Thanks to a wealth of natural hot springs, Loutra Aidipsou has been attracting visitors seeking to benefit from its curative waters since antiquity.
Only once you see it for about the 45th time do you start to get used to it: thick steam rising skywards above frothing hot water, while all around you the rocks are all shades of red and ochre, stained and shaped by the minerals bubbling up from the depths of the earth’s crust.
The geothermal springs in Aidipsos and the surrounding area in northwestern Evia are numerous and widespread: you find them along the length of beaches, by an olive grove, beneath plane trees, in a field between two houses, near the pier in Gialtra, in the sand in Ilias. The water comes from up to 2.5 km underground at temperatures ranging between 34 – 82˚C. Springs with such large depths and high temperatures are rare. The waters are also rich in minerals: potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and sodium, among others.
Precisely because of their uniqueness, the hot springs in Aidipsos have played a major role in shaping the small town’s history, sometimes for the better and sometime for the worse.
The therapeutic properties of the waters have traditionally attracted chiefly elderly visitors seeking treatment for arthritis, rheumatism and other ailments. But this has meant that the potential for more contemporary wellness tourism, with the hot waters offering relaxation and rejuvenation to all ages in more modern spa-like settings has historically been ignored. Similarly the other joys of northeastern Evia – the gorgeous landscapes with dense forests reaching down to the sea, its rich history and hearty cuisine – have also been overshadowed.
The town of Aidipsos is located 4 km to the north of Loutra Aidpsou (meaning the ‘Baths of Aidispos’), towards the island’s interior. From the end of the 19th century, the population began to migrate towards the sea and the area’s thermal springs, and in 1920 the settlement of Loutra Aidipsou was officially recognized.
Built parallel to the coastline, the homes are situated amphitheatrically around the seafront. The southern part of the town is dominated by the old, large buildings housing hotels and hydrotherapy facilities, many of which today stand empty. All of the town’s life is concentrated around the coastal road.
Below are 8 reasons to put this geothermal wonder on your wellness map:
1. The hot al fresco showers
In Loutra Aidipsou, the water that bubbles up from the ground traverses a few meters, coloring the rocks before forming a small waterfall that spills into the sea. It is hot to the point of scalding. It also offers an opportunity for you to build up your nerve and enjoy a natural skin treatment by alternating between cold and hot.
To get to the waterfall you have to wade knee-deep through the sea. If you stand directly under the waterfall for a few seconds the heat will become nearly unbearable. Move away, take a deep breath and dive into the cold sea. As soon you start to feel cold again return to the hot waterfall. Repeat as many times as you can bear to. Alternating between hot and cold like this is said to help firm and tone the skin.
2. Pure relaxation and wellness in the Thermay Sylla Spa
In the indoor poor, you won’t hear a whisper, only the sound of the thermal waters emerging from the large ‘mushroom’ in the center of the pool. Bathers gather around it, positioning themselves so that the 32˚C water strikes them on their necks and upper backs. Steam clouds fill the space, rendering it almost dreamlike.
The hotel Thermae Sylla Spa has the best facilities in the area and makes optimal use of its private geothermal spring. Aside from the two pools – one indoor and one outdoor, it also offers steam baths, hydro massage therapies, treatments with therapeutic mud and a full wellness and dietary program. The pools are emptied and cleaned every evening. The hotel’s facilities can also be used by non guests.
3. The charming seafront and the “Kyma”
An afternoon walk on the coastal road in Loutra Aidipsou will reveal many a postcard-worthy scene. Set off from opposite the town hall, pass by the hot springs that spill into the sea and rows of cafés, and stop to admire the “Kyma” (meaning wave) – a key landmark and once the town’s most popular gathering spot.
Built out over the sea on pylons, the wooden octagonal building once housed a café and pastry shop. Today the Kyma has been renovated and hosts various cultural events and exhibitions. Continue on towards the harbor and the fishing boats, pass the “3 molous” (3 piers) and end your walk on Aghios Nikolaos beach. If you’ve timed it to coincide with sunset, so much the better, you will see it sink behind the peninsula of Liohada.
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