Greece is blessed with a multitude of therapeutic mineral-rich thermal springs, most of them in magnificently scenic natural locations. We list them here so they can be included in your travels, because who doesn’t want to enjoy the many and profound benefits of these waters?
Treating illnesses by soaking in mineral springs, known as balneotherapeutic was first recommended by ancient Greek physician Herodotus. The therapeutic practice was later confirmed by Hippocrates, who fastidiously studied the qualities of different types of water and their healing properties. Upon discovering the benefits of hot springs, the Romans made the thermae a life art, creating beautiful bathhouses and elaborate rituals.
Lake Vouliagmeni, Attica
Just 45 minutes (25km) drive from the centre of Athens you’ll find Lake Vouliagmeni, a popular swimming spot where the waters are at 22-29 degrees C year-round. With loungers (and in summer umbrellas), a café-restaurant, playground and scenic views, this is a great place to enjoy the curative benefits of hot springs (which emerge from 50 to 100 m depths). TIP: Be aware of the little «Garra Rufa» fish in the lake, which may offer wonderful peeling action but that some swimmers find bothersome!
Pozar Thermal Baths, Pella
In Macedonia, the birthplace of Alexander the Great, the Pozar Thermal Baths are immersed in naturally beautiful surroundings. Go there for the therapeutic hot springs, natural pools and rivers with thermal waters – at 37C (98F) – plus a network of natural and artificial waterfalls. Here you can choose between outdoor springs and numerous indoor private baths as well as spa facilities, a hammam and jacuzzis. The waters here are particularly popular among sufferers of rheumatic, respiratory, gynaecological, circulatory and dermatological ailments. Near the baths, you’ll find plenty of places to stay, eat and entertain yourself. In winter you can combine the steamy springs with skiing on nearby Mt Kaimaktsalan.
Widely unknown, this volcanic peninsula not only has 120 types of orchids growing naturally there but is also where you’ll come across white-turquoise waters found in the village of Vromolimni (literally translating at the stinky lake) enriched with sulphuric hot springs and steam geysers near the old inactive crater. Pausanias, the ancient Greek traveller, wrote that these warm springs appeared after a volcanic eruption near Methana during the third century BC.
A popular spa destination since Byzantine times, Krinides has a beautiful blend of thermal waters and clay mud, offering the ideal beauty and health experience. Averaging at around 29C, the water here is thought to help treat or alleviate rheumatic, dermatological, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal and urinary problems, and visitors are encouraged to meet with the on-site physician before dipping so that a proper course of action can be advised. On-site, you’ll also find a hammam and massage therapies.
Agia Paraskevi, Halkidiki
Soak in a large indoor-outdoor pool or individual bathtubs with lovely open views of the sea at the Thermal Spa Agia Paraskevi in Halkidiki where the combination of sea and spring waters are at around a soothing 38C and thought to be curative for psoriasis, and urinary problems, joint inflammation, neck and back problems and the respiratory system. On-site, you can also enjoy swimming pools, saunas, Hammam and hydromassage.
Known as Thermae during ancient times, Loutraki is a seaside town that has never ceased to be a major thermal springs destination. There, you can enjoy thalassotherapy, spa treatments and more.
The volcanic island known for its petrified forest, Aristotle, the poet Sappho and delectable Kaloni salt-baked sardines among many other admirable features has a rich variety of coastal and in-land hot springs such as Thermi, Panagia Kryfti, Eftalou, Geras and Polychnitou, which have been used for their many healing properties since ancient times. It’s worth visiting all of these places to get a full thermal waters healing experience.
A spa destination from the times of Plutarch and Aristotle until today, this coastal town is where you’ll find around 80 mineral-rich springs (especially high in magnesium, calcium and iron and at a temperature of 30-70C). For a more luxurious and medically sophisticated experience head to the Thermae Sylla Luxury Hotel & Spa where there are large indoor and outdoor pools with thermal and sea waters as well as numerous spa treatments using the curative waters and mud.
One of the reasons that Ikaria was listed as one of the world’s four Blue Zones is because of its radon-rich thermal springs that have been known about since the 1st Century BC. Visit the salt-water springs at Therma, reputed to have the highest radon concentration, absorbed into the body through breathing its vapours), as well as Lefkada, Spileo, Asklipios and Kratsas, where the waters are at a temperature of 38-40 degrees C. The waters in Ikaria are believed to help treat dermatological problems, respiratory ailments, gout, gynaecological issues and chronic fatigue.
Not easily accessible by boat, and thus not heavily touristic, this volcanic, northeastern Aegean island famous for its beautiful beaches and wines is where you’ll enjoy the springs of Therma Ifaistou, located in a lush landscape and known since the Homeric period. During the Ottoman occupation by Hassan Pasha in 1770, a Hamam bathhouse was constructed. The water is at a temperature of between 39-43 degrees C and is thought to help treat issues such as spinal problems, osteoporosis, rheumatic pain, arthritis and kidney stones.
Head to Maliakos Bay where the town has several springs such as the Springs of Aphrodite and in the rock pools at Koniavitis. The therapeutic salt waters (at a temperature of 38-40C) have been enjoyed since the 1920s for their high levels of radon and minerals. The waters are reputed to help treat respiratory, rheumatic, spinal, arthritic, joint, dermatological, gynaecological and prostate problems as well as to help alleviate migraines, insomnia, lethargy and depression. Visit the springs at beachfront Galini Wellness Spa & Resort and Hotel Violetta for a more pampering experience, where spa treatments are also available.
Main image Courtesy of Lake Vouliagmeni