Insight /

Greece

The Pelion Unspoiled Greece

This little-known region of mainland Greece boasts lush mountain scenery, traditional stone villages and deserted beaches.

Both ravishingly beautiful and refreshingly real, the Pelion peninsula is Greece at its most unspoiled.

Jutting out into the Pagasitic Gulf midway between Athens and Thessaloniki, this little-known region of mainland Greece boasts lush mountain scenery, traditional stone villages and deserted beaches. Legend has it, it’s where the Greek gods themselves went for their summer holidays. The Pelion is a place where you can still have that perfect beach all to yourself, or sit in the square of a hilltop village under a large plane tree and only have to share the experience with local Greeks and aficionados of the area.

  1. Things to do:

    The northern half of the Pelion is characterised by quaint villages like sleepy Vizitsa and only slightly-livelier Milies. You can visit the latter courtesy of a narrow-gauge mountain steam train which chugs through the steep narrow valleys from the coast at Ano Lechonia.

    Keen walkers should make a beeline for the mountain villages of Makrynitsa and Portaria, located high on the slopes of Mount Pelion. Here you can hike the vast network of cobbled mule paths and trek through dense beech forests to secluded waterfalls. Sensational sea views are ever-present.

    Famed for its large plane trees, Tsangarada village is another popular base for trekking, and also leads the way down to the east coast hamlets and fine white sand beaches of Damouchari. We can also arrange sea kayaking and sailing adventures along the dramatic cliffs of the east coast.

  2. Best Beaches

    You’ll find marvellous beaches on both sides of the peninsula, from the sandy shores of the Aegean to the pebbly coastline of the Pagasitic Gulf.

    A twenty-minute drive east of the market town of Argalasti brings you to the golden sands and crystal-clear waters of Potistika, overlooked by two monolithic rocks. From here, it’s a short journey south to Paltsi’s perfectly curved bay.

    In contrast, the beaches on the Pagasitic Gulf coast are narrower and shallow. The quiet villages of Belian, Pau and Kalamos offer stunning sunset views, while the coastal resort of Horto, and its bigger neighbour Milina, are almost cosmopolitan by comparison. The beaches around the pretty fishing village of Afissos are some of the loveliest on the west coast.

    “Days on holiday in The Pelion are likely to begin with a morning swim, followed by a leisurely breakfast on the bougainvillea-covered terrace. Then maybe rent kayaks, go for a paddle or hop in the car to discover another deserted beach or hilltop village. Long lazy lunches in family-run tavernas transition seamlessly into afternoons spent beside the pool.”

  3. WHERE TO STAY

    Family Apartments: Diplomats

    Just steps from clear, calm waters and within strolling distance of Horto’s welcoming seafront tavernas, the apartments at Diplomats provide summer holiday simplicity in a sleepy seaside setting.

    Decorated in traditional Greek style, the one-bedroom apartments sleep two children in the lounge, so are best suited to couples with younger kids. Take an apartment at the top of the hillside for the best sea views from your balcony or terrace.

    Couples Hotel: Pounda Paou

    This 12-room, adults-only pension perched atop the Pagasitic Gulf is perfect for a relaxing break away from the crowds.

    Steps and pathways through the olive-tree garden lead to a shaded Jacuzzi and infinity pool with camera-grabbing views. There’s an excellent local-style restaurant and a sunbathing terrace beside the jetty, while pebbly Paou beach is ten minutes’ walk. Stays include car or motorboat hire for you to explore further.

Pelion Villas:

The lowdown

  • Getting There

    Seasonal charter flights operate to Volos on a Friday, while EasyJet have also recently begun a twice-weekly direct summer service. Alternatively, Thessaloniki airport is a three-and-a-half-hour drive.

  • Combine with

    A few days in Thessaloniki or Athens, via a visit to the clifftop monasteries of Meteora, makes for an excellent road trip. Or you can take a boat to Skiathos for some Greek island hopping.

  • Insider Tip

    Amble into Horto for dinner at Martha’s taverna, where you can gorge on grilled squid as the sun melts into the harbour.

Villa Irene is a four-bedroom house near Horto, built in traditional Pelion style on two floors with a stone tiled roof. The view from the wide terrace is spectacular and the terracotta pool blends in perfectly with the surroundings. You can walk down to a perfectly secluded little beach through the olive groves within minutes.

The sweeping views from nearby Villa Daphne are arguably even more incredible. Set within landscaped gardens and olive groves, this stylish four-bedroom villa is more modern in style and features a huge open-plan living area. But it’s the outdoor terraces, where you’ll find a large heated pool, alfresco dining table and 360-degree views of the mountains and sea, that make Daphne exceptional.

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