Guide to Pelion, Greece

Гледка от Макриница

If you have never heard of the Pelion Mountain, this guide will take you exactly there. And you will see for yourself if that’s the right spot for you.

Чинар на 1000 години
This plane tree, located in Tsagarada Village, is 1000 years old. Its diameter is 16 meters and because of its roots the tiles of the square must be rearranged every 15 years.
Чарът на село Загора
The charming architecture will enchant you for sure. Zagora Village

Why should I go to Pelion?

Our preliminary research showed that Pelion is a place where you can be at the seaside and at the mountain at the same time. We discovered that there were many small villages with old stone-made houses. The tourism is not that developed which makes it a perfect destination during Covid-19, that’s why I hit the road together with my loved one.

Where is Pelion located?

Map of Pelio
A map of Greece on which you can find the Pelion Mountain. The map is taken from here. ‘Pilio’ is the correct pronunciation in modern Greek language and ‘Pelion’ is the correct pronunciation in ancient Greek language.

How can Pelion be reached?

The route can be different depending on the starting point. For example, the route from Sofia to Pelion takes 6,5 hours of driving (550 km). Till Volos you drive on a motorway and then you drive on small but very picturesque roads. The roads are very well maintained but almost everywhere the overtaking is forbidden. They have two lanes and a lot of turns. The driving is among a forest of chestnuts and other trees!

Pelion is part of Magnisia Region. The map is taken from here. You can see the main roads, towns and villages.

What kind of the drivers are the Greeks?

As everywhere, there are many types of drivers in Greece. But the most specific thing about their way of driving is that they cut the turns and very often drive in the opposite lane. They know the roads on which they’re driving and they get back to their lane quite quickly but be careful anyway – the turns are everywhere. The traffic in Pelion is not that heavy as it is not such a popular tourist destination but there are a lot of pickup trucks and trucks carrying fruits and vegetables (mostly apples).

ловджийски кучета в джипове
You can see such pickup trucks very often. Usually, they’re full of apples or other fruits and vegetables but these ones were carrying hunt dogs.

Where to stay at Pelion?

This is very subjective – it totally depends on your preferences and the offers on the market. We chose the village of Tsagarada because it is among the most picturesque ones. It is in the mountain and it the nearest one to one of the most beautiful beaches – Mylopotamos. If you decide to stay there, you can contact me – I’ll give you the contacts of a beautiful small hotel with amazingly nice hosts.

гледка от хотела ни в Цагарада
A view from our hotel in Tsagarada. The sky gets pink early in the morning. Under the sky you can see

How was our stay at Pelion?

In this story I’ll just briefly mention the main points of interests, villages and beaches that we visited and in some future postings I’ll describe each place in detail.

Архитектура в село Макриница
Greenery and stone houses form the typical architecture of the region – Makrinitsa Village

On the first day we travelled and reached the beautiful beach of Milipotamos. We discovered how beautiful our village is – surrounded by greenery and seaside view. A trully peaceful place – there are hardly any cars or noise.

тунел на плаж Милопотамос
Milopotamos Beach is clinched by rocks but it has its own tunnel

On the second day we visited the four neibourhoods of our village as well as the beautiful spots around.

Каменен мост в Цагарада
The stone bridge of Tsagarada built in 1728. The arch is 12 meters long, the height is 6 meters, and the total length of the bridge is 18 meters.

Since the sea was not peaceful for two days in a raw that meant that something was not right. Most tourist guides mention that the resorts in Pelion offer an excellent combination of sea and mountain. But the reality is a bit different. What I mean is that the sea actually has big waves and it’s not good for swimming unless you are an experienced swimmer (or at least that was the reality during our stay). There are no gulfs on the east side of Pelion, so if you want to swim with no worries, you have to go on the west side – there you will find the Pagasetic Gulf where the city of Volos is located.

Плаж Факистра Пилио
The lovely pebbles of Fakistra Beach

And meanwhile we enjoyed the wild beach of Fakistra.

Зеленината на скътания плаж Факистра
Fakistra Beach – immersed in greenery

Day 3 – rain

We were already in love with our lodgings. In the morning we’ve been waking up by the voice of the cocks in the village and later during the day we could hear the neigh of a donkey. A true serenity. We already knew that it was going to rain and that we wouldn’t be able to swim because of the waves. We decided that the accent of our trip will be the rural tourism, the cultural points of interest and the food.

Таверна в село Пинакатес
Typical architecture of the villages in Pelion

Typical architecture of the villages in Pelion

We visited these villages: Milies where you can find the last stop of the only narrow-gauge in Greece, Vyzitsa where you can find a lovely architecture and cobblestones, Pinakates which definitely impressed us and in my opinion you should spend most of your time there.

теснолиняйка Гърция Пилио
A spectacular turn of the narrow-gauge (which is even on a bridge)

The disappointment of the day was the village of Agios Lavrentios which is quite remote and is considered to be an architectural reserve. The most interesting thing here was that we didn’t meet anyone in the whole village (if we don’t count the central square). Usually this is a romantic experience but I don’t think that the visit of the village was worth it.

гледка от село Агиос Лаврентиос
Villages surrounded by greenery. A photo of Agios Lavrentios

Day 4

We visited the village of Mouressi but you can skip it and visit the village of Kissos instead which turned out to be a hidden gem. A real Renaissance spirit can be found in the village which is among the most high-located villages in the mountains. Even in the summer heat it’s very cool and nice there. The architecture of the villages is quite typical: stone houses (built mainly in 18th century), a lovely and well-ordered center (in which there is a church for sure), century-old plane trees, taverns and water taps with fresh and cold mountain water.

Калдъръми и зеленина в село Киссос
A typical cobbled street in Kissos

We continued to the largest village – Zagora, which is also an administrative center of the region. Zagora is a real agricultural village. The harvesting of apples is very popular here. Each family has a pickup truck with which it transports them to the local factory which produces apple molasses. The local apple producers have even their own trade union which is the oldest one in Greece, founded around 104 years ago. The village is full of history and it’s worth it. We tasted one the typical meals there – spetsofai. This is a grilled sausage with peppers, tomato sauce and fresh mountain herbs.

къщичка в село Загора
A lovely house in Zagora

The cuisine of Pelion

We were quite surprised to discover that the meals are mainly with meat. You can rarely find fish meals. We tasted wild boar, rabbit, goat, sausages, knuckle of pork, beans, field mushrooms, moussaka, and so on. Everything was absolutely delicious and the portions were so big that we had a box of food left after each meal. The prices were really good – around 7-8 euros per meal. The way of serving the dishes was also impressive.

халва по гръцки
Semolina halva in Greek

Day 5 – Sunday

We visited the village of Neochori where we had the chance to watch a Greek baptizing. Even though the village is small and relatively new it had a few churches, nice square and, of course, there were apples in every detail – the ‘trademark’ of the region.

Ева изкушава Адам с ябълка
The apple – the ‘trademark’ of Neochori

After that we headed to Potistika Beach where were blown away by the two meters-high waves. It was really spectacular. The funniest part was when we were waiting for the waves to go away and then we crawled between the rocks before the next wave comes. I spoke to the lifeguard and asked him if in the next days the sea would be calmer but he told me that it’s not very likely as these are high seas.

плаж Потистика Пилио
Potistika Beach

We changed tha plan and we headed to the village of Afissos located at the gulf of Volos. We were quite surprised when we saw that the sea was absolutely calm there. You can really see the difference which the gulf makes. The village itself is quite typical and has taverns offering sea food. Unfortunately, during our stay in Greece there was a cyclone which was the reason for the bad weather in the whole country. It wasn’t that bad at our place but still it wasn’t good for going to the beach. The temperature was around 20 C, and the sky was cloudy. Even though the sea was warm – 25 C – we decided it was not a good idea to go swimming as we could easily catch a cold after that.

залива на с. Афисос Волос
One hour later the sea at Afissos is calm

After that we went to Volos where we watched another baptizing. Volos is a university town and it’s very important for the region. But you can absolutely skip it and not visit it – unless you miss the city life.

Рекорд на Гинес за сиртаки
The Giuness Records – the longest sirtaki in the world with 5641 people on 31.08.2012

Day 6

We visited again Zagora and the beaches nearby – Chorefto and Agii Saranta. In the end we swam a bit. There were no waves and we hoped that we could swim on the east side.

кеф на плаж Хорефто
A true Greek pleasure – Chorefto Beach

The Souvenirs of Pelion

I would advise you to buy some honey or jam. These are the most typical things of the villages. It very unlikely to buy something which is not of good quality – the Greeks are quite strict about quality. Moreover, since this region is not that touristic the production is oriented mainly to the local market and there is no way a poor-quality food to be found there. I strongly recommend chestnut honey, oak honey, reiki honey and, of course, thyme honey. If you would like to buy some honey from trusted producers from Zagora and Tsagarada, you can contact me as I have some contacts there.

сувенири Пилио
Souvenirs at Makrinitsa

We did one last try to go to Mylopotamos Beach, but we faced again the huge waves. However, we were surprised to see there 2 photo sessions of newly married couples. We watched them a bit and we rearranged again the plan for the day.

фотосесия на Милопотамос
One of the couples at Mylopotamos Beach

Damouhari Beach

One of the prettiest places in the region is Damouhari Beach where the musical ‘Mamma mia’ was filmed. Don’t skip this place! Not just because Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan were there. A beautiful art street with souvenirs leads to the beach and on the beach itself you’ll find two taverns.

хипи ван Пилио
Here’s what we found at the beginning of the beach of Damouhari

Day 7

We decided to spend the day on the beach to get some good rest and to admire the sea. We needed to recharge as on the next day we were supposed to leave. We went to Afissos as we knew that the sea there what be calm. Meanwhile the weather got colder and we headed to the village of Portaria which can actually be skipped and the nearby village of Makrinitsa can be visited instead. Makrinitsa was one of the biggest surprises of our journey – a truly magnificent place with a breath-taking view to the gulf.

Панорама от Макриница
Greenery and stone houses in the village of Makrinitsa

We had a tea with a view to the gulf and we walked through the cobblestones streets. We bought some souvenirs and we promised we would come back.

площада на Макриница
The squares of the village are a piece of art. Makrinitsa

We also passed through the ski resort of Chania which is a lovely place up in the mountains. Personally, I wouldn’t go there for skiing, but I was impressed with the possibility to buy some honey from a barrel.

Разстояние от ски курорта в Пилио до плажа
It’s curios that the distance in a straight line between Chania and the sea is only 7,5 km. Just imagine the slope and roads on it.

Day 8 – leaving

We decided to take a break at the beach of Katerini where we felt like we were at Sunny Beach in Bulgaria. There was a huge variety of hotels and pubs but we don’t like that kind of attractions. We stayed on the beach for a while and then we went to the town of Serres. Frankly, till then I’ve been underestimating Serres which turned out to be a nice typical Greek town (and it’s quite near to Bulgaria which is a plus). It’s worth visiting it. The central part of the town has pretty small streets and pubs and really looks like the Kapana in Plovdiv.

улично изкуство, Серес
The street art of Serres shows a sense of humor.

Stay tuned for new articles on the above-mentioned destinations.

Translated from Bulgarian by Dessislava Stamenova

About the author

Explorer of Greece, tour guide, Greek language teacher and interpreter. Georgi has master's degree in Cultural Tourism and bachelor’s degree in Balkan studies from Sofia University. He studied Greek language and culture at 3 Greek universities in Thessaloniki, Ioannina and Athens.