Geological marvels (Meteora), majestic mountains and villages (Pelion), famous rivers (the Pineios) and a multitude of gorges, valleys, lakes and beaches… Thessaly and the Sporades islands have it all.
From the cities of Volos and Larissa, to the natural wonders of Lake Plastira, Tempi and Elati-Pertouli, and on to the islands of Skiathos, Skopelos and Alonissos, prepare for a wonderful journey through the heartland of Greece.
Top attractions in Thessaly and the Sporades
- Meteora: Το nature’s masterpieces, people have added their own. The largest, most important monastic community in Greece, after Mount Athos, the Meteora monasteries are built in seemingly impossible locations at the top of the evocative meteoric rocks of Thessaly.
- Volos: Volos’ colourful waterfront is a gourmand’s delight, with its many eateries, including early industrial buildings transformed into multi-purpose centres that offer dozens of dining and entertainment choices. But don’t overlook the city’s museums and the archaeological sites of Dimino and Sesklo.
- Larissa: One of Greece’s most important cities lies on both banks of the Pineios River, where you will find attractions such as famous ancient theatres and the acropolis on the hill of Agios Achillios.
- Tempi: At Tempi, the Pineios River carves a narrow gorge between Mt Olympus and Mt Ossa. Nearby Ambelakia is famous for its listed grand houses.
- Pelion: A favourite destination in Greece, with its fine traditional architecture, untouched villages, bridges, old fountains, grand houses and the narrow Moutzouris railway. The villages of Makrinitsa, Zagora, Tsagkarada, Mouresi, Kissos, Vyzitsa and Milies stand out.
- Lake Plastira: A natural wonderland in which to relax and enjoy various sports and outdoor activities.
- Elati & Pertouli: An ideal year-round destination in an area of rare beauty in the southern Pindos mountain range.
- The Sporades: Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos – three lush green islands with wonderful beaches. Skiathos is home to Koukounaries, one of the most beautiful beaches in the area, and Skopelos is where “Mamma Mia” was filmed. On Alonissos’ hiking trails, you will explore the beauty of unspoiled nature and, around it, the Sporades islands’ famous marine park.
Enjoy the sea and sand, alone or with company
It might be on the mainland, but Pelion boasts a number of popular beaches, with a choice of sand or white pebbles to go with the clear water. Some of the best are Horefto, Ai Ioannis, Papa Nero, Damouhari, Fakistra and from Mylopotamos to Potistika on the southern coastline. In the Sporades, you will find beaches whose reputation precedes them – such as Koukounaries and magical Lalaria on Skiathos, and Kastani, Panormos, Milia, Stafylos and Velanio on evergreen Skopelos, and Agios Dimitrios, the star of Alonissos.
Hiking, canyoning, water sports and snow skiing
Walking along the old stone paths of Pelion, you will explore villages and monasteries, and cross fertile forests and stone bridges. And hiking in the vicinity of Meteora offers once-in-a-lifetime views. Kissavos is the ideal choice for off-road experiences, as well as mountain biking and canyoning (the Kalypsous Gorge and its cascades). Beaches in Agiokampos, Pelion and the Sporades are ideal for all kind of water sports. While the calm waters of the Pagasitic Gulf south of Pelion are suitable for sailing and kayaking. Choose the popular ski resort of Pelion to enjoy incredible views during winter, and Lake Plastira for dozens of exciting activities (horseback-riding, cycling, canoeing, rowing and more). Off-roaders will enjoy the tracks around northern Pelion, Tsagarada and Kissos. One very special experience is crossing the Agrafa next to the river, while the mountain trails above Nafpaktos drawn comparisons with Switzerland.
Local culinary wonders
Thessaly offers a wide range of local delicacies, from homemade trahana soup (sometimes even for breakfast), in the mountain villages during winter to pies of various kinds throughout the year. In Pelion, especially in Zagora and Portaria, women’s cooperatives produce various sweets that you can buy, while in the tavernas you might try the spetsofai (sausage sauteed with peppers) and galotyri, a creamy curd cheese. At the tsipouro joints of Volos, you’ll be initiated into the tsipouro ceremony, which involves downing many little glasses of the fiery liquor, tempered by lots of small plates of mezedes. And in Larissa and Trikala, you will savour delicious cheeses, such as kasseri, kefalograviera and graviera.