Introducing Pelion – A Greek Island Alternative in Mama Mia’s Greece
It turns out Pelion is well known to European and Greek tourists, but North Americans tend to frequent the more popular Greek Islands I mentioned above.
It was near the end of the season so it was very quiet and relaxing. Yet it was sunny, warm and beautiful.
I’m glad we gave this area a try because we loved it.
Volos Greece – Jumping off Point to Pelion
Our tour of Pelion began in the city of Volos.
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.
Jason and the Argonauts
Fast Fact: Did you know that Volos was home to Jason and the Argonauts? If you love Greek Mythology, this is a must stop!
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.
So where does Mama Mia fit in you ask?
Well, it all starts up the mountains.
Pelion is considered one of Greece’s most beautiful mountains and is a perfect spot for adventure lovers.
Our guide Dimitris of Discover Pelion was on hand to give us information about the area and his home and native land.
Like many companies in Greece, Discover Pelion is a family run business that offers unparalleled customer service.
Village of Kissos
We started with a visit to the traditional village of Kissos located halfway up the mountain.
This picturesque village is located up the steep terraces of Mount Pelion 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.
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
It’s an easy hike down the path to the port of Dommouchari with magnificent views of the Aegean coast.
Pelion 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.
You will recognize the scenes from the dock when Meryl Streep’s friends arrive. Plus any other time the cast is down by the water.
Dommouchari is as picturesque as it is in the movies, and locals are capitalizing on the Mama Mia craze.
You can now get married just like Mama Mia in Dommouchari. And Dimitris of Visit Pelion will help you out with your wedding plans.
We took our own boat tour of the area and if the seas were calmer, we would have loved to kayak out to visit Fakistra Cave and the spring in Saint Athanasios.
Damouchari is a typical Greek fishing village with an attractive beach, seaside cafés and guesthouses.
Since we were traveling with Discover Pelion, we had a trip already organized a ride back to our car in Tsangarada.
Shuttle Service for Tourists
Dimitris and other local tour companies have 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 and 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.
We enjoyed the ride back taking in the stunning coastal views.
Things to do in Pelion
We didn” go back to Volos after our trip to Damouchari and instead stayed in East Pelion to explore more of the mountain villages.
Our accommodation tonight was in a beautiful yoga retreat in Tsaragada overlooking the bay that remained our home base for the next two days.
Pelion was meant to be enjoyed outdoors.
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.
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 Taxiarhe to Milies.
It’s one of the narrowest lines in the world with the track running at only 60 cm wide.
Milies is yet another picturesque village with cobblestone streets and old museums. It houses one of the oldest libraries in Greece and a museum of folk art.
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.
‘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 Pelion are as generous as they are friendly.
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.