Agistri is a picturesque tourist island covered in pine trees, just 55 minutes from Piraeus and very close to the island of Aegina. It’s the smallest island of the Argosaronic Gulf with about 1.000 residents. With its lush greenery, and with pine trees "touching" its deep blue waters, this earthly paradise has become a tourist attraction and a place of inspiration for numerous artists.
Agistri has two natural ports for the ships to dock; the one is Skala, where the ferry boats from Piraeus dock, and the other is the administrative capital of the island, Megalochori or "Mylos", where the flying dolphins dock. Both ports are connected to Aegina all year round.
Exotic beaches with crystal clear waters, such as Dragonera, Aponisos and Mareza, and traditional villages, such as Limenaria, with the charm of the Cyclades islands, make Agistri an idyllic destination. With its verdant pine woods and its sandy beaches with crystal clear waters, Agistri is the ideal spot for summer vacations whether you seek peace and tranquility or exciting bustling nightlife.
How to get there The island has daily ferry connections with Piraeus. The trip by ferry boat (passenger and vehicle) is 2 hours (Hellenic Seaways: 210-4117341, 210-4199000, www.hellenicseaways.gr). The trip by Flying Dolphin is 55΄. There are three itineraries from the port of Piraeus every day (Hellas Flying Dolphins, Agistri: 22970-4199200. AEGEAN Flying Dolphins: 210-4121654). From Aegina, you may travel with the "Agistri Express» or by water taxi, which is frequent in the summer.
A Glimpse of the Past The history of the island goes back in time. In days bygone, Agistri, together with Aegina and other neighbouring islands, constituted the Kingdom of Aegina, ruled by the legendary king Aeacus. The archaeological findings indicate that the island was first inhabited in the 5th century BC by Peloponnesians who came to live on the island. According to Homer, Agistri was the sheltered port of the brave Myrmidons and took part in the Trojan War. In Homer’s epic poem it is reported as "Pityonisos" (i.e. island of pine trees) and it was the summer residence of King Aeacus. Its sea caves are said to have been the shelter where Aphaia (=Disappeared, unrevealed), the young Vritomarti, hid to escape from the Aeginitian fishermen. Goddess Artemis, in order to help her, gave her flowers to decorate her head, so she wouldn’t be recognized. The island was thus named "Kekryphaleia" (= nicely decorated head), name by which it is reported by both Thucydides and Diodorus.
Another myth associated with the island is that of "Telchines." These mythical creatures (called children of water and land) were excellent craftsmen and musicians who were exiled from Rhodes and found refuge at the port of Skala. The locals, being unable to understand what kind of creatures they were, called them "Fokies" (i.e. Seals). Even today this port is called “the port of the Seal”. It is possible, however, that many seals used to find refuge and food here.
Around the late 17th century, but also earlier, in the 14th century, Agistri is said to have received many settlers from the opposite coast of the Peloponnese, mostly Arvanites, who settled west, next to Limni (i.e. Lake), which exists to our day. The rich tradition of Arvanites enriched the island's life in many ways, which explains the colourful dresses worn even today by some elderly women who speak the Arvanitic dialect. However, due to pirate raids, the inhabitants left the area a few years later and moved south, where they built a new village, retaining, however, the same name, Limenaria, which means “village by the lake”.
During the Greek War of Independence in 1821, the inhabitants of little Agistri gave their blood for freedom. The most important year for the island was 1835, when by royal decree the Community of Agistri was established, registering 248 inhabitants. Gradually, the population of the island grew higher and higher. Before 1960, the transportation to the island was done by fishing boats coming from Aegina. In 1960 the island was connected directly to Piraeus and was electrified in 1973. On September 1, 2006, the new port in Megalochori was inaugurated, in order to decongest the central harbor of Skala and achieve the general upgrading of tourism on the island.
Events Every summer the Municipality of Agistri organises cultural events, with traditional dances, songs, theatrical performances and concerts of established artists. Also, in the last few years the Municipality of Agistri has been organising a bike ride, which attracts a variety of fans, from sports people and bicycle lovers to ordinary citizens and healthy lifestyle enthusiasts. It is a great festival open to all citizens, regardless of age, aimed at raising awareness in sports issues and environmental protection.
Every summer the island participates in various sporting events, such as the Jet Ski race «Akropolis jet Raid» held in June in the Corinthian and the Saronic Gulf. The jet skis set off from Loutraki and make a stop at Agistri, at the unique, spectacular Aponisos. The breathtaking landscape, with the emerald green waters and the pine forest reaching the sea, form a startling scenery for this international event.
Agistri has four quite popular religious festivals: the festival of Zoodochos Pigi (i.e. Life-giving Spring) on Easter Friday, of Agioi Anargyroi on July 1st, of Agia Kyriaki on July 7th, and of the Assumption of Mary on the 15th of August.
Agistri at your plate On the island you shall find delicious dishes. Traditional dishes include mousenta or mousounta (a type of herb pie), pumpkin pie or laklori, and the delicious sweets diples, loukoumades (kind of donut) and tiganites (kind of pancake). The local products are excellent; try caper, the green olives “throumbes”, and the exceptional pine honey, as well as the many aromatic herbs that grow on the island, such as thyme, oregano, sage and chamomile. Fill your glasses with local wines made from several grape varieties (mainly Roditis); and if you order grilled octopus, accompany it with tsipouro made from several grape varieties in a traditional cauldron.