Loutraki and it’s incredible range of choice
I have been to several places in Greece and I have loved many of them, both for their natural beauty as well as the people who live there. My top destination, however, is the one I chose to live in with my family, my hometown, Loutraki in Korinthia. I think Loutraki has been blessed with the combination of natural resources and tourist infrastructure in a prime location at the entrance to the Peloponnese and I devote a significant part of my time showcasing and promoting our area.
What excites me about Loutraki – a fact that may not be known to many – is the incredible range of choice it offers in its surrounding areas, which are very different from the classic image of the seaside town with its unique spa, casino, extensive beach with fish taverns and cafes.
In less than half an hour, you find yourself in the network of mountain paths of Gerania, starting from Pissia, a mountain village that brings Pelion to mind. Our favourite path is the one that starts on the plateau of Panagia Faneromeni, named after the nearby chapel. It is a mild footpath, suitable even for young children, which takes you through the fir tree forest of Gerania, an enchanting place with brooks and stone water taps, all the way to the summit, near the Galanopoulou refuge at an altitude of 1000 m. Once there you can admire the unique view of the Corinthian Gulf as if from an airplane. You can see the town of Loutraki, Corinth, Isthmos Canal, connecting the Corinthian and the Saronic Gulfs, the Acrocorinth rock, the Peloponnese and Sterea Ellada.
The hike takes about two hours, descent included, and is always rounded off with a feast in the village’s traditional taverns, by the fireplace in winter or under the plane trees in summer.
For the more intrepid, there are four stunning gorges ideal for rappelling in Gerania! I had the opportunity to climb down one of them (Gerakina gorge) with a couple of friends some time ago and it was an unforgettable experience!
You can swim in the small bay surrounded by antiquities
If we go down the mountain towards the sea, in about twenty minutes we reach beguiling Heraion with its archaeological site and the temple of Hera, where you can swim in the small bay surrounded by antiquities and dive into the water from the rocks, as well as walk for a few minutes down the path to the gorgeous stone-built lighthouse and admire the panoramic view of the Corinthian Gulf.
The Heraion lagoon, with the small strait that connects it to the Corinthian Gulf is tidal with the current changing direction every six hours. You can dive and allow yourself to be swept along by the current ( it is safe, but only for strong swimmers). After the swim you can enjoy seafood delicacies in the fish taverns by the lagoon or relax, sipping a cocktail lying on the loungers of the beach bars. The Heraion lagoon is ideal for a full day trip or a 3-day escape from Athens.
A few years ago I had one of the most intense, pleasant experiences of my life in Loutraki and I would like to share it with you. I was walking on the promenade with my wife, Francesca (it must have been March). There weren’t many people around and the weather was fair for the time of year. As we reached the small harbor we saw a dolphin swimming among the boats! We immediately went down the dock steps and started splashing the water. The dolphin approached, raised its head above the water and let us pet it. It was very friendly and we were so excited.
We wished to play with it but were not prepared for such activities. Thankfully, a diving school near there – it belongs to a friend – was open. We changed into wet suits as fast as we could and joined the dolphin in the water. We approached hesitantly at first and after we overcame our natural initial wariness, the fun really started. We could communicate! We dived into the water and it watched us, we bent our heads to the side and it did the same, we made sounds in the water and it answered, it let us stroke and hug it, it swam around us.
At some point I got hold of its fin and it started swimming carrying me along. I know it sounds incredible but it did happen exactly as I have described!
After playing with it for about an hour, we started shivering with the cold and to our great disappointment we had to leave the dolphin. For the following couple of days, we had a huge grin on our faces while trying to explain our adventure to others. But it isn’t something you can describe with words… This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that with the passing of time we remember as if it were a fairy tale…
I am really glad that I was given the chance to reminisce and share my memory with you through the Discover Greece blog. I am told that there are 4 different kinds of dolphin in the Corinthian Gulf, counting more than 300 dolphins with universally unique features. They often show up near boats and I have seen a lot of photos and videos with dolphins in this gulf.
Ever since that day, whenever I am near – or in – the sea I have the secret desire to meet my marine friend one more time…
There is plenty of material regarding the area on the LTO website and FB. I single out this drone video with amazing takes and music.