Pelion Greece – Visiting the Unknown Paradise of Greece

Written By: The Planet D

Looking for the Greek Island experience without all the crowds? Well, look no further than Pelion Greece. It’s the Greece of Mama Mia! When watching Mama Mia, I fell in love with the island paradise where Meryl Streep ran her crumbling hotel. “Where is this?” I asked myself.   

I thought Mama Mia was filmed in one of the southern Greek Islands like Crete or Mykonos. It turns out Mama Mia was filmed on the mainland in the Pelion Peninsula on the Aegean Sea.

Pelion Greece

pelion greece
Pelion, Greece

I had never even heard of Pelion Greece and I am not alone. Most foreign tourists, don’t know of it yet. It is a region of Greece that is often visited by Greek locals and Eastern Europeans, but the West has yet to discover this little slice of paradise.

Most European and North American tourists tend to frequent the more popular Greek Islands like Santorini.

Pelion is an absolutely beautiful location without the hoards of tourists that flock to the other islands and beaches. So instead of the usual, make sure to visit Pelion on your next visit to Greece!

Where is Pelion?

Pelion is located on the Pelion Peninsula. It is a five-hour scenic drive north of Athens en route to another major Greek City, Thessaloniki. We highly recommend renting a car in Athens and hitting the open road.

Road Trip to Pelion Greece

Our cool ride through Pelion, Greece
Our cool ride through Pelion, Gre ece

Car rentals are affordable in Greece and there is no better way to explore a country than by self-driving. You get to see so much more of the scenery and you get to meet the locals.

The drive along the Pelion Peninsula is very scenic so be sure to give yourself a bit of time to take in the views. The mountain scenery weaves along the coast showcasing beautiful beaches.

We loved driving up the coast of Greece from Athens to the Pelion Peninsula and highly recommend it for your trip to Greece.

About Pelion Greece

pelion beach

Located on the East Coast of Greece, Pelion is a surprisingly mountainous region jutting up from the Aegean Sea. Located between Athens and Thessaloniki it is filled with picturesuqe villages that you must visit including Tsagarada, Makrinitsa, and Milies.

There are many things to do in Pelion especially exploring the great outdoors. It was near the end of the season so it was very quiet while we explored the Pelion Peninsula, so it was nice and relaxing. Yet it was sunny, warm and beautiful.

Things to do in Pelion, Greece

Pelion was meant to be enjoyed outdoors. The mountains offer gorgeous views and hikes take you through olive gardens and farmland.

Our accommodation was in a beautiful yoga retreat in Tsaragada overlooking the bay. It was a good central location to be able to take part in many adventures.

Horseback Riding

horseback riding in pelion greece

A highlight for us was taking a ride on horseback through the countryside on horseback.

There are several different route options and on one you can ride your horse all the way down to the beach.

Discover Pelion can arrange the ride of your choice complete with pickup at your hotel.

Steam Train

pelion steam train

After our horseback ride, we made our way to Milies which is the end-point of the steam train of Pelion. The train runs through the summer up from the Pelion villages of Taxiarhe to Milies.

It’s one of the narrowest lines in the world with the track running at only 60 cm wide.

Milies Village

Ready for some great Greek food?

Milies is a picturesque village with cobblestone streets and old museums. It houses one of the oldest libraries in Greece and a museum of folk art.

‘Don’t be surprised when you sit down at a restaurant and two complimentary shots of Tsipouro (Greek liquorice liquor) are placed on the table for you to savour.

You may also find yourself leaving with gifts of fruit preserves and dessert. The people of the Pelion Peninsula are as generous as they are friendly.

Volos Greece – Jumping off Point to Pelion

volos greece waterfront boats lined at dock

Volos is a beautiful coastal city that is fast becoming a popular stop on the cruise route.

It’s not nearly as crowded as the other Greek ports so you will have the opportunity to get a true feeling of local Greek life.

There are no direct flights to Pelion from Athens but there are several direct flights to Volos from different hubs in Europe.

Jason and the Argonauts

jason and the argonauts ship in volos greece

Did you know that Volos was home to Jason and the Argonauts? If you love Greek Mythology, this is a must stop!

There is a replica of the ship in the harbour and you can imagine the Greek Gods looking down while playing their game of chess with the mortals lives here.

We stayed at the Domotel Xenia Volos which was located directly on the water.

It made for a great resort stay and home base to explore the area. It was all about the food here and you can stroll the waterfront looking for the perfect Greek meal.

Village of Kissos

Hanging out with our awesome Guides in Pelion village of Kissos

A highlight was visiting the traditional village of Kissos located halfway up Mount Pelion.

Mount Pelion is considered one of Greece’s most beautiful mountains and is a perfect spot for adventure lovers.

This picturesque village is located up the steep terraces of the mountain and is worth a stroll along the cobbled streets to the square where you can peruse the basilica church of Agia Marina built-in 1650.

Tsagkarada Village

pelion travel greece

As you continue to weave through the mountain road, the next stop takes you to Tsagkarada.

Each village of Pelion has a beautiful square housing ancient platan trees (plane tree) that grow wide creating a pleasant shaded area to enjoy food and drink.

One thing I love about Greece is the outdoor dining and we enjoyed a feast in Tsagkarada complete with Greek appetizers and main dishes

The Greeks are generous souls and the food keeps on coming until you can barely move.

Hiking in Pelion

hiking in pelion greece

There are plenty of hiking trails in Pelion that takes you through villages showcasing traditional Pelian architecture with huge trees in the centre of village squares.

What is the Pagasetic Gulf you ask, well, look at the photo above and see that round gulf? It is formed by Mount Pelion where Deb is standing.

They also have many trails lining the coast of the Pagasetic Gulf. There are several villages scattered throughout Mount Pelion and we hiked from village to village. It’s an easy hike down the path to the port of Dommouchari with magnificent views of the Aegean coast.

The Pelion Peninsula is famous for hiking and this hike doesn’t disappoint. When you get to the bottom along the coast, it all suddenly looks familiar.

Have I seen this picturesque harbor before? I think I recognize these painted blue buildings. Sure enough, this is where Mama Mia took place.

Mama Mia and Pelion Greece

You will recognize the scenes from the dock when Meryl Streep’s friends arrive. Plus any other times the cast is down by the water. Many of the tour companies have capitalized on Mama Mia and you can tour many of the spots showcased in the film.

Dommouchari Beach

The Seaside village of Pelion where Mama Mia was filmed

Damouchari is a typical Greek fishing village with an attractive beach, seaside cafés, and guesthouses. Dommouchari Beach is as picturesque as it is in the movies.

You can now get married just like Mama Mia in Dommouchari. And local tour companies will help you with your wedding plans.

Fakistra Cave

pelion greece view

We took our own boat tour of the area to view the mountain from the water. You can also kayak out to visit Fakistra Cave but the seas were quite rough so we stuck to a boat tour.

Monasteries of Pelion Greece

pelion monastery

Pelion was the summer escape of the Gods. When hiking in Pelion, go the Chapel of Saint Athanasios of Athonite.

Located in the village of Tsgarda, this chapel is located at an altitude of 820 metres and is considered one of the most picturesque spots in all of Pelion.

Sadly it was closed during our visit, but all the more reason to come back!

Agios Ioannis

Pelion is filled with some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. agios ioannis is is the most popular beach in Pelion in the village of Magnesia on Skopelos. Other beaches in the regions are Mylopotamos, Fakistra and Agios Ioannis.

A visit to agios ioannis is a must if you are looking for that perfect beach holiday. It is 52km from Volos, but there are plenty of places to stay to make the most of your time.

Skopelos

Located in the Pelion Peninsula, Skopelos is a Greek Island escape without the crowds.

You can catch a ferry to this Skopelos and make sure to spend a few days here. We took our rental car over and had an incredible time explore a Greek Isle without the crowds.

Pelion Shuttle Service for Tourists

pelion shuttle service for tourists

Our guide Dimitris put together a genius service for tourists. Tour busses run from village to village giving rides back to different squares.

The villages of Pelion are quite spread out.

If this service wasn’t offered, the only way for tourists to get around would be to hire their own car, take pricey taxis, or stay put where they are.

Pelion is a beautiful destination that gives visitors to Greece a glimpse into local life. While places like Crete and Santorini cater only to tourists, in Pelion you slow down and immerse in local living.

So open yourself up to their hospitality, be prepared to explore and change your plans and you will come away with new friends and memories of a different Greece that still appreciates tradition, warmth and kindness.

Map of Pelion Locations

Planning your own trip to Pelion? Here are the important websites to help you get started. 

Pelion Greece Resources

Have you been to the Pelion Peninsula , How did you like it?

Read more about travel in Greece:

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About The Planet D

Dave Bouskill and Debra Corbeil are the owners and founders of The Planet D. After traveling to 115 countries, on all 7 continents over the past 13 years they have become one of the foremost experts in travel. Being recognized as top travel bloggers and influencers by the likes of Forbes Magazine, the Society of American Travel Writers and USA Today has allowed them to become leaders in their field.

Leave a Comment

16 thoughts on “Pelion Greece – Visiting the Unknown Paradise of Greece”

  1. There are so many great places in Greece that it can be hard to choose. Pelion is a good choice, especially since there are some great things to see and do here!

    Reply
    • I was referring to the Greek Island of Mama Mia. How Pelion represented a Greek Island. But you are correct, I should have been clearer in the title. I will fix that.

      Reply
  2. Pelion is full of nature beauty and i love it.it is one of the best places in Greece.Thanks for sharing nice pics and article about Pelion.

    Reply
  3. Hi. Mamma Mia was also filmed on Skiathos and Skopelos (chiefly), and on neighboring Evvia itself! In fact, Skopelos bills itself as “Mamma Mia” island, the church chapel and beach with the bar are there. My cousins life there, and I’ve written about the Skopelos connection to the film, as have major UK newspapers. Regardless, these are all breathtaking locations! Yiasou!

    Reply
  4. Wonderful read. I too always wondered where Mama Mia was filmed.
    Love all the details that you have mentioned, very helpful.

    Reply
  5. Incredibly beautiful region. Been there, travelled around with a rented car. Will never forget these days of freedom and strong sunshine! Greek food is awesome by the way, I lost weight while eating very well. 🙂

    Reply
  6. A terrific introduction to an area rich in history and natural beauty. Next try hidden and unexpected South Pelion for an even more authentic Greek experience and sunsets described as ‘better than Santorini’!

    Reply
    • Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it and I agree. I love the Mediterranean l lifestyle. They seem to have the joy of life figured out.

      Reply