Last week I stayed in a lazy seaside town in Greece called Vouliagmeni, which is just south of Athens. I chose this town in particular for its healing lake, and was lucky enough to spend the week just around the corner from it.
The magical Lake Vouliagmeni
Lake Vouliagmeni used to be a cave. It collapsed during an earthquake in the middle ages to form one of the most beautiful natural lakes I’ve ever seen. But it’s not really a lake, it’s more of a healing spa because the water is so special. The water is reported to have many healing properties and is noted to help conditions such as eczema and dermatological diseases, neuralgia, headaches, disfiguring arthritis, chronic gynecological diseases, lumbago, sciatica among many others. And since we’re talking about dermatological diseases, I’ll count acne in that.
Because Vouliagmeni lake is only 50 cm above sea level, it’s constantly overflowing and being replenished by warm springs beneath it. So despite the fact that it was almost winter in Greece and outside the air was quite cool, the warm springs kept the water temperature of Vouliagmeni lake at around 23°C.
The day I had a swim in the lake the water felt cold but not much different to that first swim in the ocean in summer. The first thing I noticed when I put my feet in was these tiny little black fish. They come up and kissed my feet when I stood still for too long which sounds creepy but it wasn’t, it just tickled! I took this photo of the fish kissing my travel buddies feet. And no, the bottom of the lake is not steel, but they do provide a few man-made stairs to make it easier to get in and out of the lake.
When I finally built up enough courage to dunk my entire body (including my head) into the lake, it felt more like I was in the ocean because the water was so salty. I wasn’t prepared for how salty it was but it makes sense considering the high healing mineral content of the water.
I’m very envious of the Vouliagmeni residents who live close to this lake. I used to love swimming laps in my local pool in Australia but I knew the high chlorine content of the water in public pools was doing me more harm than good so I stopped. Vouliagmeni lake is longer than 50 meters so perfect for a few slow laps, and there are many people every day doing just that. This to me seems like the ultimate healthy exercise, swimming laps in a healing lake.
Me in the lake!
The deck and banana lounges beside the lake
Throughout my travels in Europe I’ve discovered that nothing is free, and Vouliagmeni lake is no exception. It costs €8 for visitors, and €5 for locals to swim in the lake. In return you get a nice sundeck with banana loungers, showers, change rooms and a small cafe. I also counted three resident cats that seem to permanently live there which are absolutely gorgeous. I had a good time playing with a couple of very lovely kittens.
So am I healed? I’m not so sure about that. But I’m certain regular swimming in the water would do wonders for your health. I did leave the lake feeling happy and energetic and felt quite good for the remainder of the day.
If you’re ever in Athens I highly recommend you take a trip to Vouliagmeni to visit the lake. You can get there by tram from Athens city centre which takes about 1 hour, or a taxi from Athens airport to Vouliagmeni is less than a 30 minute drive and taxis in Greece are affordable.