Salamina may not be regarded by Athenians as a the ultimate vacation spot, which makes it an ideal escape for those seeking a more traditional island. Many in Athens regard it as a poor suburb of Piraeus, which makes it even more authentic in certain ways and renders its secrets even more charming. And yes, there are many “secret” attractions that escape not only foreign visitors, but even the Athenians themselves.
To begin with, the island is a combination of arid landscapes, verdant pine forests and of course a wide variety of beaches, with several communities and towns that pepper the island. Historically, the island is known for the Battle of Salamis (Salamis is the older, more formal Greek name of the island), as well as for its mythological lore. It was the domain of Ajax or Aios, some of Telemon, a courageous warrior in Homer’s Iliad and in poems about the Trojan War. Interestingly, the name Salamis is related to a nymph by the same name, related to a spring in the main town of the island.
Today the island of Salamina offers quiet beaches, just a handful of hotels, and many seaside restaurants that offer good, hearty food. Museum lovers can drop by the Archeological Museum of Salamis and the Folk Art Museum. Dig a little deeper as you explore the island and you might spot a couple of traditional windmills from the 18th century, remains from the ancient port of Salamis, the foundations of a Mycenaean Acropolis in the Kanakia area and several monasteries with peaceful allure.
To go to Salamina by car you must drive to Perama on the mainland (a town not too far from the Port of Piraeus) and cross on a cheap ferry with the car that leaves every few minutes. The ride is just about 10 minutes, and you can go up on deck and briefly admire the changing landscape as you reach the island’s port. If you’re into islands that are off the beaten track, this is definitely one of them!