The Paths of Aegina
Two island associations, the Anavasi Greek Cycling and Hiking Association of Aegina and the Association of Active Citizens of Aegina (Syllogos Energon Politon Aiginas), have cleared and marked ten paths so you can get to know the rich history of the island, its natural beauty, its culture, and its folk tradition. These paths were recently included in the Paths of Culture project of the Elliniki Etairia Society for the Environment and Cultural Heritage. Nine of the ten paths have been numbered. They have a total length of about 45 kilometers and range from easy to moderate.
Below, we present a brief outline of the routes, main features, and most important sites we visited when we hiked these paths ourselves.
Path One (1) is the longest and most difficult marked path, with a total length of 8,800 meters (5 hours). The route starts in Anitseo, climbs up to Vlachides, continues toward Sfentouri where it meets Path Two (2), and after the Achlada watering hole (souvala) ascends to the top of Mount Ellanio and the church of the Prophet Elias (Profitis Ilias, the toughest point), before descending to Taxiarches (Archangels) and returning to Anitseo.
Path Two (2) starts at the northern limits of the settlement of Sfentouri and heads straight north to the Ancient Olive Grove (Archaios Elaionas, 3 kilometers, approximately 75 minutes). On the way, we will pass the little churches of Saint Nicholas (Agios Nikolaos) and Saint (Agios) Dimitrios, and we will find the impressive ‘Achlada’ watering hole. From the watering hole, a 300 meter uphill detour to the south will take us to the famous 'Drakospita.'
Path Three (3) is circular, starting from the second beach of Marathonas and climbing to Pachia Rachi, passing through the small settlement of Kapotides. After the church of Saint (Agios) Dionysios it turns right, and in 30 minutes it reaches Aegina's Ancient Olive Grove (Archaios Elaionas), where we will see olive trees 1500 to 2000 years old. Then the path descends, ending again in Marathonas.
Path Four (4) is one of the most beautiful routes on the island. It starts at the castle-like convent of the Virgin Mary the Golden Lioness (Panagia Chrysoleontissa), climbs smoothly toward the plateau of Agios Leontios and the old cisterns (souvales), and then heads downhill to the southeast to reach Pachia Rachi. The total route is 6 kilometers (2.5 hours), and relatively easy.
Path Five (5) explores the eastern part of Aegina. It is a 6 kilometer circular route that takes about 3 hours and involves an elevation change of 180 meters. It starts and ends in the traditional village of Anitseo. On its way, it crosses a small gorge, passes through the traditional settlement of Kilindras, descends toward Portes, and then climbs again to reach Anitseo.
Path Six (6) begins at the Skoteini (meaning Dark) Stream (known as the Asopos River in antiquity). This passable path ascends to Tzikides and then heads to the convent of the Virgin Mary the Golden Lioness (Panagia Chrysoleontissa), after passing the convent's impressive stone threshing floor. 300 meters before the threshing floor, a 100 meter detour to the north will take us to the country church of Saint Andrew (Agios Andreas). Total route length: 6 kilometers (150 minutes).
Path Seven (7) takes us all over the hill of Palaiochora, the location of the main settlement in Aegina for about 1,000 years. During the lovely 2 to 2 ½ hour hiking tour (including many stops in churches), we will discover 32 of the 350 churches that existed here, plus the castle and a few ruins of houses. This may be the most beautiful hiking route on the island.
800 meters from the entrance of Palaiachora on the way to Souvala, we will see a dirt road heading north right at the bend of a very tight (U shaped) left turn. This is where Path Eight (8) begins. It is the only trail that can be crossed on a bicycle. The route travels northeast in a pine forest for 5 kilometers and ends up on the road, 2 kilometers north of Mesagros.
Path Nine (9) starts by the kindergarten just outside the settlement of Mesagros, on the way to Aphaia. At the beginning it heads north for 200 meters, and then it turns east, making a wide, short Greek letter pi (like 3 sides of a rectangle), returning to the public road about 500 meters east of its starting point. From there, it moves south and then east into the pine forest to reach the temple of Aphaia (an easy 2.5 kilometer walk, about 55 minutes).
At the small settlement of Vlachides 1,300 meters south of Anitseo, a 1,300 meter marked path begins that leads to the beach of the bay of Kipi. The trail is not one of the nine organized paths we presented in our guide, but it is fairly well marked (with piles of stones and plastic scraps tied to branches). Attention is required at some points, although the route is obvious, since the beach is visible from above, and the houses of the settlement stand out as we ascend. The descent takes less than 30 minutes, the ascent 40 minutes, and we cover an altitude difference of 240 meters.