The coastal port city of Volos on the mainland of Greece sits on a very unique and important location in the agricultural region of Thessaly. Situated between Athens and Thessaloniki, Volos provides a commercial outlet to the sea, allowing a bridge between Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It is the most recent of Greece's port cities, and is highly populated with many modern buildings.
The surrounding area of Volos also embodies a certain mythological allure. It is the homeland of the hero Jason, who boarded the ship Argo accompanied by the Argonauts and sailed in quest of the Golden Fleece. A replica of his famous ship sits along the port of the city. Being situated at the foot of Mount Pelion, Volos also houses some of the mythology surrounding Chiron and the home of the centaurs.
From museums, mythology, and archaeological sites to local dining specialties, churches, and beaches, Volos has a wide range of activities to occupy your visit.
Saint Constantine and Helen church, Volos
Volos is situated on the Pagasetic Gulf. With the allure of the sea to the south and the mystical charm of the Centaurs' mountain to the north, the city is a hub of activity surrounded by an aura of something more. It is said to be one of the most beautiful cities in Greece, its wealth and long history having left their mark on the city's grandiose architecture. A walk around the city will reveal urban mansions towards the city center, charming residential neighborhoods dotted throughout, and of course the glittering port lined with shops and ouzeries. A few other notable sights are Volos Castle, an old shipbuilding center where galleys were once built, as well as the park and church of Agios Konstantinos, the Achilleio Cinema, and the Byzantine Agia Triada.
The streets of Volos are lined with buildings, shops, bakeries, and coffee shops like any modern city, with many hotels and restaurants located closer to the port. The city center also has much to offer, with a variety of shops for any taste, hidden bars, and cafes located along the paved Ermou Street, which runs parallel to the port promenade. This is the main shopping district of the city. The area around St. Nikolaos Square, the city cathedral, is an especially bustling center of activity.
The port area itself is another popular draw for visitors. A walk down Argonafton Street will reveal endless tavernas and ouzeries with waterside views, tourist information, and a few gift shops spread throughout.
Two significant archaeological sites of Greece lie just a few kilometers to the West of Volos, Sesklo and Dimini. Sesklo dates back to 6,000 BC as the most ancient settlement of Europe, and Dimini is said to be the most important prehistoric settlement in Greece and one of the most important ones of the New Stone Age worldwide. These two Neolithic villages are worthwhile for the visitor looking to learn more about the region's ancient past.
There are also a few museums located throughout the city that cater to many areas of interest. The most popular Athanasakio Archaeological Museum is one of the oldest in Greece and houses a wealth of findings significant to Thessaly's history. If you are interested in the city's industrial past, a visit to the Rooftile and Brickworks Museum, housed in an old factory will provide a great opportunity to do this. A history of the city's newspaper and printing in Europe can be found at the Typographical Museum, while a wonderful collection of Greek folk art lies open to visitors at the Kitsos Makris Folklore Museum. There are a few more art museums located throughout the city and even the Entomological Museum for the bug lovers out there!
Some of the locals' best kept secrets are the beautiful beaches located just over Mount Pelion. It is about an hour and a half drive of winding mountain roads, but the crystalline waters will wash that car sickness away in an instant. With little to no boat traffic and the treacherous drive to get there, the beaches are pristine, lined with pearly white pebbles into a calm and glittering sea. You will want to spend a few days here, so make sure to book a guest house or bungalow in advance. The first beach area is called Agios Ioannis, but there are many others to explore down the coastline once you are ready to take on the mountain roads again. To get here, just take 34A out of Volos. The drive takes you through a few mountain villages which you can explore as well to break up the drive. Many people also frequent the mountain for skiing, horseback riding, hiking.
Food and Dining
The place to eat in Volos is right on the port. The seafront street of Argonafton is lined with picturesque little restaurants serving some of the local specialties. Seafood is a must, being right on the water, and it pairs perfectly with tsipouro, the traditional spirit of the area. Many of these tavernas and ouzeries specialize in the clear alcohol, which is accompanied by a tirade of appetizers and small bites. The port of Volos is a place to eat and drink the night away as freely as the breeze off the sea. Some of the top-rated restaurants include LoLa&LuNa Trattoria Italiana, Stafylos, and Papadis.
By day, the markets of Volos have many traditional products from Pelion and the surrounding areathings like cheeses with rich aromas and spicy flavors, bright and fruity spoon sweets, homemade pastas, liqueurs from mountain fruits, and Pelian natural herbs.
The best way to reach Volos is to fly into Athens or Thessaloniki and then rent a car, or take public transportation from either of the cities.
Both taxi and bus stations can be find just outside the airport arrivals buildings. By car, Volos is about 3.5 hours north of Athens and 2.5 hours south of Thessaloniki. A bus ticket should be about 5 euros, but will take longer than by car or taxi.