As a small Greek island at the far eastern edge of the Aegean Sea, peaceful Lesvos has plenty to attract the off-the-beaten-path sort of traveller. For thousands of years, writers, artists and wandering romantics have had their passions fed by the picturesque coasts dotted with the fishing villages of Lesvos. Nowadays, though, the island is particularly celebrated for its unspoiled landscapes, beautiful beaches and phenomenal cuisine.
One additional little-known fact about this lesser-visited isle is that it is endowed with a number of natural hot springs found in stunning and remote natural settings. For millennia, these hot spots have helped solace-seekers truly get away from it all and unwind with a soak in healing waters. In fact, according to Herodotus, the ancient Greeks were some of the first people to use mineral hot springs for health and wellness, dipping in as early as the 13th century B.C.E.
The hot springs of Lesvos reach some of the highest temperatures in Europe (48-91°C) and studies in the 1930s indicated that they are highly radioactive. The radioactivity, combined with mineral concentrations of salt and chlorine nitrates, gives this water its curative properties; steeping in the hot springs of Lesvos has been known to treat everything from skin diseases and urinary tract infections to problems with blood circulation and breathing. The hot water of mineral springs is also an oft-prescribed treatment for muscle tension.
So what are some of the best hidden hot springs in Lesvos? We spoke to the experts at Nirvana Travel, a local travel service that has been organising small tours to the various thermal pools for years. They love to visit the most remote ones, the kind that really immerse their guests in the Lesvos’ beautiful natural landscape. Here’s their list of four of the very best.
Polichnitos Hot Springs
As per the name, these hot springs are found just outside the town of Polichnitos, which is located inland on the way to the army base on the road to Vatera. The springs contain such strong concentrations of the iron oxides hematite and limonite that the waters tint the surrounding volcanic rocks red and yellow. The Polichnitos springs are also known to be some of the hottest in Europe – temperatures at the source run of between 67°C and 93°C, although the baths for visitors are kept at a comfortable, yet steamy, 43°C. On the radioactivity scale, Polichnitos reaches 1.6-6 units.
Gera Bay Hot Springs
These hot springs can be found off the Gulf of Gera on the straight seaside road after winding down from the town of Mytilini. The springs are also reachable by foot from Mytilini, making them the most popular springs on the island. Despite their desirability, the Gera Bay Hot Springs are still worth a visit to appreciate what countless others believe to be some of the best in Greece. Here, men and women are separated into different bath houses, but both receive the Gera springs’ rich mineral blend of potassium nitrate, ammonium chloride, chloride calcium, sodium bromide and magnesium chloride (to name a few), and have an average temperature of 39.7°C. Radioactivity measures 1.8 units.
Eftalou Hot Springs
The Hot Springs of Eftalou are located on the beach just after the start of the dirt road from Molyvos, at the northern point of Lesvos. Visits are only possible during the right season; they are only open from 15 June to 15 November. There are both individual bath chambers and a small common area with a hot springs pool. The average temperature of these waters is 46°C. Notably, these are the most radioactive of all the hot springs in Lesvos, measuring in at 14.7 units!
Lisvori Hot Springs
Anyone looking for serenity and solitude in a hot spring will rejoice at Lisvori’s remoteness. It is hidden inland next to the chapel of St. John (Ayios Yiannis in Greek). There are two pools: one built during Turkish rule and the other constructed in 1959. As with the other springs on Lesvos, these waters are a product of volcanic activity just below the island’s surface. They rise up through volcanic tuffs and conglomerates. Lisvori is comparatively high on the scale for both temperature (source waters have been measured at 69°C!) and radioactivity (between 2.4 and 14 units).