3 of the best unknown experiences near Athens

Lake Vouliagmeni

Here are three of the best experiences near Athens that tourists, and locals, usually miss.

Komboloi Museum

komboloi museum

Opened in 1998 and still the only one of its kind in the world, the Komboloi Museum is a niche gem dedicated to preserving the long history of Greek worry beads.

The compact museum displays a wide range of Komboloi from Greece and around the world, from simple strands to elaborate masterpieces, each with its own rare value.

komboloi museum

There are four areas, one showcasing Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim Prayer beads, the next presenting Christian Orthodox and Catholic Prayer beads and the final two featuring Greek Komboloi.

You’ll learn about the evolution of these beads, from their origins as prayer tools to modern stress relievers, and the intimacy of the museum space makes it possible to really zoom into the craftsmanship behind each piece and the beauty of the multivariate stones and other decorative touches used.

Address: Staikopoulou 25, Nafplio 211 00 Website

Parnitha Sanatorium

Parnitha Sanatorium

Once a tuberculosis hospital, in the early 1900s, the Parnitha sanatorium now stands abandoned and derelict, its corridors whispering stories of those who died there – over 120,000 people – and its isolated location and dark history inevitably contribute to its haunted reputation.

The dilapidated state of the five-storey building, built in 1912, with its crumbling walls and eerie, empty halls, further fuels the imagination of ghost hunters and thrill seekers, who often pay nighttime visits there.

Standing exposed in the mountains, the large, amphitheatrically built structure looks even more otherworldly, as does the ‘Park of Souls’ that sprawls opposite, an open-air gallery created by an artist who sculpted haunting figures out of tree trunks that survived a devastating fire on the mountain.

Address: Mount Parnitha, Acharnes 136 72

Vouliagmeni Lake

Lake Vouliagmeni

Lake Vouliagmeni is a striking sight, its vivid blue waters contrasting with the sheer limestone cliffs that surround it. The lake’s appearance is always inviting, with wooden decks and sunbeds for visitors to relax and soak up the tranquil surroundings. It’s a hub for all-year swimming and floating in the warm, buoyant, mineral-rich waters, which are known to promote wellbeing.

Fed by both the sea and underground thermal springs, the lake maintains a constant temperature of 24°C all year round. Rich in minerals such as potassium, sodium, lithium, ammonium, calcium, iron, chlorine and iodine, its waters are often used to treat a variety of ailments; and let’s not forget the tiny fish that eat away at your dead skin cells.

Lake Vouliagmeni

But it’s not just the health benefits that attract people; the lake is shrouded in mystery, with deep, unexplored underwater tunnels and caves that fuel myth and curiosity, as divers have disappeared in them. For nature lovers, the area offers a walking trail to explore the local flora and fauna as well as therapeutic swimming.

The lake has a cafe and restaurant where you can drink or with a view, making it an ideal spot for both relaxation and regeneration.

Address: Lake Vouliagmeni Poseidonos Av., 16671 Vouliagmeni Athens Riviera, Greece WEBSITE

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