Category Archive : 1 Day Tours

Athens City Sightseeing Tour with Acropolis and the New Acropolis Museum
Daily 08:45 – 13:00
A comprehensive tour of Athens. Drive through the centre of Athens, past the Academy, the University and the Parliament with the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and see Hadrian’s Arch and the stadium where the first modern Olympics took place in 1896. Continue to the Acropolis for a visit to the ancient hilltop complex that was once the Cradle of Western civilization and today overlooks the sprawling city below. Along our journey into antiquity we’ll explore the Acropolis with its treasures. We’ll admire the Parthenon, dedicated to the goddess Athena, and the Temple of Zeus. We’ll see remarkable displays of an ancient world during the visit to the Acropolis Museum, containing antiquities giving visitors insight into the lives of Athenians centuries ago

Cape Sounion in the Afternoon
Daily 15:00 – 19:15
Drive along the scenic coastal road past the beach resorts to the most southern point of Attica to Cape Sounion where the white marble pillars of the Temple of Poseidon stand. En-route there is an extraordinary view of the Saronic Gulf and the little islands offshore.

Athens By Night
Every Tue., Wed., Thu. & Sat 20:00 – Midnight
An evening drive past the illuminated Acropolis and stop for a drink at a nearby cafe to enjoy the view. Dinner at a typical Athenian taverna with bouzouki music and Greek folk dancing.

Ancient Corinth
April -October on Mon. & Fri 08:15 – 14:00
Drive south to the Corinth Canal that connects Aegean and Ionian Seas. Visit the ancient town of Corinth where St. Paul lived and preached for almost two years. The remains of the city which include the Agora and the Temple of Apollo (6th c. B.C.) clearly show how rich and important Corinth was in ancient times. With the professional tour guide you will explore an ancient city that several empires fought over throughout the centuries. Before returning to Athens stop at the site of the ancient port Kechries where St. Paul disembarked.

One day Tour to Delphi (with / without lunch)
Daily 08:30 – 18:30
Home of the Sanctuary of Apollo, Delphi is the most famous site in Classical Greece. On the slopes of Mount Parnassus, hear thee myths about the oracle and tour the excavations. Walk the Sacred Way to the 4th century Temple of Apollo and view the statues immortalising the strength of the athletes who once competed in the Pythian Games held in honour of Apollo and the Arts. A visit to the museum to admire the bronze Charioteer is included.

Full Day Tour to Argolis (with / without lunch)
Every Mon, Tue., Wed., Thu., Sat.08:00 – 18:30
After a short stop on the bridge crossing the Corinth Canal continue to Mycenae where 19th century excavations described by Homer can be seen. Visit the Beehive Tomb and the Lion’s Gate – Europe’s oldest known monument. On to Epidaurus via the port town of Nauplion to see the 2,000 year old amphitheatre known for its perfect acoustics.

One Day Saronic Island Cruise (with lunch)
Daily 08:00 a.m. – 20:00
Pick up from Athens center and transfer to the port for embarkation. Visit the beautiful islands of the Saronic Gulf; Aegina, Hydra and Poros.

Two Day Tour to Delphi
Daily
Day 1 – Depart Athens driving through the towns of Thebes and Levadia and the quaint village of Arachova, famous for its colourful carpets, to Delphi. Visit the Sanctuary of Apollo situated on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo and the museum containing the ancient Greek bronze sculpture “the Charioteer” and many other masterpieces. Dinner and overnight in Delphi.

Day 2 – Breakfast at the hotel. Morning at leisure in Delphi. Enjoy the scenery, return to the museum. Afternoon departure for Athens.

Two Day Tour to Argolis
April – October on Tue. & Wed.
Day 1 – After short stop at the bridge crossing the Corinth Canal continue to Mycenae where 19th century excavations described by Homer can be seen. Visit the Beehive Tomb and the Lion’s Gate – Europe’s oldest known monument. Continue to the lovely port town of Nafplion. Afternoon at leisure. Dinner and overnight in Nauplion.
Day 2 – Breakfast at hotel and morning at leisure in Nafplion. Depart for Epidaurus to visit the 4th century B.C. theatre famous for its perfect acoustics. Return to Athens early this evening.

Three Day Delphi & Meteora Tour
April – October on Tue., Wed. & Sun.
Day 1 – Depart Athens driving through the towns of Thebes and Levadia to Delphi. Visit the Sanctuary of Apollo situated on the slopes of Mt. Parnassus, the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo and the museum. Overnight in Delphi.
Day 2 – After breakfast, depart Delphi and enjoy an interesting drive through Central Greece, Thermopylae, famous for the heroic defence by Leonidas and his brave 300 Spartans against the invading Persians. (short stop) and the town of Lamia before reaching Kalambaka. Overnight in Kalambaka.
Day 3 – The breathtaking UNESCO World Heritage monasteries of Meteora are our first stop today. Following breakfast set out for Meteora to visit the ageless monasteries containing priceless historical and religious treasures, which appear to be suspended in air on top of huge granite rocks. With the professional tour guide visit two of the six Eastern Orthodox monasteries that cling impressively to immense, rounded rock towers overlooking the town. Return to Athens via the towns of Trikala, Lamia.

Three Day Classical Tour
April – October on Mon., Tue., Thu & Sat.
Day 1 – Drive South on the coastal road to Corinth Canal. Continue to Epidaurus to visit the theatre with its perfect acoustics and proceed to Mycenae to see the Lions’ Gate and Beehive Tomb. O/n Olympia.
Day 2 – This morning visit the Sanctuary of the Olympian Zeus and the museum. Drive to Delphi for o/n.
Day 3 – Walk on the sacred way and visit the Castalia Spring, the Sanctuary of Apollo and the museum. Return to Athens stopping at the picturesque village of Arachova.

Four Day Classical Tour (with Meteora)
April – October on Mon., Tue. Thu & Sat.
Day 1 – Drive via the coastal road stopping at the Corinth Canal and on to Epidaurus to visit the amphitheatre with its perfect acoustics and proceed to Mycenae to see the Lions Gate and Beehive Tomb. Overnight at Olympia.
Day 2 – This morning visit the site of the first Olympic Games; the Sanctuary of the Olympian Zeus and the museum. Drive on to Delphi for overnight.
Day 3 – After the visit at the Sanctuary of Apollo and the museum, depart for Kalambaka passing through numerous picturesque villages and typical towns of Central Greece and a short stop in Thermopylae. Overnight in Kalambaka.
Day 4 – Visit Meteora this morning and among striking scenery, perched on top of huge rocks which seem to be suspended in mid-air, stand ageless monasteries where there are exquisite specimens of Byzantine art. Return to Athens via Trikala, Lamia.

Peloponnese map

Visit Mycenae and the island of Poros in one (1) day!

You have the opportunity to visiGreek island of Poros.t in one day the 3500 years old ruins of the Mycenean civilization and combine it with the picturesque island of Poros.

Between May to September the tour operates every Wednesday and Friday
Departs at 08:30 and returns at +/-19:30

– Short photo stop at Corinth Canal.
– Continue to Mycenae, the Homeric City of Atreides.
– At Mycenae, walk through the Lions’ Gate, see the Cyclopean Walls, and the Royal Tombs.
– Finish with your sightseeing and drive to Galatas, take the small boat, and cross over to the island of Poros.
– On Poros, free time to stroll around the quay side or have lunch at a seaside Greek traditional tavern.
– Departure for the return to Athens, early afternoon.

PRICES: All travel agents, in Greece and worldwide, offer the same tour at different prices. We are sure that our prices for this tour is not matched by any other company. After 60 years organizing tours throughout Greece we have secured the best deals in all aspects of travel. So, why pay more?
Our discounted prices, per adult, for this tour are:

73.00 € With lunch, or 66.00 € without lunch

Prices Include
-Ferry boat from Galatas to Poros
-Transportation by modern air-conditioned coach
-Pick-up service from your hotel or near it (see the list of hotels in the footer)
-Lunch in Poros (optional)
-Taxes and V.A.T.

Meteora by train

CLICK AND SEE ALL THE TOURS AND OPTIONS to visit Meteora by shared bus guided tours or independent trips by train.

In our tour you plan and organize everything yourself. You choose what monasteries to visit and how long to stay in each one.

Question: Is it possible to visit Meteora, see the monasteries, and return to Athens all in one day? The answer is: A lot depends on what you want to get out of the visit. In Kalambaka you have 3 hours to drive quickly on the rocks and visit 2-3 monasteries at the maximum. We shall do whatever you decide.

If your visit to Greece is too short, this is your chance to visit Meteora.

Visit Meteora and realize why the first hermits chose this location to create their monastic community and seek to communicate with God. See the 4 monasteries and the 2 nunneries, and visit two of them. Learn about the everyday life of the monks, admire their architecture and gaze at the priceless relics and treasures of the monasteries, a cultural heritage to all Christian religions.

When you finish with your sightseeing return to Kalambaka, have a light lunch, and board the train for your return to Athens. Arrive in Athens at 22:45

Itinerary


* You collect your tickets from us and settle the account, at least a day before departure.
* Be at the LARISA railway station in Athens at least 30 minutes before the train departure.
* Find platform 8. Your train comes at 08:10 am. The difficult thing is to find your coach and seat.
* 08:20 – The train departs and following a scenic route it travels straight from Athens to Kalampaka(last stop).
* 13:30 – Arrive in Kalampaka and meet our English speaking driver outside the railway station.
* 13:45 – Drive to Meteora. Visit up to 3 monasteries. See old hermitages and cloisters in the caves.
CLICK here and see the monasteries that are open on your day, and make your plan.
* 16:45 – Return to Kalampaka. Stop at a local restaurant for a light meal (not included in the price).
* 17:30 – The train departs from Kalampaka and arrives in Athens (LARISA station) at +/- 22.45.

Price


The price for the 3.30 hours private tour of Meteora includes your return B class train ticket and the taxi hire from the momntthatyou arrive until the moment that you tell the driver that you have seen enough and want to get back to kalambaka and have something to eat:

– 2 passengers: Train ticket (B class), 54.00 + 25.00 taxi hire = 79.00 € p.p.
– 3 passengers: Train ticket (B class), 54.00 + 20.00 taxi hire = 74.00 € p.p.
– 4 passengers: Train ticket (B class), 54.00 + 15.00 taxi hire = 69.00 € p.p.

Pay 54.00 € p.p. plus, the money for hiring the taxi, paid in cash to the driver in Kalampaka.

To secure your booking, please, read the terms and conditions, and, deposit 40.00 € p.p. in ….read more…

In our tour you are totally independent. You choose which monasteries to visit, how long to spend in every monastery visited, plus, you add a couple of stops to take photos, and have a light meal whenever you feel hungry.

Click and see our BEST SELLER 3 days/2 nights Meteora and Delphi, independent trip by train.

Price includes

– Return B class, train ticket. Pay 12.00 euro, and upgrade the train ticket to A class (recommended).
Upon arrival and for 3 hours, visit up to 3 monasteries & places that a foreigner does not visit.
Visit hidden beauties & explore the area with a local, English speaking driver.

NOT INCLUDED in the price:
* No professional tour guide service is included. It’s you and the taxi driver.
* 3.00 euro per person, being the entrance ticket to each monastery, and
* Your lunch and drinks in the train and while you are in Kalampaka.

Options to visit

CLICK here and see all the options to visit the area of Meteora

If you decide to spend more time in this unique area, there are packages organized for 2 or 3 days. During the extra day, join a Hiking Tour and explore the natural beauty, first hand. Follow the hiking guide and discover the trails that the first monks used centuries ago. Discover the geology of the region. Hiking down (always easier) on the well paved paths from the monastery of Grand Meteoron or the monastery of Varlaam all the way to the village of Kastraki and Kalambaka.

If you think that the hiking tour is a difficult exercise, join the 4 hour morning tour and learn more regarding the spirituality of Meteora. Discover their cultural wealth and have a personal experience of the second most important monastic community, after the Mount Athens, located in Chalkidiki, near Thessaloniki.

Last minute bookings are difficult to work out. Plan in advance and get the best seats in the train.

Testimonials


KSL13, Level 6 Contributor, TripAdvisor member since 2005, From USA
Kosta is an all service travel agent
I booked a tour to Meteora via train with Astoria travel at a significant discount from other agencies. Kosta also picked us up from the cruise port and took us to our Airbnb. He also gave us lots of advice about life in Greece. He knows so much! And he truly loves his job and he is proud of his country. I hope that lots of people use his services! I did not feel that he was exploiting tourist dollars, like most guys did. He is honest and reliable.
_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Travelling to Meteora by train is the most comfortable and efficient way. A smooth and scenic ride.

Sparti: One of the two most powerful city-states in Classical Greece, Sparta is located in the Evrotas river valley, almost completely surrounded by mountain ranges. Unlike most of the other Greek city-states, Sparta was not a fortified city-state center with huge religious and civic buildings, but it was a loose collection of smaller villages spaced over a large rural area. Traditionally, Sparta’s founding is given at the middle of the 10th century B.C. by the Dorian Greeks. By the 7th century the warlike Spartans had conquered all of the surrounding Laconia and Messenia, and by the next century much of the remaining Peloponnese was under Spartan control. In the 5th century Sparta allied herself with Athens and other city-states in order to repulse the Persian aggressor, but soon after this the two city-states fell out, embarking on a century-long struggle for supremacy in the Peloponessian War, which ended with Spartan victory in 405 B.C. By the 4th century, however, Spartan power declined with its defeat by Thebes in 371 B.C., and, by 193 B.C., she had entirely lost her territorial possessions. Sparta thrived briefly under Roman Imperial rule, but was sacked by the Goths in 395 A.D and completely abandoned.
We will visit the archeaological remains of ancient Sparta, including the 2nd century BC theatre, the sites most discernible ruin (virtually nothing remains of the ancient city). The monuments on the site have not been restored yet but there are plans in the works for this under the auspices of the European Union. Important monuments of the site include the temple of Athena Chalkoikos on the top of the acropolis ; the ancient theatre, dating from the early Imperial period, the orchestra and walls of which still stand; a circular building of unknown use, which some scholars think was some kind of assembly; remains of shops, constructed in the Roman Imperial period, which served visitors to the theater; and finally, the remains of a Basilica of the Middle Byzantine period, dated to the 10th century A.D.
Mystras: Mystra enjoys one of the most beautiful situations in Greece, lying along a steep slope of Mt. Taygetos. At the top is the Kastro (fortified citadel), and on successive levels below are several Byzantine churches (most notably the Pantanassa), the Palace of the Despots, and everywhere spectacular views.
Few kilometers west to the Byzantine town Mystra on the slopes of Mt. Taygetos, an impregnable fortress, built by Guillame de Villehardouin in 1249. When the Byzantines won back the Morea from the Franks, Emperor Michael VIII Palaeologus made Mystra its capital and seat of government and Mystras became the leading city of the Peloponnese. It was governed by a Byzantine Despot, usually either a son or a brother of the Emperor in Constantinople.It soon became populated by people from the surrounding plains seeking refuge from invading Slavs. From this time, until the last despot, Demetrios, surrendered it to the Turks in 1460, a despot of Morea (usually a son or brother of the ruling Byzantine emperor) lived and reigned at Mystra. Mystra declined under Turkish rule. It was captured by the Venetians in 1687 and it thrived once again with a flourishing silk industry and a population of 40,000. It was recaptured by the Turks in 1715, and from then on it was downhill all the way. It was burned by the Russians in 1770, the Albanians in 1780 and Ibrahim Pasha in 1825. Not surprisingly, at the time of Independence it was in a very sorry state, virtually abandoned and in ruins. Since the 1950s much restoration work has taken place. Once inside Nafplion Gate, the tour will see the main sites of this ancient city such as the Palace of the Despots.

Kyparisia: about 40 miles southeast from Mystras, through some of the most striking and at times hair-raising scenery in Greece, to Kalamata, and from Kalamata it’s another 32 miles to Kyparissia. Kyparisia: In his “description of Greece” Pausanias describes Kyparissia in these words: “having come to Cyparissiae we see a spring below the city near the sea. They say that Dionysus made the water flow by smiting the earth with his wand; hence they name it the spring of Dionysus. There is also a sanctuary of Apollo at Kyparissae, and another of Athena surnamed Kyparissian…there is a temple of Aulonian Aesculapius and an image of him” (4.36) Today, the Spring of Dionysus can still be seen on the beach of Ai Lagoudia in Kyparissia, a town on the south-western Peloponnese, but of the temples little remains. In Byzantine times Kyparissia was called Arkadia because of the Arkadian people who came to live there. The Arkadians built a massive castle on the site of the old acropolis, which was later rebuilt by the Franks. The castle and the ancient harbor are the main monuments on Kyparissia today. However, the town is a popular summer getaway because of its attractive beaches and summer festivities.

Pylos: The home of Nestor, the “elder statesman” of the Greek warriors at Troy, Pylos is located on the hill of Epano Englianos, near Navarino Bay, the southwest coast of the Peloponneseus. Occupied as early as the Middle Bronze Age, the site is dominated by a monumental structure, known as Nestor’s palace, which is the best preserved of the existing Mycenean palaces. Built in the Late Bronze Age (ca.1300 B.C.), the palace consists of 105 ground floor apartments. The most important compartments of the palace are the the big “throne room”, with its circular heath, a room with a clay bath tube, and stores with numerous storage jars. The walls of the palace were decorated with beautiful frescos. Thousands of clay tablets in Linear B script were found in the palace. (The Linear B script has been found to be based on the Greek language and was deciphered by a British archaeologist, Michael Ventris, in the 1950s).The palace was destroyed by fire in the 12th century B.C., and by a happy accident of chance, the linear B tablets were preserved by baking in the fire.
Spending the day in and around Pylos, visiting the Venetian castle at Methoni, the Mycenean palace at Pylos (called the Palace of Nestor, the garrulous old advisor in the Iliad), and the Pylos Museum. The Palace of Nestor was first excavated by Carl Blegen of Cincinnati in 1952 and was destroyed by fire at the end of the Mycenean period (around 1200 BC). It is quite a bit smaller than Mycenae, and it is here that the first Linear B tablets found on the Greek mainland were discovered in 1939.

Archaeological Site of Kolona aegina

Aegina is a destination for Athenians longing to get out of the urban hustle of the city, and is a wonderful island for swimming, shopping, and recreation. The locals are extremely friendly and helpful, and almost every merchant speaks excellent English. Aegina is worth at least a day of your itinerary, and you may find yourself staying overnight.

Tradition derives the name from Aegina, the mother of the hero Aeacus, who was born on the island and became its king. During ancient times Aegina was a rival of Athens, the great sea power of the era.

Spend a day on Aegina

There is nothing like a day trip to one of the nearby Saronic islands.

Visit Aegina, capital of Greece (1827-1829), on a day trip from Piraeus. Take the morning ferry from Piraeus and in 1h 20m. arrive in Aegina. The church of Agios Nikolaos, at the port of the island, welcomes you. The beautiful neoclassical buildings remind you of the glory of the island.

There are regular bus services from Aegina town to destinations throughout the island. Agia Marina and Perdika are easily reached by public bus.

Proved by findings in the Column area, dating from 3000 BC. Aegina was inhabited since the Neolithic time. Later Minoans came to the island, then – Achaeans and Dorians. From the middle of the 1st c. BC Aegina developed rush trade and at the same time declares itself as a powerful maritime state. The peak of blossom comes in 6th c. BC, when Aegina, being independent, became the first city-state, and began to mint coins. Despite the concurrence with Athens and Piraeus, Aegina became confederate of Athens in the Salamis battle. However Athenians (who never really trusted Aegina) took over the island in the 5th c. BC. The latest history of the island does not stand out from the history of the rest of Greece. The participation of the island in the liberation war against the Turks in 1821 was of major importance, because Aegina was the first seat of the first government of independent Greece led by Kapodistrias.
Sightseeings in the town: the Archeological museum, the Column (close to the port area) which is actually the only remnant of the Temple of Apollo, the cathedral, in which the first Greek government swore.
You can take a tour to the famous temple of Goddess Aphaea, the patroness of the island, located 11 km from the town. A doric temple, built after the battle of Salamis, in 480 BC.
Another tour is to the monastery of St.Nektarios. The new built temple of the monastery is one of the best samples of the neo-byzantine architecture in Greece. The monastery of St.Nektarios is located on a hill not far from the port of island. Here, in a little church, is preserved the st. Chapter of Prelate. You visit the cell, where he was praying during the last years of his life and drink healing water from the holy fountain.

What can you do in Aegina

Visit the Archaeological Site of Kolona.

Archaeological Site of Kolona aegina

Archaeological Site of Kolona aegina

The Hill of kolona was inhabited in prehistoric times through the classical period. Extensive walls and foundations have been discovered and excavations are still in progress. One single column is still standing, the only remaining from the Temple of Apollo built in the 6th c. BC.,

 

The small Museum  (Tue-Sun 08:30-15:00), containing a small but rich collection of pottery and sculpture from all periods of Aegina’s history. One of the most significant exhibits is the statue of the Sphinx (460 BC), which was dedicated to the Temple of Apollo. It is an extraordinary sculpture, with a head of a woman and a body that is half eagle and half lion,

 

 The Doric temple of Aphaea

The Doric temple of Aphaea

The Doric temple of Aphaea that we see today in a very good condition, was built about 490 BC of local porous sandstone. It stands on top of a pine-clad hill above Agia Marina. The first temple on the site (700 BC) was dedicated to Aphaea, a deity from Crete. Aphaea was worshiped at this sanctuary but the myth can be traced back to the 14th c. BC. and according to Greek mythology she was a beautiful young lady, another illegitimate child of Zeus. King Minos of Crete had fallen in love with her. Trying to escape from him she jumped into the sea but was caught in the net of fishermen. They took her on their boat. A fisherman, captivated by her beauty, fell in love and wanted to keep her for himself. Aphaea escaped, got out in Aegina, and asked for help from her half sister, goddess Artemis. She vanished in the woods of the island. When the fishermen arrived on the spot, they found only a statue. “Aphaea” in Greek means ‘invisible.’
On a clear day, you can see the Temple of Poseidon at Sounio, as well as the Acropolis of Athens. These three temples form the sacred triangle of antiquity, an isosceles triangle, between North, East and South. (Open daily 08:00-17:00, Museum: Tues-Sun 08:30-14:15).\

 
The Church of Agios Nektarios (named after its patron).

The Church of Agios Nektarios aegina

The Church of Agios Nektarios aegina

St Nektarios, died in 1920 and was canonized in 1961.

His memory is celebrated on 9 November.

You may have lunch in a taverna at the port, swim in a nice sandy beach and in the afternoon board the ferry back to Piraeus.

 

More Info

Aegina Ferry Boat Get the ferry from Piraeus to the main town in Aegina. You can sit in the lounge or choose to sit at the top deck watching the ferry pass by the cruise ships in the harbor and then the tankers and freighters anchored outside the harbor. In 30 minutes we were close enough to see the houses on Aegina and the scenery became more interesting. Aegina is only about an hour and fifteen minutes from Pireaus on a regular ferry and half that on a flying dolphin hydrofoil so there is hardly enough time to get bored on the boat.

Aegina, Greece The port of Aegina is a busy one with ferries, flying dolphins, cruise ships, catamarans and fishing boats sailing in and out, depositing people, cars and fish. We had picked a perfect day to visit. The sun was shining and the town was buzzing with people enjoying the day in the cafes, restaurants and ouzeries. Aegina is known for their small ouzeries and fish mezedes and there are a number of these places on the waterfront and on the back streets, easily recognizable by the small grills and the octopus cooking on them. Athenians come here to escape the city, drink ouzo, eat seafood and watch the fishing boats. When we arrive, the first thing Amarandi sees is the line of horse-drawn carriages and I can’t think of a good enough reason to not take a little spin around the port and get a feel for the place. It enables me to get my bearings and it is great fun for Amarandi who sits in front with the driver. who points out the churches and the pistachio farms, the trees still leafless. We follow the coast and then circle back getting off where we started.

ancient ruins of Aegina and temple of Apollo with Aegina town in the background As you face the village and walk to your left there is a row of seafood restaurants along the waterfront, all with signs saying the special of the day is sea-urchin salad and each with a grill loaded with octopus. We continue to walk past the first beach and the small boatyard towards the area known as Koloni, named for the lone column that remains from the ancient temple of Apollo that stood on this site on a small hill overlooking the port. Aegina was a major power in the classical Greek times and for a period Athens main competitor. There is a small museum on the site that we went through in about 4 minutes, though someone with a deeper interest in antiquities than my daughter and I might be able to spend a longer time examining the ancient pottery that has been found in the area. The archaeological site itself is fairly impressive and the view from the temple of the ferries coming and going from the port makes it a good spot to visit even if you have no interest in ancient Aegina.

Aegina town beach But it was from here that Amarandi spotted the beautiful beach on the far side and could not help but notice that there were indeed people swimming, and once she had made up her mind there was no way I could deter her. I tried telling her that these people were a local chapter of the Polar Bear Club and this early spring swim was a painful rite of passage and that they were most likely suffering severely. But this did not convince her and so we trudged back into town to find a shop that sold bathing suits and towels since we were completely unprepared. After walking all the way through the back streets of the town and stopping in several shops with no success, we ended up on the opposite side near the cathedral. I took the opportunity of calling Andrea on my Greece-Travel Phone with the hopes that she could convince Amarandi that swimming was a foolhardy idea or even just putting her foot down and not permitting me to let her go swimming, enabling me to remain the ‘good guy’ for awhile. But when we told her our plan she thought that was a great idea, since she was in Athens and it was a couple degrees hotter there and she probably wished she could jump in the sea too.

Aegina Port We walked back along the dock, all the while Amarandi keeping her eyes open for a shop that might sell bathing suits and me trying to distract her by showing her things of interest. We stopped at the boats that sell vegetables and Amarandi wanted to go on board but was reluctant to walk up the gangplank. So was I but not because I was afraid, but because I suddenly realized that the sun had been shining on my head for a couple hours and I needed a hat badly. Chances are that the same place that sold the bathing suits would also sell hats, so I joined Amarandi in the search. Finally on one of the pedestrian market streets we found the store with postcards, t-shirts and they said bathing suits. Amarandi went with the girl to try some on while I tried on the only pair in the store that would possibly fit me since it really was too early for people to be buying bathing suits and their supplies were low. I also bought a baseball cap that said ‘Hellas’ on it that Andrea made me give away as soon as she saw it because it made me look like a tourist. (She said I could wear it in the states if I wanted to.) I also had to buy a large towel to dry off with after we came out of the freezing Aegean and of course a gym bag to carry the wet bathing suits and towels back to Athens. Amarandi found a bathing suit she liked and we paid the bill. This little swim was costing us $75.

Port of Aegina We made our way back along the quay and through the trees to the beach only to find that the Polar Bear Club had gone home to take hot showers and restore their circulation. Amarandi took off her pants to reveal that she had put her bathing suit on over her underwear. I had to explain that this was not the clear-thinking I had been trying to impart to her when I took the vow of parenthood. Why didn’t she remove the underwear when she was in the dressing room? She did not know the answer to this question but it gave me the opportunity to teach her the technique of changing clothes while wrapped in a towel, which all Greek women are adept at. She mastered it quickly and ran into the sea up to her ankles before stopping and standing there waiting for me to make the next move. I stepped in and it felt OK, as water two inches deep that has been warmed by the sun all day would. But when I dived into the deeper water I had a near heart attack and it was all I could do to stay in the sea until I felt I had gotten my seventy-five dollars worth that I had spent on the equipment that had enabled me to take this swim.
Aegina restaurant I got out of the water after about a minute and a half and Amarandi followed. At $75 a minute our swim had cost us more than a ride on the Space shuttle. But at least we were cool and refreshed and ready for the next adventure of the day which was lunch. We found the first seaside taverna that had more Greeks than empty seats and foreigners and sat down. Amarandi wanted the Sea-urchin salad, imagining that it would be served the way I used to feed it to her when I dived down into the sea to catch them and cut them open on the rocks, feeding her the sweet eggs on the tip of my knife. But when I told her that this was most likely going to be some concoction where the eggs actually only make up a small percentage of the entire package, she lost interest. I encouraged her to experiment and if she didn’t like it she would not have to eat it and she agreed, but when the waiter came they were out of it. I wondered if they really ever had it or was it a scheme to get us and other sea-urchin lovers into their restaurant. How many of the restaurants were in on it? Were there really sea-urchins available? Who dived into the freezing sea to collect them? We ordered the usual grilled Octopus, fried squid, a horiatiki salata even though the tomatoes were not really in season and a plate of marides, the small fried fish that Amarandi eats the noses and tails off and leaves me the rest. I also had a small plate of marinated anchovies which were delicious and though I was tempted to have an ouzo with them since they go so well together, I decided that I would be a responsible father and not drink during lunch with my daughter.

Agia marina, Aegina After lunch we checked the boat schedules. There did not seem to be a problem getting back to Piraeus. There were boats or flying dolphins at least every hour. Amarandi wanted to take the flying dolphin or the catamaran that stops in Aegina on it’s trip to and from Piraeus and the small island of Angistri. But I had a better idea. We took an old beat-up taxi across the island to the beach village of Agia Marina where there was another boat leaving in 5 minutes to Piraeus. The interior of the island was largely agricultural and mountainous with a couple villages along the way and the temple of Hephestus crowning a hill near Aegina town. When we got to Agia Marina we barely had time to take a couple pictures, watch some ducks mating and then get on the boat. As we left the island we passed the hotels of Agia Marina, sitting on rocks on the sea and then rounded the bend where we saw a beach approachable only from the sea which reminded me of the famous Lalaria beach in Skiathos. I realized that Agia Marina would be a great place to stay if you wanted to see Athens and not stay in the city. The high-speed takes less than a half hour to Pireaus and even the slower boat only takes an hour. There are a number of tavernas, a decent beach and what looked like great swimming off the rocks too.

Perdika, AeginaThe island of Aegina is really surprising considering its proximity to Athens. The town is quite traditional and while tourism is in evidence it is still largely Greeks who come here for the day or even for their summer holidays. Most of the ouzeries and restaurants in the back streets have a Greek clientele and serve food that people like me love, but only the most adventurous tourists would be likely to try. There is a great covered fish market in town, a sort of junior version of the public market on Athinas Street in Athens and there are several small traditional restaurants that are in and around it. The fishing village of Perdika is another popular day visit place for Athenians and is full of nice fish tavernas with prices more geared to Athenians than to tourists since most Greeks have a pretty good idea about what fresh fish looks like and how much it should cost. Perdika is also a popular stop for people on sailboats and yachts and has a small but nice beach nearby.

Beaches in Aegina
Aegina Town BeachThe beaches around the island are pretty good, not great. But it is all relative. If you have not been to the Greek islands before you may think the Aegina beaches are the most beautiful you have ever seen. In my opinion the best swimming is off the rocks beneath the pines on the outskirts of both Agia Marina and Aegina town. But someone from the island could probably tell you a dozen other places to swim that are even better. And if you stay awhile and you are tired of the beaches of Aegina you are just a 15 minute boat ride from the island of Angistri. I also have to mention that even though it is really not my kind of place, just 1 km out of the center of Aegina Town, is the Water Park, a kid’s paradise and one I was thankful was not open when we were there or I would never have gotten Amarandi home. The water slides range from the “Kamikaze”, for the more daring riders, to the gentler “Twister” for the not so daring ones. There are a couple bars by the pools for parents who need to overcome the stress of watching their child go down a 50 foot water slide a hundred and fifty times in a row. But if you want to pretend this place does not exist chances are your kids will be happy at one of the beaches, and if you go to the more popular ones, like the sandy beach at Agia Marina, the Aegina town beach, or anywhere with sun beds and umbrellas, your kids should be able to find plenty of other kids to play with provided you are there in the summer. See Aegina Beaches.

Hotels in Aegina
Hotels in Ag Marina, AeginaThere are a number of hotels in Aegina town and in Agia Marina if you want to spend more than a day in Aegina. In fact it is not a bad place to base yourself if you don’t feel like staying in the city of Athens but still want to see the archaeological sites and museums. You can get from the port of Aegina and be standing on the Acropolis in an hour. In Agia Marina I recommend the Hotel Karyatides. The owner, Sophia, is not only a terrific hostess but a great source of information on the island. If you want to stay closer to the sea, well right on it actually I suggest the Hotel Panorama, which has its own private beach as does the Argo Hotel next door. Actually it is better than a beach. It is a rock platform with steps into the sea which makes the Aegean like your own private pool. Both hotels have their own restaurants right on the sea. For Aegina Town I suggest staying as close as you can to the port since that is where the fun is. The Hotel Rastoni is a 5-minute walk from the beach on an old pistachio farm right on the edge of town. It features colonial-style rooms with free Wi-Fi and balcony overlooking the Saronic Gulf or the lush gardens. The Hotel Vagia is a popular family run hotel that gets great reviews form their hospitality and their breakfast and is located in a part of the island not yet spoiled by mass tourism. There are lots more hotel choices on Booking.com’s Agia Marina page and Booking.com’s Aegina Page.

Restaurants and Nightlife
Aegina RestaurantsAegina is known for its nightlife and has several great restaurants and some live music clubs and a number of good bars. Kappos Etsi is owned by chef Dimitris Kappos and is located right behind the cafes in the port. Dimitris is from Aegina and when he graduated from Le Monde Culinary Arts School of Athens he returned to the island to open his restaurant. Combining traditional Greek dishes with his own culinary innovation and using only fresh natural ingredients, this is the type of restaurant you might find in the most cosmopolitan Greek island or European city. The Plaza serves seafood and meat dishes right on the sea between the port and the town beach. My suggestion is to try any of the restaurants close to the market on P. Irioti Street which is the next street up from the port. You can take your pick of seafood restaurants in Perdika though Remezzo’s seems to get high reviews from everyone. I had a meal at Saronis which was just fine. In Agia Marina try the popular Thymari, which has been open for almost 30 years and has attraction a legion of followers who come to the resort town every summer and eat there regularly. As for bars and cafes there are too many to even bother writing about. Just wander around until you fond one that has comfortable chairs and music you can bare. Panta Pei has live rembetika music on weekends as do several other places in Aegina town and unlike most islands there is some nightlife even in the off-season. In the summer there are discos and plenty of action at the beach bars.

Things to See in Aegina
Temple of ApheaeBe sure to visit the Temple of Aphaia located on top of a mountain on the way to Agia Marina. Besides having a spectacular view and one of the most interesting little cafes below it, the temple is a very well preserved example of the Doric style and is the most important archaeological site in the Saronic islands and one of the most important in Greece. It was built in 480 BC when Aegina was at the height of its power and from it you can see the mainland from Athens all the way to Cape Sounion. You can get there by bus or taxi from Aegina town. The site is open every day except Monday. Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 8:00 – 18.30. Be sure to check out the furniture in the cafe too, made from ancient columns and stones from the temple.

Paliohora Aegina Another place of interest are the ruins of Paliohora east of Aegina town. This was the capital of the island from the 9th til the 18th century when villages were located inland to be safe from pirates. Aegina was one of the unlucky towns because it was destroyed once by the pirate Barbarossa in 1537 and all the inhabitants were taken away as slaves. All that remains are a number of small churches in various states of restoration but it is an amazing place and well worth the visit. You can also stop at the Monastery of Agiou Nektarou with the enormous new church built recently. The monastery has the remains of Anastasios Kefalas, a hermit monk who died in 1920 and was the first orthodox saint of the 20th Century, canonized in 1961.

Aegina Pistachios
The island of Aegina is famous for its pistachios which some people believe are the best in the world. You can decide for yourself. They are sold in small shops and booths in town including at the Aegina Pistachio Cooperative stand right on the dock next to where you buy your tickets for the ferry boat. In fact I would suggest buying yourself a couple bags at least because you will eat one on the boat and then you will wish you had more to bring back home with you so you can show your friends how good pistachios can be. Or you can pick up the family-size bag.

Aegina is also known as the place where Nikos Kazantzakis wrote Zorba the Greek and any Zorba-file should make a journey to the island for that reason alone. Taxis and buses can take you all over the island.

Before you go be sure to drop a donation into the box for FAZA: The Friends of the Strays of Aegina and Angistri.This organization feeds all the stray dogs and cats and they have a little stand on the dock where not only can you donate your stray Euros but the stray dogs of the island can feed themselves.

Helpful Aegina Information
Aegina ferry and Flying DolphinFor bookings and information on hotels, car rentals and ferry tickets contact Fantasy Travel in Athens. Boats go back and forth all day long to Aegina Town and you don’t need tickets in advance if you don’t have a car. Just go to Pireaus in the morning and catch the first boat leaving. If you have a car you may want to book in advance if you plan on going there on a Friday afternoon and coming back on a Sunday evening. The first boat leaves Pireaus at 7am and the last at 18:30. The last boat leaves Aegina at 7 or 8pm. The trip takes an hour. The Flying Dolphin takes 40 minutes and is a lot less comfortable so go with for the ferry. Anyway an hour ferry trip is just about perfect and the waters here are usually calm.

Aegina TownIn Aegina town the most highly regarded hotels by travelers are the Hotel Rastoni, the Electra Pension and the Fistikies Holiday Apartments, all within walking distance of beaches, shops and the waterfront. If you want to be able to walk out the door and jump right into the sea then stay at the Hotel Klonos or the Danae Hotel right next door. The resort village of Agia Marina is less than half an hour from Pireaus by Flying Dolphin but the boat only goes in the summer. That means you can stay there and be on the Acropolis in an hour. Check out the Hotel Karyatides and the Rachel Hotel which are both highly rated by travelers or Hotel Panorama, which is right on the sea as is the Argo Hotel. For more hotels in Aegina also check Booking.com’s Aegina Pages. One of the best ways to see Aegina is to stay in Agistri at the popular Agistri Club Hotel.

Aegina is also included in the one-day Saronic Cruise that goes almost every day of the year. Or you can combine Aegina with the islands of Angistri, Poros, Hydra and Spetses as well as Nafplion and The Argolis.