The Weekly Getaway: seaside meze with a mountainous backdrop in Volos
Famous for its mellow seafront and its beautiful backdrop of Mount Pelion, Volos is one of the best mid-sized towns in Greece for a relaxed long weekend! Located almost equidistantly between Athens and Thessaloniki (and thus quite far from any major airport), Volos has managed to remain traditional and almost unspoilt, representing the country’s largest agricultural region.
The city centre
As you walk through the masterfully dissected streets of Volos’ city centre, you suddenly start to realize that certain parts of it have still kept some of the past’s charming nostalgia. Traditional shops and pantries selling all sorts of supplies from coffee beans to mops, small business owners proudly welcoming patrons at the door and lots of youngsters craft a perfect setting on a bright day!
The main square by the Cathedral Church of St Nicholas hosts some of the action too, with a certain tango dancing group making appearances every now and then - passers-by join the beautiful act of a small town and become one with the locals and regulars. North and east from the square multiple cafés and drink rooms have been established lately in a mini movement that has transformed that part of the city - and albeit noisy during the evenings, it does add a colorful vibe to the city.
Volos is also well known for its assortment of meze and a clear, alcoholic beverage known as tsipouro. Its common amongst locals (especially male groups) to visit the tsipouradiko on Saturdays for a few bites and some of that divine alcohol. Kind of like the old days when workers by the sea needed a quick stop for lunch as they were not able to get back to their neighbourhoods, when small restaurants sprang up offering small bites and tsipouro shots sourced from Tyrnavos and Pelion.
There is a long list of which tsipiuradiko is the best in Volos but having talked to locals there are definite winners here: the quaint pantry To filaraki and the traditional setting of Yota in the old town, Jimmys seafront taverna in Agria and, of course, the more creative MeZen - our personal favourite in a small alley in the centre.
A short tour around Pelion
When walking around Volos gets to you and you want to escape for a short day tour, you can definitely enjoy a nice short ride to Pelion. Be it west, up the hills towards Portaria and Makrinitsa, or east along the seaside towards Milies and Pinakates, you can;t go wrong!
Portaria and Makrinitsa may be more touristy and busy during the weekends but, oh boy, are you in for a ride when you visit Gefsokratoras restaurant or Kritsa taverna. Lots of souvenir shops around will definitely catch your attention - if you’re up from some herbal treats, visit Myrro herbs that offers a beautiful and tasty array of leaf teas and other remedies.
The tour towards Milies can also be quite rewarding as you coast through the small fish villages of Eastern Pelion until you turn a sharp left up the hill and to Milies. Lost in this lush forresty part of the mountain, Milies have remained intact to the flocks of travelers that visit all year round. Park your car near the old railway station of Milies and walk towards the main footpath along the railway tracks. When you’ve taken in all of nature’s fresh vibe, head towards the main square and stop by Anna Na Ena Milo for a quick coffee and one of their delicious homemade pies! This coffeeshop is full of old memorabilia on its walls and attracts a nice crowd - hasn’t changed a bit all these years.
Vizitsa and Pinakates is also nearby if you want to further explore as you head back to Volos. Beautiful churches, narrow stone-cobbled streets and lush creeks are abundant wherever you stop. A feast to the eye and soul!
Tsalapata Museum - a former factory that got revamped in 2006 and now houses exhibits and workshops on the history of brick & tile manufacturing.
Old Railway Station - Volos’ main railway station that still keeps a traditional facade, as well as houses a railway museum on the 1st floor of this beautiful building
Agria - seaside area in the outskirt of Volos, famous for its many tavernas and cafés on the beachside road
Pelion - a beautiful array of small quaint villages, hiking trails in the lush nature and serene views. When you visit from Volos on a day-tour you can reach the old station in MIlies in about 30mins, stop for a coffee and wander around the traditional settlement of Pinakates nearby
Domotel Xenia Volos - located in walking distance from the centre of Volos, Xenia’s landmark building offers standard lodging but with a beautiful view to the sea. During summertime though the sea-facing rooms can be a bit noisy from the café patrons downstairs
Plagios - very good modern cuisine right in the heart of the city; delicious carbonara pasta!
To filaraki - the best meze place located in the old town. No Seaview but the most delicious meze dishes!
Yota - also very traditional and popular for its meze menu
Jimmys - traditional meze taverna by the seaside in Agria, located minutes away from the main city on a short scenic drive
Basilico - good Italian restaurant in the old town with tasty pizzas first and foremost!
Gefsokratoras - the best restaurant in Pelion, located in Portaria which is 30mins away from Volos. Divine freshly made bread and lots of truffle-inspired dishes right by the fireside. Full review here
Kritsa - great restaurant in the main square of Portaria with tasty grilled meat
Anna Na Ena Milo - traditional homey café in Milies; tasty homemade pies and nice desserts
Amaryllis - sister establishment of the one in Kifisia, Athens. Nice café in the city centre moments away from the main square
Spill the beans - the best specialty coffee in the city with a modern environment attracting the young crowds. Outdoors seating is also available
Grappa, Vino e Aperitivo - sophisticated drinks menu (as well as some nibbles) in the busiest part of the city
Conte Cafe Roastery - high quality coffee shop in case you want to buy some
To Melini - the most delicious dessert shop in Volos! Try their vanilla cake!