Little wonder that the ancient gods chose Pelion – home of the Centaurs (Kentavros) – as the place for their weddings and celebrations; for here is a near-perfect synthesis of mountain, forest and sea.
Fresh and green year-round, the peninsula is dominated by mountains reaching a height of some 1600 metres and covered with pine, oak, fir, plane and chestnut. Views are dramatic, particularly on the northeast where mountains plunge dizzily to the sea. the western side is gentler – its hills covered with olive trees and shrubs – yet still remarkably attractive.
Pelion’s preserved mountain villages are a joy. Clinging to wooded slopes high above the sea, they share a unique architectural tradition and are amongst the most beautiful in Greece. The old stone-built mansions, with their grey slate roofs and overhanging balconies, blend with their surroundings. Often the only sounds are a babbling brook or birdsong. Everywhere are trees, shrubs, plants and flowers.
The coastline hides some excellent beaches, often of a coarse sand/fine shingle which makes for excellent swimming in clear water. Foreign tourism is still fairly undeveloped, and the small seaside villages – quiet for most of the year, busy over weekends and local holiday periods – remain reassuringly Greek!
Because Pelion is still pretty virgin territory it does not have the touristic infrastructure of more established areas. ATMs can be hard to find away from Volos (although all shops and tavernas should now accept payment by credit and debit cards), the bus service limited and English not universally spoken. Excursions are also limited and run only subject to numbers from Kala Nera and Afissos.
With all this in mind we feel that a car is essential, especially for those staying in the smaller, more remote villages, and so include it in the cost of our holidays other than those to Kala Nera. If you don’t mind some very winding roads, it would be a pity not to discover the whole of Pelion. Even Meteora and Delphi are within reach.
A visit to Pelion will refresh the palate of even the most frequent Greek traveller. It did ours, and that takes some doing!