In a place as mythical as the Centaurs, as ancient as the Argonauts, with traditional villages and forests of all sorts of trees that reach down to the beaches with the crystal clear waters, summer holidays find their true meaning...
Text - Photos: Ioanna Paravalou
How we will go:
- With our own car we will travel from Athens to Volos 319 kms and from Thessaloniki 248 km.
- By train of OSE.
- By bus from KTEL.
The village Ai Giannis from above...
The beauty of nature is born and glorified in Pelion!
Dense forests, shady canyons ending in the sea, bustling rivers, and endless fields with fruit trees are sealed by the human presence, which is expressed in all its grandeur in the villages of Pelion, which are hanging on the verdant slopes of the mountain of the Centaurs. The houses, built according to the traditional architecture of the place, with slates on the roofs, wooden columns and characteristic windows, pop up from the tall chestnut trees and the shady plane trees. Tailored harmoniously to the natural environment, they look as if they were rooted in this fertile land. As if they were not made by man's hand, but by a painter with a unique talent.
Pelion, the birthplace of the poets Urani and Sikelianos, is a place that combines everything, giving you any time you visit it, a different experience. Here nature has every day a feast! Drowned in greenery and smells, while the crystal clear waters running everywhere, creating small waterfalls on some turns of the road, the open sea gazes at Pelion of the Aegean Sea. The slopes of the mountain are steep, with many streams and valleys, ending on dreamy beaches with turquoise waters.
Its people, humble and hospitable, always have something to tell you about traditions and legends, about pirates and caves of another era...
In the forests of Pelion.
We leave from Volos and we head to the eastern coasts of Pelion, those that "flirt" for centuries with the Aegean Sea. We can take two directions:
a) From Volos we go up to Portaria and Hania until we reach Zagora or Tsagarada and from there we go to the beaches of the Aegean Sea.
b) From Volos we continue on the coast and we go up to Milies, from there to Tsagarada and then descend to the beach we want.
It is worth a ride with the scenic train "Moutzouris" from Lechonia to Milies.
Tradition and hospitality
The main village of the area is Zagora, the crossroad for the enchanting beaches of eastern Pelion. Going down to the beach, the road leads us to the impressive beach of Horeftos, with its crystal clear waters and white pebbles. North of Horefto, there is the small beach of Agioi Pantes, with the chapel standing by the sea and Palia Mitzella, a mythical area full of sea caves. On the other side, there is Agioi Saranda, a magnificent beach with turquoise waters, neighbor of Horeftos, where the plane trees and the pine trees touch the waves. The road from Horeftos reaches to the beach of Agioi Saranda. It`s a quiet beach, in a wonderful natural environment (of course, on the weekends of July and August you may hardly find a place to park your car).
The enchanting beach of Agioi Saranda.
We walk at the scenic Anilio and we stop for a coffee in Kissos, a quiet mountain village (520 m), named after the ivy that covered the logs of the plane trees. The port of Kissos in the old days and of Agios Dimitrios today, is Agios Ioannis. In August, many people are gathered here. The rest of the months, the clear waters will surely enchant you (when there is no wind from the North). We prefer the two separate beaches to the right and left of Agios Giannis, with sand, very fine pebbles and blue waters, Plaka and Papa Nero beach (the best of the Agios Giannis beaches), which has a few taverns next to the sea, as well as some accommodation with fantastic views over the Aegean Sea.
From Tsagarada to Damouchari and Mylopotamos...
Under the traditional village of Tsagarada is the picturesque port of Damouchari. This little anchorage remained the same since olden times ... It was named after the phrase "give me grace" (dos mou chari), a prayer of old sailors in difficult moments. Its white-washed pebble beach and blue-green waters, are easily accessible (only on foot) from the settlement, walking on a paved alley.
Having a traditional “spoon sweet” in the shade of a thousand-year-old plane tree (14 m perimeter), in Tsagarada Square, goes without saying. In the churches of Taxiarches and St. Stephen, we will admire the exquisitely carved wooden temples. Taking the good asphalt road and passing by Tsagarada, we meet after 4 km the enchanting beach of Mylopotamos. With white pebbles and sand, the beach is separated by a cave. Mylopotamos gathers a lot of people in August. It is worthwhile thought, to swim in its turquoise waters and then to eat local delicacies in the small tavern with its wonderful view, just above it. Far from the prying eyes, is the exotic Fakistra. The northernmost beach of Pelion is Kamari, just below the villages of Keramidi and Veneto.
Activities for all tastes
In Pelion we will have the opportunity to engage in all kind of sport. We will therefore choose between:
- Mountaineering, hiking in forest paths and cobblestone streets.
- Horse riding in forests or on the beach.
- Mountain biking.
- All water sports (diving, surfing, canoeing, water skiing).
- Paragliding over many organized beaches.
- It is also worth doing the route by taking the Pelion train from Milies. A fantastic route between green slopes, ravines, arched bridges and small tunnels.
- If you are in Tsagarada, it is worth walking the dirt path that starts from the main road, before entering the settlement (as you come from Milies) and leads to the old Stone Bridge of Tsagarada. It was built in 1817, to facilitate communication with the villages of southern Pelion, in a verdant impressive gorge.
- From Damouchari begins a beautiful hiking route that connects the traditional villages of Pelion, with Tsagarada first of all. A wooden bridge defines the well-marked hiking route. From Damouchari to Tsagarada you will cover an altitude difference of 450 meters in about one and a half hour. Instead you can also go to Tsagarada moving along the coast to reach Fakistra beach.
An enchanting trail of eleven kilometers in a dense forest of chestnut trees starts from the picturesque village of Kissos and reaches the Agriolefkes Ski Center. If you like such routes, you will enjoy it immensely (do not try it with a vehicle other than a 4x4 jeep).
Horseback riding in forests and beaches...
There are many ways to discover the charm of Pelion. All you have to do is to make something different that will bring you closer to nature and make you feel like a child again...
The trails through the forest paths, leading to the heart of Pelion or to the nearest beaches next to the waves, are something that will surely excite you. If you are looking for stronger emotions, you can enjoy a ride in the forest or at the beach with a horse! Sounds difficult? And yet, it is not ... the organized clubs will inform you about everything and will get you into riding very quickly. Then, you will be charmed by a ride in the nearby forest or the nearest beach. It is good to know, of course, that the horses like to be talked to tenderly, to be fed with carrots or to be brushed gently before the ride. In the beginning, you will feel a bit uncomfortable due to the height of the horseback, but very quickly you will get use to balance and you will enjoy your ride ... as a carefree horsemen (let’s say…). It is worthwhile to dare!
What to eat:
In Pelion you will try delicious spetsofai, bean soup, kritama and tsitsiravla, various pickles and spoon sweets. In addition to the snack bars and fish taverns on the beaches, in the squares of the villages you will discover picturesque taverns with traditional mezedes (starters) and local delicacies.
Shopping: Spoon sweets, aromatic and curative herbs, apples and firikia (a kind of apple), handmade pasta and plenty of more.