When asked a simple question of what I liked most about Pelion, my answer didn’t require much thought. Did you know that Pelion is perhaps the only destination in Greece where one moment you can be taking in the views of the majestic sea and then a short drive away you will find yourself in the snow-kissed mountains. Right there and then you will experience sun, sea and snow — the feeling of going from summer to winter just in the blink of an eye. Let me share with you the highlights of Pelion which we discovered on our 2-year anniversary weekend with my fellow travel bloggers of Travel Bloggers Greece.
Where is Pelion?
If you look at the map of Greece, focus on the centre. What resembles a hook-like peninsula is Pelion, a mountain set in the southeastern part of Thessaly, between the Pagasetic Gulf and the Aegean Sea. In Greek mythology, Mount Pelion played an important role.
It was here that the legendary creature Chiron the Centaur was born. Distinguished for his unique characteristics, having an upper body of a human and this lower body was of a horse. Today, Pelion is known for its 24 traditional villages which have maintained their historical character and architectural charm, the breathtaking scenery and glorious mountains.
Hiking in Tsagarada
On Saturday morning after a hearty breakfast at the Aglaida Apartments hotel which was our home for two nights we were ready to hike a 17th century trail which leads through the beautiful area of Tsagarada.
The night before it had snowed and the area was covered with crispy, white patches of snow which made our hike even more spectacular as we made our way through the rich forest of chestnut, breech and plane trees.
Before we embarked on the walk, our guides Nikos and Stavroula of Trekking Hellas, a leading outdoors activities provider in Greece gave us a closer introduction to the region and its historical importance.
The Kaldemiri trail which we took, leads all the way to the picturesque beach of Damouchari where some of the scenes from the movie Mamma Mia starring Meryl Streep were filmed.
What once used to be the donkey trails are now part of the route that leads to the exotic and wild beauty beach of Damouchari, located in a small port with important commercial history. In 1615 Pelion became the financial system of the Ottoman Empire, when in 1670 the Sultan himself came to Pelion and impressed by its natural beauty, gave the area as a present to his mother. Tsagarada was a focal point of the silk trade route, exporting 80% of its silk production to Egypt.
The hiking route was one of the most impressive from all the routes I have taken until this day. A perfect blend of magical landscape, history and mesmerizing sea views.
When we reached Damouchari, the village was quiet and we didn’t meet a single soul but it did give out the vibe that this place is the heart and soul of the region during the summer months.
Zagora is the biggest village of Pelion and was the next stop of our planned itinerary. Translating from Slavic, Zagora means the village behind the mountain, it enjoyed significant economic development during the 18th century when the silk industry was at its peak, with looms clacking day and night.
The silk production and export was the result of the impressive mansions being built in the area which are here to remind us of the prominent past. We sat down for lunch at a traditional local taverna called O Patis, with stone walls and decorative items highlighting the historical past.
Unlike in Lesvos where they are famous for their ouzo culture, the locals of Pelion enjoy their tsipouro which is accompanied by a selection of meze. The meze dishes we sampled here were different, more filling to keep the body warm during the colder months.
We tried a delicious potato salad, mushroom dish, spetsofai which is made of sausages, tomatoes and peppers, beans, and greens which I have never seen or tried before called tsitsiravla. They are a specialty in Pelion, served with garlic and sprinkled with vinegar. You must definitely try this delicacy if you find yourself in Pelion.
After lunch we walked towards the central square of Zagora together with Sakis of the Hotel Owners Association of Magnesia and took some photos in the big plane tree which is located right in the heart of the Agios Georgios square.
Chania Ski Resort and Manthos Hotel
As we left Zagora we headed towards the Agriolefkes Mountain passing through a snow covered landscape which seemed surreal as only just earlier we were standing on the shores of the Aegean Sea.
The Pelion Ski Center is located 2 kilometers from the nearest village of Chania. In the heart of the village settled between the mountains and the sea lies the Manthos Hotel Resort & Spa which is run by my college friend Katerina Kefala and her family.
In Greece there is a tradition to cut a cake called Vasilopita to bless the house and to bring good luck in the new year. The cozy resort with a dream like winter wonderland setting was the perfect place to cut our Travel Bloggers Greece Vasilopita.
After our relaxing coffee break we headed back towards Tsagarada, making a short stop at the village of Kissos, the highest located village west of Pelion.
When we reached Kissos it was already dark. Some of the local villagers were tucked away in their homes and the local tavernas, watching TV and catching up on their daily news.
We went to see the Basilica church of Agia Marina which was built in the 17th century under the Turkish occupation in Greece. Inside the church is decorated with beautiful frescoes and wooden carved iconostases.
Where to Stay
Aglaida Apartments Hotel is located in the village of Agia Kyriaki in Tsagarada, 5 kilometers from the center. The hotel features a total of 33 guestrooms which are two-storey guesthouses.
The types of accommodation available: single, double and suites. The hotel operates all year round. We stayed in a double room with a separate bedroom, living room with a kitchen and bathroom.
The trip was organised by Spyrou Philoxenia a hotel marketing company specializing in holiday making services in Greece.
Have you been to Pelion? What did you like most about the region?