If you want to have Greece all to yourself, consider taking a trip to the Pelion Peninsula. Located almost directly between Athens and Thessaloniki as the crow flies, Pelion is a place that very few foreigners seem to know about.
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You’ll find very few crowds here and in some places, exclusively locals or domestic visitors. This alone gives the Pelion Peninsula a huge appeal.
The whole region of Pelion Peninsula is very lush and green, with lots of lovely nature to explore. There’s a mountain with plenty of opportunities to hike, gorgeous beaches, and unique rocky cliffs. To make things even better, you’ll find some of the best food in Greece here. The region is famous for its delectable cuisine. So, coming here to eat will not disappoint.
Pelion, Greece is a true hidden gem. If you’re heading to Greece soon, we highly recommend you add it to your itinerary!
Things to do in Pelion, Greece
If you love being active while traveling, you’ll thoroughly enjoy a sea kayaking trip along the coast of Pelion, Greece. The scenery is gorgeous, especially from the crystal clear water, and there’s no better way to experience it than by your own manpower.
There are a number of places where you can go kayaking in Pelion, Greece. We did our kayaking tour with Pelion Scout in the town of Chorefto.
The hiking in Pelion, Greece is some of the best in the country, especially around Mount Pelion in the northern part of the peninsula. The dense, lush forests are stunningly beautiful and waiting to be explored. Hike to rock caves, quiet streams, and even waterfalls where you can take a dip and cool off after a hot day.
Here are a few hiking areas to consider
If you decide to go hiking on Mount Pelion, there are maps available at tourist shops and large bookstores. While the maps don’t exactly correspond with the marked hiking trails on Mount Pelion, they’re fine as a general guide and map of the surrounding area.
Stavros, the summit of Mt. Pelion sits at an elevation of 1,624 metres, and it isn’t a very strenuous hike. There is a bit of a breeze from the Aegean Sea, and you can choose a short route if you’d rather take it easy.
If you’d feel more comfortable with a guided tour, Bike or Hike arranges guided hiking trips exploring Mt. Pelion. You can choose from half-day trips, day trips, or multi-day trips led by experienced guides.
Pagasetic Gulf to the Aegean Sea
Pelion, Greece is bordered on the east by the Aegean Sea and hooks into the Pagasetic Gulf to the west. One of the most popular hiking trails that stretches across the peninsula runs between the picturesque villages of Kala Nera and Tsagarada. From Kala Nera, you’ll take a stone path about 5 km to Milies, then along a 11 km paved path to Tsagarada, a town on the Aegean coast.
It takes around 7 hours and it is moderately strenuous, but after relaxing on the famous Mylopotamos Beach and grabbing dinner, it’s a short cab ride back to Kala Nera. If you have time, there are some beautiful old churches in Tsagarada to see, like the Church of the Agioi Taxiarches. It’s also home to the oldest plane tree in Greece, dated to around 1,000 years old!
This scenic trail is one of the most famous hiking trails in Pelion, Greece and it has great significance in Greek mythology. According to Greek mythology, Centaurs once lived on Mount Pelion and it is thought that they used this trail.
Starting from the village of Portaria, you’ll go through a stone arch and follow a stone path up to a plateau with gorgeous views. The trail is marked and short at just 1-½ km.
Many of the picturesque villages small towns in Pelion, Greece this region are linked by hiking paths. It makes for a great day to hike between some of the towns and discover them all on foot.
Biking is a great way to maximize your time and take in as much of the scenery while visiting many Pelion villages. This 3-4 hour guided tour takes you along the west coast of Pelion, Greece. You’ll start in the seaside village of Kato Gatzea, ride through ancient olive groves and into the forest, where you’ll see waterfalls and streams.
Adrenaline junkies will enjoy this guided adventure in the canyons of Pelion, Greece. You’ll spend the day rappelling down Hellas Canyon then swimming in the fresh, cool water pools and waterfalls at the end of the descent.
Eat Delicious Food
The food in Pelion, Greece is known throughout the country as some of the very best. You can expect to taste some incredible seafood, small dishes called mezes, and delicious wines.
Every small town and village in Pelion Peninsula will usually have a taverna serving up delicious local dishes for an affordable price. Here are a few towns with some recommended restaurants you can add to your itinerary.
- Stafylos: This taverna-style restaurant in Volos, Greece serves traditional Greek dishes, including vegetarian options, and offers a selection of wonderful local wines.
- Apalou: This tavern-style restaurant called Apalou is a great option for burgers and pizza, as well as a number of healthy dishes.
- Anapodo Platani: A creative and modern restaurant, Anapodo Platani is the place to go if you love unique spins off of the classical dishes you already love.
- Aggelika Fish Taverna: As the name implies, Aggelika Fish Taverna is a restaurant that you can’t miss if you love fresh and delicious seafood of all kinds.
- El Resto-Bar: Located in the Agapitos Villas & Guesthouses, El Resto-Bar is a sleek but cozy eatery serving up a number of traditional Greek cocktails and spirits.
- Restaurant Argo: For a romantic seaside dinner, this is a great spot. Restaurant Argo specializes in fresh seafood and classic Greek dishes made with local produce and cheeses.
- Victoria’s Cafe: If you plan to visit Damouchari, Victoria’s Cafe is a great spot right on the water that serves traditional Pelion dishes made with local produce, herbs and olive oil. The Cafe can get a bit busy during high season with lots of tourists wanting to see the Mamma Mia film location.
Take a Cooking class
Since food is such a big theme on the Pelion Peninsula, it’s a great idea to take a cooking class while you’re there. We took one at Karaiskos Farm and were very impressed.
This organic farm produces lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, such as potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchinis, eggplants, pumpkins, peppers, radishes, and more. They also keep chickens and produce their own eggs. You’ll learn how to use all of these to make tasty regional dishes and family recipes during your class on the farm.
Visit a Botanical Garden
Located on the eastern slope of Mount Pelion and in the lush forest surrounding Tsagarada is Serpentin Garden. Established at the site of a restored 18th-century farmhouse, this botanical garden features 3000 sq metres of fruit trees, historic roses, and garden art.
The garden is just a 5-minute drive or a scenic 30-minute walk from the picturesque village of Tsagarada. Guided tours are offered, and fruit preserves made from fruit grown onsite are available for purchase.
The closest island to the Pelion Peninsula is Skiathos Island, which you can reach from the port of Volos. The waters around this island are an awesome place to go sailing.
You can take a day trip to Skiathos from Pelion, Greece, but if you’re considering doing this, you might want to make it an overnight trip. Skiathos is famous for its nightlife, so plan to spend some time walking along the beachside restaurants and bars, or even going dancing right on the piers.
Explore the Beaches of Pelion, Greece
Agios Ioannis, Pelion
This is one of Pelion’s most famous beaches and for good reason. Agios Ioannis is a lovely seaside resort town with greenery surroundings and natural beauty. While the area is accessible to tourism, it’s not completely overrun by it. You can take a boat ride at the pier or simply relax on the beach.
The beach has plenty of amenities, with sunbeds and umbrellas for rent. In case the beach at Agios Ioannis is crowded, be sure to check out Plaka Beach, which is just a kilometre away. Next to the harbor at the north end of the beach at Agios Ioannis is a small path that takes you straight to Plaka Beach.
Another beach that’s within walking distance is Papa Nero. To get there, look for a small pedestrian bridge on the south end of the beach at Agios Ioannis.
Another fairly famous town and beach, Chorefto is must-visit on the Pelion Peninsula. The water here is calm and the scenery is stunning, set against a backdrop of picturesque houses and lush greenery that add to the quaint atmosphere of this gorgeous beach.
Chorefto is on the Aegean coast, about 30 minutes north of Damouchari and an hour east of Portaria. Chorefto is a popular destination for water sports, and there are plenty of tour operators that offer sea kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding.
A little further south on the east side of the Pelion Peninsula, you’ll find Potistika, a small resort town with some truly stunning beaches. The rock formations here are a sight to behold and allow for some cool exploring along the beach, so make sure you bring a camera.
There are sunbeds and umbrellas available for rent, and a beach bar that offers cocktails and fresh Greek dishes.
One of the most photographed beaches on the east coast of Pelion, Greece, Mylopotamos Beach is about a 15-minute drive from downtown Tsagkarada and about 30 minutes south of Damouchari. This is a fun beach with amenities. Additionally, you can jump into the crystal clear water from rocks jutting out into the water.
There are amenities, sunbeds and umbrellas, plus a beach bar. The beach can get a bit crowded during the high season. So, it’s best to go early or during the shoulder season.
Paralia Agioi Saranta
If you’re already on the east coast of Pelion, Greece, Paralia Agioi Saranta is definitely worth a visit. It’s about a 30-minute drive north of Mylopotamos Beach, a 25 minute walk from Chorefto Beach, and a bit off the beaten path. Paralia Agioi Saranta doesn’t get as busy as Mylopotamos Beach and the amenities are much more affordable.
The clear water is perfect for snorkeling, and there are paddle boards or kayaks available to rent. There is a beach bar available and a couple beachside restaurants within walking distance.
Visit Museums in Volos
The port town of Volos serves as the gateway to Pelion, Greece and there are several museums to visit nearby for those interested in some history of the region. You can easily spend an entire day here, exploring the town’s museums, art galleries, shops, and cafes.
Here are a few museums that might interest the history buff or nature enthusiast.
Byzantine Museum of Makrinitsa
Full of historical relics and liturgical art from the 17th century, the Museum of Byzantine Art and Culture of Makrinitsa is a highly-rated museum that is also involved in educational programs with local universities of Pelion, Greece.
Museum of the City of Volos
Dedicated to the history of Volos, the Museum of the City of Volos houses artifacts and art that tell the story of the city’s first settlers.
Entomological Museum of Volos
The biggest private museum in Greece, the Entomological Museum of Volos houses an extensive collection of insects, including 40,000 species of butterfly. Founded by Dr. Athanasios Koutroumpas, this museum is renowned and often consulted to verify different species of insects.
Explore Archaeological Sites in Pelion, Greece
A short 15 km drive from Volos is Sesklo, a hilltop archaeological site dating back to the 7th century BCE. This neolithic settlement once covered an area of at least 100,000 square metres, and you can still see stone foundations of houses. You’ll see why this spot was chosen by the early settlers, as the views from the hilltop are stunning.
The site is open to the public and has a small entrance fee. Hours are from 8:30am to 3:30 pm, and they are open every day except Tuesday. Check the online schedule before you go, because they are closed on some holidays.
Another archaeological site outside of Volos, Dimini was established in the 5th century BCE. In addition to the stone foundations of big central halls and walls of the Neolithic settlement, there is also an ancient Mycenaean town at the same site with several excavated tombs.
Like Sesklo, the archaeological site at Dimini is open to the public every day except Tuesday, from 8:30am to 3:30pm. There is a small admission fee, and there are some free admission days throughout the year.
About 20 minutes outside of Volos is yet another archaeological site strategically located on the Pagasetic Gulf. Fthiotides Thebes features the ruins of the Basilica of Bishop Peter and the Martyrium Basilica, both dating to the 4th century CE.
The site is in the central square of modern day Anchialos, a seaside town with beautiful sandy beaches and some awesome seafood restaurants. While there isn’t much left of the archaeological site, Anchialos is a great escape from the tourist hotspots.
Take a Ride On the Historic Pelion Railway
If you’re a history buff or steam locomotive enthusiast, you’ll probably enjoy a train ride on the historic Pelion Railway. This railway, which was built to connect Volos with Milies, was instrumental in the development of the Pelion Peninsula.
Although it’s no longer applicable to use for commerce, it still runs the scenic route on the original steam engine train from 1896. You’ll start at the seaside village of Ano Lechonia. Then, take the 1-½ hour ride to Milies, have a couple of hours to explore the Milies area, then hop back on for your return trip.
The train only runs on the weekends and during the summer months, so be sure to check the online schedule and buy tickets ahead of time.
Visit Damouchari, Pelion
Damouchari is one of the best towns to visit on the Pelion Peninsula for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it has some of the most beautiful beaches, with pristine sands and towering, rocky cliffs hugging the edges of each one. You could spend a few days here just enjoying the sandy beaches and relaxed atmosphere.
Secondly, Demouchari, Pelion has a special claim to fame: It was here that some of the scenes from the musical movie “Mamma Mia” were filmed. While visiting, you can visit a few of the recognizable spots where some of the filming took place, like the dock and harbour area.
Damouchari Beach is absolutely stunning and it’s easy to see why this was chosen as a filming location. The clear water is perfec
Explore the Sea Caves
An awesome option for a day trip around the Pelion Peninsula is tovisit the Sea Caves of Thetis. You’ll leave from either the port of Chorefto or Agios Ioannis, Pelion. From there, you’ll head north and discover an uninhabited and truly unspoiled coastline.
You’ll explore the stunning sea caves with your guide and even have the chance to swim and snorkel in some of them along the way.
Where to Stay: Best Hotels in Pelion, Greece
Sunrise Tsagkarada: We stayed at the amazing Sunrise Tsagkarada while visiting Pelion, Greece and absolutely loved our time there. The hotel practices sustainability and uses all kinds of eco-friendly products during day-to-day operations. The hotel’s design is beautiful with a fantastic pool with incredible views.
There’s easy access to Fakistra and Mylopotamos beaches, and you get awesome views of the Aegean Sea from the hotel. Sunrise Tsagkarada offers spacious 2 and 3-bedroom villas with enough room for up to 6 people.
Kritsa Gastronomy Hotel: If food is your main reason for coming to the Pelion Peninsula, then consider staying right on Karaiskos Farm at the Kritsa Gastronomy Hotel. Just like the farm itself, the hotel is family-run and sustainably operated, and the majority of its delicious food comes right from the organic farm next door.
The hotel is located in the central square of Portaria. So, you’ll be close to the Centaurs’ Trail, and plenty of other spots in the Pelion village. There are historic chapels, restaurants, and shops to visit during a stroll along the cobbled streets of the traditional village.
Des Roses Hotel: Thus hotel is a part of a greater eco-project called Eco Greco, an earth-friendly tourism complex in the southern Pelion Peninsula. Aside from a number of sustainability practices, this resort is unique for its organic garden and natural soap manufactury. You can even take a soap-making class during your stay.
Des Roses Hotel also offers tours of the mythical caves of Theses, where Achilles was born. The guided tour includes a visit to the archaeological site of Sipiada, which dates back to 1150 BCE.
Villa Leonidas is nestled in an olive grove on the west coast of the Pelion Peninsula. The hotel offers views of the Pagasetic Gulf and access to your own private beach. Lefokastro Beach and Razi Beach are also within walking distance from the hotel.
The apartment style accommodations come with fully equipped kitchens, a seating area, and a washing machine. Villa Leonidas would make a great home base if you wanted to travel around the peninsula.
How to Get to Pelion, Greece
In order to visit Pelion, Greece, you’re going to have to rent a car. There’s very little reliable public transport in the area. With so much to explore, you’ll definitely want the freedom of your own wheels. You can rent a car in whichever major city you’re starting your journey from.
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It’s about a 3 hour drive from Athens to Volos, which is considered to be the gateway to the Pelion Peninsula. Volos is at the very north of the peninsula, so keep this in mind when budgeting your travel time.
If you’re looking to explore a bit of the undiscovered side of Greece, then we couldn’t recommend Pelion enough. It has stunning beaches, amazing food, and lots of outdoor activities to indulge in.
It has everything you’d imagine a Greek paradise to have, just without the crowds. We really enjoyed our time on the Pelion Peninsula and are certain you will, too!
2 thoughts on “Visiting the Pelion Peninsula, a Hidden Gem in Greece”
Hi Thank you very much for this article and informaion about Pelion.
Are there sandy beaches you can recommad in Pelion?
Very informative. Looks like a beautiful place which I’m now considering! Do you have car rental recommendations? Thank you.