Aitoloakarnania: Remarkable archaeological finds, scenic beaches and lush mountains


Seat of the prefecture: Messolonghi
The main areas of the prefecture are: Messolonghi, Agrinio, Amfilochia, Antirrio, Nafpaktos.

The prefecture of Aitoloakarnania is the largest in area in Greece. It occupies the western part of the region of Sterea Ellada and it is bound by the prefectures of Arta, Evritania, Fthiotida, and Fokida. To the North it is bathed by the Ambracian Gulf, to the West by the Ionian Sea, while to the South by two gulfs, Patraikos and Corinthiakos.

The main source of income of the prefecture is agriculture, with tobacco as the main product. The prefecture of Aitoloakarnania is the first in production of tobacco in Greece.

Aitoloakarnania Map

The tourist development in the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania is also significant. The visitors interest is captivated by the important archaeological finds and monuments, the Sacred Town of Messolonghi, the historical town of Nafpaktos with its verdant green surroundings and the picturesque Venetian castle, the town of Amfilochia with the “glowing” sea and its archaeological sights, as well as the rich natural environment with beautiful, picturesque beaches, and mountains covered with dense forests.

Aitoloakarnania is an area of natural beauty, strewn with lagoons, rivers, such as Acheloos and Evinos, high mountains, deep gorges and beautiful towns and cities. Here the scenery is enchanting and diverse, plains and valleys harmoniously coexist with the mountain ranges, and the climate is very good.

Aitoloakarnania Attractions

The town of Messolonghi, seat of the prefecture, is a peaceful town with rich historical heritage. In 1937, with a presidential decree, Messolonghi was declared a Sacred Town for its valuable contribution to the Greek Revolution of 1821. The fall of Messolonghi and most importantly the heroic Exodus of its defenders on April 10, 1826, thrilled the international public opinion. As a result the philhellinistic movement grew while the Exodus and the sacrifice of the people of Messolonghi was the inspiration for many works of art, painting, literature etc. Messolonghi is also the birthplace of five Greek Prime Ministers, Harilaos Trikoupis being the most important among them, and also the birthplace of important Greek poets.

In this historical town many sights remind of the Exodus of its defenders in 1826, such as the defensive walls, the Gate of the Exodus, the monuments of the Philhellenes and the Tomb of Heroes. Worth visiting in Messolonghi are the Garden of Heroes, the Museum of History and Art housed in the Old Mayor’s House, the mansions of the Trikoupis and Palamas families, the statue of the famous Greek poet Kostis Palamas, the monastery of Agios Symeon built on a slope of Zygos Mountain, the chapel of Agia Paraskevi, the small church of Panagia on the small island of Phinikia, the windmill, the castle of Kyra Rini, the monument (heroon) of ancient b, and the ruins of the house of the Great Philhellen poet Lord Byron.

Probably the most important sight of the town is the lagoon, an important wetland habitat and centre of fish production in the entire country. At a small distance from the lagoon, remnants of the ancient temple of Artemis Lafria and Apollo Lafrios can be seen.

The city of Agrinio, the biggest of the Prefecture, is the financial, cultural and educational centre of the prefecture, also boasting a good tourist infrastructure. In and around the city you can visit the Papastratio Municipal Park, the Archaeological and Folk Museum, the Papastratios Municipal Library and the Kapralos Art Gallery, the old tobacco warehouses of Papastratos and Papapetros, the church of Agia Triada of Mavrika, the remnants of the ancient town of Stratos, the gorge of Klissoura and the hydroelectric dams of Kremasta, Stratos and Kastraki.

The town of Amfilochia is built amphitheatrically. With important monuments, it boasts significant tourist popularity, especially during the summer months. In the bay of Amfilochia the natural phenomenon of “luminescence” appears, creating images of impressive beauty.

Antirrio is a seaside village and, at the same time, a traffic centre of the whole area of Sterea Ellada, as its port connects the area with Peloponnese via ferry service. In the last few years the World’s longest multi-span cable-stayed bridge has been connecting Antirrio with the town of Rio in Peloponnese. The castle of Antirrio hosts various cultural events every summer.

Nafpaktos is a beautiful seaside town with a very long history. With many sights and a unique picturesque style, it is a year round pole of tourist attraction. You should visit the Venetian port, the well-preserved Venetian castle on the hill overlooking the town, the old mansion of the Botsaris family, now a privately owned museum, the traditional houses in the centre of the town. You should walk on the traditional stone-paved little streets of the town centre and if the weather permits, swim at the beautiful beaches Psani and Gribovo.

The mountainous part of the area of Nafpaktos is also regarded as one of the prettiest areas of Greece. With dense forests, majestic mountain regions and impressive gorges, it is home to various species of flora and fauna, in a landscape of unique beauty. The picturesque mountain villages built in areas with forests of fir and platan trees, with plenty of running water, will enchant you. Some of these villages have modern accommodation facilities for the guests.

Other areas with monuments and sights are: Aitoliko, Astakos, Vonitsa, Thermo, Menidi.

Besides its historical interest, the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania also features many landscapes of natural beauty. Here is the most picturesque and largest lake of Greece, the Trichonis Lake. The rivers Acheloos and Evinos are home to rare species of fish and birds, as they are important wetland habitats. The forest of Fraxos by the river of Acheloos is formed by age-long trees of the species Fraxinus Oxycarpa. It is home to significant numbers of birds, amphibians and serpents, while the multitude of small streams make an ideal otter habitat.

Aitoloakarnania with its rich history, the plethora of natural sights, the diversity of landscape, the good climate, the modern tourist infrastructure, the picturesque villages, the excellent beaches ad the hospitable people, will enchant you from your first moments here.

How to get there

By bus: There is frequent daily service with KTEL busses to and from Athens, Thessaloniki and Patras to Messolonghi.

By car: You can get to the prefecture of Aitoloakarnania by car

The distance from Athens is 248km.
The distance from Thessalonica is 521km.
The distance from Patras is 49km.

By Ferry: There is also ferry service from the prefecture of Aetoloakarnania to the islands of Kefalonia and Ithaca, as well as to the port of Rio in Peloponnese.

Aitoloakarnania Photos

Aitoloakarnania Useful Telephone Numbers (Calling code for Greece 0030)

Messolonghi Municipality
26310 55120
Aitoliko Bus Station
26320 22227
Messolonghi Hospital
26310 57100
Messolonghi Bus Station
226310 22371
Messolonghi Police Station
Patras Bus Station
2610 421205, 2610 623887
Messolonghi Traffic Polic
26310 55727
Athens Bus Station
210 5129293
Messolonghi Tourist Police
26310 27200
Thessaloniki Bus Station
2310 512122
Messolonghi Port Authority
26310 51121
Messolonghi Fire Station
26310 28787
Antirio Port Authority
26340 31296
Messolonghi Post Station
26310 22605
Rio Port Authority
2610 991203
Messolonghi Municipal Folklore
26310 22134