Neda, Messinia, Peloponnisos
The female river
Bridges and waterfalls, watermills and whirlpools, rich vegetation, caves and narrow passages, lakes with crystal clear waters. To appreciate Neda in its full glory you will need to walk a decent distance, as traversing the gorge is normally a two-day affair for someone in good shape, even in the company of specialist guides. You can also enjoy its most beautiful section much more easily: Head from the village of Figalia to the stone bridge, walk west for about 15 minutes, and you will reach the two waterfalls and their pools, crossing wooden bridges on a very easy trail. Take a deep breath and dive into the emerald waters without thinking twice!
Orlia waterfall, Olympus, Madeconia
Baptism of the gods
Olympus is not just high peaks and alpine meadows. On the foothills of Greece’s tallest mountain, lush gorges and running water create equally enchanting scenery, accessible to most visitors. The Orlias creek, near the village of Vrontou, creates beautiful waterfalls and and natural pools suitable for swimming. The first waterfall is only 10 minutes’ walk from the chapel of Aghios Konstantinos. If you want to go further, about an hour’s walk up the creek will get you to Kokkinos Vrachos (Red Rock) and another waterfall. A few daring dives into the ice cold water in the shadow of the dwelling place of the 12 gods of Greek mythology and you, too, will feel immortal.
Theodoriana, Tzoumerka, Epirus
Water all around
At the village of Theodoriana in the Tzoumerka, there is water springing from everywhere, even from the concrete verges on the road. It originates from around 50 natural springs in the surrounding mountain slopes, and it is not only safe to drink but is bottled under the Kostilata label. There are also two good swimming spots. The famous 25-meter Souda waterfalls, around 15 minutes from the village, don’t collect enough water for swimming in the summer, but the waters fall with great force, offering an invigorating natural shower. A 40-minute hike on a trail which starts near the entrance to the village will take you to Marks creek, where you will find several ponds where you can spend all day dipping in and out of the cool water.
Iliochori, Zagori, Epirus
A paradise for the few
In the region of Zagori in Epirus, below the village of Iliochori the signposts will lead you to the Balta di Striga falls with their emerald waters. The name is Slavic and translates as “Scream Lake”, commemorating a local legend according to which a girl committed suicide by jumping into the waterfall, screaming as she fell. Today, visitors only scream with joy as they jump into the three natural pools with their icy water. There are three waterfalls, with the highest measuring 20 meters. There is also a wooden deck equipped with picnic tables and lifebuoys. The walk takes 30 minutes down a paved trail, however the return is quite a bit harder due to the steepness of the slope.
Thessaly, Pilio, Karavoma
A hideaway for the initiated
The mythical mountain of the Centaurs is very popular in summer thanks to its beaches, bathed by the Aegean Sea. However, those in the know can enjoy its slopes, covered in greenery, in peace, far away from the coast. One of the most beautiful trails starts from the village of Chania and runs 9 km to the village of Makryrachi, passing three waterfalls along the way. All have natural plunge pools, which locals call “gioles”. If you don’t want to walk the full distance, you can reach the pools from Karavoma from the dirt track near the Zagora-Makryrachi crossroads. In just 15 minutes, walking through the apple orchards for which the area is famous, you will reach the biggest one. Hang you hammock from the trees and enjoy the amazing scenery.