Situated on the Athenian Riviera about 20 kilometers south of Athens is a stunning hidden wonderland – Lake Vouliagmeni. Close to one of the best beaches in Athens, this area is a beautiful natural landscape, with a rare geological formation and unique thermal spa in a setting of lush vegetation.
Millions of years ago, the lake was located inside a huge cave and was fed by numerous hot springs and seawater. Following an earthquake in the area, the roof of the cave collapsed, leaving the lake as it is today.
The lake covers an area of two hectares and the water level is 50cm higher than the local sea level. The lake is thought to be 50-100 meters deep and because it is still fed by hot springs and seawater, there is a distinct current that can be felt in the water.
On the far side of the lake there is a rocky cliff face with a cave entrance which leads in to an extensive cave system with 14 tunnels covering 3,123 metres. So far, explorations have not found the furthest point of the rocky labyrinth.
One of the tunnels is 800 meters in length – making it the longest of its kind in the world. This tunnel has a huge stalagmite which has raised questions amongst geologists about the formation of cave and the whole Mediterranean area.
The lake is a wonderful natural spa and its waters are rich in countless minerals and salts including potassium, calcium, iron, lithium, and iodine. The water is also mildly radio-active- in a positive way.
Thus, the lake has been credited with great healing powers that can help eczema and other dermatological problems, neuralgia, arthritis, lumbago, and sciatica – amongst many others. Swimming in the lake is very beneficial for the muscles and can be enjoyed all year round as the water temperature is always 21-24ºC.
The water in the lake in an unbelievable deep blue colour. The water is fed and replenished by the sea and underground thermal springs. The aquatic life in the lake is also rich with many unique organisms including one very special and endemic anemone – Paranemonia vouliagmeniensis The rich variety of sponges and molluscs indicate a perfect balance in the ecosystem.
There are various fish too, including numerous Garra Ruffa. These small fish have the nickname ‘doctor fish’ or ‘nibble fish’ as they are known for their ability to exfoliate dead skin from human feet – a very ticklish sensation!
The history of the lake is certainly mysterious. For many years there was a story circulating in Athens that told of some young scuba divers from the nearby American airbase, who had visited the lake and simply disappeared. No one knew what to think about the story until their bodies were suddenly discovered 35 years later. Today, the lake is a popular place for relaxing and is fringed by sun loungers and umbrellas. There is also a small taverna and coffee shop.
For those who prefer to be energetic, there is path that begins just above the lake and leads leads to Faskomilia Hill. This is an expansive natural area spread over 296 acres, which is perfect for hiking and mountain biking and has great panoramic views over the lake to the Attica coastline beyond…
Key information for Lake Vouliagmeni
- Lake Vouliagmeni is situated about 20 kilometers south of Athens on the Athenian Riviera.
- Lake Vouliagmeni is open daily October – March 08.00 – 17.00, April – October 06.30-20.00, and is closed on 1 January, 25 March, Easter Sunday, 1 May, and 25/ 26 December.
- Entrance tickets are available at the kiosk by the lake. Adults, Monday – Friday €12 and weekends € 13. Children: up to 5 years of age are free of charge and 5 – 12 years € 5.50. Students: Monday – Friday € 8 and weekends € 9 (Photo ID required)
- There is special equipment available to help those with mobility problems to get into the water.
Popular questions about Lake Vouliagmeni:
You can swim in Lake Vouliagmeni all year round as the water temperature is always 21-24ºC.
The lake is around 20 km away from Athens.
There are several ways to reach the lake. One of the easiest is to take the Metro to Elliniko (Line 2) which is the end of the line. From there take the bus (122 Saronida Express) to Vouliagmeni. The journey time is about 45 minutes, but the bus only operates once an hour. There are taxis at Elliniko and the cost to the lake is about €10.