Pelion, Greece is a hidden gem lying somewhere between Athens and Thessaloniki just waiting to be explored. With over 70 villages spread across the Pelion peninsula, from traditional mountainous villages to seaside fishing towns, Pelion is an all year round destination with so many things to do and see! Curl up by a fireplace in the winter at one of the snowy villages such as Makrinitsa or Portaria, or explore the striking beaches of Pelion with their mesmerizing blue waters in the summer at seaside villages such as Kala Nera, Agios Ioannis or Platanias. Follow along this travel guide to Pelion, Greece as we touch on the top things to do in this diverse mountainous region, where to stay and more!
How to get to Pelion, Greece
How to reach Pelion by air:
The closest airport to Pelion is Nea Anchialos Airport, just 35km from Volos. There are a handful of low-cost airlines that fly from several European cities to this airport during the summer season. You could also fly to the airports located in either Athens or Thessaloniki and then rent a car to reach Pelion.
How to reach Pelion by car:
The drive from Thessaloniki is about 215km (134 miles), or 2.5 hours long. While the drive up from Athens to Pelion is about 340 km (211 miles), or 3.5 hours. The distance needed may vary depending on your final destination; some villages are further down the peninsula then others and may require more driving.
How to reach Pelion by bus:
If you would like to take a bus to Volos you can find all the available routes here. From Volos you’ll have to change buses to reach one of the many villages of Pelion. For more information on all the routes and schedules click here.
Things to do in Pelion, Greece
Road trip around the mountainous villages of Pelion
Pelion without a doubt is made up of numerous charming and picturesque villages. Closer to Volos we’ve got Makrinitsa, Portaria and Chania, continuing on the east side of the peninsula we got Kissos, Tsagkarada followed by Millies further south. These six villages of Pelion are the most popular ones that also make great stopping points for a 3-4 hour road trip around the peninsula.
Starting your road trip around the mountainous villages of Pelion from Volos, you’ll come across the first village and perhaps the most memorable one, Makrinitsa. Makrinitsa also known as the “balcony of Pelion” thanks to the jaw-dropping, panoramic views of Va below is situated 630 meters (2067 ft.) above sea level. You’ll come across noble mansions, where wealthy family once lived and have now turned into bed and breakfast and hotels, narrow cobble stone paths, and charming little family owned shops. Wander around this alluring, old village and discover it’s beautiful fountain, byzantine church, and famous central square. If you have time, the Pelion Museum of Folklore and History, found in the Topali Mansion is worth a visit. Top recommendations for coffee shops in Makrinitsa are Aeriko and Art Cafe. Likewise, eating at Peliades (Πελιάδες) and Kentriko is a must.
Just 3 km from Makrinitsa is the village of Portaria. On good days, many tourists prefer to walk from village to village as the walk is full of impressive views of the mountainous region. On the way to Portaria from Makrinitsa you’ll find Centaur’s Path, a hidden gem found in the forest of Pelion; more details further down. Just like the rest of the villages of Pelion, Portaria is full of charming mansions, traditional taverns and picturesque alleys perfect for wandering. Portaria also has a variety of accommodations from small guesthouses to big hotels to fit every tourist need. We found that the souvenir shops found in Portaria carried the best handmade art pieces, local desserts and ceramic mugs. Lastly, the museum of folk art in the Zulia Mansion and the Church of Agios Nikolaos dating back to the 19thcentury are both worth visiting. If you’re looking for a cozy spot to enjoy your coffee by the fireplace then Café Likno is the place. For exquisite, French-style pastries visit Alchemist Café Bistro.
Continuing along the mountain is the village of Chania, home to Pelion’s Ski Center, also known as the highest point of the peninsula. Chania is the ideal village to stay at if you’re interested in being near the ski resort, or if you’re interested in exploring the surrounding hiking trails.
Filled with chestnut trees and rich vegetation, Kissos is one of the quieter villages of Pelion. Enjoy a cup of Greek coffee at “Το Σχολαρχείο,” (the old school) at the town’s square overlooking the Aegean Sea or visit the Church of Agia Marina with its impressive frescoes made by Pagonis. Just walking around this charming village and following its pebble stone paths is a relaxing break from your road trip or from the more touristy towns of Pelion.
Continuing on the east side of the Pelion peninsula is the popular Tsagkarada village. Home to a thousand-year-old plane tree situated in the towns main square, Tsagkarada offers the tourist an array of traditional Greek taverns and cafes. Explore the paths less traveled around Tsagkarada that lead to impressive flower garden mansions situated in the middle of a chestnut wood forest.
One of the biggest villages in the Pelion region, Millies is located on the slopes of Mount Dikri, creating a natural amphitheatrically shape on the hilltop. Take note of the Library of Millies that holds over four thousand rare books, the Folklore Museum and the impressive Pamegistoi Taxiarches basilica. Just like its neighboring villages, Millies is full of restored mansions, traditional taverns and souvenir shops.
Hike the Pelion Mountain
Pelion may be known for its picturesque villages and heavenly delicious food and sweets, but a break from the village life for a hike in the mountains will be the cherry on top of a great trip! Hiking in Pelion, Greece offers majestic views of the region and hidden gems for exploring such as waterfalls, streams and caves.
Hike between the villages of Pelion
If the weather permits, hiking between the villages of Pelion is a great family activity or for anyone looking to explore the region by foot. Many of the small towns are linked by trekking paths that are ideal for an all-day excursion in Pelion. For detailed trail routes check out this Walking in Pelion blog.
Ride the Pelion Train
A ride on the Pelion Train through the villages of Pelion will truly be a memory to charish. This historic train first started operating in the late 19th century and played a crucial role in the development of the region, up until the Second World War where it was eventually abandoned. A few years ago however, the Pelion Train started operating again as a tourist attraction, carrying its passengers from Ano Lehonia village crossing over stone bridges and passing through Pelion’s alluring nature. The train covers 29 kilometers and runs at a speed of 20km/h, allowing the tourist to enjoy every second of this spectacular site. Standard single tickets cost 10€ for adults and 6€ for children, while return tickets cost 18€ and 10€, respectively. For more information on tickets and departure times click here.
From Makrinitsa, Volos is just a 15-minute drive and is definitely worth a visit. This seaside city has the third largest port in the country as well as some of the best tsipouradika, Greek taverns. Stroll along the waterfront and enjoy Volos top seafood restaurants before making your way back up the Pelion mountain.
Ski at Pelion Ski Center
Whether you visit Pelion in the summer or winter, there is always something fun to do, and the snowy season doesn’t disappoint! The Agriolefkes – Pelion Ski Center is located just outside of the village Chania. For more information click here.
Visit the Beaches of Pelion
As mentioned above, Pelion is a perfect destination all year around, from its snowy mountaintops to its relaxing beaches, it has it all. The beaches worth visiting are split into two sections, the ones on the Aegean Sea side, and the ones on side of the Pagasitikos Gulf. On the Aegean Sea side you have Milopotamos, Fakistra, Horefto, Agios Ioannis, Agioi Saranta and Papa Nero beaches. On the Pagasitikos Gulf side visit Kala Nera, Kato Lehonia and Afissos beaches.
Explore Centaur’s Path
Legend has it, Centaurs – part human, part horse – resided in the forests of Mount Pelion. A true haven interwoven between the two villages of Makrinitsa and Portaria, Centaur’s Path offers a sweet escape into the ancient creature’s sanctuary. The natural park is divided into two parts, one leading into the center of the village and one leading you to its exit. Cross over wooden bridges through majestic trails and follow the red circles on the stones to find the exit.
Shop local products
If you’re skipping from village to village and you forgot to stop by a souvenir shop, rest assured the next village will have a variety of shops to choose from as well. Indeed, almost every village of sells local products such as traditional sweet preserves, jams, teas and herbs, all organic and locally made. If you’re interested in trying new flavors go for the Greek quince or chestnut sweet preserves.
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