Greeks Like it HotWherever there is hot water rising miraculously from the earth, a temple or town springs up around the aquatic wonder. Most springs have been in continuous use since prehistoric times. Unlike the ruins of ancient cities, where we can imagine but not really experience what the life of the times was like, today's spas offer a modern experience that is little changed from the magnificent spa and bath experiences of Greek and Roman times. Spending a few days - or even a few hours - at one of these special places is a great way to take a vacation from your vacation.
While a few famous waters are now reduced to merely being the source springs for bottling plants, most are available for the enjoyment of Greeks and tourists alike.
Hot Springs & Spas in GreeceFthiotida Prefecture offers probably the greatest concentration of spa sites. Fthiotida's coast also offers ferry service to the island of Euboea (Evia) which boasts dozens of hot springs. One of the best is the facility at Edipsos (also called Aedipsos or Aidipsos). This spa is unique in that the hot springs are located under sea water, allowing visitors to actually swim surrounded by the swirling warm water. Both Plutarch and Aristotle wrote about Aedipsos, and archeological evidence suggests that it has been in use for at least 20,000 years. This long history is reflected in the dozens of hotels, pensions, and other tourist and health-seeker facilities which fill this pleasant, hospitable town. Edipsos provides detailed scientific information on the composition of its healing waters. This spa site is also delightful because of the abundant beaches and interesting historic and archeological monuments located nearby. One of the spa-hotels at Edipsos is the Hotel Capri, a very reasonable hotel offering simple rooms with good views. The hotel has some hydrotherapy facilities of its own, and is also close to the "official" hydrotherapy center.
The volcanic island of Milos has several spots which provide hot waters, though these are not very organized. There are also "hot spots" along many of the beaches, where very warm water rises up just offshore.
Lesbos also offers an array of hot and cold healing springs, and here you can read Matt Barrett's personal account of visits to several of them, along with intriguing photos of the sites.
In addition to the natural spring waters, there are a number of spas that specialize in thalassotherapy, or sea-water treatments. One of the most beautiful is the Royal Mare Thalasso located on Crete. They've provided beautiful chambers to soak in the seawater, and a variety of treatments, including pediluvium, affusion therapy, underwater massage baths (sigh!) and many others.
On the island of Icaria (Ikaria), spas still function at Therma. Bathe under the watchful eyes of a healing goddess and look over the therapeutic benefits and recommendations. The Agriolykos Pension is a small hotel located near the springs. A larger (by Ikarian standards) hotel, the Hotel Ikarion is open May through October, as are the Hotel Anthemis and the Hotel Oenoe.
If you are an active spa-seeker, you may hear of the Kallithea Spas on Rhodes. Be warned, these are not presently in use. It's interesting for its Italian-occupation-era architecture, but you can't soak in it.
The Greeks are proud of their abundant spring waters, each of which is considered to have special curative powers. Obviously, this list of thermal spas in Greece is not a prescription, and if you are seeking therapy for a specific condition, you should consult your health-care provider.
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