Salamis is the largest Greek island in the Saronic Gulf. Sometimes the island is also called Salamina, after the capital. The 95 km large island is situated only a small distance (about 2 kilometres) from the coast of the mainland and the port of Piraeus, where most ferries depart for various destinations and islands in Greece.
The island of Salamis is mainly mountainous and rocky, with the 404-meter high Mavrovouni mountain as the highest point. On the south side of Salamis, there is a pine tree forest.
There are approximately 31,000 people living permanently on the island, but during the peak season in the tourist holidays, the number of people on the island multiple this. Salamis is an island of extremes, with a heavy industry on one side, but also with quiet beaches and beautiful nature.
The capital of the island is called Salamina and lies on the west side of the island. The main port of Salamis is situated on the east side of the island and is called Paloukia. This is also the place where most of the ferries will arrive. The quickest way to the island of Salamis is from the ferry port of Perama a suburb of Piraeus). From here the journey takes only ten minutes. The small ferry that sails up and down here is mainly used by inhabitants of the island that work in either Piraeus or Athens.
The island is famous for its well-known Battle of Salamis which took place in the year 480 BC. In this battle, the Athenian admiral Themistocles defeated the Persian fleet that was sent by their ruler Xerxes.
Nowadays the headquarters of the Greek navy is located at Salamis.
Although there are quite a few Athenians that have a holiday home on the island of Salamis, it is not a very popular holiday destination for non-Greek tourists because of the ugly architecture of the many new buildings that are put down, and because there is a lot of heavy industry, which had as a result that the island and the surrounding waters are not very clean. If you are looking for a quiet beach with clean waters it is best to go to the south of the island, which looks quite green and different. Here you find narrow stretches of sand and pebbles and you can sit under a tree if you want protection from the sun. The connection to the mainland is very good because there are people who live on the island and work in Athens.
The inhabitants of Salamis are not really dependent on tourism. Many work in the fishery, with a ferry company or in the heavy industry. The fishing fleet of Salamis is the largest in Greece. There are also 5 shipyards on Salamis.
Sights of the island of Salamis or Salamina in Greece
Ambelakia – the ancient harbour of the island, Koulouris, is situated 4 kilometres southeast of the capital in Ambelakia. In the sea are the remains of ancient buildings. There are remains of walls from the old Acropolis and of streets. In Ambelakia there are also churches that date from the 16th century. In the bay in front of Ambelakia the famous Battle of Salamis took place. Ambelakia is the oldest town on the island.
The large village of Moulki (or Aianteio, named after the Greek hero Ajax), in the west of the island south of the capital, has many pine trees and a nice beach. Here the first Hellenistic settlement of the island was found. In the village are two churches, the Metamorphosis of Sotira and Kimisis or Theotokou, which date from the 11th and 12th centuries. At a distance of 5 kilometres from Moulki on the mountain Stavros, in the southwest of Salamis, stands the monastery of Saint Nikolaou Lemonion from the 18th century. Opposite the monastery stands a Byzantine temple, the Saint John Kalabitou, dating from the 10th century.
The beaches of Kaki Vigla, Faneromeni, Saterli, Selinia, Kanakia and Peristeria in the south of the island are among the best of Salamis (and cleaner than the ones in the north) and they are pretty quiet. This area is less developed than the rest of the island. Faneromeni has a monastery with beautiful frescoes.
Psili Ammos (meaning fine sand) is a beautiful beach in the northwest of the island opposite Elefsina. Here you will find one of the oldest churches on the island of Salamis, the Saint Grigorios.
The Cave of Euripides is a cave with 10 rooms in Peristeria where objects were found from the Neolithic and later times (classical and Roman period), such as arrowheads, pottery, figurines and jewellery. It is suspected that the cave has long been used as a sanctuary and that this is the place where the exiled Euripides wrote his tragedies. In the cave, they also found a big wine cup with two handles that had part of his name on it.