Pelion has it all
Volos and the nearby mountain Pelion are popular destinations due to the short distance to Athens, about 3 hours by car or bus, but the area is still a bit of a secret for other tourists.
However, the popularity among the Athenians does not mean that there is overrun in Pelion, as this magical place has a lot of places to stay and there are activities for all tastes.
For me personally, it is a very special place that I never get tired of visiting. There are several reasons for this. The area is well located and is ideal for travelers who want to enjoy both the mountains and the Aegean Sea. If you too can live with spending a little less money than you typically get out on the islands, well, then you should consider Volos.
In this beautiful area you can swim in crystal clear water, hike or ride on the mountain trails through the fertile soils of the centaurs - the mythological creatures of half horse and half human.
Plus you can eat the best local dishes as well as fresh seafood - and believe me, it will be very difficult to leave this place and return to reality afterwards.
Volos and the nearby mountain Pelion have it all and that's why I love it. Let the journey begin…
If you want to visit Pelion, you can take the bus to Volos either from Athens or from Thessaloniki, as I did.
Volos is a cozy coastal town, located at the foot of Mount Pelion and opens onto the Bay of Pagasetia. It is a major port city with daily ferry connections to Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos in the Sporades archipelago and also Limnos, Lesbos, Chios and Skiros. It is a really good idea to split the holiday between Pelion and one of these islands.
Volos is a great place to eat seafood; especially at the restaurants along the bay called ‘tsipouradika’. The restaurants there are quite cheap and they make an effort to have the best local seafood.
If you are not very hungry, you can always order a round of 'tsipouro' brandy for not much money, and then you usually get a sensible portion of 'all-good-from-the-sea-meze' - the Greek version of tapas - with next to.
If you are coming to Volos by bus, it may be a good idea to rent a car when you arrive so you can get around easily. If you do not, you can use the local means of transport, but it will limit you somewhat, and believe me - there is a lot to see.
Although Volos is a charming little town, if you have your daily life in Athens, you will probably prefer to run away from city life and live in one of the small villages around Pelion as far from the main road as possible - as I did.
On the drive through Volos on the way to Pelion, we passed a strip of small coastal villages until we finally started driving up the narrow roads towards the mountain and its beautiful little villages. From some of them there are views of the Bay of Pagaseti and the town of Volos, and others are just surrounded by the rich flora of the trees and forests that this amazing mountain offers.
Some of these villages are Agios Georgios Nilias, Milies, Vizitsa, Tsagkarada, Chania, Portaria and Makrinitsa. My own favorite village on this side of the mountain is Milies.
Milies is one of the villages that is really beautiful to stroll around in. Here you can find small shops with handicrafts - made of local materials - as well as good restaurants.
And not only that; there is even a train station in this small cozy village, from where a mechanical train runs up through the beautiful nature towards the mountain and the view is impressive. Finally, take the trip if you have time.
If you have time try to visit the more famous villages of Portaria and Makrinitsa, which are popular winter destinations with a good selection of hotels, quite a few activities and have the best views of Volos.
Chania - not to be confused with the town of Crete of the same name - is also a popular excursion destination in winter and has one of the finest ski areas in the country. And yes, there is snow in Greece!
The food in Pelion is in itself reason enough to visit the area. You can not visit Pelion without having tried the local specialties 'spetzofai' (dish with sausages and peppers), 'exohiko' (fried lamb with vegetables in a thin crispy dough), rooster in tomato sauce and red wine, meat with vegetables and cheese in clay pot - and all the other local delicacies.
We had decided to stay in the small and more discreet village of Agios Georgios Nileias, in an elegant neoclassical villa, which is not as expensive as it sounds, with really nice panoramic views of Volos and a cozy garden with a delicious pool.
This village is really charming, but it was a short distance from the beaches we also wanted to visit, so keep this in mind as Pelion has plenty of accommodation options depending on what you are most into.
The sea around Volos and Pelion
On the second half of the trip, we were ready to explore the beach side of Pelion. As you drive down from the mountain on the opposite side of Volos, the turquoise blue water begins to appear in front of you framed by oak, plane tree, apple, walnut, beech, chestnut and all-other-trees. I was so glad we were more to drive so I could enjoy the beautiful sight and store it in my memory forever.
The most famous beach on this side of Pelion is the unique Mylopotamos beach with crystal clear water and small rock caves. It may be a good idea to keep in mind that this beach is crammed in the middle of the day in high season. Instead you can choose one of the other beaches such as Agii Saranta, Agios Ioannis, Fakistra, which is located down to the village of Tsagkarada, or the 'Mamma-Mia' famous small village of Damouchari.
Damouchari is also a village which in my opinion is worth visiting. After all, the people behind the movie Mamma Mia did their research… This village is without the typical mountain scenery and it is closer to the style and atmosphere of the Sporades with its typical green-blue water and rich plant life.
Try diving at the rocky beach in Damouchari, take a walk through the narrow cobbled streets and alleys, visit the small souvenir shops and enjoy fresh seafood from the tavernas by the beach - then you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience.
Finally, I want to say that my little trips to Pelion have been eminent every single time. You can easily visit the area yourself and be creative. Book a hotel somewhere around Pelion, rent a car and let your heart take you around and explore the mountain. Wherever you end up, it will be perfect. I dare promise you that.
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