Welcome to Volos
Volos is one of the largest and most attractive cities in Greece as well as one of the country’s most prominent ports. The modern-day city, built near the site of ancient Iolcos, dominates the region of Magnesia from its position at the foot of Mount Pelion overlooking the Pagasetic Gulf. This is one of the most beautiful areas in Thessaly, in the centre of Greece (Volos is situated 320km N of Athens and 219km S of Thessaloniki) combining the allure of the sea with the mystical charm of the Centaurs’ mountain.
Volos is one of the most beautiful cities in Greece. The wealth of the region and its long history have left their mark on the city’s architecture, which exudes confidence and grandeur. The numerous mansions, municipal halls, museums, early 20th-century industrial facilities, and splendid churches make touring Volos truly enjoyable. Volos is a modern city with a special charm and its own particular color, marked largely by its place between the sea of the Pagasetic Gulf and the imposing Pelion Mountain. The sea creates a fabulously long coastline with numerous recreational centers and some of the city’s countless famous little taverns, or tsipouradika, serving the traditional “tsipouro” aperitif and special seafood appetizers, or “meze”. The pedestrianized waterfront Argonaut Road, with the passenger port at its west end and the impressive view of the sea and tree-covered hill of Pefkakia, is the most popular meeting spot and ideal for a stroll for both residents and visitors to the city. The main commercial pedestrian road, intriguing buildings, public mansions, industrial installations dating to the early 20th century and historical churches make touring Volos a truly enjoyable experience. The noteworthy cultural activity, the diverse mosaic of its inhabitants and the vibrant university community round out the city’s image. The Argo is the symbol of the city. The mythical ship became known around the world through the myth of the expedition of Jason and the Argonauts to Colchis. A few kilometers west of the city are the archaeological sites of Sesklo (the settlement dates back to 6000 BC and is the oldest in Europe) and Dimini (the best-known prehistoric settlement in Greece and most important of the late Neolithic period).
The sights in Volos are so numerous that the visitor will feel his day is more than full. For those disliking walking, there is a 10km wide network of cycle lanes and thousands of bicycles silently providing a healthy and ecological means of transport.
The city has a great labour and industrial history. Large European companies had their factories here in the 19th century. It was the centre of novelty and architectural innovation. This history has left its mark on the entire city in the form of splendid buildings. The refugee population from Asia Minor, which began to arrive from 1923 onwards, shaped the appearance of the city by creating the large district of Nea Ionia. The urban mansions in the city centre, towards the port and the railway station, and the working-class neighbourhoods in the environs, made up a very charming residential framework. The present-day city has spread out along the coast, incorporating old resorts, like Agria in the east and Soros in the west. The blocks surrounded by Iasonos, Dimitriados and Ermou make up the buzzing part of downtown, where the heart of the city beats day and night, partly thanks to the students of the University of Thessaly. Don’t miss:
– Volos castle, in the present-day district of Palia, in the west of the city. It was a great shipbuilding centre where galleys were built, carrying on Magnesia’s great maritime tradition.
– The large park of Agios Konstantinos. Lying on the shore, it is a lovely corner of the city. It was laid out in 1920 by the architect N. Kitsikis and provides recreation and a breath of cool air to residents and visitors alike.
– The Achilleio cinema, a place of living culture that has remained open from 1925 to the present day. It was built according to plans drawn up by the architect K. Argyris.
– The church of Agioi Konstantinos and Eleni towering over the waterfront in Volos. It is an elaborate piece of architecture, designed and built by the great architect A. Zachos. Ever since its construction in 1936, the church has been a reference point in the city.
– The verdant Goritsa Hill, to the east of Volos, just a short distance away. The hill stands about 200 metres above sea level and gives a grandstand view over the surrounding area. At the top of the hill stands the church of Zoodochos Pigis, whilst at the foot lies the so-called ‘Panagia Tripa of Goritsa’, a little church dedicated to the birth of the Virgin Mary, built inside a natural cave that may have been a sacred place since deep antiquity.
Pelion – home of the Centaurs
Pelion is a place of indescribable beauty. With a breath-taking view over the endless sea, settlements that are architectural gems, and an ancient culture, it welcomes myriads of visitors every year. Lush vegetation and an extensive network of mountain paths enable the visitor to wander through a bewitching land, still echoing to the legendary Centaurs. It is worthy of note that the winding pathways linking the villages of Pelion exceed a total of 500 kilometres. These were ancient roads whose aim was to facilitate the movement of people and goods and they are still in use.
Villages in Pelion, like Portaria, Tsangarada, Zagora, Vyzitsa, Milies, and dozens more, with their proud mansions, traditional springs, hospitable guesthouses, create a heaven on earth.
The Pelion railway – the legendary ‘moutzouris – smudgy’
The historical rail link between Volos – Milies Pelion is the famous route of the ‘moutzouris’. The line was opened in 1903. It was a ground-breaking project for its time as it linked the industrial centre of Volos with the fertile area of west Pelion, a place producing a great many agricultural products, such as oil. This train was one of the favourite subjects in Giorgio de Chirico’s paintings, whilst the bridges along the line are a special attraction.
Today the Pelion railway is living a second heyday. It was reopened in 1996 and is now simply a tourist attraction as there is no longer a need for transporting goods. The route begins from Lechonia, climbs up through stunning countryside and traditional villages, like Ano Gatzea, Agia Triada, Agios Athanasios Pinakaton, Argyreika, and terminates after 25 exceptional kilometres in Milies. A few hours later, during which time the visitor can enjoy strolling through the village and its surroundings, the train returns to Lechonia.
Lovely routes through the mountain offer visitors the opportunity to enjoy the impressive landscape, breathtaking views of the sea and magnificent villages. A modern ski centre operates near the highest settlement of Chania, with a heart-stopping view of eastern and central Greece. There are also many spots around Pelion where organized alternative tourism activities are available, including horse-riding, hiking, ecotourism treks and others.
The myth talks about the Centaurs who live in Pelion – magical, half-man, half-horse creatures. It’s true. The Centaurs you meet today are the image of humans mounted on horses as they explore the beauty of the forest along the mountain trails. The myth says that the ancient gods lived here in the summer. It’s true. Each time you dive into the water and relax on the beaches and crystal-blue waters, you will understand why. No matter what you hear about this place, it’s all true. The endless possibilities of the area, while they may sound exaggerated, are nevertheless real.
In the summer, you can comfortably expect to swim at some of the most beautiful beaches you’ve ever seen, most of which have been awarded with a Blue Flag. Popular beaches or reclusive bays, with expanses of sand or remote and rocky, the waters are always clean, with welcoming seaside restaurants, fresh fish, excellent hotels, some quiet and others more lively with beach bars, water sports and sailing.
The sun and sea are always good reasons to visit Greek destinations, especially in summer.
Even better reasons are Volos and Pelion, where the lush green mountain reaches right down to the deep blue of the sea to form a coastline of expansive and gorgeous beaches.
All of them are accessible by car, bike or on foot after a pleasant and relatively easy walk through the forest. You can even stay in a beautiful room next to the surf, where the sand is your terrace and the sea yours for the taking. It’s all true.
Horefto is near the village of Zagora and is one of the longest beaches in Pelion. There are restaurants and accommodations and shops in the village and there are several other beaches nearby if you want to get away from the summer crowds.
Agios Ioannis is on the east coast below the village of Zagoria and is a popular beach town with tavernas, shops and hotels.
Papa Nero is a popular beach between Agios Ioannis and Damouhari with restaurants, rooms and camping and if you use the map the properties to the south of Agios Ioannis are at Papanero.
Agioi Saranta is a white sand beach with crystal clear water, pine trees and even a taverna and beach chairs and umbrellas. It is below Zagora, between Horefto and Agios Ioannis. It can get busy in the summer so come early if you don’t want to park too far away.
Plaka Beach is near Agios Ioannis and can be reached by walking path from there or by car. There are umbrellas and beach chairs as well as cafes and restaurants.
Damouchari is the only natural harbor on the east side of the Pelion Peninsula and is known for its twin coves and white pebbles. There are hotels and rooms nearby as well as tavernas but it is popular mostly with Greeks who know about it and a smattering of foreign tourists. The selection of this picturesque settlement for the filming of the Hollywood film “Mamma Mia!” Has attracted an international recognition over the past decade, triggering a mild form of tourism wild development by local families.
Milopotamos Beach is near the village of Tsagarada on the east side of the Pelion Penisula and is one of the most popular beaches with pine trees, white pebbles, a few tavernas and sunbeds and umbrellas for rent.
Fakistra Beach is below the village of Tskarada and close to the beach town of Damouchari in eastern Pelion and is a great place for snorkeling. You have to park above the beach and walk down the path to reach it but it is on many lists of the Most Beautiful Beaches in Greece.
Kala Nera is a large town in the gulf with hotels, restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and nightlife. Because it is in the gulf the water is almost always calm and it is a good place for families with small children.
For an authentic island experience, take a day trip to Skiathos, Skopelos, or Alonnisos.
Getting to Volos
Volos airport (VOL) is situated in Nea Anchialos, about 25 km SW from the city.
It operates weekly charter flights during summer.
Travelers of charter flights are transferred to their accommodation by their travelling agency. There is no longer a public bus connecting the airport and Volos bus station. A taxi from the airport to Volos town center costs about 35€.Car rental is available at the airport too. If you have a car, the airport parking area charge 8 €p/d 47€ p/w.
By regional coach
Generally, intercity coaches (“KTEL” buses) (KTEL Volou (site in Greek and English)) are by far the most convenient way to travel around Greece, as well as for intra-regional travelling. This is doubly true for travelling to Volos from Athens, where the train takes five hours as opposed to three on the coach.
There is frequent bus service from Athens Liossion Station to Volos about 15 times a day (cost is about €27 single ticket, €47 return ticket), as well as from Thessaloniki bus terminal “Macedonia” to Volos about 10 times a day (about € 12). Volos is also connected with daily direct routes to Patras, Ioannina, Larissa, Trikala, Karditsa and to many more places in continental Greece via Larissa. Interurban Bus Terminal is opposite to “Volos info center” near the City Hall, the Railway Station and the Port, on a major hub.
Trains (OSE) connect Volos to other cities in Greece via Larisa. Travelling with ordinary trains can be cheaper, although a little bit slower, whereas choosing a faster Intercity train will cost the same amount of money, or even more than a KTEL bus.
The train from Athens, whilst travelling through some of the most attractive parts of the country, takes approximately five hours and involves a change at Larissa – it’s really not worth it! All the locals travel from Athens by intercity coaches. If you are travelling from Thessaloniki or elsewhere in the north, there’s not much to choose between the coach and the train in terms of duration or cost. The train wins on comfort, with space to get up and move around.
There are ferry services to Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos.
Sources: http://www.volosinfo.gr/, http://www.visitgreece.gr/en/main_cities/volos & https://wikitravel.org/en/Volos