Destination Spotlight: Volos

A dynamic and charming coastal port city, Volos is located on mainland Greece and embraces both the Pagasetic Gulf and the Pelion Peninsula. 

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The homeland of Jason and the Argonauts, Volos is a mythical destination and a modern city that’s surrounded by natural wonders and stunning scenery. It’s a buzzing port town that sits at the foot of Mount Pelion, overlooks the Pagasetic Gulf, and is the gateway to the magnificent cliff-top monasteries of Meteora. Volos is also filled with mystifying archaeological sites, interesting museums and stunning beaches, so it offers everything you need for an exciting or relaxing day in port.

 

Situated in Thessaly on the Greek mainland, Volos is one of Greece’s most beautiful cities, decorated by traditional and contemporary architecture, urban mansions, old-fashioned neighborhoods and splendid churches. The port of Volos is very active and the city itself has been transformed into a pleasant university town with plenty of shops, bars, cafes and restaurants. If you’re visiting Volos for the first time, a good place to start is Argonauts Avenue, a pretty promenade that runs along the port and leads to a replica of Jason and the Argonauts ancient Argo ship. As you follow the paved walkway around the seafront, you’ll spot lots of yachts and colorful fishing boats and you’ll come across some of the best tsipouradika tavernas in the city.

Volos is famous for the tsipouradika, little eateries that serve a selection of small plates with tiny bottles of tsipouro - a strong distilled spirit and a popular Greek drink. The city is home to around 600 tsipouadika that offer many varieties of tsipouro paired with delicious meze, including fried seafood, pastrami, olives, meatballs, salted fish, strong cheese, pickled vegetables, smoked red peppers and stuffed vine leaves. You don’t order the food. You just order the tsipouro and let your server know if you want your drink with or without anise flavor. When served, your bottle of tsipouro is accompanied by two or three tasty small plates. A more elaborate batch of meze is bought to your table each time you order more tsipouro, meaning every course is different and a little more complex than the last.

 

Home to fascinating exhibits, the Archaeological Museum of Volos is a must-see attraction that was built in 1909 and is set in a beautiful rose garden. Many of the objects on display were discovered in the early 20th century or during modern excavations in Thessaly, with some of the earliest finds from the settlements of Dimini and Sesklo. It’s a great place to go to learn more about the region’s history and to see incredible collections from the Neolithic era to the Roman times, such as coins, jewelry, gold artifacts, tools, weapons and household utensils. Other exhibits include rare grave stelae, statues and ancient tombs that are exposed as found with human skeletons.

As one of the few buildings that stayed untouched after the devastating earthquake in the 1950s, the Historic Railway Station of Volos is well worth a visit. Boasting neoclassical architecture and a stunning roof with wooden decoration, the station was designed by Italian engineer Evaristo De Chirico and completed in 1884. When here, make your way to the first floor of the building and you’ll discover the Railway Museum of Thessaly, which houses numerous exhibits, including old photos, telegraphs, uniforms, engine parts and ticket machines that showcase the station’s history.

 

Since Volos is the closest big city to Mount Pelion, you can discover the natural paradise of Pelion with a journey into the hills and picturesque villages. Considered by many to be the most stunning region of Greece, Pelion feels like a mythical wonderland with wild vegetation, olive groves, plane trees, hidden valleys, waterfalls, dense forests and gorgeous beaches.

The mountain villages are the real gems of Pelion and, regardless of which ones you visit, you’ll find beauty everywhere. Makrinitsa is known as the ‘balcony of Mount Pelion’ because it’s located 700m above sea level and overlooks the entire gulf of Volos, and then there’s Tsangarada village with its narrow cobblestone streets, 1000-year-old plane tree and spectacular views of the Aegean Sea. The villages of Portaria, Zagora, Vyzitsa and Milies are also among the most delightful in the area. If you prefer relaxing beach days, head to the eastern side of the peninsula for the most exotic beaches, including Fakistra, Horefto, Papa Nero Agios Ioannis and Mylopotas. And if you’re a fan of the Mamma Mia movie, go to the coast of Damouchari, the location where the ‘Dancing Queen’ scene was filmed.

 

With its extraordinary rock formations and impressive cliff-top monasteries, the Meteroa region is yet another unmissable attraction. Thousands of tourists flock to this place every year, attracted by the unique landscape of the area and the huge protruding rocks that reach up to 400 meters in height. Meteora - meaning ‘suspended in air’ – is a UNESCO-listed complex that offers a glimpse into monastic life and has fantastic hiking and rock climbing networks, as well the peaceful village of Kastraki. Today, only six of the historical monasteries are open to the public, and the quickest and easiest way to get to Meteora and see the magnificent monasteries is to take an excursion from Volos.

What’s amazing is that the six open monasteries are still active places of worship with monks or nuns, so you must be respectful and adhere to the dress code. Women should wear long skirts or dresses below the knees, men should be dressed in long pants, and sleeveless shirts are not allowed. Don’t worry too much if you aren’t dressed appropriately because skirts and trousers are provided at the entrance to the monasteries. Dating back to the 11th century, the spectacular monasteries of Meteora can be reached by staircases cut into the rocks, and trust us when we say the breathtaking views from the top are well worth the climb!

 

Want to visit one of the largest and most attractive cities in Greece? Then now is the time to book your cruise to the vibrant city of Volos.