A triad of mountain, forest and sea

Pelion - Summer Seat of the Gods

Pelion is divided into four zones: Western Pelion not far from Volos, Central or Eastern Pelion, Southern Pelion and Northern Pelion (click on the map on the right to enlarge).

Central Pelion is clearly the most fascinating in its combination of forest, mountain and sea.

Southern Pelion starts south of the Miliés-Kalamáki line and has a number of very beautiful mountain and coastal resorts. This part of  Pelion has a vegetation
of maquis and pine forests reminiscent of Provence. The land was cleared early and is used intensively for agriculture.  Northern Pelion can only be reached by car from the west via Vólos and Kerasiá and is undeveloped for tourism.

The unspoilt and wild central Pelion with its dense deciduous forests, where according to legend the gods of Olympus spent their summer holidays, is well developed for tourism. The western slopes towards Volos are unwooded. The slopes of the Pelion were cleared for ship and house building as early as Greek and Roman times. 

The slopes of central Pelion face north-east and are densely forested down to the coast. Up to about 300m, the Kermes oak predominates. Up to about 450m there are also olive groves.The edible chestnut dominates the altitude between 300m and 750m. Plane trees and orchards also reach this altitude.Above 750m, the copper beech is the dominant tree. 

Idyllic mountain villages in central Pelion

Coming from the west, the central Pelion begins at Portariá (750m above sea level). From here, the road climbs up to the pass of Chánia, 1000m above sea level. Shortly after, the road forks: one leads left to Zagorá, the other right to Kissós.

The main town of the central Pelion is Zagorá at 500m above sea level. With its beautiful large platía, the place seems almost like a small town. (Picture: right)

All the other villages are lined up like pearls on a string at a similar altitude between 350m and 550m. To the north of Zagorá is the outpost of Pourí, and to the south are Makriráchi, Kissós, Anílio, Moúresi, Tsangaráda, Xouríchti and Miliés. This type of settlement served as protection against pirate raids, and the moderate climatic conditions here are also favourable for agricultural activities: Apples, walnuts, chestnuts, fruit and vegetable growing and flower cultivation.

The villages were connected by the country road, which was only built in 1935. It usually runs about 50m to 100m above or below the old village centres, so that it is not noticeable from the car. Especially at Moúresi and Tsangaráda you have to turn off the road to reach the village centres, which used to be connected only by paved paths (kalderimia) (picture above: Mouresi).

Characteristic of the central Pelion are the archóntika, the so-called mansions (picture right), which were built in the 18th and 19th centuries. They all have projecting upper floors, which was intended to prevent the house from being stormed. Today, some archóntika have fallen into disrepair, but many have been restored and are a distinctive feature of the townscape.   

Pourí is the northernmost village of the central Pelion, a kind of outpost. From there you can only get to the villages of Veneto and Ano Kerasía in the northern Pelion on foot; by car you have to take a two-hour diversions.

Makriráchi is quite untouristy; flowers and perennials are grown here in abundance, which are then sold at markets all over Greece (picture right).
A little off the main road is Kissós. Here, people are proud that the Greek national hero Rígas Feréos taught at the local school two hundred years ago. A monument commemorates him (picture on the right). Four taverns offering good cuisine have settled around the market square.

Also off the main road is the small village of Anílio, in German Sonnenlos, because it hardly sees any sun in winter. There is a square with tavernas here.

Moúresi, the second largest village in the central Pelion, is hidden and scattered far below the main road. For once, no plane trees grow on the beautiful platía, but lime trees. The tables of the taverna are positioned so that you have a wonderful view of the Aegean Sea and the seaside resort of Agios Ioánnis. You have an equally beautiful view from the two tavernas at the top of the road, both called To Balkóni, one of which is the first balcony (picture on the right), the other the second.

Now it's only a stone's throw to Tsangaráda, but even here you don't immediately discover the village centres. The two main churches are Agia Paraskeví and Agioi Taxiárchis, and both have a romantic church square with tavernas. On the Platía of Agia Paraskeví stands the 1000-year-old plane tree (picture right), whose crown has a diameter of 50m. The Platía of Agioi Taxiárchis counters with other advantages, the four-rayed fountain in the centre of the square and the view of the Aegean Sea.

The village of Xouríchti is a little out of the ordinary. There is not even a taverna here, no tourists, only a farming population.

Coastal villages

Historically, the central Pelion was only populated in the heights; the coast was avoided because of possible pirate attacks. Only the small port of Damoúchari is already noted on maps of the 17th century. With the exception of Damoúchari, the entire stony coast of the central Pelion offers no natural protection for ships. This is also the reason why parts of the Persian fleet were wrecked on the rocks of the Pelion in 480 BC. Even today, sailing ships are rarely seen on the Aegean; the area is known to be dangerous and is hardly ever sailed to.

Since the 19th century, fishing villages have sprung up below the mountain villages on the sandy parts of the coast, which were mostly only used in summer. In the meantime, they have developed into tourist resorts. Each mountain village has its own "beach village".

The stony beach of Análipsi belongs to Pourí. Here you can only swim when the water is calm, but the beach taverna Plimári is excellent and well frequented (picture right).

The summer resort of Zagorá is called Choreftó. It has a kilometre-long fine sandy beach and was the showcase bathing resort of central Pelion for decades. In the meantime, Agios Ioánnis and Damoúchari have overtaken it.

Agia Saránda is the seaside resort closest to Kissós, Makriráchi and Anílio (picture right). It has a fine sandy beach about 1 km long with several tavernas. In summer it is quite crowded here at weekends.

Agios Ioánnis, Pláka, Pápa Neró and Damoúchari are the beaches that can be reached quite easily from Moúresi, Kissós and Tsangarada and which themselves have many flats and hotels.

Pláka is the northernmost of the three beaches and can be reached on foot from Agios Ioannis. You can get there by car via the Hotel Eden, which also runs the beach taverna. The water is turquoise blue and reminiscent of the South Seas (picture right).

Agios Ioannis is a full-fledged coastal village with a long promenade and a beautiful sandy beach. There are numerous tavernas, some of which are open all year round, as well as several boutiques, a pharmacy, two bakeries and several grocery shops.

Pápa Neró is the name of the beach south of Agios Ioannis, the road is closed between 10am and 6pm in summer. The approximately 1km long fine sandy beach is 50 wide, several tavernas are open in the high season. Between the beaches of Pápa Neró and Agios Ioánnis is a very well-run campsite, sheltered and tree-lined.

The pearl of the Pelion, Damouchari, can be reached on foot from Pápa Neró or by car from Agios Ioánnis or Moúresi. The village is small and nestles on the slopes of a bay (picture right). It is practically car-free, and the few houses blend well into the landscape. There are three tavernas and a bistro, all with a fantastic view of the sea, never crowded, even in high season. You can swim either in the harbour bay, which has no quay, or on the pebble beach 100 metres behind the village centre.

The bathing bay Fakistra can be seen in all advertising brochures, but it is quite small and has neither sanitary facilities nor a taverna (picture on the right). You can get there on foot from Damoúchari or by car from Tsangarada. Milopótamos is probably the most famous beach in the central Pelion because of its spectacular rock gate (picture right). However, the beach is quite small and crowded in high summer. Several tavernas offer good food.

From Milopótamos you can walk to the Limniónas and Lambinoú bays, which take about an hour. You can also reach both bays by car, partly on sandy roads, from Xouríchti. Both bays have sanitary facilities and a taverna in summer.


Western and southern Pelion

Miliés in the southern Pelion can be reached from Volos in 20 minutes. Like the small neighbouring villages of Vysítza and Pinakátes, the village faces the Gulf of Volos and therefore has a milder climate than the other villages of the central Pelion which face north-east and the Aegean Sea. Milies also has a beautiful shady platía with tavernas and views of the sea. There are shadows of the past here. In a "punitive action" by the German Wehrmacht on 4 April 1943, the village was completely burnt down and 39 inhabitants murdered.

A little further away are the villages of Agios Lavréntios and Drakía in the western Pelion. They are located south of Chánia in a mountain fold running south. Drakía has gained a sad notoriety due to the massacre of the German Wehrmacht in 1943, when 116 villagers were murdered. A monument commemorates this outrage (picture right).

Southern Pelion has a number of beautiful coastal villages on the Gulf of Volos: Kala Nera, Kalamos (picture right), Lefokastro, Milina.

The main village of Argalasti is interesting for its shopping facilities and weekly market. Among the few mountain villages, Lafkos is the most beautiful.


Pelion Panorama

The Pilion-Pamorama allows a good orientation. If you click on the picture, you will get a larger image.