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Salamina Island

Salamina is not your typical Greek island, since half of it borders on Greece's largest industrial area. But in Greece you can always find a little piece of paradise even in the worst area. And Salamina is far from the worst. Salamina is different. Salamina is unique. And much of Salamina is beautiful.

It’s hard to think of Salamina as a normal Greek island. First of all it is so close to Piraeus that it would seem to be almost a suburb of the port city. But it is a large island and much of it is more similar to its neighbor Aegina than it is to Pireaus. The 15 minute ferry ride begins in Perama, a town of shipyards and oil storage facilities with working and middle class residential neighborhoods of single family homes and modern apartment buildings overlooking the sea. The coast of Salamina that faces Perama is not that much different. 

The islet of Agios Georgios, the first part of Salamina you get to, is connected by a long causeway and protects the harbor, which is like a bus station for a whole fleet of ferries going back and forth continuously with one leaving every few minutes. On the north side of the harbor is the Salamis navy base and if you remember your history you will know the importance the navy to Greece. For it was in Salamis that the Greek Navy under the command of Themistocoles defeated Xerxes and the Persian Navy and not only saved Greece but western civilization as well. It was the Battle of Salamis that marked the beginning of the end of Persian power in the Mediterranean and also the rise of the Greeks. It was one of the most important battles in human history and had the Greeks lost it is possible the Persians would have continued to conquer the lands to the west and we would be living in an entirely different world today. For that reason alone Salamina deserves a visit to show our gratitude. But those who visit may be surprised that there is more than the ancient past, no matter how important it was, to make a trip to Salamina worthwhile.

Battle of Salamis
Battle of Salamis. Wilhelm von Kaulbach. 1868

For those who don't recall the details, John Psaropoulos of The New Athenian explains:

"The architect of the victory at Salamis was the young Athenian general Themistocles, who neutralized the Persians’ numerical superiority by forcing them to fight in the confines of the narrow strait between the island of Salamis and the port of Piraeus. Using strategic deception, Themistocles sent a messenger to inform Xerxes, the Persian king, that the Greek fleet was about to flee under cover of darkness. The ancient historian Herodotus tells us that Xerxes’ ships blockaded the strait and his men sat at oar all night. In the morning, a section of the Greek fleet feinted at escape; the bleary-eyed Persians pursued them, believing they were moving in for the kill. Once the Persian fleet was massed inside the strait, their quarry turned and attacked, while the rest of the Greek fleet moved in from the flanks." From The New Athenian: For Greece the Battle of Salamis Never Ended

Paloukia, Salamis, Ferry boats

Arrival in Paloukiaville: Welcome to Ferryland

You should never judge an island by your first impression. But if you came to Salamina on your own using public transportation and landed with the ferry in Paloukia, you might not have a second impression. You might take one look and leave on the next boat, never realizing that this unattractive harbor is just the gateway and not characteristic of the entire island. It is certainly not your typical Greek island, since half of it borders on Greece's largest industrial area. But you know how Greece is: You can always find a little piece of paradise even in the worst area. And Salamina is far from the worst, no matter what your first impression says or the fact that many guidebooks don't even bother to mention it. Salamina is different. It is unique. It is practically attached to one of the largest cities in Greece. So no matter what you think of Paloukia you can't judge it as you would an idyllic little harbor on some other Aegean island. For instance you may be interested in knowing the name Paloukia historically comes from the many sticks (παλούκια) in the sea used as moorings for boats, and that in the present it is one of the busiest ports in Europe with more than 7 million passengers per year!

I wrote about it in 2008:

"Because it was Saturday there was not much traffic in Pireaus so we decided to explore a little and ended up in Perama where the small ferries go back and forth to the island of Salamina (Salamis). We sat at the side of the road for a few minutes trying to decide if we should take the big step of buying a ticket and driving on to the boat and exploring the island. Finally I said "Lets do it" and drove to the ticket booth, bought the 6 euro ticket for us and the car and drove on to the boat. "I am so proud of you", Andrea said. "You made a decision".

The ferry takes about ten minutes, crossing the waters where three thousand years ago the Athenians defeated the Persian fleet while their king Xerxes watched from the hills in dismay. The port you arrive at is not the town of Salamina but Paloukia. You drive across the island to Salamina but really you would never know you had left Paloukia. Its like one big town. Andrea looked in the Lonely Planet guidebook but they did not even have a chapter on Salamina. (neither did Frommers) She asked me if I knew anyone who had ever been to the island. "Yes. I know 4 people. George the Famous Taxi Driver, you, and me twice. Once with him and now with you. That makes 4" Who goes to Salamina? My guess is that the summer houses which dot the coast are owned by people in Pireaus who had the good sense to buy many years ago or inherited from their parents and grandparents. Its kind of third-worldly, stray dogs and lots of people walking on the side of the road."

Perama from Salamina
How close is Salamina to Perama? This close. Perama from Paloukia, Salamina.

You need to come with a car. Salamina is a large island, the largest of the Saronic, and as I have tried to make clear the port of Paloukia is the least nice place. It’s a mix of single family houses and small apartment buildings a few coffee shops, a couple Ouzeries, fast food restaurants and loads of parking areas for the ferries of which there are many since they come and go every few minutes. Paloukia is not the kind of place you will arrive at and want to explore or settle in. But if you turn left off the ferry and follow the port road to Leoforos Salaminos you will get out of this town relatively easy and find yourself after about 10 minutes on the waterfront of the town of Salamina the real capital of the island. Paloukia and Salamina are actually like one big town though they are on opposite sides of the island, straddling its narrowest part, and the town's nickname, and the nickname of the island as well, is Koulouri, those biscuits that look like an emaciated doughnut that are sold on the streets of Athens. And it does look like a koulouri, though one that was not put together well and is falling apart or that someone took a bite out of.

Salamina Town

North Salamina

The town of Salamina won’t make you feel like you are in the Cyclades any more than the port will but if you can imagine a more working class Rafina or Oropos you will have some idea of what to expect. If you follow Akti Kariaskakis along the coast there is a sort of promenade and some cafes on the sea and the famous Ouzeri o Kakias which people come as far as Athens to eat at. If you continue on Ag Nikolao it gets a nicer and less city-like with more cafes, restaurants, park areas with shade trees, and beaches. Nothing special that you would go out of your way for but beaches nonetheless and if you lived here you’d be thankful for them. Keep going on Odos Resti to the town of Resti and the beaches are a better, the houses are fewer, and there is even a very nice seaside taverna/mexedopouleion called To Pyrofani. (I have a whole restaurant section below, don't worry). After a few miles the scenery is such that you could be anywhere in Attica, Evia, or even in the Peloponnesos. There are houses and villas in small pine forests that go down to the sea and if you venture down one of the small streets that connect the coastal road to the bay you will probably find a nice beach with some shade. (More on Salamina Town later)

Mikri Iliakti - Tourkolimano

Eventually you will come to Iliakti/Tourkolimano Beach where you may finally believe you are on the Greek Islands and are actually somewhere you would not mind staying for awhile, at least for a swim and possibly for lunch too. There’s a snack bar and beach beds and umbrellas on the sand/gravel beach which is generally clean, sheltered from the wind and free of sea urchins, which are a problem on some beaches and a specialty in some restaurants. A few steps further is Mikri Iliakti, a small sheltered beach with a cantina-cafe, and clean sea like you’d find on islands further from Athens. But at this point you are completely on the other side of the island about as far as you can be from Athens, on the southwest tip of Salamina.

Agios Georgos, Salamis
Agios Giorgos Beach

If you head north you will come to the town of Agios Giorgos Stenou with a long beach that faces the sunset. There are a couple fish tavernas here, H Sofoula and Andreas o Psaras, both in ideal locations to watch the sunset with the latter getting the most favorable reviews from the Greeks who have eaten here. At this point I will bring up the subject that keeps many people from considering Salamis as a place to go swimming.

This part of the island and especially the beaches of Psili Ammos, Vasilika and Limanaki are in a large almost enclosed bay that is almost a lake, facing what was at one time the most industrialized area in Greece, with oil refineries, natural gas works, shipyards and several hundred derelict and sunken ships (along with the Persian fleet). Times have changed and there are now laws that keep people from dumping industrial waste and other undesirable substances into the sea. Since the 1980s many of the companies that were polluting the Gulf of Elefsina left or went out of business. Since then the monitoring of trace metals in the gulf, which went on for almost 40 years, showed a large decrease in heavy metals. So is it safe now to swim here? Probably. Like it is safe to eat tuna. As long as you don't do it every day you won't die of Mercury poisoning. And as time goes by the sea will get cleaner and cleaner and who knows? Maybe these will be Blue Flag beaches in the near future.

So while I might be convinced to have a meal at a fish taverna in a nice setting, even tuna, I don’t know if I would swim here daily. People do, especially those who live here, and it probably won’t kill you to jump into a sea that looks so inviting. But if you are just visiting for the day why bother when you can drive 15 minutes and swim somewhere cleaner on the open sea of the south side of the island? That being said Vasilika is a very nice beach and as Greece becomes more protective of its environment and the locals start taking more pride and more care there is no reason not to stop for a swim and something to eat in this part of Salamina. Psili Ammos is a long shallow beach that is perfect for families with small children. Along with Ble Limonaki the whole area is very scenic, romantic at night with the sunset, though in some areas the clear light of day exposes some of its faults, some garbage problems... overflowing dumpsters and wind make a bad combination. But that can be easily remedied by the municipality with larger garbage cans and more frequent pickup.

The Convent of Agia Faneromeni was built in the 17th Century on the spot where Saint Laurentios found an icon of the Virgin Mary. Originally a monastery it was changed into a convent in 1944. Located across the road from the sea just west of Psili Ammos in a beautiful pine forest it is a beautiful monastery that celebrates its panigiri on August 23rd with a 3 day festival which is one of the big events of the island. The monastery gets also visitors from all over Greece for this event and to see the 18th century frescoes in the church. It is a working convent so many living areas are off limits but it is still worth a visit and if you have children they should get excited by the deer. Conveniently, located nearby is the Home of Aggelos Sikelianos, one of Greece's most famous poets who was nominated for the Nobel Prize for literature. The house is not really a museum, or if it is then it is not open enough for people to know it is a museum. But there is a monument to the poet and you can go for a swim and imagine what it would have been like to be him and living there. Actually he only lived here on and off for about 10 years but since he was a poet it is ok to romanticize.

Steno, Salamis

One more note before we head back to Salamina town and the rest of the island is the small port of Steno Feneromeni which is basically a concrete dock and not much else, the closest point between Salamina and the mainland. There is a small ferry here that goes to the mainland every hour on the half hour. The trip takes 10 minutes and you are in the refinery area of Megara close to the National road which makes it very convenient if you are going to the Peloponnesos. It is also easier for people coming from the northern and western suburbs of Athens to go to Salamina and not have to go through Pireaus. Leoforos Feneromeni will take you back to Salamina town and the southern part of the island.

Salamina Bay
Salamina Bay from Aentio

Salamina Town and the Bay

The large Bay of Salamina is like a giant triangle with two ends open to the sea and it's point the port of the town. It is a working class town, not made for tourists, though sailboats and yachts do stop in. Most of the cafes and restaurants are on the north side of the bay on Akti Kariaskakis which follows the sea. Along with the previously mentioned and highly recommended Ouzeri o Kakias, right by the fish market which is where you want your mezedopouleion to be there are several other restaurants nearby including Porto Leone Ouzeri, right on the sea, H Skala h Megali, (H Ble Karekles) close to the other two, another popular ouzeri/fish taverna and further up the road, maybe a kilometer is the simple seaside Karnagio Psaro Taverna.

Just behind these restaurants in the port is the Archaeological Museum of Salamina at Lempesi 42. It is a small museum but it is full of ancient statues, pottery and other artifacts found around the island with descriptions and historical information in Greek and English. It is actually one of the better small museums in Greece with many important findings, located in a beautiful old neo-classical building that used to be the local school. The Museum of Folklore Arts and Culture is located in the town hall at 1 Konstantinos Karamanlis and includes local costumes, historical photos, paintings, religious artifacts, looms, kitchen utensils and other objects that people used on the island in the last several hundred years.

Salamis, Greece

If you continue along the southern coast of the bay you will pass Papagalakia Island, a pediki hara (children's playground) on the sea. It is a beach with an amusement park for children and a cafe playing loud latin music to give their parents a headache. I am guessing it is used mostly by the locals and by Athenians who promise their kids an hour here if they behave themselves in the car. If you don't want to be around a lot of children the whole coast next to Leoforos Eanteiou is swim worthy. Just find a spot with some shade that is far enough from any dumpsters so that the wind hasn't blown any garbage into the nearby bushes. (Yeah litter is a problem here as it is on many islands that have a large working-class or immigrant population rather than an island that is focused on tourism and realizes how important appearance is).

Aiantio Beach is another nice area that will remind you of the islands further away, with clean sea, shade trees and some sections with umbrellas and beach-beds as well as cafes, restaurants and hotels, apartments and villas. Very busy in the summer and there are water-sports, particularly wind-surfing, and even several holiday hotels. If you follow the coast you can find spots to swim that are not crowded with people and if you are coming here from Athens after a long winter you will feel like you are back in paradise. If you are coming here as a tourist on a day trip you may even say to yourself that you wouldn't mind spending a week here one summer. It is not the Cyclades but it definitely feels like a Greek Island. Maybe not one that is ready for prime-time tourism but close enough to have a luxury beachfront hotel: The Aianteion Bay Luxury Hotel & Suite which is where I would stay if I was going to spend more than a day here to write about the island and someone else was paying for it.

Salamina South

Salamina Beach

On the southern side of the island facing Aegina is the village of Peristeria, known for its Cave of Euripides, a couple decent beaches, and one of the most interesting pieces of architecture in Greece, known as The Flinstone House. It’s hard to describe but if you can imagine taking an every day one or two story Greek single family apartment building or house and using chicken wire and cement or some kind of water proof substance to create different organic looking surfaces and shapes so the whole thing looks like something from another planet. The artist has also done some work on the fence at the sports center across the beach and a diving platform in the sea or on the beach depending on when you visit. There’s a beautiful garden and lots of organic looking arches and bridges with trees and stone incorporated into what could be called an inhabitable sculpture. There is even a pond in the middle of it. This project must have taken decades to create and it is really the most interesting landmark on the island.

I wrote about it in 2008:

"Peristeria is one of the weirdest places in Greece and I highly recommend going there. There is a small taverna called O Kalamies tou Maniati right on the 'beach', a few fishing boats and a basketball court. You can see all of Aegina across the way and in between is sort of a parking lot for big tankers and freighters, waiting for cargo or maybe to be sold or sent to the scrapyards. But the first thing you notice about Peristeria are these wood and stone sculptures scattered around. They have been incorporated into the fence that surrounds the basketball court and further down the beach there is a diving platform made of the same materials. There are several gates, a small pier and even the parking lot was created by what seems to be an obsessed folk artist. Then you see across the street is a house, though you have to look closely to realize that it is a house. It is covered in stone and wood, held together by cement. It looks more like a cave dwelling or something you would find in the jungle or the movie Swiss Family Robinson. There are gardens, pathways and bridges and a big pond with a waterfall, all covered in this material. There is a sculpted garage with a BMW in it and big aquariums that face the road with these giant fish that look like a cross between a shark and an anteater. There was a young guy watering the plants and I asked him who is the artist who made these things. "I am", he told me and went back to his watering. Andrea thought he was too young to have done them all. It looked like a lifetime of work. Maybe the owner of the house began it and this fellow was continuing the task of clothing everything in stone and branches. There was another Greek family wandering around the grounds but they knew as much as we did. There were public toilets so it was obvious that guests were welcome. Anyway it is a mysterious place but well worth a visit if you are looking for something to do on a sunny afternoon and have a car at your disposal."

The Flinstone house, Salamina

Right across the street is the “beach” which is mostly a flat rock running parallel to the sea, though it is clean enough and once you are in the water you won’t care how you got there. The nearby Akrotiri Cafe is one of the best cafes on the island, with a beautiful view of the sea, coffees, beer, wine and cocktails and some food. There was a restaurant, a psarotaverna called Kalamies to Maniati but it seems to be closed for now at least. The area is residential, not touristic, (like just about anywhere on Salamina that is not industrial) and the sea is relatively clean by Salamina standards which means depending on which way the wind was blowing and who was there before you, like any Greek island. But if you consider the fact that it’s less than half an hour from Pireaus it’s better than you’d expect. If you enjoy driving or walking around looking at summer homes and gardens then you will probably enjoy this and other coastal towns and settlements on Salamina.


To get to the Cave of Euripides follow Euripides street from the sea up to the parking area where you have to walk through the woods. Some uphill walking is required though no heavy climbing but you will need decent shoes (probably not flip-flops), drinking water and a flashlight. The cave itself has been used since the Neolithic Period and supposedly this is where the reclusive Euripides came to be in solitude and write his plays. The cave was excavated by Yannos G. Lolos, Assistant Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the University of Ioannina, who found among other artifacts a fragmentary black-glaze skyphos, a two-handled deep wine-cup, from the late 5th century BC, with part of the name Euripides inscribed. He also discovered a sanctuary to Dionysious which is nearby. The cave is narrow and you may be nervous about going in. But go up anyway because the view is worth it.

Peristeria, Salamina
Peristeria: Metamorfosis Sotiriou

If sand, or something similar is important to you when swimming then right beyond the small port and the Monastery of Saint Nicholas is a little beach which is more pebble than sand but better than slippery stone. There is a cantina with drinks and snacks in the summer and it can get crowded on Sundays but it is one of the better places to swim on the island. Further on there is a beach with parking and shade trees by the small Church of the Metamorphosis Sotiriou, which is what the area is called. Look for signs for To Pefko, a small family owned fish taverna on the beach. It caters mostly to locals which makes it a good bet for fresh fish and good quality meat at reasonable prices. It is right on the beach.

Kolones, Salamis
Kolones-Parilia Patitiri

If you continue west from Peristeria you come to the settlement of Kolones where there is a small beach by the Church of Evagelistrias. N earby is an ancient funeral monument from the 4th century bc that overlooks the sea, and the beach of Patitiri below it, one of the nicest beaches on the island where there is a small cafe. Also nearby is Paralia Faros, named for the historic stone lighthouse on one of the two capes that protect it. It is a pebble beach with shade trees, clean sea, a view of Aegina and Agistri and a small taverna which may or may not be open when you get there. In the summer it is full of children and may not be as clean but considering you are in view of all the tankers and ships outside the harbor of Pireaus it is better than you would expect. Below the lighthouse is a secluded beach called Paralia Koghi which you have to walk to from the houses on the east edge of the village, passing the entrance to the lighthouse.

Aias Club
Aias Club

In the town of Maroudi there are two beaches both popular with locals and summer visitors. The first is Aias Club, a long pebble beach with several cafes, beach beds and umbrellas, and a couple restaurants. The funny name is because this was the location of the original Club Med and the village developed around it. It’s not hard to imagine this as a resort but now it is just a beach town, mostly residential with summer homes and houses for people who live here year round. One of the beach restaurants is a cafeteria, which is a cafe with food, cocktails and fancy chairs, and the other is Cafe Taverna Ajax which calls itself a mezedopouleion but could pass for a psarotaverna with meat and mezedes. The second beach is the smaller Krifto (Hidden) 2nd Eas Beach as it is called though if you come on a Sunday it won’t seem very hidden. But again as far as Salamina goes these are two of it’s better beaches. Some who live here or come regularly might say the best. Others would say go a couple miles to Paralia Ag Nikolao, and Paralia Perami, and Paralia Karizas, which are really like one long beach between two small harbors on each end of the bay.

Giala Beach, Salamina
Giala Beach

Giala is a small port with a sandy beach sheltered from the north wind so there are few waves and perfect for families with small children. There are beach beds and umbrellas maintained by the municipality who also keep the beach relatively clean though in the busy period of summer there are complaints about overflowing trash bins so avoid on weekends if possible. (I could say this about any beach on the island. Maybe I have). H Oria Giala is a family run taverna on the beach with fresh grilled fish at reasonable prices, as often the case on the island, it is for Greeks, locals and visitors so the food is generally good and inexpensive because it could not survive if it wasn't, unlike a restaurant on a more touristy island.

Kakis Vigla Salamis
Kaki Vigla

The beach of Kaki Vigla has hotels, fish tavernas, and is another one of the cleaner beaches on Salamina. The main beach is sandy and there are a couple smaller beaches on each end. In the rocky areas there are sea urchins and if a high-speed ferry or fast moving container ship passes by, even if you don’t see it, the waves may get as far as your beach blanket and cell phone. Just something to be aware of. There are several tavernas, all on the beach including one in the Apollo Hotel, all serving the usual Greek Island fare, grilled fresh fish, fried kalamari, grilled meats, salads and mezedes. If you are coming from the city and this is your first stop you will be happy here and maybe a little surprised at how rural it is.

Selina, Salamina.
Selinia by Stamatis Bakaoukas

Selinia is another beach town, close enough to see the ships leaving the port of Piraeus. There are several restaurants and cafes on a long sandy beach. It’s actually really nice and there are regular boats leaving from the main harbor in Pireaus since it is the closest beach from the city that is not in the city. So for people who want to have seafood on the sea but not in the city, jumping on a boat to Selinia is the easiest way to do it. And there are plenty of seafood restaurants here too. Votsalakia is a good one, with tables right on the beach and some interesting seafood dishes like risotto with shrimp or cuttlefish in its own ink, lobster spaghetti, mussels, and your usual fried and grilled fish and meat. They also have the Votsalakia Hotel if you want to make it an overnighter and there are a number of apartments, villas and holiday homes in Selinia. If you wanted to stay on the beach on an island within 20 minutes of Athens then this might be the place.

On the far west end of Salamina is the town of Karakiani and beach of Kanakia, across from the small island of the same name. This is probably the cleanest and most like the Greek Island beach you were expecting or hoping for when you came here. With clear azure sea, a nice inexpensive fish restaurant called Meltemi, and even some places to stay, the most surprising thing is that this beach is less than 20 miles from the center of Athens and yet on your way there you feel like you are driving through Pelion. There are pine forests, and shade trees right on the beach. On the way there or back look for Ktima Filippikou, a horse-riding center with a cafe overlooking the sea in the forest of Agios Nikolaos (Lemonia), where people have weddings and other events. But you can come for a coffee and to enjoy the view or even go horseback riding. There is a small church and a swimming pool as well as many trails through the woods. It is also the home of the Salamis Equestrian Club. It is also a short distance from the beautiful Monastery of Agios Nikolaos of Lemonia, built in 1742, which is well worth a visit. If you come in the winter there is a waterfall nearby as well as the 10th Century Church of Agios Ioannis O Kallivitis.

Ancient Port of Salamis
Ancient Port of Salamis

Back to Paloukia and Home

Once you get to Ambelakia and the bay of Spithari you are back in the industrialized world of shipyards and unswimable sea. But you are also in the ancient port of Salamis which considering the fact that this is a place of such importance, the saving of western civilization no less, is not really treated with the respect it deserves.

Much has been written about the Battle of Salamis. If you look at the circumstances, a small inexperienced Greek Navy managed to outmaneuver a much superior Persian fleet, completely destroying it, and the aspirations of Xerxes to rule the Mediterranean, sending him and his powerful armies back to Persia forever. You might believe in divine providence or some kind of plan for mankind that took us from that moment to where we are today. Because from this point on the Greeks proceeded unimpeded, creating one of the greatest civilizations in history. Our own society and culture, our arts, architecture, government, the way we think, our medicine, sciences, what we know about the earth, how we treat each other, if it did not begin with the Greek victory at Salamis, had they lost, might have ended in its infancy at that moment in time. Call it a miracle. Call it an act of God. Or give credit to the brilliance of the ancient Greeks, and their luck. But the Battle of Salamis was one of the most important factors in making you who you are. No matter who you are or where you are from. And it deserves more than a roadside memorial.

Battle of Salamis
Battle of Salamis by Barthélemy 1798 (click to enlarge)

The indifference to history, few signs, no attention or care for whatever archaeology exists is puzzling since if nothing else this is the most important archaeological site on the island and there is no reason people interested in history and the classics wouldn’t want to come, even just to walk around for 20 minutes, look at a few stones, read a few informational plaques, before going off to the other side of the island for a swim and lunch. It’s called commerce and it takes some investment and infrastructure but is usually worth the endeavor. No museum, just a monument on the road. If you like shipyards, sunken boats, stray dogs and empty lots then you will enjoy this part of the island. But most likely you are only here because you are on your way back to Paloukia to catch the ferry back to Perama.

But wait! Don’t leave just yet. If you go down to the sea at the base of the bay you can see the ancient stones of the ancient port. And there is a more impressive Monument to the Battle of Salamina overlooking the sea where it happened and all the shipyards, (right next to the Kynosoura Dockyard which you can find by following Leoforos Kynosouras). For such an important monument it is pretty neglected but you are here so you might as well see it and at least you can reflect upon what happened here, plus the monument itself is impressive. Maybe it is the beginning of something better. And there is a winery here, the Oinopoiia Gramatikos located on the south side of the bay next to the Bekris boatyards on Akti Themistokleous Rd.

In 2020 to celebrate the 2500th anniversary of the Battle of Salamis, the Greek government began a cleanup of the sunken and derelict boats in the bay, hauling them on land and cutting them up for scrap. Hopefully this is just the beginning.

Spithari Shipyard

After the history and scenery of Spithari there is nowhere else to go but back to Paloukia for the short ferry trip to the mainland.

Fresh barbounia
Fresh Barbounia and Koutsomoures from Ouzeri Kakias

Restaurants in Salamina

If you are familiar with Athens and Attika, as you may have gathered from what I have written so far, Salamina is to Pireaus as the North and East coast of the Attiki Peninsula is to Athenians: A place you can easily get to where you can escape the city and find the kinds of seaside fish restaurants that you might find on an island. Only with Salamina it actually is an island. So if you will allow me to apologize for mentioning some of the restaurants I have already written about, these are the ones you should consider if you are coming here for the day, a week, a month or to live forever. Keep in mind if you are coming for the day and it is a Saturday or Sunday in the warm months there will be many people with the same idea as you. Or even in the not so warm months if the weather happens to be nice.

Ouzeri Kakias
Ouzeri Kakias

The first choice of just about everyone who lives on or visits Salamina regularly is Ouzeri o Kakias, right by the fish market and across from the fishing boats, which is where you want your fish restaurant to be if it is not on a beach. They call themselves an ouzeri/mezedopouleion but this is really a terrific psarotaverna (fish restaurant) with a lot of mezedes too. Anything you can find in the sea you will find in this restaurant either fried, grilled, boiled or raw including astako (lobster), karavides (giant crayfish) and all your favorite expensive and inexpensive fish brought in fresh daily. Clams, scallops, mussels, barbounia, koutsomoura, rofos, tuna, clams, monkfish, and just about every fish or sea creature you can imagine and they take pride in having fresh fish. Try the fish Carpaccio, and Risotto di sepia, with cuttlefish ink. If you love fish and you have time for one restaurant make it this one. Count on it being busy on weekends. To fully experience it I suggest having a designated driver who doesn't mind not drinking while everyone else is. If this is not possible maybe book a taxi to get you there and back. If you are coming during the weekend and have your heart set on eating here play it safe and call for a reservation. Tel 30 21 0465 5821.

If you can't get a table there are several other restaurants nearby including Porto Leone Ouzeri, right on the sea with authentic mezedes, some of which you won't find in too many places, like sea-urchin, raw clams, media-keftedes (mussel meatballs) as well as all the dishes you would find at a normal fish taverna. Also highly recommended is H Skala h Megali, (H Ble Karekles) close to the other two, another popular ouzeri/fish taverna for steamed mussels, stewed sea-snails, clams on the half-shell, grilled fresh fish and the usual dishes you will find in a seafood place. Further up the road, maybe a kilometer is the simple seaside Karnagio Psaro Taverna, another really good fish restaurant which has been around for at least 50 years. Like the other restaurants it is busy on weekends, especially on Sunday. Order the fried squid if they have it fresh, or the grilled thrapsala (giant squid) and any or all of your favorite inexpensive local fish, gavros, marides, sardines and fresh fried potatoes.

Meltemi in Kanakia is a seafood/meat restaurant right on the sea that will make you feel like you are on a far away Greek island with one taverna. Besides your normal Greek island restaurant fish, meat, vegetable and mezedes they have a few dishes you may not find elsewhere, for example handmade sausages, pig's knuckles cooked in a cast iron wood stove, pastourma saganaki, steaks and chops and fresh fish. This restaurant is about as far as you can get on the island from Pireaus and the setting will verify this with clean sea, a nice beach and pine trees right down to the water. All the above restaurants you will be in an urban setting. Meltemi is remote island rural and worth the drive. Even if the food was just mediocre I would come here for fried frozen kalamari and a karafaki of ouzo if I lived in Pireaus just to swim and soak up the peaceful atmosphere. Great for couples and families.

If you follow the coast road out of town on the north side of the Bay of Salamina you will come to the beach town of Resti and To Pyrofani Restaurant, a respected taverna-mezedopouleion with a clean kitchen, fresh fish, mezedes, grilled meat and salads and a beautiful view of the bay. They have a large variety of dishes and seem to do most, if not everything well. There is a playground for the children so the adults can continue eating and drinking long after the kids have lost interest. The fish is fresh, the service is friendly and efficient and there is a nice little beach right across the road. They also carry Saronic, a craft beer made in Aegina which you should try, wherever you find it. Tel 30 210 4640217

To Pefko, is a small family owned fish taverna on the beach which caters mostly to locals which makes it a good bet for fresh fish and good quality meat at reasonable prices. It is right on the beach and perfect for going for a swim and lunch or a late swim and dinner. Recommended dishes are whatever fresh fish they have, grilled and the usual fried kalamarakia, garides (shrimp), marides, gavros, grilled sardines and grilled kolios(mackerel). Their hirini brizoles (grilled pork chops) are spectacular. Very unpretentious place like something you might find on a beach in Lesvos.

The family owned Kochili Estiatorio is right on the sea on the south side of the port of Paloukia in a district called Kamatero, with a view of the ferries passing back and forth and a reputation for excellent food and friendly personable service. It looks fancy but the food is similar to home cooked (if your yaya makes lobster macaroni and giant shrimp saganaki) and though the presentation is upscale they have everything you would want from a psarotaverna (fish restaurant) and a psistaria (grill-house), plus creative salads and deserts and imaginative cocktails. Popular with people from the mainland, it is easier to get here from Pireaus than to go to Glyfada, they also have weddings and baptism parties here so don't be surprised if you come on a weekend and there is a party in full swing. Come during the week and they will be happier to see you, it will be quieter and the food will be just as good. And by the end of your meal you will know the name of every ferry boat sailing between Paloukia and Perama. Oh yeah, if you plan to have dinner in Athens it is also a good spot for ouzo and meze before getting on the boat. If you need a place for a wedding or baptism this would be more fun than Peania. Tel 210-4673306

Salamina ferry

Getting to Salamina

From the port of Perama which is a small town just west of Pireaus past Drapetsona and Keratsini an endless parade of small ferry boats go back and forth to Salamina's port of Paloukia every 15 minutes or so until midnight and then every hour. A ticket for a passenger costs 1 euro and around 5 euros for a car. The trip takes about 15 minutes. You will probably want to bring a car because public transport is not very good and if you go and only see Paloukia you won't be very impressed.

Between Omonia and Perama there's a bus every 15 minutes or so but they stop around midnight and then you have to take a taxi for about 35 euros.

There are also boats from the main port of Pireaus to Paloukia and the beach town of Selinia which leave every hour or two. They don't take cars and if you don't have a car the best thing to do is take the boat to Selinia and have a swim, explore, have a nice lunch or early dinner and come back on the last boat around 6pm.

Also the boat from Megara to Faneromeni leaves every half hour or so and this is a good way to go if you have a car and you live outside of the center of Athens and close to the Ethniki Odos which is nearby.

If you are a tourist looking for somewhere to go for the day and want to explore the island I recommend renting a car or using George the Famous Taxi Driver.

Saronic Seafront

Where to Stay in Salamina

Most people who visit Salamina come for the day but there is no reason not to stay longer. Here are some of the hotels, apartments, holiday homes and rooms available in some of the nicer parts of the island. Saronic Seafront is a holiday home located in Saterli (above photo). The property has sea views.The vacation home features 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a flat-screen TV, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio with garden views.

With a bar and popular restaurant, Votsalakia Hotel is located in Selinia, a beach town with a port and a small ferry that connects it to Pireaus. (If you are coming without a car Selinia would be the best place to stay since it is easy to get to and has a nice beach). Each room opens to a balcony, while some also feature views of the sea. All rooms include a private bathroom equipped with a bath or shower. A flat-screen TV with satellite channels is available in every unit as well as free Wifi. Nearby is the Votsalakia Luxury Apartments owned by the same family, and the Pine Villa a vacation home with 6 bedrooms, 5 bathrooms, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio with garden views.

In Aiantio, the Aianteion Bay Hotel features a restaurant, bar, a shared lounge and garden, a swimming pool and is located right on the beach with a view of Salamis Bay and the town. Featuring family rooms, all guest rooms have air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, an electric tea pot, a shower, a hairdryer, free wi-fi and a desk. Nearby the Aias Summer House provides air-conditioned accommodations with free WiFi, as well as access to a playground. Each unit has a patio, a fully equipped kitchen with a dishwasher, a seating area with a sofa, a flat-screen TV, a washing machine, and a private bathroom with shower and a hairdryer. Some units include a dining area and/or a balcony. Villa Prosili is located in the hills overlooking Aiantio. This self-catered villa has a private pool, a garden, grill facilities, free WiFi and free private parking. The villa is located on the ground floor and features 3 bedrooms, a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a fully equipped kitchen that provides guests with a dishwasher, a microwave, a washing machine, a fridge and an oven.

Located in Illiakti close to Tourkolimano Beach, Eliakti Relaxing Seaside features air-conditioned accommodations with a terrace, free private parking and free WiFi. The vacation home has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, a flat-screen TV, a dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and a patio with garden views.

You can find more properties by using Matt's Salamis Hotel and Holiday Home Search

Thank you to Giannis Giannarakis and Socrates Maritsis for photos and favorite restaurants!

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