- Pelion is located in central Greece, between the cities of Volos and Larissa. It is easily accessible by car or bus, and there are also several small airports in the region.
- It is home to several picturesque villages, including Makrinitsa, Portaria, and Tsagarada.
- Visitors of Pelion can explore the Byzantine church of Agia Marina in Vizitsa, the monastery of Agiou Ioanni Prodromou in Zagora, and other historic sites.
- The local cuisine of Pelion includes dishes such as spetzofai and boumbari.
Combining beautiful modern Greek towns, atmospheric accommodation in historic mansions and mountains, routes in nature, stunning beaches, and abundant local cuisine, Pelion -the 'mountain of Centaurs' in Thessaly as it has been known since antiquity- is not accidentally one of the most popular destinations in Greece for all seasons.
From the autumn road trips across the orange-red forests to the spring getaways that include fruit picking, and from the relaxed island-like moments in the summer fishing towns to the skiing adventures between the beeches and the wild whites in the ski resort of Chania, Mount 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! This is your sign to book your next visit to Greece!
Reasons to visit
Traditional Greek Village- credits: Greeka.com
- For its beaches. Emerald waters, golden sand, and luscious greenery reach the sea. No one can deny that its beaches are a thing of beauty, full of blue-green waters and magic.
- Mylopotamos, Horefto, Agioi Saranda, Papa Nero, Melani, and Potistika, are among the top beaches, but you can find several more that will blow your mind.
- For its "secret" villages. They are many, and each one is 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 townlet 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 them that make up the treasures of Pelio.
- For its food. It is certain that in Peliiton, even the pickiest of eaters will find something to drool over. Most of the taverns and restaurants in 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 its delicious gastronomic creations.
- For its picturesque paths. They are many beautiful paths, with the majority of them being well-marked and easily accessible. They vary in difficulty, offering the luxury of choosing between easy 20-minute paths or more difficult ones that require a map and a compass.
- In general, they follow the cobbled streets that connected the townlets with each other and with the railway lines that were used far before the roads were built.
- For the city of Volos. Yes, it is technically not included in Pelion, but it is the classic gateway to it, and you should honor it properly before or on your return. The beach of the city, with its many tsipouro restaurants, is a hot spot where someone can enjoy the local spirit alongside tasty ‘meze’ dishes. If you want to further savor 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 bus to Thessaly peninsula in Greece- credits: isic.com.gr
Pelion and the whole prefecture of Magnesia, in general, are located in the center of Greece. The distance from both Athens and Thessaloniki to Pelion is relatively short, making it easy and comfortable for travelers to access. In specific, the distance between Athens and Pelion is 320 km, while the distance between Thessaloniki and Pelio is 217 km.
You can reach Pelion by KTEL Buses. From Athens, the bus ride takes approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes. From Thessaloniki, you can be in it in only about 2 hours. Additionally, the Ktel buses have itineraries that connect Pelion with the cities of Patras, Ioannina, Kozani, Lamia, and Larissa, in Thessaly, Greece.
If you decide to drive to Pelion in your own car, you should keep in mind that you can reach Pelio 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 Pelio 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 to admire the Aegean sea or through the airports of Athens and Thessaloniki and from there by road or rail.
The best Towns and Villages to explore
Portaria - credits: greeka.com
Also known as the ‘Gate of Pelion,’ Portaria attracts travelers 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 Mount Pelion and the sea.
It is therefore the most common starting point for those who want to get to know the area. Whether you are looking for a simple guest house or a luxury hotel, in Portaria you will find accommodation for all tastes and all budgets. Cobbled streets, stone mansions, and neat squares compose the scenery.
It 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 visit.
Zagora - credits: greeka.com
You’ve surely heard of Zagora. It is one of the largest and most historic areas of eastern Pelion. It is located at a distance of 44 km from the main port of Thessaly, leaning on a green slope, and offering its guests breathtaking views.
Although it is probably the most touristic area you will see, it has managed to maintain its authentic, traditional character.
Zagora 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 dominates the scenery, while you can find stone mansions offering luxurious accommodation.
Tsagarada - credits: greeka.com
The perfect combination of sea and mountain is offered in abundance by Tsagarada. It is 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 - credits: paliosstathmos.gr
Perhaps the most scenic townlet of the area is Milies and the starting location of the famous ‘Moutzouri,’ the small train that reaches Ano Lechonia through a beautiful route. It is a location with a long history and authentic Pelian architecture with tower mansions, many of which have now been converted into hostels and are perfect for the background of your photos.
The main square is the meeting point for both locals and foreigners, who have the opportunity to enjoy their coffee under the plane trees or to dine in the local 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 - credits: greece-is.com
The ideal place to enjoy South Pelion is Trikeri overlooking the Pagasitikos and the Evian Gulf. It is a picturesque fishing townlet 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 '60s, 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 - credits: studiosavra.com
To reach the enchanting Katigiorgis, you have to travel about 60 km from the capital of Magnesia. Regardless of the effort, when you reach your destination the view will reward you. Katigiorgis is a quiet area 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 areas that are worth discovering.
In Katigiorgis, there is only a small 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 it, a few kilometers after Promiri.
Agios Lavrentios - credits: kidslovegreece.com
Agios Lavrentios, is a mountain part of Western Pelion. It is argued to be one of the most beautiful villages in Greece. Agios Lavrentios took its name from the homonymous monastery of Agios Lavrentios located there.
The beautiful scenery of Agios Lavrentios enchants every visitor. The rich nature, the beautiful picturesque streets, the sounds of the streams, and the hospitable locals are a trademark of the area. Agios Lavrentios is an ideal destination for families, groups, and couples who want to enjoy peace and relaxation at any time of the year.
Vyzitsa - credits: photoexplore.gr
It is no coincidence that Vyzitsa is a living and breathing museum of traditional Pelian architecture. Vyzitsa is one of the best-preserved Greek folklore 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 a 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 area is the large paved square with plane trees. There, you will taste local specialties, such as delicious sea bream, from local producers.
Before leaving, ]manage to visit 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 - 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, "hangs" like a jewel on the western slopes, offering the visitor an awe-inspiring panoramic view of 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 Pelian architecture flourished. A typical example of Pelian architecture is the Topali Mansion which 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 classic 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 Pelian architecture that dominates the settlement.
Pinakates - credits: feelgreece.com
One of the most beautiful villages is Pinakates. Pinakates is built on the slopes 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 area who was called ‘Pinakas,’ which translates in English to ‘a maker of clay or wooden dishes’ that in the Pelian dialect were called ‘pinakia.’
Pinakates is distinguished for its beautiful mansions and its standard 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 for swims in the Aegean Sea
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 townlet to Mylopotamos beach is Tsagarada.
Agios Ioannis beach - credits: worldbeachguide.com
Agios Ioannis is another enchanting and cosmopolitan beach. 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 beach - credits: feelgreece.com
At a distance of just 200 meters from Agios Ioannis lies the beach of Papa Nero. In the famous resort, the rich vegetation catches the eye of travelers. The trees look as if they have taken a refreshing dive into the crystal-clear Aegean waters of the beach.
After your dip on the organized beach, you can enjoy fine local delicacies in one of the taverns along the coast.
Agioi 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 youngsters. A short distance away, Agios Ioannis offers you alternative entertainment with cafes, bars, and water sports.
Plaka 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.
Horeftoo beach - credits: greeka.com
Horefto beach is just as marvelous as the other bays. 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 Zagora and provides its people with many accommodations and dining options.
Fakistra beach - 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, the small cove with the clear blue crystal waters is the closest thing you can find to paradise on earth. The nearest to the beach is Tsagarada.
Kala Nera beach - credits: feelgreece.com
Kala Nera beach, on the southwest, 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 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 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 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 travelers every summer. In the settlement, there are few accommodation and food options. Access is easy via an asphalt road from Argalasti.
Afissos 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, 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 this modern Greek region
A road trip - credits: Pixabay.com
The road network consists of several turns, and some parts of the route require special attention.
If you do not have a private means of transport you can easily move using the means of public transport. Transportation in Pelio 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. 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.
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, 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 picturesque 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 of them as you can.
Things to do in Mount Pelion
'Moutzouris' train - credits: trainose.gr
- Walk the trail of the Centaurs. The hiking trails 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.
- Go after an adrenaline rush in Mount Pelion Ski Center. As we have already mentioned, this destination is ideal for both winter and summer holidays.
- Therefore, if you decide to visit during the colder months, you must not miss the opportunity to take a walk at the ski resort Agriolefkes. The ski center 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 Chania as their base. This is a settlement where you will find everything, from luxurious accommodation to taverns, shops, and everything in between.
- Explore the Museum of Folk Art and History of Pelion. The Museum of Folk Art and History is located in Makrinitsa and is housed in a building of 1844. It is three-story, stone-built, with a strong fortress character, with loopholes and a defensive turret on the roof, an 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.The aim is to present the warm atmosphere of the old mansions, but at the same time maintain its rich folklore culture.
- What's more, there you can find 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- If you happen to be in the region 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 during 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 - 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 food in Greece. On every corner, you will find people who cook with passion, knowledge, and support for local cuisine, and you have no business resisting their charm.
Some of the dishes of the authentic local cuisine are, of course, ‘spentzofai,’ ‘boumbari’ with potatoes -which mutton intestines with liver and rice in the form of sausage’, Pelian 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, Thessaly peninsula - credits: annetravelfoodie.com
Although it is possible, visiting Pelion on your own during your visit to our country won’t allow you to enjoy it at its full potential. The locals' 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 the region 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 travel agency can help you join a 12-Day Athens, Pelion, Skopelos & Skiathos Getaway, which is exactly what you’re looking for. Trust our services, and you won't regret it!
Pelion is a destination that stands out for a very basic reason. You can go and have the time of your life 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 and wonderful photos as precious souvenirs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to visit Pelion, Greece?
Pelion is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the landscapes are lush. Summer (July to August) is popular for beachgoers, while winter (December to February) is ideal for skiing in the Pelion mountains.
What are the top beaches in Pelion?
Some of the most popular beaches in Pelion include Mylopotamos, Papa Nero, Agios Ioannis, and Horefto on the eastern side, while the western side boasts beautiful beaches like Afissos and Kato Gatzea. Each offers its own unique charm, from crystal-clear waters to scenic surroundings.
What are the must-visit villages in Pelion?
Pelion is renowned for its picturesque villages. Makrinitsa, often called the "Balcony of Pelion," offers stunning views; Tsagarada is known for its old-world charm and lush forests; and Milies is famous for its historic train station and traditional architecture.
What outdoor activities can I enjoy in Pelion?
Pelion is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. You can hike along scenic trails, go horseback riding, or mountain biking, or explore the region's rich flora and fauna. In the winter, Pelion offers skiing and snowboarding opportunities.
What is the local cuisine of Pelion, and where should I try it?
Pelion is known for its delectable cuisine, featuring dishes like 'spetzofai' (sausage and pepper stew), 'tsitsiravla' (wild greens), and "pasteli' (a sweet pie). Try these local delicacies at traditional taverns and restaurants in villages like Portaria and Tsagarada for an authentic taste of Pelion's gastronomy.