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30km (17 nautical mi) SW of Piraeus

More travelers come to Aegina (Egina), the largest of the Saronic Gulf islands, than to any of the other Greek islands. Why? Location, location, location. Aegina is so close to Athens that it draws thousands of day-trippers. As the day-trippers arrive in the morning, many of the 10,000 who live on Aegina and commute daily to work in Athens depart. If you have only 1 day for one island, you may decide on Aegina, where you can see a famous temple (the Doric Temple of Aphaia), visit a romantic medieval hill town (Paleochora), have lunch at one of the harborside tavernas in Aegina town, and munch the island's famous pistachio nuts as you sail back to Athens.

A walk along the waterfront of Aegina Town shows off Aegina at its best, giving a glimpse into island life that, despite the presence of Athenian teenagers staring into their iPhones, seems to have never changed over the decades. Fishing boats bob at the docks; a covered fish market, the Psaragora, does a brisk business in the morning; and fishermen hang out on the terraces of ouzeris. A walk inland along winding stone streets to the corner of Thomaidou and Pileos shows off Markelos Tower, a Venetian-era fortified house that in 1827 hosted meetings of the first government in Greece; the pink-and-white landmark now occasionally hosts art exhibits.

Most ships arrive and depart from the main port and capital of Aegina town on the west coast, though a few stop at the resort town of Souvala on the north coast and at the port of Ayia Marina on the east coast. Ayia Marina is charmless, but this port is your best choice, if your principal destination is the Temple of Aphaia.

Despite massive tourism and the rapid development devouring much farmland, the area still has its share of almond, olive, and especially pistachio orchards. In fact, the island has an endemic water problem because of the water necessary for the pistachio groves. Wherever you buy pistachios in Greece, the vendor may assure you that they are from Aegina to indicate their superior quality.