Volos, situated 205 miles north of Athens and 137 miles south of Thessaloniki, is one of Greece’s most popular cities, combining a prominent port, a lively seafront, ancient archeological sites, and access to the Pelion Mountain range, the home of the mythical centaur. If you are looking for a diverse place to visit on mainland Greece, Volos should be at the top of your list.
Here are 10 of the top things to see and do in Volos:
1. Light a Candle at the Church of Agioi Konstantinos and Eleni
As a port city, the waterfront dominates Volos, and the Church of Agioi Konstantinos and Eleni, built in 1936 by the renowned architect Aristotle Zachos, is an attraction and reference point for the area. Beyond its impressive architecture, this church is unique due to its colorful imagery of the saints adorned with colored pebbles. Go inside and light a candle to take in the full experience.
2. Travel Back in Time at the Athanasakeion Archaeological Museum
This museum has six halls filled with ancient objects and artifacts going back over 3,000 years. Beyond the household items, jewelry, and agricultural objects, the museum features clay statuettes and items from the end of the Greek Dark Ages, a time of heroic events like Jason’s Argonaut Expedition and the Trojan War. If this wasn’t enough to intrigue you, the museum also has entire tombs transported from the archaeological sites where they were discovered. Stop into the Athanasakeion Archaeological Museum to be transported back in time.
3. Take a Ride on the Pelion Railway
Volos is the gateway to the Pelion Peninsula, and the Pelion Railway is the perfect vehicle to get a taste of the Pelion Mountain range. The Pelion Railway is a tiny four-car train that covers nine miles from outside Volos ending in the mountain village of Milies. Since the train never goes faster than 12.4 miles per hour, it is easy to take in all the lush natural beauty of the route. Stop in Milies for a taverna lunch and take in the breathtaking views of Pagasetic Gulf. The 90-minute railway trip offers you an easy and memorable adventure.
4. Walk the Centaur’s Path in Portaria
The Centaur’s Path is a short hiking path in Portaria village located about 6 miles from Volos. The gentle trail is less than a mile long, taking about 40 minutes to complete, and offers you another magical window into the natural beauty of the area. According to Greek mythology, Volos and the surrounding area was home to the centaurs, half-human half-horse creatures with mystical powers. The Centaur’s Path is marked with red circles on stones making it easy to follow. For those wanting a more strenuous hike, there are nearby paths that offer longer options branching out to the surrounding villages.
5. Relax on the Beach
Being on the mainland doesn’t mean you can’t have a Greek beach experience and greater Volos has some of the best beaches in Greece. Alykes is a popular choice for central Volos with sunbeds, watersports, bars, tavernas, and other amenities along the sandy shores. If you want to explore the surrounding areas, Anchialos Beach and Pigadia Beach are just two of the many options you’ll find.
6. Sip Tsipouro at a Local Tsipouradika
Volos is fondly referred to as the Capital of Tsipouro and drinking this powerful Greek spirit is almost an art form in the region. With a population of under 200,000 people. Volos is home to over 600 “tsipouradika,” taverna-style restaurants featuring tsipouro and tasty mezedes (side dishes). Tsipouro is strong, consisting of between 40% to 45% alcohol. Part of the tsipouradika experience is you usually don’t need to order food, it comes automatically with each round of tsipouro. Have an enjoyable afternoon relaxing at a Volos tsipouradika.
7. Take in the View at Hill of Goritsa
For a memorable view, make sure to go to the top of the Hill of Goritsa on the east side of Volos. This tiny natural hill is about 650 feet above sea level and at the top, you will find the church of Zoodochos Pigi. On the outside wall that encloses the church, you’ll find a natural cave with the inscription “Dios Milochiou” which scholars say points to the worship of Zeus in the region. Take a walk to the top and enjoy the breathtaking view of Volos.
8. Visit the Ruins of the Volos Castle
Located in the old town district of Palia, these castle ruins are part of a Byzantine settlement that was fortified in the 6th century during the reign of Emperor Justinian. Most of the castle was destroyed in 1889, but some parts of the walls on the eastern and western sides stand at a height of 23 feet. Don’t expect a full castle but spend a few minutes exploring the ruins.
9. See an Ancient Civilization at the Archaeological Site of Dimini
Three miles outside of Volos, the Dimini site provides us with one of the most complete pictures of a Neolithic settlement available. This well-organized, 25-acre Neolithic settlement has ruins going back to the 5th Century B.C. and is believed to have been home to a thriving and sophisticated stone age community with a rich social culture. Visit Dimini to experience how an ancient civilization lived.
10. See Modern Sculptures at Anavros Park
While Volos offers you ancient history, it provides a modern edge too, and you’ll find contemporary modern sculptures at the Anavros Park, an easy walk from the Archaeological Museum. Originating in 1988 at the International Sculpture Meeting, this seaside walkway display is filled with outdoor sculptures designed by both Greek and foreign artists.
Volos has a lot to offer and while these are my top recommendations, there is even more to see and do. From Volos you can island-hop to many of the Sporades islands including Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos.
Start planning your visit now-Volos is waiting for you!