Volos is the capital of the Magnesia region of ancient Thessaly. This coastal city, tucked away on the coast of the Pagasetic Gulf, is Greece’s third largest port and features an industrial heritage to match. In 1955, an earthquake destroyed much of the city but today there are still a lot of things to do in Volos with its rich history, mythology, and there is a wealth of nature to explore right on its doorstep. As well as a plenty of local food to sample and nearby beaches to discover, Volos is also considered the gateway to Mount Pelion – the homeland of Centaurs.
Athens to Volos
Nea Anchialos Airport is located 40 kilometres from Volos and it takes around 30 minutes to drive from there into the centre of town. There are not usually flights from Athens but rather from international destinations like London, Munich and Dusseldorf. There are often seasonal connections between Crete with Sky Express too.
From Athens, the main options are either by road or rail.
Drive time from Athens is 3-4 hours depending on any stops – we highly recommend the Thermopylae Battle site and the nearby hot springs. It’s an easy drive on modern highways, with some tolls.
Buses to Volos leave several times a day from Liosia Station on the corner of Sekeri and Zachou Streets. The journey takes about 4 hours.
Private tours and cruises to Volos
If you’re pressed for time and would like to see more of the wonders of the Mainland there are some good tours that include Volos.
The Oh My Goddess tour is operated by Globus and covers Athens, Delphi, Galaxidi, Volos and Thermopylae over 8 days, including accommodation, Guides, meals and transport.
Another excellent tour that focuses on locations nearby is Walking the Pelion, a self-guided hiking trip that takes in several incredible destinations on the Pelion Peninsula, including Tasgarada and Volos, before ending in Portaria. Again this includes accommodation and meals as well as route maps and luggage transfer.
Where to stay in Volos
There are a number of great hotels in Volos, that are really tremendous value too compared to so many cities in Europe.
Domotel Xenia Volos is the premier 5star hotel in the city and is located right on the waterfront, with its own beach. The hotel has a fantastic day spa, huge swimming pool and is a short walk into the shops and restaurants in town.
A few blocks back from the harbour is the unusually named δ193 which has spacious modern rooms at very reasonable prices.
If you’re looking for a self-catering option that can sleep 5 people then this 2-bedroom apartment is right in the centre of town and has 2 bathrooms.
Things to do in Volos
The Museum of the City of Volos
Located inside a former tobacco warehouse in the Palia district, this polished museum offers up an insight into the story of the city of Volos.
The structure itself was originally built in 1920, but astoundingly includes part of the city’s old walls in its courtyard. The well-curated museum leads visitors through the story of Volos, from the Byzantines through the turbulent 19th century to the modern day.
The ground floor showcases exhibitions that change throughout the year, while the second floor chronologically lays out the development of the city.
A particularly interesting part covers the 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey. There’s also an onsite coffee shop for refreshments.
Open: Tuesday – Sunday 10:30 – 13:30 Wednesday & Friday 18: 00-21: 00
Cost: General admission 2 € Group ticket (over 5 persons) 1€ Guided tours 1€ per person
Further reading – see Official Website
Saint Konstantinos Park
Saint Konstantinos Park is the main green space in Volos and can be found nestled along the waterfront next to the University of Thessaly.
This is a relaxed place to enjoy a stroll with the locals; there’s plenty of space to wander, trees shading the paths, and benches to perch on. The atmosphere is vibrant, with many students from the adjacent university spending time unwinding in this park.
Saint Konstantinos Park is also a good venue to watch a sunset. Several nearby cafes are open late into the evening, providing a spot to regroup before seeking out something for dinner.
Visit Lake Karla
Around a 40-minute drive outside Volos proper, Lake Karla is an ideal opportunity to explore the natural world within striking distance of the city.
Situated 60-80 meters (200-260 feet) above sea level, Lake Karla was originally a natural lake that was drained for farming and later re-established.
Along with stunning views, several trails to hike, and some good birding opportunities, a visit to Lake Karla also provides an interesting insight into rural life in Greece.
In addition, the area is hardly touched by tourism, which makes it a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
According to Greek mythology, the god Apollo was married on the shores of the lake and is the place where the Argonauts set out on their journey to find the golden fleece.
Neolithic Settlement of Dimini
You’re never too far from ancient history in Greece and the same goes for Volos.
In this instance, what remains of a Neolithic settlement discovered in the late 19th century can be found a mere 15-minute drive west of the city. The site was continuously occupied from the Neolithic period (around 4300 to 2000 BC) through the Mycenaean era (around 1750 to 1050 BC).
This well-preserved village is a compelling place to explore, where visitors can learn about how the residents of this ancient place lived, thanks to many artifacts of the Dimini culture on display. With excavations ongoing, there are yet more secrets to discover at the site.
The Entomological Museum
This more off-the-beaten-track destination in Volos is the only one of its kind in Greece – a museum dedicated to insects, that is.
It’s also the largest of its kind in the Balkans region. Opened in 1987, Volos’ very own Entomological Museum was masterminded by Athanasios Koutroubas, a professor of agriculture.
Today the museum contains 35,000 different variations of insect species, many of which are unique or rare. The diversity of the entomological specimens collected here spans the globe from the Amazon Rainforest to Southeast Asia.
One of the most impressive exhibits is that of the Lepidoptera, which features over 10,000 different sub-species of butterflies and moths, including the world’s largest butterfly, Thysania agrippina, boasting a wingspan of 40 centimeters.
Open: By Appointment Only ( phone 2421 048556)
The Athanasakio Archeological Museum
To explore the ancient past of Volos, the Athanasakio Archeological Museum is the place to go.
Set inside a Neoclassical building completed in 1909, the museum was funded by Alexis Athanassaki, who was from the nearby village of Portaria. It is one of the oldest Museums in Greece.
Inside, the museum features eight different exhibition spaces which host collections that have been found in the Thessaly region as well as elsewhere in the ancient Greek world. Exhibits include a Neolithic haul, a gold jewelry collection, and a number of coins from ancient Thessaly. You will find the museum located along the seafront in Anavros Park.
The Church of Saints Constantine and Helena
Dedicated to the Roman Emperor Constantine – the first to convert to Christianity – and his mother, Helena, this picturesque church is situated right on the waterfront, on the site where an ancient stone iconostasis (a wall inscribed with Christian iconography) was found.
This was considered evidence of the existence of an older church that may have stood on the same spot.
Subsequently, a church, in the form of a small wooden chapel, was built here in 1898. When this could no longer cope with the number of parishioners wishing to use it, the current church was built in the early 20th century by architect Aristides Zachos; the first service was held here in 1936.
It’s a stone structure, in Romanesque style complete with a tall tower, and features columns, archways, frescoes, and mosaics within.
Street Art in Volos
You may be surprised to learn that Volos has a number of examples of street art scattered around its streets.
Many of the pieces are the outcome of an organisation or collective called Urban Act, which is known for its enormous colourful murals in cities across the country. There’s even a city art festival organised by Urban Act to celebrate the murals in Volos.
Exploring the street art by yourself is not too difficult; much of it is located by the port area, but there are a number of different pieces located on the sides of apartment blocks and schools. Not all of the artworks are in one area, so it may not be possible to see them all in a day.
However, there is a downloadable map of the murals in Volos so you can follow along and discover some of the most famous pieces. It’s also possible to pick up a physical map of the murals at the Volos Information Centre, located near the bus station.
The Roof tile and Brickworks Museum
This interesting museum is the place to go to understand more about the development of the city of Volos in the 20th century.
It’s actually set inside a former brickworks, an industrial site that played a key role in shaping the modern centre of the city. Throughout its life, the factory produced different types of roof tiles and brickworks, for everything from Byzantine-style to Marseille-type roof tiles.
In its heyday, the factory would make up to nine million tiles every year. In 1995, long after the factory fell into disuse, it was listed by the Greek Culture Ministry and transformed into the informative museum it is today. Visitors can learn about the production of bricks and roof tiles, see the machinery involved, and get an insight into the lives of those who worked there.
Opening Hours: March 1 to October 15 daily (except Tuesdays) 10 am to 6 pm. October 16 to February 29 10 am to 5 pm.
Cost: Standard entrance €4, Concession €2
Free admission: Please, see here.
Days of free admission:
May 18th (International Museum Day)
June 5th (World Environment Day)
Last weekend in September (European Heritage Days)
Saint Nicholas Metropolitan Cathedral
Saint Nicholas Metropolitan Cathedral can be found in the heart of Volos.
Though relatively new (it was built in the 1920s), the cathedral is nonetheless impressive and is situated on the site of an older structure that sadly burned down in the 1890s. It is a classic Byzantine-style church, complete with curves, domes, and prominent brickwork, while the inside is a feast for the eyes with colourful frescoes and gilded altarpieces.
Overall this is a tranquil place to escape from the busy streets of Volos. Stay for a while and you’ll see people coming in and out, lighting candles, and saying prayers in silence, surrounded by stained glass windows.
One of Volos’ attractions lies not in the city itself, but instead almost in the middle of its harbour.
Situated at the end of a one-kilometre-long breakwater called the kordonia by locals (meaning “lace”), which is essentially an extension of the waterside promenade, the Faros or lighthouse stands stoic all by itself, safely beckoning boats into the harbour.
Although it’s an attractive place for a stroll in the daytime, it’s a particularly pleasant place to explore on a warm evening, just after sunset has painted the dusky colours.
The illuminated walkway leads all the way to the lighthouse where you can see the city behind you glowing in the night, backed by mountains.
The Sculptures of Philolaus
Situated in Anavros Park, along the seafront, are a collection of alien-looking sculptures by Philolaos Tloupas.
The Greek sculptor was well-known internationally and during his lifetime he influenced sculpting by combining architectural and organic elements to create his idiosyncratic style.
Sadly, Philolaos passed away in 2010, but his work remains. In Volos, his striking sculptures feel wholly natural as they erupt from the ground, yet they are like nothing else in the city, looking almost like creatures from alternative mythology. Against the sea, they look positively primordial.
For those who are interested in trying the local liquor of Volos, tsipouro cannot be missed.
This aniseed-flavored alcoholic drink has long been the traditional beverage in this port city. Locals love to enjoy a tipple of tsipouro, so much so that there are over 600 tsipouradika, bars dedicated entirely to tsipouro and the bar snacks that go with it. Specifically, tsipouro is made from the pomace (pulpy residue) of grapes left over from wine production.
The legend behind its origin has it that, in the 14th century, the monks of Mount Athos in Macedonia were the first to attempt to make the first concoction of tsipouro from grape pomace.
In tsipouradika you can sample the drink either straight, with a few ice cubes, or with a dash of water. It is perfectly paired with local food, namely seafood meze. One of the most famous bars of this kind in Volos is called Mezen, featuring a great atmosphere and outdoor seating.
Volos Train Station
Explore the Pelion
The Pelion (aka Pilio) peninsula lies to the East of Volos in the region of Thessaly and covers an area of over 200kms in size.
Its highest point is Mount Pelion at 1624 meters and there are numerous walks and hikes you can do across the peninsula covering incredible landscapes with waterfalls, sweeping views, and more.
In Greek mythology, the Pelion is where the Gods of Olympus had their summer holidays. It is the land of the centaurs, the most famous of which, Chiron, trained heroes like Hercules, Jason, and Achilles.
The peninsula is covered in large forests of beech and chestnut trees and is therefore a popular destination in Autumn. It is also home to a number of excellent ski resorts and the mountain villages in winter attract many Athenians looking for cozy log fires and fresh mountain air.
It’s also a popular summer destination with many stunning beaches along the east coast filled with natural coves and caves. A great spot to explore by Sea Kayak.
A lot of people base themselves in Volos and explore the Pelion on day trips, or we highly recommend staying a few days or weeks!
These are some of the many highlights of the area:
Walk the Centaur’s Path
Half-human, half-horse, Centaurs are one of the more well-known creatures from Greek mythology.
These hybrid beings apparently used to have a home on Mount Pelion, not too far from Volos. In celebration of the centaurs and the region in which they are supposed to have lived – namely, the woodlands of the mountain – the Centaur’s Path leads from the village of Portaria, passing through some stunning scenery along the way.
Winding through a natural landscape, a mix of caves, trees, and waterfalls, the path is well-trodden and signposted. It takes around 40 minutes to complete the loop; it’s suitable for families, too.
Ride the Train of Pelion
Connecting the city of Volos to the town of Mileai on Mount Pelion, this narrow gauge railway is an extension of a line that once operated in the Thessaly region, connecting the villages in the area.
Designed by Italian engineer Evaristo de Chirico, construction on the railway – popularly known as Moutzouris (“smudgy”) – began in 1894. It was a masterpiece of railway engineering at the time, with many stone bridges, archways, and tunnels needed for the mountainous route.
In its heyday, the steam train was essential to the development of the villages in the area and was used to transport important goods as well as people.
The Pelion railway fell into decline over the years as the roads began to take over and World War II put a stop to free movement.
In 2009, this portion of the railway opened once more for tourists to enjoy. With a speed of just 20 kph, a pleasant ride on the Pelion train takes visitors chugging through mountain valleys, hugging the side of cliffs, and allowing you to stop off at villages along the way for lunch at traditional eateries.
Tickets: Contact the Hellenic Train Office at Volos Railway Station
Cost: single trip 10€ and return 18€ for adults or 6€ and 10€ for children 4 to 12yo.
This village is one of the most popular on the Peninsula. It is very quaint and oozes local charm with big shady trees surrounding a beautiful town square and numerous cafes, tavernas, and small hotels. One of the Plane Trees in the village is estimated to be over one thousand years old!
Tsagkarada also has great views out over the sea, and in fact, was once located on the shore but moved up the mountain to protect the villagers from pirates.
Damouchari and Mama Mia
In 2007 parts of the Hollywood Blockbuster movie Mama Mia were filmed in the beautiful bay of Damouchari on the east coast of the Pelion.
The main scene shot here was the ‘Dancing Queen’ scene where Meryl Streep and her two friends lead the local women into a beachside song and dance routine around the Bay.
Today people still come to visit the small village and adjoining beach just for this reason, usually in conjunction with a visit to nearby Skopelos island where most of the film was shot.
It’s also a very nice place to spend a few days or weeks. There are only a few small hotels here but they are all rather exceptional as is the food at their tavernas.
Upper Kissos Valley Walk
This beautiful hike takes you 45 minutes south from the town of Kissos to the springs and waterfalls of Tympanos.
The scenery is quite stunning with verdant beech forests and beautiful wildflowers if visiting in Spring. A part of the hike involves narrow ravines and a small tunnel but you are rewarded with a swim in the cool natural pools at the end.
A short but steep hike from the village of Byzitsa. There is a car park on the road and the waterfall tends to run in the rainy months ( not summer).
Pelion Ski Centre
This ski resort is located on Mount Pelion at Agriolefkes. It is usually open between November and April and has four downhill ski slopes, one for beginners, one for cross-country, and two for more advanced skiers. There are five lifts in operation, including one for children.
The resort includes a Chalet that offers accommodation and food and drinks, a Hotel, a ski school, equipment rental, an observatory, and 3 car parks.
Open November through March 9 am to 4 pm.
Located 50kms south of Volos towards the end of the Pelion Peninsula is the beautiful coastal village of Milina.
This is a popular tourist destination and there are a number of excellent hotels and tavernas in the area. Across from the town is the islet of Alatas where the Monastery of Agias Saranta played an important role in the revolution of 1821 against the Ottomans.
The islet of Prasouda is also nearby. These two islets provide excellent boating opportunities and are popular day trips by locals and visitors alike.
The sunsets in Milina are also quite magical.
There are many wonderful beaches in the Pelion, some say some of the best in Greece. With verdant green forests spilling down to crystal clear water, with few tourists or developments it is easy to find your own private beach on your visit.
Some of the best beaches are:
This beach is only 20 minute’s drive south of Volos and one of the closest to the city. It’s a small beach wrapped around a protected cove that has a couple of good bars and tavernas.
The beach bars here offer free sunbeds and there is a lifeguard on duty in summer.
Agios Ioannis Beach
This is the busiest and most popular beach on the Pelion. It is well organized with plenty of parking, sunbeds, and umbrellas for hire and a number of apartments and rooms for rent as well as tavernas, cafes, and shops.
There are really three beaches here joined together –Ai Giannis, Papa Nero, and Plaka.
It is situated on the east coast of the peninsula, about 44kms from Volos and 80 minutes over the mountain.
20 minutes north of Agios Ioannis is Paralia Agii Saranta, a beautiful, wide, azure blue beach with lots of trees and shade and a good taverna and three beach bars – Monk, Sarande, and Casablanca. The water is absolutely pristine and the beach is a combination of sand and small white pebbles.
There is a paved road leading down to the beach where you can park but it can get popular in summer so plan to visit early if possible.
Located just south of Agios Ioannis Fakistra is a pretty, rocky cove with crystal clear water but it can get wind affected when the Meltemi is blowing. The sea cave of Panagia Megalomata is a popular hiking attraction to the north.
There are no facilities here.
This is another big, organized beach on the east coast, north of Agios Ioannis. It has a long, sandy beach with lots of sunbeds and umbrellas to rent and lots of trees at the back where free camping is allowed.
It’s very family-friendly and there is plenty of parking available.
A hidden gem on the east coast, this beach is a bit hard to find but well worth the effort.
Drive to St. George’s House Hotel (also a nice place to stay) and head down the unpaved road to the left.
The beach has no facilities and it can be popular with naturalists so be warned!
Pantazi Ammos Beach
This beach is much photographed but actually quite remote. There are no tavernas or facilities so be sure to pack plenty of water.
A very popular beach in summer and it can be hard to get a park or a sunbed. The water is very clear and it’s obvious why it is so popular.
There are several good tavernas nearby and some holiday accommodations too.
Just south of Milopotamos is Limnionas, just as nice but much less crowded in summer.
No bars or facilities and you’ll need to leave your car up on the road and hike down the trail unless you have a 4wd.
Just south of Limnionas is Labinou, a very small, secluded beach with clear water and natural reefs. Great for snorkeling.
You will need to take your own mat and umbrellas but there is a very good little taverna – Tabernaki, on the road, where you will park your car. A little slice of heaven.
Pantazi Ammos Beach
Asii Saranta Pelion