Methana is one of our favorite ecotourism spots near Athens. Although it had a glorious past thanks to its thermal baths, today its long-faded charm and its absence from the Greek tourism map makes it a hidden treasure.
The peninsula, almost an island with one lone road to the mainland, features a majestic – even if inactive – volcano right in its midst, complete with several craters to admire and explore. Steeped in mythology, archeology and geological curiosity, Methana will delight you with its hiking paths that crisscross the land, Mediterranean biodiversity, quiet semi-abandoned villages, and lazy seaside vibe.
The town was once famous for its thermal baths, even in antiquity, with many fine hotels having been built for spa visitors in the since the 1930s. Some of these hotels, albeit abandoned, still stand today, reflecting their faded glory in all their art-deco splendor. The public baths and spa facilities have opened and closed several times over recent decades. At the time of writing this (June 2020) the two facilities on either side of the main town are still closed, but there is a small creek right before the smaller public spa facility on the edge of town that is popular with locals who know the healing secrets of these spring waters. If you do manage to find this creek on the coast, make sure you don’t spend more than 20 minutes a day, giving you just the right dose of radon that is reputed to heal you from a whole range of ailments. The Ecotourism Greece team tried the experience and we felt perfectly good after it, so we do recommend it for aches, pains and more. Hopefully, the formal spas will reopen soon (a Czech company has supposedly shown strong interest) and you will be able to embark on a more organized spa escape.
Hiking and more
Beyond the spas, the island has numerous hiking paths that are perfect to explore during spring and fall, as well as during milder winter days. There are a couple of tour operators in Greece that offer hiking tours, such as Nature Discovery and Volcano Discovery, and you can also download this great trilingual hiking map in English, German and Greek. For a unique outdoor activity, you can also go out to In Land of the Wolf which not only offers unique hiking experiences in the region but also a unique experience with their horses: this is not horseback riding but a chance where you can bond with the horses on a one-to-one level in superb nature within a holistic philosophy.
How to get there:
Either by ferry from the port of Piraeus (a two-hour ride) or by road from Athens (around 2 hours driving). Please check ferry schedules as they often change and run less frequently during the low season (outside the summer months).