To one side, the Pagasitikos Gulf and, to the other, the Aegean. In between, a magical mountain to discover: Pelion! Water gurgles in the fountains. Sunbeams stream through the leaves of the plane trees, apple trees, oaks, beeches, gardenias, hydrangeas, camellias. Nature flourishes in this fertile soil of Thessaly. In the autumn, a surreal palette of orange and red unfolds before you. Pathways, old churches, beaches with peacock-coloured water. Up high, its villages teeter on the edge of the mountain. One weekend is not enough to take it all in. Welcome to magnificent Pelion.
What to do in Pelion
Travel to the home of the mythical Centaurs
So much beauty inevitably created myths. According to mythology, Centaurs ruled Pelion, led by the wisest of them all, Chiron, who taught medicine and made the snake its symbol and who initiated both Achilles and Asclepius into his secrets.
The ‘balconies’ of the Pagasitikos
On the way from Volos to Pelion, you will pass Portaria and Makrinitsa, the star villages of the area. Stone fountains, quaint homes, paths, boutique bed & breakfasts and five-star hotels, churches and delicious local dishes. Below, the panoramic view of Volos and the Pagasitikos Gulf is laid out at your feet. In these villages – jewels of Pelian architecture – you’ll experience what quality of life really means.
Let’s go skiing
Skiing with a view of the Aegean? Exactly! The ski resort in Agriolefkes, at 1,470m above sea level, awaits you. Four slopes for advanced skiers and one for beginners (7km in total), and a warm and cosy refuge for après-ski. Stores, cafes, a ski school and, of course, an incredible sea view.
Tsangarada: a village in the shade of the planes
You’re standing in the shade of the sky-high plane trees. Take in the refreshing breeze. You are in Agia Paraskevi, one of the four districts of Tsangarada, one of the most famous villages in Pelion. You’ll explore the others – Agios Stefanos, Agia Kyriaki and Taxiarches – by footpath, among the chestnut trees, fruit trees and flowers. Tsangarada, a favourite destination for years, is full of nature and life.
Zagora: the apple-tree village
Zagorin apples, chestnuts and cherries are famous throughout Greece. They are the staples of Zagora, the historic, wealthy and largest village in Pelion. From the beginning of the 20th century, Zagorians turned to agriculture, and to apples in particular. Their Agricultural Cooperative was founded in 1916.
Pouri, Keramidi, Mouresi, Kissos, Milies, Vizitsa, Pinakates, Agios Georgios Nilias, Agios Lavrentios. The villages of Pelion, each with its own character, are worth a visit. Incredible architecture, traditional bed & breakfasts, shady squares with churches, traditional coffee shops and tavernas. You’ll feel like a local.
The old churches of Pelion hide surprises. The Pammegiston Taxiarchon monastery in Milies was renovated in 1764 and is renowned for its amazing acoustics. Why? Some 48 jars, upside-down, are hidden on the roof and five underground wells communicate. The result is awe-inspiring. At Kissos, you’ll visit Agia Marina, built in 1650, and admire its beautiful murals inspired by the Apocalypse, as well as, the Old and New Testaments. All of these monasteries, churches and attractions will enchant you.
As you make your way down the mountain, you’ll come across large and small beaches with white pebbles or fine sand and crystal-clear water. In the beaches of Pelion, you’ll swim under the gaze of aristocratic Pelion houses and plane trees that practically reach the water.
Old world charm and modern luxury
A stately stay, literally. Dozens of stately stone homes, with traditional decor, living rooms with fireplaces and stone patios with flowers, await you throughout the villages of Pelion. If you’re looking for modern luxury, you’ll find 5-star hotels, private villas or condos with suites and pools. Their greatest advantage: all are located amidst Pelion’s lush green landscape, which provides a continuous cool breeze, even during August’s heat waves.
Rendezvous at Milies, the train station, to wait for the Mountzouris, the famous choo choo of 1895, that arrives puffing to a halt while you applaud. The conductor turns on the engine manually and the charming little train takes off for Ano Lehonia. A magical ride through trees and forests, above 12 bridges – a trip worth taking.
Damouhari: a scene from a film
The beach at Damouhari is a postcard brought to life. A lovely landscape, moody and wild at the same time, divided in two by a strip of land: the Old and New Damouhari. The tavernas offer a five-star dinner with a view. The marina was the location of the Dancing Queen scene in Mamma Mia.
Pelion was, and is, a living mountain. Discover it through the dense network of cobblestone, trails and paths: Milies-Tsangarada, Tsangarada-Damouhari-Ai Iannis, Kissos-Mouresi, Chania-Kissos, Portaria-Chania, Damouhari-Fakistra. Experienced hikers and nature lovers will discover the mountain’s secrets, the history and rich vegetation.
Hidden gems of Pelion
Gifts of the earth: Sweet preserves and flowers
Take the colours of Pelion home with you in jars and pots. All around Pelion, women make sweet preserves in a dozen incredible flavours: try them all. In the villages you can buy pots with hydrangeas, camellias, gardenias. Take home some soil too, it makes all the difference.
Two beautiful narrow canyons await you at Tsangarada: Fakistras and Milopotamos. They end in two beaches of the same names.
From Milina until Trikeri: a destination for locals and intrepid travellers. Fresh fish, delicious fish soup and seafood in the tavernas. By boat you’ll discover the hidden beauty of the Pagasitikos.