Aegina town, on the island of the same name, is known for its pistachio nuts and natural sponges.
Alongside the harbour front cafes you’ll find an excellent fish market complete with several fish restaurants, and boats on the quay selling fruit and veg. One can’t help but think the fruit should be in the market and the fish on the boats, but that’s how it is!
Much of Aegina town is dedicated to the weekend tourist trade from Athens, with souvenir stalls in abundance and horse and carriages trotting up and down the quayside. The front is lined with restaurants and cafe’s and at night the noise from the bars may disturb light sleepers moored on the quay opposite. Those who prefer a quieter night should take a spot on the other side of the harbour.
However, Aegina isn’t just a tourist town. Step in to the back streets and there are shops selling everything from mobile phones to garden chairs. Head inland and there’s plenty to explore. There’s also good ferry service to Athens should you need to change crew.
If you’re looking for gifts to take home, (or to consume during your trip), skip the usual tourist tat and buy some pistachios, which are still grown locally. (Note to skippers; the shells seem to have a mind of their own so discipline your crew before any consumption on board or you’ll be picking shells out of the bilges, lockers and everywhere else for the rest of the trip).
Natural sponges are also a good buy in Aegina, though they are unlikely to originate from the area, sponge fishing having died out.
There are several beaches around the island, the nearest, Avra, a short walk north of the harbour.
Culture vultures are well catered for too and if you fancy a day off sailing, Aegina is a good place for it.
Towards the centre of the island is the impressive monastery of Agios Nektarios, reachable by taxi or the bus to Agia Marina (which isn’t a marina)!
Adjacent to the monastery are the remains of the medieval village of Paleachora, previously the islands capital. These include 33 churches you can visit, all that’s left of the 365 that were allegedly once there.
Somewhat older is the Temple of Afia (or Aphaia), dating from the 5th century BC. This can also be accessed via the Agia Marina bus though there are only two a day.
The cunning take the first bus (around 11.20 from the bus station next to the harbour) to the Temple, catch the second bus back to Agios Nektarios, from where there is a more frequent service back to town. Alternatively, why not hire mopeds and explore the island at your own pace.
If that isn’t enough, Aegina offers two annual festivals. An International Music Festival runs through August with events on Avra beach, just north of the harbour. For more details see the Music Festival website. There is also an annual Pistachio Festival (I kid you not) in late September.