Samothrace: The most magical natural pools in Greece

Gria Vathra samothrace

The island Samothrace, in the northern Aegean Sea, is perhaps one of the most underrated places in Greece despite it being an ideal destination for travellers who love adventure. Samothrace, a one-hour-and-fifty-minute boat trip from Alexandroupolis, is unique, something that becomes evident even from a distance, while approaching the island.

At Samothrace’s centre, Mt. Saos, or Fengari, meaning moon, reaches 1,611 metres high. This towering mountain – given its name by locals as a result of its height, concealing the moon – has greatly shaped the island’s traits, Travel explained.

Hiking in the mountains of Samothraki island

The mountain, covering an extensive land mass, has shaped the island’s flora and fauna.

Despite being one of the islands of the Aegean Sea, which are typically arid, Samothrace features rugged and pristine nature, river sources, waterfalls, as well as forests with oak, plane, pine and cedar trees.

Swimming at plunge pools, or vathres, as they are referred to by the locals, is a favourite activity on the island. Their waters hail from the mountain, run down slopes, and create waterfalls and ponds. The northern section of Samothrace is filled with creeks, waterfalls, forests, gorges and trails.

Swimming at the natural pools

Gria Vathra samothrace

Gria Vathra is the best-known of these plunge-pool areas, and the easiest to access. Starting from the village Therma, take a trail running through ferns and under the shade of plane trees to reach the first of the Gria Vathra pools, a ten-minute walk away.

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The plunge pools at all streams have been given numbers for names, increasing from bottom to top. At Gria Vathra, the first and second pools may be easily reached.

A third pool is reached through the second pool. Going further, from the third to the fourth pool, includes a difficult passage alongside a waterfall. You will need to cling on to a rock to cover this section. Ascending the pool areas requires great care with every step.


Fitness is also needed from a certain point upwards. Observe the steps taken by climbers ahead and do not carry on any further if fear and insecurity begin to set in. The pools are all similar, whether situated high or low.

The point is to enjoy the natural environment and swimming without putting yourself under pressure. Some visitors prefer to walk these routes barefoot for a better feel of their stepping, while others use special rubber footwear for water.

Gria Vathra samothrace

Along the main road, look for a signpost 5 km after the village Therma, showing the way towards the Fonias canyon.

Gria Vathra samothrace

Don’t let the area’s name, meaning murderer, frighten you. Its river is one of the most idyllic settings on the island. A trail leading to the area’s first pool is fairytale-like.

A 30-minute walk leads to a first waterfall and large pool. Reaching the area’s pools further away is more difficult. Covering the latter passages with a guide is strongly advised.

Climbing up to the springs

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