The beautiful tiny Greek island dubbed a little Venice but without tourists

A European island known by locals as “little Venice” has fewer canals than its Italian big sister but is an improvement in some ways, tourists believe. On its surface, Aitoliko appears to share many similarities with Venice, as its old city sits on an islet that bisects two lagoons – Aitoliko and Missolonghi – in Aetolia-Acarnania, West Greece.

Also like Venice, it is tricky to access, with only two slim bridges connecting it to the mainland; one to its east and another to its west, with a third leading north to two smaller islands. Aitoliko’s canals place it alongside other European cities, including Wrocław, Poland, Aveiro in Portugal, and little-known Giethoorn in The Netherlands.

But tourists who dig below the city’s surface will find that, like those other cities, Greece’s lagoon community offers more than a pretty face. Unlike the other European cities bisected by canals, Aitoliko has long built over its watery streets.

Roads through the city still resemble the waterways, however, according to Heidi Fuller-Love, who noted in a piece for the Daily Telegraph that the streets still have a “more than a passing resemblance” of canals. The community also bears the hallmarks of a traditional tourist town, with local shops, bars, and tavernas, but without the sheer number of tourists that might descend on other cities, most notably Venice.

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Ms Fuller-Love said Aitoliko is “reminiscent of Venice before the cruise ships, tourist crowds and street hawkers”, with a local taverna owner saying it was most like the city before World War Two.

One local writing about the town on Reddit said that, unlike other parts of Greece, tourism is not Aitoliko’s primary source of income.

The anonymous user said most tourists travel through the city en route to other hotspots like Mesologgi, Astakos, Leukada and the Ionian islands.

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They added: “There aren’t any restaurants just cafés that function as such in the night. We have only one hotel that functions for workers that work here seasonally, or hunters coming from other parts of Greece. Professionals work mostly in Mesologgi, so they commute there.

“The locals are mostly farmers and fishermen. The only tourists we get are agriculture tourists that visit local farms to learn about the olives and the harvesting process.”

Aitoliko is also famous for its fishing and is known as the centre for Greek caviar thanks to its lagoon placement.

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