Pelion, a mountain of relatively low elevation and levels of wildness, is almost an equivalent of the district (prefecture) of Magnesia and of its capital, Volos. Its highest summit, Stavros, is 1.624 metres ams, running for approximately 50 Km. Mount Pelion forms a natural borderline between the district of Magnesia and the Aegean Sea.
Its soft slopes and easily accessed peaks make Mount Pelion a popular destination for hiking lovers and weekend mountain climbers. Two mountain shelters, the one at Agriolefkes and the other at Agios Georgios of Zagora host weary climbers and hikers. In Agriolefkes, near Hania, there is also a skiing resort for skiing lovers, whereas an abundance of mountain routes and trails are ideal for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Someone gains an exhilarating experience all year round when visiting Mount Pelion or its traditional villages, whether it’s in mid-winter when everything is covered in snow, or in spring or summer when colourful wild flowers cover its slopes, which are full of fir, chestnut, oak and beech trees.
Portaria is one of the most cosmopolitan villages of Pelion, bustling with life since it hosts visitors throughout the year. Situated at the foot of Mount Pelion, it’s the first village one gets to from Volos. Its popularity as a travel destination and its accompanying cosmopolitanism spring from its vicinity both to a skiing resort and also to the sea. Luxurious hotels, traditional hostels, rooms to let, restaurants and tavernas, coffee shops, bars, and shops selling souvenirs and traditional folk art items meet all visitors’ tastes and needs.
Zagora is situated on the eastern slopes of Mount Pelion, with a great view to the Aegean. A densely-populated village, Zagora consists of four districts, all meeting around the central square of Ag. Georgios, having taken its name after the adjacent small church, famous for its excellent altarpiece. This very square also hosts, since the end of 18th century, the famous Public Library, which nowadays operates as a lending library with many and great, rare books, while there is also a reading room within its premises.
At a short distance visit Drakopoulou Mansion, which houses on its ground-floor, the food preparation facilities of the Women’s Agrotourism Cooperative of Zagora. This is where nature meets tradition, since the thriving orchards of the surrounding area offers abundant citrus-trees, essential ingredient of many delicacies, such as spoon sweets, home-made marmelades and liqueurs, the recipes of which have been handed down from older generations. Treat yourself one of these delicacies after a hard going hiking so to get some of your strength back or get some to treat your beloved ones back home.
Tsagkarada lies 500m above sea level on the eastern side of Mt. Pelion, along a densely wooded area, looking out to the Aegean. Here, nature is dominant with chestnut and plane trees, being twisted around every single old and new construction of the sparsely-populated village. Treat yourself a cup of coffee at the central square of Agia Paraskevi, where the great Plane Tree counts a life of at least ten centuries. One of the things a visitor should see exiting the village is the arch bridge constructed by builders from Epirus. Some historical sites of special interest are also the Achillopouleios Commercial School and the Nanopouleios School. Before departing don’t forget to gather mushrooms as well as chestnuts or join the Chestnut Festival held in November, if you happen to be around.
Strolling at Vyzitsa
Famous Vyzitsa, a village of Pelion enjoying major tourist development since the 80s, is typical of its Pelian scenery, its stone-paved alleys, its renovated lordly mansions (archontika), its lush greenery and its stone fountains. Climb up its central cobblestones alley heading for the central square. Walk around the picturesque neighbourhood of Argyraiika and if weather permits go hiking to Milies or to the coastal village of Kala Nera. The scenery is breathtaking… Visit also Esperides, the Women’s Agrotourism Cooperative of Vyzitsa, very popular within and without Vyzitsa’s borders for its catering services, and taste its traditional products ranging from marmalades to home-made pastas.
Milies is the starting point of the legendary steam train of Pelion, the so-called “Moutzouris” (i.e. smudgy) extending up to Ano Lechonia. Its rail track runs along a route of natural beauty connecting the centre of Volos to the fertile district of Western Pelion. In Winter , when the train stops operating, walk along its rail track and take pictures of the iron bridge constructed by Evaristo de Chirico, the chief engineer and mastermind of the Pelian steam train and father of the surrealist painter Giorgio de Chirico. Take the path heading towards Vyzitsa and enjoy the panoramic view of the Pagasetic Gulf. It is also worth paying a visit to the Church of “Pamegiston Taxiarchon”, typical of the Pelian architecture with post-Byzantine icons of artistic and historical significance.
Makrinitsa, the balcony of Mt. Pelion
Makrinitsa known for offering one of the best panoramic views to Volos and the Pagasetic Gulf has retained the traditional Pelian architecture and construction. So one can admire its renovated lordly mansions, its romantic stone paved alleys, its elaborate fountains, its super centenarian plane trees and its lovely flowers, which all make Makrinitsa one of the most breathtaking destinations of Pelion. There are also interesting art cafes and galleries revealing the artistic interests of its local people.
Pinakates, a village out of a fairytale
Pinakates, a village almost untouched by men, on the southern slopes of Pelion, pictures like a little secret hidden in the Mountain of Centaurs. People hardly knew of this place up until 1999, when a road from Vyzitsa to Pinakates was constructed to give access to this wonderful village. Its majestic nature, its serenity, its small central square sheltered under a big plane tree combined with its authentic scenery lure every visitor.
Where to eat
Agia Kyriaki/ To Mouragio and o Manolas
Beneath strings of octopus, Greek families feast on grilled sardines, deep-fried whitebait, lobster spaghetti and all sorts of strange shellfish at rival tavernas
Agios Andreas/ Kottes and O Pinguinos
The catch of the day comes straight off the caiques moored outside O Pinguinos, on the anchorage of Agios Andreas and O Christos at Kottes.
Kleopatra Miramare café-bar, where impromptu concerts are staged.
Ta pente F, Kissos
It’s worth making a detour to taste the crumbly pies and stuffed cabbage leaves at Ta Pende F. Brimming with flowers, this family-run taverna hasn’t changed much since 1935.
Anna Na Ena Milo
For dessert, go to Anna, Na Ena Milo for lemon praline mousse and Greek coffee served in a traditional copper pot. Decked with vintage advertisements, this cute coffee shop is good for people-watching;
The Korbas bakery, on the edge of town, is the place to stock up on olive and onion focaccia, spinach pie and home-made preserves.
Climax beach bar attracts a cool crowd for everything from bikini brunches to full-moon parties. The food is French/Mediterranean, with excellent seafood salads and simple pastas, and there’s a head-spinning selection of cocktails, from sours to slings. The Mojitos taste particularly good on a lounger beneath the baby palm trees, but the slapdash service and bumped-up prices can turn them a little sour. Open noon-midnight, mid-May to end of Sept.
In Tsangarada itself, the eclectic menu at Evoxia (smoked eel, caramelised onion tart, smoked chicken with quince chutney) relies upon the finest ingredients sourced from all over Greece.
How to go to Pelion
Mountain Pelion is located in Central Greece, in the region of Thessaly and specifically in the regional unit of Magnesia. Being in central Greece it gives it a convenient access through various ways. The city of Volos, capital of Magnesia is the reference point for entering Pelion as all villages are accessed through it. See below how can you access the city of Volos :
Volos is about 326km north of Athens and 215km south of Thessaloniki. It can be accessed through the national highway (A1-E75). From both cities, the highway is well maintained and well signed allowing a safe and trouble free trip.
Over the last years, the military airport of Nea Anchialos (VOL) in the outskirts of Volos has been operating civilian flights. Various European low cost airlines have been operating weekly during summer months, connecting Thessaly with European destinations such as Brussels, Milan, Paris and many more. If you are looking primarily to access south Pelion, you can fly to the airport of Skiathos Island (JSI) and easily access south Pelion.
Alternatively, the Athens International Airport (ATH) or Thessaloniki International Airport (SKG) can be used from most international destinations to access Greece.
From Athens, Thessaloniki and other major cities operate buses (KTEL) that go to the city of Volos. Currently they are the fastest and most direct way of accessing Volos through public transportation.
Volos can be reached also through train. From both Athens and Thessaloniki, Volos is reached through the connecting station of Larissa. It takes 5 hours from Athens and approximately 3 hours from Thessaloniki.