Still relatively unspoilt, Pelion is an outstandingly beautiful area of mainland Greece once inhabited (it is said) by the Centaurs. Sandy beaches and crystal clear blue waters combine with traditional villages and dense forests - these forests provided timber for the Argo, the ship used in the expedition of the Argonauts.
Here you'll discover traditional mountain villages with their stone built mansions set amongst leafy village squares, each village retaining its own authenticity and character; most of them enjoy breathtaking views towards the sea. In this area many people explore on foot, walking along the kalderimia (cobbled or paved donkey tracks) which connect some of the villages and beaches. If you wish to explore further afield though we would recommend car hire.
Makrinitsa has been characterised as the village of the "nobles", due to the large number of mansions found in the village. It is also referrred to as the "Balcony of Pelion", thanks to the breathtaking views of Volos from the village square. There is an excellent taverna here which serves good quality food including local dishes of spetsofai, fasolada (bean soup) and giouvetsi (beef with pasta baked in the oven).
Portaria was once the most important commercial centre in Pelion. There are many impressive neo-classical mansions here, some of which now function as inns. Portaria sits right on Mount Pelion so it's a good starting point from which to explore all this area has to offer.
Agios Ioannis is a cosmopolitan resort in Eastern Pelion, nearby is the long white sand beach of Papa Nero, considered one of the best beaches in the area and among the top ten in Greece.
Kala Nera is a popular summer resort with a long coarse sandy beach, flanked by poplar, plane and eucalyptus trees. The name of the village means 'good waters', some say this is because of the abundance of fresh water springs gushing out in the area.
Damouchari is the only natural harbour on the wilder Aegean Sea side of Pelion. An old Venetian legend says that the expression 'dos mou hari' (give me grace) gave its name to the area. Old Damouchari is connected to Tsagarada by a traditional cobbled footpath. Damouchari was used as a backdrop for several scenes from Mamma Mia, it was used as the harbour of the island where the story is set and features in the song 'Dancing Queen'.
Tsagarades is located on the north-eastern side of the mountain at a height of 500m with glorious views of the Aegean. The village was developed around the four churches of Taxiarches, Agia Paraskevi, Agia Kyriaki and Agios Stefanos - the four suburbs of the village still keep the names from these original churches. It is worth visiting the square of Agia Paraskevi, where you can see the one thousand year old plane tree with its 14 metre diameter trunk, and enjoy tasty walnut cake at the village square.
Vizitsa is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful villages on the mountain. A great number of 18th and 19th century Peliot mansions can be found in this village, many of which have been restored under the supervision of the Greek National Tourist Organisation.
Agios Georgios Nilias is another extremely picturesque village. It was inhabited mostly by wealthy men from Pelion who made their fortunes in Alexandra and Cairo. It is perched on the mountainside with magnificent views to the Pagasitic Gulf. The local church of Agios Georgios, an art museum and the convent of Taxiarches are amongst the places of interest to visit.
Lafkos is home to several Greek artists who appreciate the quality of light, the cobbled paths, the stone houses and village square.
Milies was once an important cultural and educational centre. This is where the revolution of Pelion against Ottoman rule began in 1821. Today this village is a creative refuge for many distinguished figures in the world of art and letters. The historic church of Pamegiston Taxiarchon (Great Archangels) built in 1714 on the square boats a gold plated altar screen and important post-Byzantine frescoes. Milies is also the terminus for the 'Little Train of Pelion'
This train was inaugurated in 1895 and for many years it transported goods and people; this in turn helped to develop the area. The locals nicknamed it 'Smudgy' a name it holds to this day! In 1985 in recognition of its faithful service to the local population the Ministry of Culture officially declared the line a preserved historical monument - the first time that a railway in Greece had received such an honour. The journey can still be enjoyed today and its route from Volos to Milies is considered as one of the most beautiful narrow gauge railway lines in the world.
Where to stay
Hotel Dryalos is located in Milies. From here there is easy access to beautiful beaches and is an ideal base for visitors wishing to tour and discover the Pelion villages.
Located around a 5 minute walk from the village square the Xenia Palace Hotel offers a good range of room types, most with views across to the Pagasitikos Gulf.
This luxurious Art Hotel has individually styled rooms decorated with the work of local artists.
"We very much enjoyed our walking holiday in the Pelion peninsula in Greece. Everything about it was good: the walking, the local guide and the accommodation. Thank you!"
A Forsythe, Australia, May 2019
"Returned from my Greek walking holiday on Tuesday evening and just wanted to email and say thank you very much. It was a great holiday, Thanasis and his friends who guided me were very good company, helpful, friendly and kind. I shall walk again in Greece."
M Smeaton, UK, May 2018
"Overall, a wonderful experience. We were sad to leave the breathtaking and mystical area of Meteora. The Pelion delighted with it's ancient walking tracks and it's ever changing verdant Springtime scenery. Our guide Alex proved to be a friendly, knowledgeable, patient and understanding guide. We shared lot's of laughs and really appreciated being picked up and dropped off at Athens. Generally a paradise for walkers and food lovers alike."
J Field, Australia, May, 2017