The town of Aegina is located on the island of the same name, in the Saronic Gulf just southwest of Athens. It is a picturesque and lively port town, arranged around the harbor, with fishing boats, ferries, and a marina. Aegina holds a special place in Greek history. Inhabited since the Stone Age, it was the first capital of Modern Greece (from 1827 to 1829). The island is named after a mythological nymph, whose cult far predates the later Greek Olympian gods. On the eastern side of the island, the well-preserved remains of an ancient temple built to honor Aphaia (c. 500 B.C.) still stand on the site of two even earlier temples.
Modern Aegina Town is located on the west side of the island, and contains the main port for the island. Neoclassical buildings dominate the architecture of the town. Narrow streets wind through charming neighborhoods of traditional homes, shops, cafes, restaurants and tavernas. The sea and the low mountains can be seen from most buildings. Crowds of tourists and seasonal residents fill the town in the summer, while fall through spring are more peaceful and the town returns to its normal, slower-paced rhythms. The town has long been known for a rich artistic heritage, and to this day is a haven for several different nationalities of artists, musicians, and authors.
The island offers many opportunities for exploration and enjoyment of nature. An extensive network of hiking trails exists, leading the walker through a variety of landscapes. The trails pass through occupied and abandoned villages, past Byzantine churches and modern chapels, beside ancient walls and cisterns from a bygone era, and often over the stone remains of ancient paths. Surrounding all of this, of course, are the clear waters of the Saronic Gulf, with its hues of blues, greens, and aqua welcoming swimmers and sunbathers. The coast is lined with beaches of all sorts – sandy, pebbled, and dramatically rocky. The mild climate means that water sports, such as kayaking and snorkeling, are available most of the year. The island is also the home of the Hellenic Wildlife Hospital, which accepts and rehabilitates injured wildlife, especially birds.
In addition to Aegina Town, there are many towns and villages on the island. These may be reached by bus, taxi, bicycle, or on foot. Numerous coastal towns may be reached by boat or water taxi, as well. If, despite all Aegina has to offer, a change of pace or scenery is desired, several ferries and hydrofoils run each day to and from Piraeus (port of Athens on the mainland). From there the metro runs into downtown Athens and beyond -- and all the way to the Athens International Airport.