Pelion - credits: RmX8/Pixabay.com
Pelion - credits: RmX8/Pixabay.com

Combining beautiful villages, atmospheric accommodation in historic mansions and mountain resorts, routes in nature, stunning beaches, and abundant local cuisine, Pelion, -the 'mountain of Centaurs' as it has been known since antiquity- is not accidentally one of the most popular destinations in Greece for all seasons.

From the autumn roadttips across the orange-red forests to the spring getaways that include fruit-picking, and from the relaxed island-like moments in the summer fishing villages to the skiing adventures between the beeches and the wild whites in the ski resort of Chania, Pelion has many faces. Here, we will help you discover the rural beauty of Pelion and learn everything you need, in order to ensure your trip to this striking part of Greece becomes unforgettable! 

Reasons to visit Pelion

pelion greeka
Pelion - credits: Greeka.com

  1. For its beaches. Emerald waters, golden sand, luscious greenery that reaches the sea. No one can deny that Pelions’ beaches are a thing of beauty, full of blue-green waters and Pelion magic. Mylopotamos, Horefto, Agioi Saranda, Papa Nero, Melani, Potistika, are among the top beaches, but you can find several more that will blow your mind.
  2. For its "secret" villages. They are many, and each one unique. Lafkos with its beautiful "ceiling" due to the trees square and the path that ends at the beach of Agios Konstantinos. Pouri, a small village hanging like a balcony above Horefto. Kissos, famous for its taverns and the delectable dishes of local cuisine they offer. The amphitheatrically-built Afissos, the coastal Milina, Afetes with its arched bridges, and the island of Trikeri are just some of the small villages that make up the treasures of Pelion.
  3. For its food. It is certain that in Pelion even the pickiest of eaters will find something to drool over.  Most of the taverns and restaurants of the area are excellent and offer the same, high-quality food. ‘Aleka’ in Tsagarada, ‘Kardamos’ in Makrinitsa, ‘Steki’ in Portaria, ‘Polydroso’ in Pouri, ‘Synantisi’ in Kissos, ‘Stefanis’ in Agios Georgios, and ‘Plymari’ on the beach of Analipsi are just a few of the eateries that will offer you the opportunity to taste Pelion’s delicious gastronomic creations.
  4. For its picturesque paths. They are many, beautiful paths, with the majority of them being well-marked and easily accessible. In general, they follow the cobbled streets that connected the villages with each other and with the railway lines that were used far before the roads were built. They vary in difficulty, with people having the luxury to choose between easy 20-minute paths or more difficult ones that require a map and a compass.  
  5. For the city of Volos. Yes, it is technically not included in the region of Pelion, but it is the classic gateway to it and you should honor it properly before or on your return. The beach of Volos with its many tsipouro restaurants is a hot spot, where people enjoy the local spirit alongside tasty ‘meze’ dishes. If you want to further experience the taste of tsipouro, in Nea Ionia and in some other areas of the city, you will find the traditional tsipouro restaurants that made the capital of Magnesia famous for its drinkers.

How to get there

ktel isic.grKtel bus - credits: isic.com.gr

Pelion and the whole prefecture of Magnesia, in general, is located in the center of Greece. The distance from both Athens and Thessaloniki to Pelion is relatively short, making it easy and comfortable for visitors to access. In specific, the distance between Athens and Pelion is 320 km, while the distance between Thessaloniki and Pelion is 217 km. 

You can reach Pelion -and Volos- by KTEL Buses. From Athens, the bus ride takes approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. From Thessaloniki, you can be in Pelion in only about 2 hours. Additionally, the Ktel buses have itineraries that connect Pelion with the cities of Patras, Ioannina, Kozani, Lamia, and Larissa.

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If you decide to drive to Pelion in your own car, you should keep in mind that you can reach the region considerably faster, with the drive from Athens taking around 3 hours and 50 minutes, and the drive from Thessaloniki taking around 2 hours and 10 minutes. Furthermore, you can access Pelion by train. You can reach the region from Athens by train with "Intercity" in 5 hours. From Thessaloniki, the train takes 3 hours and 30 minutes. 

From abroad, you can arrive at Pelion with international Charter flights directly to the airports of Nea Anchialos and Skiathos or through the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki and from there by road or rail.

The best towns and villages to Explore

Portaria

portaria volosinfoPortaria - credits: greeka.com

Also known as the ‘Gate of Pelion’, Portaria is a village that attracts visitors all year round and especially during winter. It has a unique natural beauty, while it is located very close to both the ski center of Pelion and the sea. It is therefore the most common starting point for visitors to get to know Pelion. Whether you are looking for a simple traditional guest house or a luxury hotel, in Portaria you will find accommodation for all tastes and all budgets. Cobbled streets, traditional stone houses, and mansions, and neat squares compose the scenery. The village is also characterized by its ornate stone fountains and churches. The fact that it combines everything is the reason why many prefer Portaria as their base every time they go to Pelion.

Zagora

zagora greekaZagora - credits: greeka.com

If you’ve heard of Pelion, you’ve surely have heard of Zagora. It is one of the largest and most historic villages of eastern Pelion. It is located at a distance of 44 km from the city of Volos, leaning on a green slope, and offering its visitors breathtaking views. Although it is probably the most touristic village you will see, it has managed to maintain its authentic, traditional character. The village is divided into four districts: Agia Paraskevi -also known as Perachora-, Agia Kyriaki, Agios Georgios, and Sotira, from which you will have a view of the Aegean waters. There, the famous architecture of Pelion dominates the scenery, while you can find traditional stone mansions offering luxurious accommodation. 

Tsagarada

tsagarada greekaTsagarada - credits: greeka.com

The perfect combination of sea and mountain is offered in abundance by Tsagarada. It is a village built amphitheatrically on a verdant slope and surrounded by beaches and coves. Beautiful mansions, stone cobbled streets, flowered courtyards, age-old plane trees, and chestnut trees create the ideal setting for relaxation. That is why Tsagarada has claimed the title of ‘the village of artists and sophisticated visitors’ throughout the years. Its most famous route is the one that starts from the district of Agia Paraskevi and through the old path that crosses the forest, with bridges and springs, and ends in Damouchari, with the beautiful natural harbor.

Milies 

milies paliosstathmosMilies - credits: paliosstathmos.gr

Perhaps the most scenic village of Pelion is Milies and the starting point of the famous ‘Moutzouri’, the small train that reaches Ano Lechonia through a beautiful route. It is a village with a long history and authentic Pelion architecture with tower houses and mansions, many of which have now been converted into hostels. The main square is the meeting point of both locals and visitors, who have the opportunity to enjoy their coffee under the plane trees or to dine in the traditional taverns. From the main square, the paved old cobbled streets lead to the neighborhoods of Milies. One of them turns into a path and reaches Tsagarada.

Trikeri

trikeri greece isTrikeri - credits: greece-is.com

The ideal village to enjoy South Pelion is Trikeri overlooking the Pagasitikos and the Evian Gulf. It is a picturesque fishing village with an island character and a natural port where fishing boats dock. Even the buildings of the settlement are unique since a walk on the cobbled streets reveals towers, which are decorated with Macedonian loggias, white houses, and many mansions. Some of the most beautiful are located in the neighborhood of Agioi Anargyroi

From the outside, it looks like a fortress. It is incredibly imposing and almost out of place with the landscape since the island is almost uninhabited. It has a manicured paved yard with many beautiful pots and shade to rest. It was built in 1825-1837 for the sake of the Virgin Mary. In the past, in the 100 cells of the monastery, in the late 60's, prominent personalities were hosted, invited by a legendary Austrian who lived in the area, Alfons Hohuser. Legend has it that Greta Garbo was also hosted there.

Katigiorgis 

katigiorgis studiosavraKatigiorgis - credits: studiosavra.ccom

To reach the enchanting region of Katigiorgis, you have to travel about 60 km from the capital of Magnesia, Volos. Regardless of the effort, when you reach your destination the view will reward you. Katigiorgis is a quiet village ideal for lovers of relaxing holidays. There, you will have the opportunity to escape from the pressure of everyday life, and enjoy unique picturesque landscapes. What’s more, from Katigiorgis, you can see all the villages of Pelion that are worth discovering.

In the village, there is only a small and golden sandy beach. Enjoy a refreshing dip in its clear blue waters and let your skin warm under the hot summer sun while sunbathing. Near the beach, you will find taverns, which serve fresh seafood and exceptional appetizers, such as fried squid. Accompany the local food with cool ouzo and take pleasure in an authentic Greek experience

To approach Katigiorgis follow the route Agria-Argalasti. Shortly after Argalasti signs to Lafko lead to the village, a few kilometers after the village of Promiri.

Agios Lavrentios

agios lavrentios kidlovegreeceAgios Lavrentios - credits: kidslovegreece.com

Agios Lavrentios, is a mountain village of Western Pelion just 20 km from Volos. It is argued to be one of the most beautiful Greek villages. The village took its name from the homonymous monastery of Agios Lavrentios located there. 

The beautiful scenery of the village enchants every visitor. The rich nature, the beautiful picturesque streets, the sounds of the streams, and the hospitable locals are a trademark of the village. Agios Lavrentios is an ideal destination for families, groups, and couples, who want to enjoy their peace and relaxation at any time of the year. 

Vyzitsa 

vyzitsa photoexplore.grVyzitsa - credits: photoexplore.gr

It is no coincidence that Vyzitsa is a living and breathing museum of traditional Pelion architecture. The village of Vyzitsa is one of the best-preserved Greek traditional settlements, full of beautiful towers such as Kontos, Geroulanos, Vergos, and Karagiannopoulos.

Most mansions are built with local stone and slabs. The stonework and the woodwork are visible. They have courtyards and smaller enclosures such as an oven, a caretaker's house, and a stable. The buildings are quite far apart and rarely form complexes. The mansions of Vyzitsa are usually three-story with a square plan. The roofs are made of wooden beams and their final layer consists of local slate.

The dense vegetation is characteristic of Vyzitsa. Everywhere there are age-old plane trees, olive groves, fruit trees, and herbs. The jewel of the village is the large paved square with plane trees. There, you will taste local specialties, such as delicious sea bream from local producers. 

Before leaving, it is worth visiting the monastery of Agios Ioannis, which was built in 1789, the three-aisled royal church of Zoodochos Pigi dating from 1725, and the church of Athos.

Makrinitsa

Makrinitsa thetravelhikinglifeMakrinitsa - credits: thetravelhikinglife.com

No words can do the arresting beauty of Makrinitsa justice. The best way to describe it would be to borrow the words of legendary Greek politician Eleftherios Venizelos, who portrayed it as the "balcony of Pelion".  Indeed, Makrinitsa, 17km. from Volos, "hangs" like a jewel on the western slopes of Pelion, offering the visitor an awe-inspiring panoramic view of Volos and the Pagasitic Gulf.

Decorated by three-story-high mansions reminiscent of European castles, stone-built churches, and narrow stone alleys, Makrinitsa is a place where the Pelion architecture flourished. A typical example of Pelian architecture is the Topali Mansion that was built in 1844. Today it houses the Museum of Folk Art and History of Pelion.

The main square, with its huge plane trees and the sound of the traditional fountain with the four lion heads, offers moments of relaxation to passers-by who are looking to enjoy delicious food, local pastries, and drinks. On the wall of one of its picturesque cafes, you can see the representation of the painter Theofilos "Battle in the cold fountain" dating back to 1910. Even further back, in 1806, the one-room church of Agios Ioannis Prodromos was built with stone carvings of the sculptor Theodosiou, standing a little further away.

Following the paved backbone of the settlement, you can reach the Church of the Assumption of the Virgin which has been there since the 13th century. The stone road reaches the highest and lowest point of the area, Kakuna, and Koukourava, respectively. Do not forget to visit the tall Skotinioti Tower House, a sample of the early phase of the Pelion architecture that dominates the settlement.

Pinakates

pinakates feelgreecePinakates - credits: feelgreece.com

One of the most beautiful villages of Pelion is Pinakates. The village is built on the slopes of Pelion overlooking the Pagasitic Gulf, about 25 km east of Volos and 5 km east of Agios Georgios Nilias. The name Pinakates comes from one of the first inhabitants of the village who was called ‘Pinakas’, which translates in English to ‘a maker of clay or wooden dishes’ that in the Pelion dialect were called ‘pinakia’. 

The village is distinguished for its beautiful mansions and its traditional pallet of colors. Note that the distances are short from the other villages, so you will have the opportunity to combine your visit to Pinakates with a visit to several other villages, such as Agios Georgios, Vyzitsa, and Milies.

The best beaches in Pelion

Mylopotamos

mylopotamos beach tsagarada pelion greece travelpassionate
Mylopotamos beach - credits: travelpassionate.com

The famous beach of Mylopotamos is known for its wild beauty. The beach is split in two by a rock that ends in its turquoise waters. The sand, which is in shades of gold, and the fine white pebbles add to the beauty of the beach, which during the summer is almost always full of people. The nearest village to Mylopotamos beach is Tsagarada.

Agios Ioannis

agios ioannis pelion worldbeachguideAgios Ioannis beach - credits: worldbeachguide.com

Agios Ioannis is another enchanting and cosmopolitan beach of Pelion. The setting offers an exotic aura with golden sand, white pebbles, and crystal clear waters. The beach is fully organized and offers the possibility of water sports for those who want to combine relaxation with fun. The beach is located close to the homonymous village.

Papa Nero

papa nero beach pelion feelgreecePapa Nero beach - credits: feelgreece.com

At a distance of just 200 meters from the village of Agios Ioannis, lies the beach of Papa Nero. In the famous resort of Pelion, the rich vegetation catches the eye of the visitors. The trees look as if they have taken a refreshing dive into the crystal clear Aegean waters of the beach. After your dip in the organized beach, you can enjoy fine local delicacies in one of the taverns along the coast.

Agioi Saranda

agioi saranta secret greeceAgioi Saranta beach - credits: greece.com

The name of the beach is due to the small homonymous church located nearby. Its beauty is heavenly, with shimmering waters in the colors of emerald, white fine pebbles, and plush golden sand. On the beach, you will come upon ‘Kalogeros’, a large rock ideal for those who love diving from a height. 

Among the characteristic rocks of the beach, there is a beach bar, which gathers a large number of young people. A short distance away, Agios Ioannis offers you alternative entertainment with cafes, bars, and water sports.

Plaka

plaka beach pelion greecePlaka beach - credits: greece.com

Somewhere between Agioi Saranda and Agios Ioannis, Plaka beach lures you in and demands you to explore it. The waters of the beach are a striking shade of blue-green and at the bottom, both the golden sand and the fine white pebbles make the beach ideal for both children and adults. The rich vegetation completes the dreamy setting of the beach.

Horefto 

horefto greekaHoreftoo beach - credits: greeka.com

Horefto beach is just as marvelous as the other Pelion beaches. It is fully organized and, in addition to swimming in its clear blue waters, you can also enjoy a liberating view that stretches across the depths of the horizon. It is located within a short distance from the village of Zagora and provides its visitors with many accommodation and dining options.

Fakistra

fakistra beach pelion wikilocFakistra breach - wikiloc.com

Fakistra beach may be small but it does not lack impressive beauty. Following the verdant path, a landscape that resembles a postcard stands before you. On the east side of Pelion, the small cove with the clear blue crystal waters is the closest thing you can find to paradise on earth. The nearest village to the beach is Tsagarada.

Kala Nera

kalanera feelgreeceKala Nera beach - credits: feelgreece.com

Kala Nera beach, on the southwest side of Pelion, offers a unique view of the Pagasitic Gulf. It is a cosmopolitan beach that offers many opportunities for dining and entertainment. The beach itself is full of plane and eucalyptus trees, under the shade of which you can relax for many hours. Kala Nera has been awarded a 'blue flag'.

Damouchari

damouchari beach pelion definitelygreeceDamouchari beach - credits: definitelygreece.com

Damouchari, which became known to the world public from the Holywood movie ‘Mamma Mia’, is a small and picturesque coastal settlement, on the side of eastern Pelion. In the northern bay of the settlement is the idyllic harbor, where you can enjoy your food in the taverns that exist there. In the southern part, you will enjoy your swim on a beach with crystal clear waters and large white pebbles.

Paltsi 

pelion paltsi beach greecetravelPaltsi beach - credits: greecetravel.com

Paltsi or Agios Konstantinos beach at a distance of 53 km from Volos is ideal for peace and relaxation. It is a very popular beach for both locals and foreigners. With golden sand and lush vegetation around, it attracts many visitors every summer. In the settlement, there are few accommodation and food options. Access is easy via an asphalt road from Argalasti.

Afissos

pelion afissos voyagevirtuel.co.ukAfissos beach - credits: voyagevirtuel.co.uk

Afissos, one of the most famous tourist resorts in central Pelion, is surrounded by the coasts of Kalifteri and Ambovo. With fine sand and deep blue, crystal clear waters, the coast of Kalifteri is located at the entrance of the village and stands out for the idyllic sunset, which paints the sea and the horizon with all the colors of the iris. 

The beach is organized with umbrellas, sunbeds, and a beach bar, while there is the possibility to indulge in a variety of water sports. The beach of Ambovos has the same characteristics. Between the two beaches, there is the shore of Lagoudi bay. According to Greek mythology, the Argonauts made a stop in Afissos in order to get water during their trip to Colchis.

Getting around Pelion

pelion roadtrip pixabayPelion road trip - credits: Pixabay.com

The road network of Pelion consists of several turns and in some parts of the route requires special attention.

If you do not have a private means of transport you can easily move using the means of public transport. Transportation in Pelion and for the entire Prefecture of Magnesia, for those who do not have their own vehicle, is done mainly by buses of the Intercity KTEL Volos. The itineraries from spring to autumn are quite dense and facilitate the movements from the city of Volos to the villages of Pelion. Itineraries vary and vary.

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Pelion has many villages, most of which do not have a taxi rank, as is the case in other tourist destinations in Greece. You will find taxis mainly in the central villages of Pelion, where there are some taxi drivers who will pick you up from where you are and take you to nearby destinations. 

It will be very difficult to choose where to go if you decide to visit the 'land of the Centaurs', as there are over fifty villages, all traditional and each with its own color. However, if you want to explore the wider area, you need a car, because moving from one village to another is not easy, but it is really worth a road trip to as many villages as you can.

Things to do in Pelion

Pelion mountain trainose.gr'Moutzouris' train in Pelion - credits: trainose.gr

  1. Walk the trail of the Centaurs. The path of the Centaurs follows a path next to the stream of the source "Mana". It is an easy route for hiking, as long as you wear sneakers. Please keep in mind that you need to be careful because in many places the maple leaves are quite slippery. Nature will reward your efforts. Plane trees, streams, and all kinds of luscious nature will be revealed in front of your eyes. In the autumn, the colors of the flora are extra impressive, with the colors of yellow, orange, brown, and green painting a picture that will be engraved in your memory for years to come.
  2. Go after an adrenaline rush in Pelion’s Ski Center. As we have already mentioned, Pelion is ideal for both winter and summer holidays. Therefore, if you decide to visit during winter, you must not miss the opportunity to take a walk at the ski resort Agriolefkes. The ski center of Pelion is 2 km away from Chania. It has many slopes, chalets, and rental equipment. You can even stay at the hotel located there. Alternatively, many choose the region of Chania in Pelion as their base. This is a settlement where you will find everything, from luxurious accommodation to taverns, shops, and everything in between.
  3. Explore the Museum of Folk Art and History of Pelion. The Museum of Folk Art and History of Pelion is located in Makrinitsa and is housed in a traditional building of 1844. It is three-story, stone-built, with a strong fortress character, with loopholes and a defensive turret on the roof, armored door, and secret crypts. The museum building was declared a monument in 1985 and was fully restored in 1994. The exhibits date back to 1500 and include a series of folk paintings from 18th and 19th-century mansions from the Pelion area, a rich collection of old photographs of the early century, bronze, wooden, and ceramic household utensils, tsipouro distillation equipment, icons, engravings, and small objects of ecclesiastical art, traditional costumes of Pelion, historical relics of Makrinitsa, such as the banner of the Revolution of 1878, textile equipment and "rugs". The aim is to present the warm atmosphere of the old mansions, but at the same time maintain the rich traditional culture of the region.
  4. Visit the Portaria Museum of Rosary. At the Museum of Rosary in Portaria, you will find a number of rosaries from various materials, many of which you can buy. There is also a workshop that designs rosaries, anglers, key cases, and jewelry.
  5. Drink your coffee at the famous cafe of Theofilos in Makrinitsa. And so that you do not have any questions, this cafe, which was built in 1910, has the touch of the popular painter Theofilos, who painted the large mural of Katsantonis, where you will see.
  6. If you happen to be in Pelion around the end of June, check for the festival - or panigiri- in the famous large square of Kerasia, located at the foot of northwestern Pelion.
  7. If you want to see where Achilles was allegedly “born”, then look for the cave of Thetis and Peleas, which is located on a small beach east of Platanias and is accessible only by sea.
  8. If you are staying in Portaria, prefer to walk to Makrinitsa or vice versa. The distance is only 2 km and the landscape during the walk is so incredibly worth it.
  9. You can also go from Portaria to Milies with 'Moutzouris', the wooden train we mentioned above. The train passes through the forest of Pelion, the journey takes about 1.5 hours and the route is being serviced every weekend. Just make sure you book your tickets ahead of your arrival, as you may not find any at the last minute. 
  10. Pelion means nature. And a representative example is the small waterfall of Karavos. From this point, one can see Portaria from above. If you go to Pelion in the tourist season, there you will forget the hustle and bustle of the large crowds. Do not forget to stop at the famous square of Chrysoula Zioga. There the waterfalls from a low altitude create a beautiful spectacle. Don’t let this perfect Instagram opportunity go to waste.

What to eat and drink 

Spetozfai therarewelshbitSpetozfai - credits: therarewelshbit.com

Apart from its architecture, Pelion is also famous for its local spirit of  'tsipouro' and its incredible gastronomy that will reveal to you the riches of Greek cuisine. In every corner, in every village, you will find people who cook with passion and knowledge of traditional cuisine. 

Some of the dishes of the authentic Pelion cuisine are, of course, the ‘spentzofai’, the fried greens with eggs, the ‘boumbari’ with potatoes -which mutton intestines with liver and rice in the form of sausage’, the Pelion pies, and everything to do with apple and chestnut. 

If you want to taste the local cuisine, you’ll be happy to know that there are many eateries that offer incredible, high-quality meals. Visit the taverns "Kritsa" and "To Steki" in Portaria, "Paradise" in Tsagarada, and "Pinakoti-Pinakoti" in Pinakates, and you’ll never look back. Of course, don’t restrict yourself. We are sure that no matter where you choose to enjoy the local food, it will be a delicious, once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Our trips to Pelion

makrinitsa pelion greece annetravelfoodieMakrinitsa, Pelion - credits: annetravelfoodie.com

Although it is possible, visiting Pelion on your own won’t allow you to enjoy it at its full potential. The local’s knowledge, tips, and tricks are essential for ensuring your time spent in the region is as rewarding as it should be.

If you want to explore Pelion, but also combine your visit to this incredible part of Greece’s mainland with a visit to a couple of its stunning islands, then, our 12-Day Athens, Pelion, Skopelos & Skiathos Getaway is exactly what you’re looking for.

Pelion is a destination that stands out for a very basic reason. You can go and have the time of your lives regardless of what season you choose to visit it. There is so much to do and see for sure that you will not get bored. Whether you go in winter or summer, you will be left with the best memories as a precious souvenir.