates the island’s main crop: it’s the aforementioned pistachio nut. The Greek name is ‘Fistikia’. The harvest of the pistachios is marked every year with The Aegina Fistiki Festival. A must-visit for food-lovers, this is a 4-day festival celebrating anything to do with a nut which looks beautiful on its tree during the summer but which reaches delicious ripeness in autumn.