Greece Travel Guide logo

Greece Travel Guide

Athensguide

 Greek Island Guide

Lesvos

Hotels of Greece

Turkey

Paris

Lavrion, Greece

Port of Lavrion, Greece

No longer a place to be avoided, the port of Lavrion is changing faster than any town in Greece, opening tavernas, cafes and becoming an important ferry boat hub for the Cyclades Islands and home port for several cruise ships and sailboat companies.

Ancient Theater of LavrionThe town of Lavrion on the tip of the Attiki Peninsula is not featured prominently in very many guidebooks about Greece even though it has the oldest and biggest ancient amphitheater(photo-click to enlarge) in the country and a mysterious giant hole that would be an attraction to Fortians and seekers of unexplained phenomena if they knew about it. The area is known for its industry and mining operations from ancient times. This is where the giant columns from the temple of Posideon at nearby Sounion were dug out. The Silver mines date back to prehistoric times. The washeries where the silver was extracted are still visible and currently in a state of being restored. These mining facilities are believed to be the oldest in the world! The Lavrion Silver mines financed the fleet with which the ancient Athenians defeated the Persians, and financed the building of the Acropolis and other monuments of the Golden Age of Athens. Later the mines got much more industrialized, and covered the entire region with melting pots and tunnels as well as some of the bi-products of mining and extracting. One effect of this industrialization was that Lavrion had the first railroad tracks in Greece, and the first proper harbour facility to load ore via a bridge to barges and ships. Another side effect of this mining activity was that many different and unique minerals were discovered. These minerals bring a lot of geological tourism into the mountains and very interesting samples are displayed in the Mineralogical Museum. The Archaeological Museum gives a good picture of the development of the ancient civilization, which was hugely effected by the early industrialization.

The tunnels and shafts dug to reach the layers of minerals created heaps of debris near the mine entrances. It is possible, to this day, to find a large variety of minerals quite easily. Despite the highly developed metallurgical techniques in the factories, the remnants of which are very well preserved in Lavrion , the Ancient Greeks could not take out all the silver from the ore and after smelting used to dump the slag into the sea. The sea water, which contained minerals penetrated into the slag for thousands of years and reacted with other trace elements. This chemical reaction resulted in the growth of perfect crystals of various minerals , some of which are very rare and exist only in Lavrion. In the winter, when the heavy seas deposit these crystals on the beaches, many collectors come to Lavrion to find them.

Up until a few years ago Lavrion was a pretty dismal place. The unemployment was around 75% and the city was used as a refugee center for Kurds and other people. The physical state of Lavrion was so bad that Greek film director Theo Angelopoulos used the city as a stand-in for war-torn Sarajevo in his film Ulysses Gaze. In the last few years Lavrion has gone through an amazing transformation. Restaurants, shops and cafes have opened  and Lavrion has new life due to the rebuilding of the port into a major ferry terminal for the Greek islands and the relocation of several sailboat charter companies and a marina.

One of the sailboat owners is my friend Stefan Ritscher who sent me the following review of the area restaurants.

Stefan Ritcher aboard the sailboat Caraya II "There are several places from fast food to good standards all around the main square (Plateia Heroon). Special attention deserves the 'Yard', located directly at the bus stop from Athens, conveniently between the main square and the port.

The 'Yard' is a rather modern style and very clean place that offers traditional Greek dishes as well as a variety of international plates, prepared and offered in a nice style with decent prices. Further it offers the biggest variation of beers in the entire area. In a separate facility it offers some entertainment and has a bar-style.

Another very good place of interest is the 'Kokovios', located next to the National Bank, nearby the Plateia. It offers very good food to reasonable prices in a traditional and very clean facility.

Nightlife is abundant around the port, even though the prices are made for the Athens/Sounion visitors.

Several very nice tavernas and restaurants are found just out of Lavrion, like the 'Faros' on the road to the Sounion temple near ' Passa Limani ~ 5Km). It is especially known for its variation of Greek starters (Meze), offers a very warm atmosphere and is decent priced."

Stefan owns the beautiful sailboat Caraya II and does charters to the Cyclades, Saronic islands and the Peloponessos and is one of the few companies that does year round charters. Stefan makes his home in Lavrion where is wife Fotini is an archaeologist and an expert on the area of Lavrion. One of the wonders of the area is a giant hole. Stefan explains the possible origins of it:

"The history of the big hole is not entirely cleared yet (not many people are working on a clarification anyway), but the most reliable is the one of the ancient Meteorite, which would explain as well, why there are so many minerals around that area, that attract large numbers of collectors and geologists every year. Through the heat occurring at the impact of that celestial rock, stones around the area got molten, and these minerals formed.

Another theory claims, that these minerals were there anyway, since the entire area always held minerals of all kinds, and it was just by chance that around the hole is a concentration of them. The hole itself got rather created when a cave or the cover of a lake under the surface collapsed.

I am not a Geologist, but I don't like this theory, since there is no water held at all inside the hole, even though it is some 200' deep, and normal caves are located on the foot of a hill, and not right at the top, -but I may be mistaken.

A 3rd one, which is rather Gossip, says that the hole got dug out by men on search for valuable minerals, since the companies next door were all just searching for silver and lead, and had their very own structure of tunneling the area."

Lavrion For those of us who live on the island of Kea, the change in Lavrion is amazing since this is where we have had to catch the ferry. Lavrion is no longer a place we don't want to get stuck in. It is now somewhere we can go to visit if we need a break from the island, need to do some shopping, or need a culinary change when we tire of Kea's restaurants. This change in fortunes for Lavrion could not have come at a better time. It appears that Lavrion, a city with a glorious past, now has a promising future, something that may have seemed impossible just a few years ago. However as one might imagine of an area which has been known for thousands of years for its industry and mining, there are some pollution issues that must be dealt with. Until they are, Lavrion has to fall under the category of one of those places you might want to visit but you probably would not want to live there. In the meantime, if you love rocks, minerals and crystals or need a good starting point for your trip to the Greek islands, or a seaside taverna on a sunny afternoon, Lavrion is not the scary place it was a few years ago.

Don't forget to visit the Temple at Sounion. Across from Lavrion is the former prison island of Makronissos. Be sure to visit the ouzeries in the Lavrion Fish market which have excellent fresh fish as you would expect. I alo like Glaros, the fish taverna overlooking the harbor. On Thursday Lavrion has a fantastic Laiko Agora (farmer's market).
Visit the nearby island of
Kea too.

Visit my
Lavrion Photo Album

Suggested Hotels near Lavrion

Cape Sounio, Grecotel Exclusive Resort 5 stars

Photo Cape Sounio, Grecotel Exclusive ResortThe hotel rises against a gentle slope, overlooking a tranquil cove, at the foot of a dramatic cliff, capped by the Temple of Poseidon. This resort is located on one of the world’s most celebrated archaeological sites and is fabulously secluded amid a natural pine forest. Beneath the imposing temple, private villas rise along stone-paved paths shaded by olive trees and pines. Grecotel Cape Sounio strikes a delicate balance with the environment by using natural materials extracted from the earth - clay, bronze and stone. Fountains on an open terrace separate the lounge from the lavish bar. Upstairs in the gourmet restaurant, the menu is as inspired as the view. The setting becomes breathtaking in the moonlight and is the perfect backdrop for a business reception or an unforgettable wedding. Wireless internet is available in public areas and is free of charge. For more photos, rates and booking information click here

Aegeon Beach Hotel 4 stars

Aegeon Beach Hotel is situated in one of the most beautiful spots in Europe, at Cape Sounio, right on the seashore below the Temple of Poseidon, one of the most famous archaeological sites in all of Greece. Aegeon Beach is built to blend with the natural environment with sober lines and earth colours. It is the ideal place for those who wish to combine luxurious living with a peaceful and quiet stay, far from the turmoil of the city. All 44 rooms enjoy a superb sea view with a private balcony to marvel at the world known sunset. Hotel facilities: Restaurant – Bar – 24-Hour Front Desk – Terrace – Rooms/Facilities for Disabled Guests – Family Rooms – Elevator – Chapel/Shrine – Heating – Design Hotel – Gay Friendly – Airconditioning in all rooms and throughout the hotel. Wireless internet is available in the entire hotel and is free of charge. The town of Lavrion with its fish tavernas and port are just 10 minutes drive. For more photos, rates and booking information click here

Useful Greece Information

You can get to Lavrion by Orange buses that leave from Green Park (Areos Park) where Alexandras Avenue connects with 28 October-Patission Street. They leave every half-hour. There is also a bus from the airport. You can also catch it at Ethniki Amyna which is a stop on the metro. The bus that takes the coast road has a bus stop on Fileninon Street right by Syntagma Square.

With the new ring roads you can now be in Lavrion in under an hour by taxi. You can use George the Famous Taxi Driver at www.greecetravel.com/taxi

You can catch the ferry to Kea which leaves several times a day from Lavrion. There is also a high-speed during the summer that goes to the Cyclades. Two or three times a week the NEL ferries stop in Lavrion duringits trip around the Cyclades.

To charter the Caraya II contact Stefan at www.charterayachtingreece.com/Caraya

See also: Cruises, Sailboats Charters, Ferry Boats, Kea

Return to Athens Survival Guide