If there’s one destination in the country that can be without a doubt enjoyed year-round, it’s Pelion. We recently visited southern Pelion, with its lovely beaches on the Pagasetic Gulf, many of which are embraced by trees and tamarisks offering cooling, natural shade, with exceptional gastronomic choices and some of the most characteristically beautiful Greek villages. To be able to go on this carefree excursion, we needed a car capable of covering the 370-kilometre journey from Athens to Argalasti, and the best solution was to rent a car from Avis.
We searched on the avis.gr website for the ideal vehicle to meet our needs, and quickly found it. Spacious enough and family-friendly for four people travelling with their luggage. Economical in fuel consumption, something particularly significant when we had to cover several hundreds of kilometres and considering that fuel comes at such a high price today. We also noticed on the avis.gr site that there is a great variety of premium vehicles to choose from for enjoyable driving, and you can even rent an electric car.
Reaching Argalasti in southern Pelion
Within around four hours of smooth, comfortable driving, thanks to the car we rented, we settled into our accommodation in Argalasti. A little later, we explored the famous village of southern Pelion. Our visit began at the impressive Church of the Holy Apostles, the religious centre of the region, built in 1886 and dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul. Its very tall bell tower, added in 1913, is one of the most recognisable landmarks of the area. The marble bell tower stands 25 metres tall and is visible from many points in the village, while at night it becomes even more impressive thanks to skilful lighting.
Next, we took a leisurely stroll through the village neighbourhoods, admiring well-maintained traditional houses with blooming courtyards. One particularly interesting – and rather rare for a Greek village – feature in Argalasti is that the buildings are a mix of various architectural styles. There are the expected village houses with ceramic-tiled roofs, some neoclassical ones, and of course, the signature houses of Pelion style, namely those with stone roofs.
All these elements, combined with the evident love shown for the village by its permanent residents and the entrepreneurs who operate in Argalasti, create a particularly charming atmosphere in this corner of Magnesia.
Beaches the Cyclades would envy
Central Pelion is renowned for its mountains, which ski lovers and hikers flock to in the coldest months, while southern Pelion is more popular as a summer destination, as it boasts numerous beautiful beaches. We only stayed for four days in the area, which made it impossible to visit all the beaches, but thanks to our trusty Avis rental, we managed to get to visit some of the best.
Paou and Kalamos are the coasts nearest to Argalasti, while a few kilometres further south you will encounter Milina and Horto, all of them beaches with warm and shallow waters, and especially ideal for families. The one that stood out for us is Tzasteni, on the road from Milina to Trikeri, just past Marathias, which is set in a dreamlike landscape, nestled between two coves. It’s a place with a nostalgic charm, giving a sense of a bygone era when beaches were more pristine and people more innocent.
Another southern Pelion beach we highly recommend you visit is Razi, just outside of Lefokastro. It has crystal clear, cool waters, and isn’t an organised beach, so you may need to bring your own umbrella if you’ll be there during the hottest hours, although the best part of this beach is the natural shade provided by the successive tamarisk trees reaching almost to the sea.
In the stone-built village of Lafkos
Our road trips around Pelion were extremely enjoyable, but the highlight of the trip was car-free: about 9 kilometres south of Argalasti lies Lafkos, and within this traditional village, cars are not allowed. Lafkos stands out for its ancient but well-preserved stone houses, its numerous small chapels, its wonderful stone fountains, the dual view (mountain and Pagasitic Gulf), and a café with a national record.
The Forlida Cafe has been operating consecutively since 1785 and is considered – as far as such a thing can be confirmed – the oldest cafe in Greece. If you sit and enjoy your coffee there, you will see endless photos of earlier generations of patrons, while you become part of a clientele that included among others Alexandros Papadiamantis and Kostas Varnalis.
On our last day, before heading back, we chose to see one of Pelion’s most famous beaches, which is one of those that aren’t lapped by the Pagasitic Gulf but by the Aegean Sea. Around 20 minutes away from Argalasti we visited Potistika, a large, one-kilometre-long sandy beach with rocks in the sea that are perfect for diving off and excellent subjects for beautiful photos. At the same time, its very clear waters that deepen suddenly make it an ideal choice for anyone who loves swimming. It’s certain that whenever we find an opportunity, we will steal some time to return to Pelion. Thanks to the numerous great car rental deals from Avis, this can be done economically and easily.
4+1 extra tips for a trip to southern Pelion
Potistika, as well as the beaches of Pelion in general, which are bathed by the Aegean and not the Pagasitic Gulf, are exposed to weather phenomena and in August the strong waves and sandblast may not be the best. This, of course, can be read in reverse. The waves can be a reason to visit the beaches on the Aegean side for those who love to play with them!
If you’re a wine enthusiast, then a visit to the wineries of Argalasti is definitely a unique experience in an area where the vineyards are reminiscent of a miniature Tuscany.
If for you the concept of a summer excursion is synonymous with the islands, take the sea taxi from Alogoporos beach to Paleo Trikeri, a 2.5 square kilometre island with no cars, good fish taverns and a retro atmosphere.
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