Introduction to Edipsos
Athens can wear you down. I don't mean spending
two or three days in Athens, visiting the Parthenon, shopping all day and
going out to tavernas every night. I mean living in Athens, particularly
in areas like Kypseli and Patission where the noise, the air pollution
and general chaos can make someone question why he has chosen to make his
life here. Take Andrea's aunts for example. Poppy and Amarandi are each
pushing ninety years old and have been living in Athens almost all
their lives. They live in Kypseli on a busy street where the cars, trucks
and buses never stop.
Every spring when we arrive in Athens our
first meal out is always with them at one of the two local tavernas they
eat at, Bakaros which is only open for lunch and Spetsopolou which is only
open for dinner. We ring the aunts' buzzer and walk up the stairs where
they are waiting in front of their little apartment, both smiling happily
but always looking older and more frail. I smile and kiss them but I am
thinking to myself that I don't believe they will make it through the summer.
Then something amazing happens. They go to
Edipsos for two weeks and when they return they are 20 years younger. What
is Edipsos?" I wanted to know. What kind of magical place is it that
these two old ladies would be tottering on the edge of death and
come back rejuvenated? Andrea explained it simply. Its a European health
spa in an area that is rich in hot mineral springs. When many older Greeks
go to their family doctor for their check-up he will actually prescribe
a trip to Edipsos and a certain number of baths. "Go and do 20 baths at
Edipsos" he would tell the old aunts and off they would go.
I had an image in my mind of this mineral
encrusted bath with a horde of old people in various stages of decrepitude
clinging to the dirty stained marble sides. This did not really appeal
to me as much as a beach full of Scandinavians in bikinis or a village
full of discos and young people, which did not appeal to me either so Edipsos
was sort of at the bottom of my list, though with an asterisk, since I
am no fool and I know that someday I may get old and will probably need
some sort of regeneration. But this summer my curiosity got the best of
me and when my mother-in-law came to Greece with plans to go to Edipsos
to pump some life into a body that suburban New Jersey had drained, I volunteered
to drive her on our way to the Peloponessos, even though it was not on the
way at all, in fact in the opposite direction.
Of course this made her so happy she kissed
me which meant she was happy beyond measure.
And what I found made me feel like I had
just discovered the secret to eternal life and I could not wait to share
Edipsos is not a new phenomenon. Even though
few travelers from other countries have ever heard of it the cosmopolitan
atmosphere combined with the healing spas have attracted reknown politicians,
artists, writers and other notable people like Winston Churchill, Aristotle
Onnasis, Maria Callas, Greta Garbo and Omar Sharif. But it is mentioned
in the works of Aristotle in his Meteorological, and by Ploutarch and Strabon.
The town even minted its own coins. In Roman times the area flourished
and its healing waters were visited by the emperors Hadrian, Septimus Severus
and Marcus Aurilius. The baths from the Roman period are the best preserved
and are known as Syllas Baths. During the Byzantine era it was destroyed
for being an area of paganism though it was visited by the Emperors Theodosious
and Constantine the Great.
As you drive down to Skala Edipsos it looks
like a typical old resort village on the coast until you notice that some
of the hotels are from the last century. Then as you swing down to the
coast there are people bathing close to the rocks where steaming hot water
is pouring through, leaving multicolored sediment in strange formations.
There is a huge renovated hotel and spa called the Thermae
Sylla Grand Hotel where workers are putting the finishing touches on
what they say will be the most complete and modern center of Therapeutic
health in all of Europe. The building itself is impressive and the services
and therapies they offer make me have little doubt that they will live
up to their claims. There are countless other hotels, some turn of the
century and some modern. Many of them have swimming pools filled with the
hot mineral water and those that don't have pools have mineral baths with
big tubs which you can fill with the hot mineral water because there are
hot springs literally everywhere. There are rivers that run down the street
of steaming hot water. There are empty lots with geysers of hot water.
And apparently the hotels can just tap into these springs.
On the Waterfront
center of town is the main street which is closed off to automobiles
at dusk. There is a line of tavernas and cafes along the shore where
people sit and watch the ferries which go back and forth to the mainland
just about every 15 minutes. The most popular places are the ones that
sell loukomades, which are fried dough with honey poured over them, and
also fresh sheep yogurt with honey. Despite Edipsos being renown as a haven
for geriatrics, there are people of all ages, shapes and sizes, with children
running around or playing in the small amusement park. There are outdoor
movie theaters which were all showing new English language films and lots
of shops that sold a variety of eastern type sweets and pastries like loukoumia,
baklava, and some Turkish sweets that I had never seen before. The town
was really one of the most interesting places I had ever been to. The sunsets
are quite extraordinary and there is plenty of nightlife for all ages.
We met Poppy and Amarandi at their favorite restaurant, which was unfortunately a cafeteria where we stood on line for traditional Greek dishes that were pretty unimpressive. Knowing that once they decide upon a restaurant they will eat there for the rest of their stay, or even their lives, we knew that we would not be staying long in Edipsos. They had chosen this particular restaurant they said, because the owner was from their island of Kea. But when I talked to the owner after our meal he was not from Kea, nor had the previous owner been. So it was kind of unfortunate that they had chosen to eat at this restaurant which was not particularly good because they wanted to support their fellow Kean and the guy was not even from Kea. It made me wonder how much needless suffering goes on in the world from similar circumstances. But when you are sitting watching fishing boats and ferries cross the path of the setting sun, it does not matter if the food is not that great, especially when you know that there are plenty of other restaurants to choose from.
the harbor there are lots of fishing boats with big water tanks on the
front deck and traps, along with nets. Fish are caught with the traps,
transferred to the tanks and then scooped out and sold on the dock, alive
and flapping, to the crowds that gather when a boat comes in. I had never
seen this before in all my travels in Greece which was surprising. You
can't get fish any fresher than this unless you are a seal. Further on
is the town beach and its clear waters which is filled with families, couples
and of course the ever-present senior citizens.
Even if Edipsos did not have the restorative
healing waters the Aunts and all their friends renew themselves with, it
would still be a great place to come for a holiday.
The Healing Waters of Edipsos
has to be one of the most amazing resorts in the word when it comes to
healing mineral baths. There are more than eighty individual springs with
waters ranging from 28 to 86 degrees centigrade, which can be quite hot.
These springs are said to be effective in curing problems such as rheumatoid
and inflammatory arthritis, degenerative arthritis, spondylo-arthritis,
myalgia, neuralgia, lumbago, neuritis, backaches, tendonitis, vessel diseases,
diseases of the endocrine cycle and post traumatic inflammation.
A number of gynecological complaints can be remedied such as salpigitis,
endometrititis infertility, and ovarian deficiency. They also say it can
cure men's potency problems. There are also many privately owned spa facilities,
baths and pools, some of which belong to the hotels. Nature has also chipped
in for a rare combined experience where the warm water gushes from the
went to visit Poppy and Amarandi at their hotel and they gave us a tour
of the facilities. It was a little rough on our daughter Amarandi who loves
swimming pools. Her eyes lit up as we walked through the lobby and she
spotted the giant blue swimming pool and as we were greeted by Spiros,
a muscular physical therapist, she leaned over to touch the water. "Don't
touch it!" yelled Spiros, snatching her hand from whatever was in the pool
that could be so healthful to old people and yet deadly to children. There
was probably no reason a child could not go into the water but as we discovered
in later journeys to spas and hot springs in Lesvos, its the general opinion
that children and hot mineral water do not mix, for whatever reason, based
on medical fact or old wives tale.
The Edipsos Thermal Spa
In 2022 The Edipsos Thermal Spa opened its doors to the public. The brand new spa facilities
for state-of-the-art hydrotherapy, include 84 individual baths equipped for
hydromassage, an indoor pool for kinisiotherapy and special bathing and
shower installations for treatment of the limbs, slipped disk and cervical
spine syndrome. There is a physiotherapy center offering inhalation and
electrotherapy, massage with hand and electromassage as well as a fully
equipped gymnasium. An outdoor pool on the grounds can be used for bathing
in both mineral and sea water. There are steam rooms, saunas and a staff
of doctors, nurses, and physical therapists.
The Edipsos Thermal Spa is located only 500 meters from the port and is open J
une 15-30: 7 days/week from 7am-3.30pm
July 1 – September 30: 7 days/week from 7am – 1pm & from 5pm – 7pm
October 1 – December 31: Saturdays, Sundays and official holidays from 10am – 6pm
Limni courtesy of Deposit Photos
What To Do in and around Edipsos
are many athletic and cultural events held in Edipsos including the Edipsos
Festival featuring dance performances by Greek and International groups.
There are tennis and beach volleyball championships and plenty of beautiful
places to walk and explore. The beaches are among the most beautiful I
have seen, particularly up the road in Agiokambo where you catch
the ferry to Glifa and the road north to Volos and the there is also the
beautiful beach at Agios Nicolaos . There are plenty of water sports including
jet skis, windsurfing and sailing and excellent fishing. This is also an
area famous for its hunting and the Greek Hunting Association keeps it
stocked with pheasant, partridge and hare. Clearly this is not your typical
'lay out all day on the beach and get drunk all night' kind of destination.
there is stuff to do in and around Edipsos. There are many other scenic
mountain villages and beautiful beach towns nearby and the entire island
of Evia is a treasure of natural beauty, monasteries and archaeological sites
like the monastery of Saint George built over the Temple to Apollo, 2 kilometers
from the village of Polylofos. There is also the well known Sacred Church
of Saint John the Russian in the town of Prokopi, plus daily cruises to
the popular Sporades islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Allonisos.
Edipsos is a short drive from the fishing village of Limni (above photo) where you can find beaches, hotels, restaurants and lush forests in one of the most beautiful towns on Evia.
But my favorite thing to do is eat and drink
and there are plenty of inexpensive restaurants with excellent food and
plenty of fresh fish.
One of the things that makes Edipsos so attractive
is the cost. It is a fraction of what you would pay in the USA or Europe
if you could even find a place which combined Natural Traditional Therapy,
the latest in Thermal Spring Therapy with the beaches and atmosphere of
a Greek island. If the wear and tear of life has dragged you down, a couple
weeks here will do you some good, with or without a doctors prescription.
Getting to Evia
The Right Way of Going to Edipsos
There are several good ways of getting to Edipsos
and there is also our way. The easy way is to just get a travel agent to
do it all for you and they will handle the transportation and the hotels.
Another way is to hire a taxi for the 2 hour trip, which is the way the
aunts go, using our friend George
Kokkotos, the famous Greek taxi driver. Then there is the bus, which
is how my mother-in-law would have gone, and which is why she kissed me
when she was told she wouldn't have to. There is a ferry from the mainland
in the town of Arkitsa that takes about half an hour, and puts you right
in the center of town. Its about a three hour drive from Thessaloniki and
a little more then an hour from Volos and the Mount Pelion area.
My Way of Going to Edipsos
Pt 1. Looking for the National Road
We rented a car from Swift
car rental in Athens. But the day before we were going to leave, the
person who was renting our 4-door, air-conditioned Hyundai, wrecked it.
Elias gave us his personal car, a Honda Civic, which he used in such emergencies
and while it was a better car then the one we would have gotten it lacked
a critical element, which was the air-conditioning.
Swift offers to drive their customers to
the National Road, which is a wonderful service because you don't have
to get used to the car and Athens traffic at the same time. But Leonidas,
the young guy who delivered the Honda to the Adams Hotel agreed with me
that since it was Saturday, traffic was lighter and I was already an experienced
Greek driver, I would have no problem finding the National road myself,
and he could take care of other responsibilities. This made sense to me
and with a squealing of tires, a sound I became so used to I stopped noticing
it, we were off for Edipsos.
Leonidas had given me a map of Athens with
the route to the National road inked in. Unfortunately our road out of
the Plaka only went one way which was in the opposite direction of the
line of ink that would lead us to freedom. Also the main road had a median
and we had to drive several kilometers before there was a place to turn.
Of course by then we had found an alternative route, the proverbial 'better
way" and we made our journey in a zig-zag pattern to Omonia square, which
is a circle, from where we could pick up the ink line on the map until
we found the signs for the national road.
We ended up on Archonon street, driving endlessly
until we realized that we would never cross the National road because we
were driving parallel to it. We could drive to infinity and never cross
it, like living next to a parallel universe that you can only suspect its
existence. Once again we decided to improvise and took a left. We were
instantly rewarded by a sign with an arrow that said National Road. That
was the last reference we saw to the National road for the next two hours.
We found ourselves in a world of Gypsy camps,
small factories and five story apartment buildings on unpaved roads, where
we looked for anything that could be a larger road then whatever road we
happened to be on. We stopped at a gas station and asked directions. "Go
straight down this road, cross the tracks, take a left, then take your
second right. Then ask someone else". We followed the directions
as perfectly as possible and ended up at another gas station. "Go back
three lights, where the road ends make a left and then ask someone else."
It seemed to be some sort of traveler relay system where we were just being
sent from one person to the next, like getting a residence permit
or doing anything with the Greek bureaucracy. Everyone we asked told us
to go several miles, turning left and right and then asking someone else.
Wasn't there someone who could just tell us where the National road was,
and not directions to some guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy who knows
where the national road is? We wanted to find this person.
We never did, but two hours later we found
the National road somewhere near Kifissia. In the process we had visited
the towns of Nea Liosa, and Metamorphosis, both areas later leveled by
the September earthquake. We were possibly among the first and last tourists
to visit the area and in retrospect I am glad we did, just because I now
have an idea of exactly what was destroyed in the earthquake. My advice
to the city planners is whatever they do, don't build it back the way it
was, and stick some road signs that point to the national road where people
can see them. If there are more road signs they will not need as many people
Part 2. The National Road
Of course we missed the sign for the National
Road since it was only about a five inches tall and a foot long and two
feet off the ground. Plus it was right at the entrance ramp with no warning,
on a road where everyone is driving around 120 kph, so we had to go another
mile until we could make a U-turn that would not endanger all my complaining
passengers. Then we had to drive past the National road until we found
another U-turn since coming from our direction you could only go south
and we wanted to go north. Every time I found a break in the endless traffic
the tires would squeal like I was going zero to ninety in one second, which
I think had something to do with my style of driving, but more to do with
whatever substance was on the road that made other peoples tires do the
It took awhile to acclimate myself to driving
on the national road, and it took five minutes to decide that I did not
want to be on the National road. It was a mass of cars, all driving a little
too fast, except for the occasional old clunker who was driving a little
too slow and everyone had to swerve to avoid. But the further out of Athens
we got, the easier the driving became. When driving in Greece I like to
remember the words of George the Famous Taxi driver "Matthew, stay to the
right. These drivers are crazy". In parts of the National road where there
is no median it is not uncommon to have a car coming head on as he tries
to pass someone else in the other lane. By staying on the right you are
increasing your chance of survival since rear ending a donkey will cause
you and your car less damage then hitting a truck head on.
At the exit for Halkida we had a decision.
We could continue on the National Road and make it to Edipsos (remember?)
in about an hour, though by now it would have been about five for us. Or
we could go through Halkida, the capital of the island of Evia, and take
the small mountain road, and enjoy the scenery. This would take an hour
or so longer but we were glad we did it. We crossed the bridge that connects
the island to the mainland, drove through Halkida and then stopped for
lunch on the country road the goes north the length of the island. The
roadside taverna we stopped at specialized in delicious tygano-psomo, a
fried bread with cheese inside, plus some of the best lamb chops (pai-dai-kia)
of the season.
The road took us through forested mountains
and valleys and then to a long flat area that was very green and followed
a small river. We pulled off the road near a group of cars at a sort of
park area where we waded in the crystal clear water, along with a wedding
party that was being held in a country taverna across the street, where
music was loudly playing and people were dancing the tsifteteli in a large
gazebo. Then we followed the river until the road turned off to the west
coast of the island along the small sea that separated it from the
If you want to go to Edipsos my way then
try to avoid everything I did until the last two paragraphs and you will
save several hours and a massive headache. By the time we reached Edipsos
I was in need of some radical healing. If you do somehow fall into the
same pattern of mistakes then don't worry because once you finally get
to Edipsos, there are facilities to care for any anxiety or trauma you
may have suffered on the way.
If you are
planning to rent a car and drive from Athens
to Edipsos check out
. They will pick you up at the airport or your
hotel and drive you to the National road and
let you by-pass the notorious Athens traffic.
See their website at
Hotels in Edipsos
Hotel Kentrikon boasts a central location just a few minutes from the central park and the beach in Edipsos. It features an outdoor swimming pool with spring water for therapies and an indoor pool for relaxation. The 1935 hotel building depicts the glamor, charm and the style of this era. Today Kentrikon offers 50 spacious rooms with air conditioning, TV, and fridge. The private balconies offer views of the central road of Edipsos, or the hotel’s swimming pool. Guests can participate in the exercise programs available at the gym.
Thermae Sylla Spa & Wellness Hotel
This spa resort is located by the beautiful coast of Edipsos, providing
a calm and relaxing setting, with all the modern luxuries to offer you
a rejuvenating holiday.
According to the well-respected magazine Condè Nast Traveller, the
Thermae Sylla Spa & Wellness Hotel provides one of the top 10
thermal spa services in the world. The hotel has a classical interior
and is built by an ancient spring. The Thermae Sylla Spa Hotel is a 2-hour drive from Athens. Treat
yourself to a refreshingly complete holiday, within a setting of
pleasant odours and relaxing music.
The charming Agnadi Hotel is proudly situated right next to the sea,
amongst beautiful gardens and olive groves, close to the coastal
village of Rovies, Evia.
Each room has been decorated to offer warmth and comfort, with some
featuring beautiful open fire places. Guests can also enjoy a
magnificent view of the sea and sunset from their private balcony. The beach, directly in front of Agnadi, is perfect for swimming and
water sport activities and there are plenty of local tavernas providing
evening entertainment. The nearby village of Rovies is a great place
for visitors, with its historic Venetian castle and lush olive groves. You will need a rental car to go to Edipsos from here.
Nestled on the northern tip of the greenest Greek island, between the
villages of Pefki and Artemisio (1 km), you will find this small,
family-run lodge within the olive trees.
In a beautiful, peaceful and friendly environment, the main building was inspired by traditional Greek architecture while
the rooms, each decorated differently, combine the warmth of the wood
with colour and convenience. Besides a welcoming smile and 24-hour hospitality, they also offer
you a large, green garden with see-saws for children to play on, and a
cafe-bar and restaurant with home-made food. You can also enjoy the use
of their small library, with newspapers, magazines and internet access. You will need a rental car to go to Edipsos from here.
See more Evia Hotels and See Matt's Evia Guide