At 16.5 nautical miles from Piraeus, with a a coastline of about 57 km and an area of 8,300 hectares, Aegina is the second largest island in the Saronic Gulf after Salamina. Its 5,500-year history is witness to the fact that its geographic position made it a pole of attractions for travellers in search of adventure and discovery. In ancient times, it was marked by periods of great prosperity as a stopover for short or longer expeditions, in trade and in shipping, taking advantage of its strategic importance in the events of the day. Later, it was beleaguered by pirates for centuries as they sought to make the island their base. Ioannis Kapodistrias then made it the first capital of the New Greek state after its liberation from Turkish occupation and in the early 20th century it became the transfer point for sponges from which fleets of boats sailed to the shores of North Africa to collect this valuable commodity.
Today, it has a population of about 17,000, with a large proportion of newcomers among them. The number of non-natives who have settled here permanently may number around 3,000 and include many artists and people looking for an alternative lifestyle. One of the reasons they have chosen Aegina as their new home is the island's advantageous location. Just an hour from Athens, you can easily reach the mainland, the Peloponnese, the Cyclades and Crete, as well as the nearby island treasures of the Saronic - Poros, Hydra and Spetses, the volcano at Methana in the distance and the uninhabited islet of Moni just a stone's throw away. Other small islands close by also lend themselves to exploration, including Agistri, Metopi and the Laousses, all small natural oases easily accessible if you own or can hire a boat (there are regularly scheduled boats to Agistri from Piraeus and from Aegina. Don't miss this pine-covered, verdant Garden of Eden, following its own pace, summer and winter).