Loutraki: a delightful elixir for body and soul near Athens
Located on the coast of a pine-tree covered mountainous peninsula jutting westwards into the Gulf of Corinth, the ancient town of Thermae was the first resort mentioned historically.
Now known as Loutraki (from the Greek ‘loutro’ = bath), it is just 85 km (53 mi) for central Athens on the modern motorway and conveniently close to such must see-sights and sites as the Corinth Canal, Ancient Corinth and the Acrocorinth.
The town is being celebrated since antiquity for its thermal and mineral waters welling up from deep within the Earth’s crust . The old legends about the quality and attributes of its thermal water have been conclusively demonstrated by scientific analysis and research which substantiate its reputation at a top international level.
Indeed, Loutraki and Water have always been associated as a very special and lasting duality, not only for the regions’ celebrated thermal and mineral waters but also because of the omnipresent sea which surrounds the peninsula on three sides and also creates the delightful beach which is directly in front of the town and can thus be visited by foot and enjoyed if your accommodation is in Loutraki.
This beach stretches for an uninterrupted four km (2.5 mi) and has proudly been flying the Blue Flag continuously since 1987.
As if its acclaimed thermal waters and its embracing sea were not enough, Loutraki has also been blessed by a unique mild micro-climate, the gentle breezes carrying the fragrance of its turquoise waters, the rare natural beauty of its surroundings and its traditional, gourmet eateries which all conspire to render Loutraki an ideal destination for year-round activities such as hiking, cycling, water sports, photography, archaeology, history, geology – and, of course, rest, relaxation and recharging including its thermal spa treatments for which Loutraki has been renowned since time immemorial.
It should thus come as no surprise that Thermae (meaning ‘place of warm springs’) was the ancient name of what today is Loutraki – and even had its own dedicated deity, Thermia Artemis (Artemis of Thermae / of the warm springs).
In the lush nearby region of Perachora (from the ancient Greek ‘Peraia Khora’ = ‘land at the end’), a significant ancient civilisation flourished as a result of the commanding geographical position and fertile land. Perachora is home to important ancient sanctuaries and byzantine monuments, such as the classical site of the Heraion and old churches and monasteries which dot the countryside.
The area also boasts the blue lagoon of Vouliagmeni, the imposing lighthouse at nearby Cape Melangavi at the tip of the Perachora peninsula, raised beaches, marine fossils, fantastic geology, pine tree forests and the Geraneia mountains which beckon irresistibly above Loutraki and crown the peninsula enabling the wonderful sea and mountain combination which contributes so much to the attractiveness of the region.
The view from the paths up the nearby mountains will enthrall hikers by affording breath-taking panoramic views of the the Gulf of Corinth, mainland Greece in the directions of Mts Parnassus and Helicon and the lofty northern Peloponnese ranges. This happy and heady feeling can only be matched by – and combined with – a cooling and soothing dip in the sea.
Come to think of it, the sea and mountains are so close to each other around Loutraki that the jury is still open as to whether this magical place is one where swimmers can hike or where hikers can swim !… but then again, we must also listen to those who prefer to explore the antiquities, those who immerse themselves in the vibrant nature and those who relax with the renowned and complete programmes offered by the spa and hydrotherapy facilities.
All images copyright Eric CB Cauchi / Eternal Greece Ltd, unless otherwise stated.