Pelion (Πήλιο) in Greece is a unique destination for all seasons. It is the perfect combination of mountain and sea, beautiful traditional villages (with special and characteristic architecture), a rich natural landscape and also beaches of unique natural beauty. Therefore, it is logical to be a popular tourist destination all year round. In this article, we present a road trip in the southern part of the Pelion peninsula, starting from Argalasti and ending in the southernmost settlement of the mountain, Agia Kyriaki. The South Pelion (Νότιο Πήλιο) is a relatively lesser-known region of the mountain that combines the quiet side of the Pagasitic Gulf with the wild beauty of the Aegean coast.
Our first stop is Argalasti, a village with important history and unique architecture. The bell tower of the church of Agioi Apostoloi (Άγιοι Απόστολοι), which is an exact replica of the bell tower of Agia Fotini in Smyrna in Minor Asia, is an exceptional example of early twentieth-century local architecture. It was built in 1913 from marble and has two Russian bells and a Swiss watch. In the warm and hospitable square of the village is the preserved building of the Girls’ School (Parthenagogio/Παρθεναγωγείο), whose director at the beginning of the 20th century was the poet Kostas Varnalis. Beyond the square, a walk in the alleys is imperative if you want to admire the traditional houses (on many walls you can see built-in ancient and mediaeval architectural elements). Finally, in the square, you can find unique local products and wines at reasonable prices at the grocery Rodi (Το Ρόδι), which has been in operation since 1945.
Just nine kilometres after Argalasti, we reach the impressive village of Lafkos, a hidden jewel of Pelion with a unique view of the Pagasitic Gulf. The village has unique architecture and a beautiful square with large plane trees that offer coolness at all hours of the day. The famous Cafe Forlida (Καφενείο Φορλίδα) is located in the square. It is the oldest surviving cafe in Greece that has been operating continuously at the same point since 1785. Its dark interior, with successive layers of paint on the walls, has hosted, during its long history, important personalities, such as the writer Alexandros Papadiamantis. But the surprises do not stop here. A few metres from the square is the traditional Lafkos Bakery (Αρτοποιείο Λαύκος), which is housed in a building that is said to have been built by the famous architect Evaristo De Chirico. The furnace of the bakery is unique in its kind and the last one that exists in Pelion. But no visit to Lafkos is complete if you do not eat in one of the taverns in the square, Pegasus (Πήγασος) or Drosia (Δροσιά). These are two of the best taverns in Greece, at a distance of a few metres from each other. Unique Greek cuisine, perfectly cooked meats and traditional dishes with local ingredients produce a delicious result that you will hardly forget.
For the next stop of our trip, we go a few kilometres back, and then we take the short but winding road to find ourselves in the seaside village of Chorto. The village has a peaceful and welcoming atmosphere and is surrounded by olive groves that extend all the way to the sea. A secret worth discovering is a series of small bays with green waters and trees that reach the sea. The most impressive of these beaches is Vathia Spilia (Βαθειά Σπηλιά), which is always peaceful while also being impressive with rock formations at both ends of the coast.
Built near the ruins of an ancient city, Milina is our next stop and the most popular destination in South Pelion. Almost the whole village is built along the sea and has a unique view of the Pagasitic Gulf and the opposite islets. The village, although in summer it has many visitors, always manages to maintain its calm atmosphere. In the main street of Milina you will find several places for food, but among them, we can unreservedly recommend the fish tavern, Favios (Φάβιος), for delicious appetisers and fish, and the cafe Triliza (Τρίλιζα) for original, freshly made sweets and desserts.
PALAIO TRIKERI (ΠΑΛΑΙΟ ΤΡΙΚΕΡΙ)
From Milina, we continue our road trip by following the coastal route in a green environment with continuous quiet bays and small picturesque settlements, such as the much-photographed Tzasteni (Τζάστενη) [photo at the top]. After 33 kilometres, we reach Alogoporos (Αλογόπορος), where we board a sea taxi that takes us to the historic Palaio Trikeri, the only inhabited island in the Pagasitic Gulf. The island is very small and completely flat. Its highest point is 129 meters, which is home to the Monastery of Evangelistria (Μονή Ευαγγελίστριας). From the outside, the monastery looks like a fortress, and it was built between 1825 and 1837. From 1948 to 1953, the monastery housed more than 5,000 women political exiles who were persecuted for their political views. The island has no cars, so everywhere you have to go on foot. Aside from the settlement of Agios Ioannis (Άγιος Ιωάννης) in the port and the monastery, there are three very beautiful beaches on the island that are easily accessible by foot (the most beautiful of which is Green Beach/Prasini Paralia (Πράσινη Παραλία) with its characteristic greenish sand).
TRIKERI & AGIA KYRIAKI (ΤΡΙΚΕΡΙ & ΑΓΙΑ ΚΥΡΙΑΚΗ)
We return by sea taxi to the opposite coast, with our next stop being the village of Trikeri (Τρίκερι). This village, with its rich naval tradition, was founded in the 18th century when the inhabitants of the island left their homes and settled here to avoid constant pirate raids. A walk in the village in the alleys around the main square reveals the mansions of the old captains and merchants of Trikeri, who played an important role in the economy of the newly formed Greek State. The village also has a long tradition of sponge fishing that brought a lot of income to the families of the village but also had a significant value in human lives.
We leave the village and proceed to the sea and the small enchanting settlement of Agia Kyriaki (Αγία Κυριακή), which served as Trikeri’s port. Entering Agia Kyriaki, we see the impressive boatyard (one of the last traditional boatyards that still operates in Greece). After parking our car, we take a walk in the small fishing village with houses painted white and blue, and we think that we have been transferred to an island in the Cyclades. And of course, we can not leave Agia Kyriaki without trying the famous crayfish spaghetti. There are several good taverns in Agia Kyriaki, but we suggest eating at Mouragio (Μουράγιο). Come to this cosy balcony by sea to enjoy delicious food and authentic hospitality. The owners are permanent residents of the village (the tavern is the only one that operates all year round), seafarers, hospitable and with an innate kindness. The portions are all rich and well cooked, but the star here is the crayfish spaghetti, delicious and at a price, you will not believe.
THE AEGEAN SIDE OF SOUTH PELION
But South Pelion does not only have this side. The villages and beaches on the side of the Pagasitic Gulf have a unique tranquillity, but the Aegean side of this part of Pelion is more adventurous and has a wild beauty. In the centre of this side is the mountainous traditional village of Promyri (Προμύρι), which is a typical example of the architecture of Pelion, with houses built of stone and with the characteristic slate roofs. Platanias (Πλατανίας) and Katigiorgis (Κατηγιώργης) are the most popular coastal villages on this side. The first one is an organised holiday resort with many hotels and taverns, while the second is a cluster of traditional buildings on a sheltered sandy cove. A handful of taverns serve seafood and regional specialities, while a small shop provides everyday essentials. The two villages also connect by boat Pelion with the island of Skiathos. From the Aegean beaches, we prefer Potistika (Ποτιστικά) and Paltsi (Πάλτση), both long sandy beaches with deep blue waters and usually big waves. They are both well organised, with good facilities and a few taverns.
This is our South Pelion road trip. A trip that connects two seas, gorgeous historical villages, breathtaking beaches, an island, and some incredible taverns. It is undoubtedly a part of Greece worth exploring, a place that has managed to retain its originality despite its tourist development.