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Loutraki & Perachora

Loutraki is the famous Greek spa whose springs churn out a good deal of the bottled water you'll see in restaurants. Perachora is a tiny seaside site with just enough remains of temples and shrines to give you something to admire while you enjoy being well off the touristic beaten track. To get to Loutraki from Corinth, cross the Corinth Canal. Once you're on the mainland, Loutraki will be signposted on your left. For Perachora, continue through Loutraki to Perachora, 32km (20 miles) or 30 minutes away by car on a peninsula hooking out into the Gulf of Corinth.

If possible, avoid visiting Loutraki on summer weekends when the town bursts at the seams with Athenian day-trippers and busloads of Russian visitors who gamble at the Casino, 48 Posidonos (tel. 27440/65-501; open 24 hr.). If you come here, you might want to emulate Greek visitors and "take the waters" (and have a massage 45€) at the Hydrotherapy Thermal Spa, 24 G. Lekka (tel. 27440/22-215), open Monday through Saturday from 7am to 2pm. Off season, the seaside promenades and leafy parks are charming; information is available at www.loutraki.gr.

En route to Perachora from Loutraki is Lake Vouliagmeni, a saltwater inlet from the Gulf of Corinth. You'll find a number of seafood restaurants along the lake; make your choice depending on where the most Greeks are eating and what looks good in the kitchen. There's almost no shade here and it can be ferociously hot in summer.

Perachora is at the end of the peninsula, around a tiny cove with a picturesque lighthouse chapel. The ancient Corinthians rather self-referentially named this place Perachora, which means "the land beyond" -- in this case, the land beyond the gulf, as seen from Corinth. Views are superb south across the gulf of Acrocorinth and the mountains of the Peloponnese, and along the north coast to the mountains of Central Greece. Dilys Powell's memoir, Perachora: An Affair of the Heart (Efstatiadis Group, 1983), is an enchanting account of the excavations here and the prewar countryside.

Founded in the 8th century B.C., the site of Perachora had several temples to Zeus's wife, Hera; several stoas; and a number of useful water cisterns. Little was left standing after the Romans dismantled the temples and stoas and ferried the stones across the gulf to rebuild Corinth after they destroyed that city in 146 B.C. This is an ideal spot to spend a few lazy hours swimming and picnicking (but not on weekends, when lots of locals have the same idea). You may prefer to dangle your toes in the water and not swim in the cove, although the snorkeling is good. Sharks are not unknown just outside the harbor in the gulf.

The site is open daily in summer from 8am to 7pm, and in winter from 8am to 3pm. Admission is free.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.