Greece isn’t short on magical, dreamy locations that create instant wanderlust. A look around the internet provides ample evidence of that. But Greece isn’t just sun, beach and ouzo (unless you’re British). Greece is mountains, lakes, rivers, gorges and just about the most diverse environment in Europe. In Greece, you get the full 4 seasons, and we think that’s just great. The zinger is that you don’t have to hoof it to some remote corner of the country to experience the winter-y awesomeness you crave. Case in point is Loutraki; an unassuming sea side town in the province of Korinthia, 84 kilometres from Athens.
Loutraki is known as the spa town, and this you will find out empirically just by seeing the sheer amount of elderly pensioners about. It’s also known as the casino town. Because of the casino that’s been there since the 1920’s. What people may not necessarily realize is that Loutraki is in fact a vast archaeological site that extends on all sides. There’s ancient stuff all around and we mean it.
Try the Heraiaon on for size. Located on Cape Melagavi and situated right on the beach it boasts the temple of Hera no less. This is a comprehensive settlement that also includes amongst others a sacred pool, cistern, aqueduct and fountain house. Another really nifty bit of archaeo-curio is the ancient theater of Kromyon which is still being dissected. One thing you’ll want to see though is the ancient Roman villa just off Loutraki. And you’ll probably want to take a gander at the Isthmia archaeological site in Corinth. And since you’re there you may as well take a peek at the Corinth Canal. Because why not?
The area is dotted with some newer stuff, too. If you’re into frescoes and wall paintings don’t miss out on the 1750 Basilica of Saint Demetris and the temple of the 7 maccabees. The 11th century monastery of Saint Nicholas and the Monastery of Virgin of Prathi are worth the effort as is the chapel of Agion Theodoron.
If you tire of the man-made stuff there’s a few natural beauties out there. The Vouliagmeni Lake (not to be confused with the homonymous lake in Athen’s Vouliagmeni district) is one such beauty. It gets fed salt water through an opening and can be enjoyed in the winter, too. Check out the old lighthouse standing sentinel on the edge above the beach. Then there are the waterfalls in Loutraki, located next to the Old Thermal Spring.
The thermal springs of Loutraki are said to have healing properties for ailments such as chronic rheumatism, skin inflammation, digestive problems, back spasms and gallstones amongst others. Rich in potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride and bromine the waters are kept at a 30,4 Celsius temperature.
Loutraki is all about R&R. Surrounded by nature, nurtured by therapeutic thermal waters and entertained by the lucky roll of the dice, this place is ideal for a weekend getaway. During winter, Loutraki will be devoid of tourists and you’ll have the archaeological sites practically to yourself.