The Pelion Peninsula is a projection of land resembling a hooked finger between the Pagasitikos Gulf and the Aegean Sea.
The Pelion Peninsula is a projection of land a little over 10 miles wide resembling a hooked finger between the Pagasitikos Gulf and the Aegean Sea. It forms part of the coastline of eastern Greece in the Magnesia region. The nearest island is Skiathos, in the Sporades group of islands. In the north, it is dominated by Mount Pelion which heads up a mountainous bone to the finger, dividing it in two, each side having a distinctive character of its own. An area of stunning natural scenery, it is a year-round holiday destination offering skiing in winter, and hiking, mountain biking or beach holidays in the warmer months during spring and summer.
Who holidays in Pelion Peninsula?
If you seek the peace and tranquillity of an unspoilt, untouristy region, this could be the holiday destination of your dreams. If you're a nature lover who will revel in the stunning pine clad hills, abundant wild flowers and uncrowded beaches, you've just found your paradise - a Pelion peninsula holiday is for you.
- Unspoilt, stunning natural scenery
- Traditional way of life
- Fabulous beaches
- Cobblestone streets
- Fruit orchards
- A paradise for hikers & cyclists
Greece is overflowing with attractive holiday destinations but the Pelion Peninsula stands out as a spectacular region offering the opportunity to experience authentic Greece without the hustle and bustle of some of the more tourist-favoured areas of the country.
Holidays in the Pelion Peninsula will cater for a range of interests with its breathtaking scenery, stunning secluded sandy beaches and welcoming traditional mountain hamlets and coastal fishing villages. You may be planning to spend your Greek holiday exploring hidden places, getting to grips with Greece's vast history and culture in the museums and monasteries and sampling the simple life in the friendly, traditional tavernas. Or you may be pleased to have discovered somewhere so beautiful and unspoilt, away from the main tourist traps, to laze away the time in the sunshine of a different glorious beach each day. Or maybe you relish the chance to get active on a hike or bike following the network of mule trails through the wilds of an undisturbed world of nature, taking in incredible mountain top panorama as you go. Whatever your preference, holidays in the Pelion Peninsula will bring you a new and mesmerising perspective on Greece.
The western side of Pelion in the Pagasitikos Gulf is more sheltered and better for sunbathing and swimming, while on the eastern side the Aegean sea can become quite choppy at times - great for windsurfers and for lively sailing trips. There is no shortage of beaches and coastal villages to be discovered on either side of the peninsula, however, and this is a small selection:
Afissos: (West) A small but smart resort, it is popular with Greek holidaymakers. It is a pretty village with an attractive waterfront, a fishing harbour, and plenty of tavernas. In the village square is a stream where legend has it the Argonauts slaked their thirst before beginning their quest for the Golden Fleece. At Argonautica Park all kinds of water sports including sailing, surfing and diving are available. There are 3 good beaches here, two pebble ones at Abovos and Lagoudi, and a sand and shingle one at Kalifteri. Lovely coastal walks around Afissos, and through the olive groves will bring you to Lefokastro, a peaceful coastal hamlet with a fine shingle beach.
Agios Ioannis: (East) With a scenic backdrop of wooded hillsides and the towering Mount Pelion, this is a traditional resort popular with Greeks in high season. There is a long stretch of beach where water sports are available in summer. Papa Nero is a stretch of sand and shingle, and Plaka, to the north, under the cliffs, another one worth a visit.
Damouchari: (East) A hamlet on the Aegean side of Pelion connected with Tsagarada by mule-tracks which wind through olive groves and chestnut forests. It consists of two horseshoe shaped bays separated by a tongue of land on which a ruined castle sits. One bay is the harbour, and the other a beach of white pebbles and turquoise sea. Nearby is an arresting steep gorge.
Horto: (West) A beautiful seaside village where lush vegetation and olive groves reach the sea.
Kala Nera: (West) It's name means 'good waters' and it is a small resort on the western side of Pelion, with a lovely beachfront promenade where the tavernas and cafes are to be found.
Koropi: (West) A small, quiet hamlet with a sand and shingle beach.
Milopotamas: (East) Small, sandy beach on the eastern coast, very close to Tsagarada.
Melani: (East) unspoilt pebble beach with fascinating rock formations standing in the shallow water like statues.
Platanias: (South East) a beach lover's paradise. Platanias beach is a long and sandy. Further around the coast is Mikro Beach, also sandy, and another at Kastri. In high season, there are water taxis to take you to them, a certain times also on to Katigiorgis. The Sporades island of Skiathos is very close at this point, and there are daily trips across to it.
The island of Trikeri: (West) Just off the tip of the western coast, in the sheltered waters of the Pagasitikos Gulf it has just one village of the same name. A traffic-free island, it can be crossed on foot in about half an hour. The Virgin Mary Monastery, open to visitors on certain days, dominates the island from its hilltop location. There is a diving, windsurfing and sailing school on the island.
- An undiscovered haven of rugged beauty
- Authentic mountain hamlets and traditional coastal fishing villages
- A coastline of beautiful beaches and hidden gems
- Centuries of history preserved in monasteries and museums
- The 'summer playground of the Gods' and home to the Centaur of Greek mythology - half man, half horse.
Look out for local made sweets, ceramics and hand-made art.
Things To Do
Great activities during Pelion Peninsula Holidays
- Go horse riding from Argalasti for a unique way to explore
- Take the mountain steam train from Ano Lehonia to Milies
- Cruise the Pagasitikos Gulf on a gullet to out-of-the-way beaches & Trikeri island
- Enjoy the magnificent sandy beaches on the eastern coastline
- Explore the seaside resorts and the mountain villages of Tsagarada and Milies among many others
- Visit the cosmopolitan city of Volos with its archaeological museum, shops and atmospheric evening waterfront walks
- Hire a motorboat to explore hidden beaches and islands of the Pagasitikos Gulf
- Take a guided tour walking tour from Agia Kyriaki
- Walk the Milies - Potistika path to marvel at the views of the Aegean Sea and the Pagasitikos Gulf from the top of the mountain
- Learn to dive at the diving school in Trikeri, windsurf or sail a kayak to some otherwise unreachable places
- Take a trip to Meteora to be amazed by its incredible mountain top monasteries.
In the mountains
Agios Georgios: A village with simply stunning views over the western coast, and across the Pagasitikos Gulf, there is also a church housing an ecclesiastical museum, the Taxiarchon convent and an art museum.
Argalasti: centrally positioned, Argalasti has good access to both sides of Pelion. It also offers a variety of shops, restaurants and bars.
Kissos: hidden in the mountains, Kissos means 'ivy'. In the village square is an old church renowned for its frescos.
Makrinitsa: A pretty, traffic-free village, also known as the Balcony of Pelion for its position on the mountainside with breathtaking, panoramic views overlooking the city of Volos and the Pagasitikos Gulf. The city was originally founded by Greek refugees fleeing Constantinople in the 13th century.
Meteora: North of the Pelion peninsula, but well worth making the journey, this is a breathtaking example of a complex of Eastern Greek Orthodox monasteries. Its name means 'suspended.' This reflects the fact that the six monasteries are built on natural sandstone rock pillars, seemingly defying the laws of physics, not to mention the impracticalities of construction. It is at the northwestern edge of the Plain of Thessaly, near the Pineios river and Pindus Mountains of Central mainland Greece. It has inspired and been filmed for many films, music and literature.
Milies: The name means 'apple trees', surrounded as it is, by apple and chestnut orchards to the north east, and olive groves to the south west. It is the end of the line for a narrow gauge railway line built in late 19th century. The train still runs for tourists today, to the village of Lehonia. There is a small museum of local crafts, and a beautiful church.
Mouresi: Village of flowers. From here, stunning views of the sea and mountains can be enjoyed. The main square is dominated by a tall linden tree. The church of the Dormition of Virgin Mary is a prime example of basilica, decorated with a wooden carved iconostasis.
Tsagarada: Located on the north-eastern side of the mountain at 500 metres, it commands an unforgettable view of the Aegean. The names means 'beautiful view' in Slavonic. The village extends down the slope to the seashore where small but beautiful beaches are to be found.
Vizitsa: This village has many excellent examples of traditional Pelion architecture. Spend a day wandering through the narrow streets sampling traditional Greek food at the tavernas.
Zagora: At the northernmost part of Pelion, the village's Slavonic name means 'behind the mountain'. It is one of the largest of Pelion's mountain villages and is surrounded by orchards fed by natural springs. Its apples have a special aroma and are exported in large quantities. Zagora was once the capital of Pelion and the centre for Greek enlightenment, famous for its contribution to learning, art, education and trade. A small 18th century library is in the central square where over 3000 maps and manuscripts dating back to 17th century can be found.
Things To See
Pelion is where the Greeks themselves come for a weekend to unwind and be close to nature. It is Greece as she used to be, as yet untouched by mass tourism and commercialization and unaffected by foreign influence. The peacefulness and majestic beauty can't fail to enchant, and will bestow a sense of calm and tranquillity on all who visit.
For walking or mountain biking holidays, central Pelion, overflowing with natural beauty is the place to go. The hillsides are densely wooded with pine and fir, chestnut and oak among which clear springs burst out from underground - there is an ever-present shush of flowing water. Old mule tracks make useful guide paths among the forests and fruit orchards, and the views from the perilously winding mountain roads down to the coast are spectacular. It is a paradise for nature lovers and ornithologists with many unusual species to spot.
In the mountains of central Pelion you will really get a feel of the authentic Greek way of life when you visit some of the hamlets accessible via narrow and twisting mountain roads. It's worth the jangled nerves from negotiating the bends for the arresting panoramic views and the delightful little towns where tavernas serve delicious traditional fare.
With the sea never too far away, the area offers up many a secluded, peaceful beach where lazy days can be spent enjoying the sunshine. On the northeast side, the seas can be stormy, but when calm, the waters are clear and clean, perfect for a refreshing dip.
When you're ready to take things up tempo, the region's capital city, Volos, is the fourth largest city in Greece. Situated in the bay of the Pagasitikos Gulf, the sheltered waters serve a thriving commercial port rivalled only by Piraeus and Patras, from where ferries leave for the nearby islands of the Sporades and one or two others. A wide boulevard skirts the bay, and is alive with cafes, restaurants and traditional tavernas. Volos enjoys all the amenities of any large town, including a colourful nightlife in its clubs and bars, theatres and cinemas.
Buses run from Volos to beach resorts and towns, and the bus station in Volos is the only place from which to buy tickets. Otherwise, tickets are bought from the bus driver en route. Buses between villages are infrequent and it is often simpler to return to Volos and take a bus to a different village from there. A ferry or hydrofoil can be taken from Volos to Skiathos, the closest island to Pelion. Ferries also run to the other main islands of the Sporades, Skopelos and Alonissos. To visit other islands, you can take a bus to Piraeus, a major port on the outskirts of Athens. It is a journey of about 4 hours, but from here you will be able to take ferries to a variety of Greek islands. To make the most of all the Pelion Peninsula has to offer, the best way to get around, other than walking or cycling, is to hire a car, but be prepared to take some hairpin bends as the road climbs up into the mountains, often without any guardrail on the outer edge.