ÉGINA TOWN, the island’s capital, makes an attractive base, with some grand old buildings around a large, busy harbour. The Neoclassical architecture is matched by a sophisticated ethos: by island standards this is a large town, with plenty of shopping and no shortage of tempting places to eat and drink. Life revolves around the waterfront, where ferries come and go, yachts moor, fishermen tend their nets and kaïkia tie up to sell produce from the mainland.

The Markellos tower

The restored Pýrgos Markéllou, or Markellos Tower, is an extraordinary miniature castle which was the seat of the first Greek government after independence. Despite appearances, it was built only around 1800 by members of the Friendly Society and the local politician Spýros Márkellos. You can’t go inside except during the occasional special exhibition, but walking here, through the cramped inland streets, is enjoyable in itself.

Folklore Museum

Égina’s Folklore Museum is a lovely example of its type, housed in a nineteenth-century mansion. Its upper rooms are packed with fine old furniture, traditional costumes, and many of the trappings of island life a century ago, along with a small local historical archive. Downstairs are rooms devoted to fishing, with model boats and fishing gear, and to agricultural life, with a collection of the basics of village life.

Ancient Aegina

The site of Ancient Aegina lies north of the centre on a promontory known as Kolóna, after the lone column that stands there. The extensive remains, centring on a Temple of Apollo at the highest point, are well signed, and some reconstruction makes it easier to make out the various layers of settlement from different eras. Near the entrance, a small but worthwhile archeological museum houses finds from the site, along with information on the island’s ancient history. Highlights of the display include a room of Minoan-influenced Middle Bronze Age pottery, rescued from a nearby building site.

The beaches

On the north edge of town, between the port and Kolóna, there’s a tiny but popular beach with remarkably shallow water. This was the site of the ancient city’s harbour, of which various underwater remains are clearly visible. You can swim south of town, too, but there are more enticing spots further north – immediately beyond Kolóna there’s an attractive bay with a small, sandy beach, while other small coves lie off the road heading further out of town in this direction. Just a couple have any facilities, with loungers and beach bars; Kamares Paradise is among the more attractive.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Greece features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

A divided island: a journey through time in Cyprus

Cyprus has been a divided nation for over 40 years, but fresh reunification talks have offered hope of a united future. As Cyprus prepares to make history aga…

26 Apr 2017 • Darren Loucaides local_activity Special feature
24 breaks for bookworms

24 breaks for bookworms

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas In 1971, fuelled by a cornucopia of drugs, Hunter S. Thompson set off for Las Vegas on his “savage journey to the heart of …

02 Mar 2017 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month