WHY IONIAN ISLAND HOLIDAYS?
AWARD WINNING HOLIDAYSIONIAN & AEGEAN HOLIDAYS ARE PROUD TO HAVE BEEN VOTED BEST TOUR OPERATOR TO HELLENIC EUROPE AT THE BRITISH TRAVEL AWARDS 2011 AND 2012.
EXPERT ADVICEOur team of experienced and knowledgeable advisers are here to make your holiday to the Greek islands memorable - and for the right reasons!
Here it is easy to see the connection between myth and historical fact. It only takes five minutes on one of the many ancient paths or ‘kalderimia’, that still link the isolated communities of these majestic mountain forests, to recognise many of the herbs and plants, used medicinally by the ancients, as well as the centaurs, growing in profusion amongst the trees.
The Pelion Peninsula is unique, still largely unknown to foreign visitors, but long recognised by the Greeks as a national treasure to be appreciated and preserved. One can recognise the Pelion on the map as the long peninsula with a claw like promontory at its southern end that divides the Aegean Sea from the Pagasitic Gulf. Cut off in the North by the Pelion Massif, the only easy access by land is a narrow corridor from the great plain of Thessaly to the west at the head of the gulf through the city of Volos. The mountains, snow covered in winter (there is even a ski resort on the flanks of Mount Pelion), feed the many rivers and streams. The region is one of the most fertile and verdant in the eastern Mediterranean.
The Pelion is famous for its fruit, particularly apples. In the springtime when the blossom appears and the native chestnut, oak and beech trees are bursting into leaf, the colours and textures are simply breathtaking. In the full heat of summer the tree cover means that the temperature is at least five degrees less than out in the open.
One of the great pleasures of a holiday here is to be able to enjoy lying in the sun on a beach with the clear Aegean waters lapping at your feet, before moving to relax in the cool shade of an ancient chestnut tree. September is apple picking time, the orchards are laden with fruit of every colour, whilst the cooler nights turn the forests above into a sea of russet and gold.
The inhabitants of the Pelion, despite a long tradition of independence from the ‘mainland’, are extremely hospitable and friendly. It is the only region in Greece that remained autonomous throughout the centuries of foreign intervention. Even the usually fearless Ottomans left these mountain villages well alone.
Standing on the beach at Mylopotamos, the mouth of a narrow and precipitous ravine, one can easily understand how even the fiercest Turkish general would think twice about committing his warriors to an assault up the twisting steep and narrow trails!
By the 19th century, they had not only survived but many had become prosperous through selling their produce to the increasing population of Volos, a fastgrowing port and industrial centre at the head of the Pagasitic Gulf.
Wealthy merchants built distinctive large mansions in villages such as Vizitsa and Makrinitsa, each trying to out do their neighbour with colourful embellishments on the upper walls and ornate stained glass windows, enjoying an exclusive eagle’s eye view over the Gulf and the Thessaly Plain.
By the early years of the 20th century, roads were built up into the hills and a railway line was constructed linking Volos with the important village of Milies. Designed by an Italian engineer, Evaristo de Chirico, the narrow gauge line with its graceful viaducts and arches later figured in the work of his son, Giorgio de Chirico, the famous surrealist painter who was born in Volos. The line remains in use to this day as far as Ano Lehonia on the coast and is a deservedly popular tourist attraction.
Small family-run hotels can be found along both coastlines, taking advantage of the many coves and quiet bays, each with beaches of white pebbles or sand. There are a wide variety of tavernas and restaurants which have opened, many offering such delicacies as wild boar and desserts based on the local fruit. The infrastructure of the Pelion is improving steadily, but money exchange and ATM machines are still often hard to find outside the larger towns, so be prepared!
Perhaps the best way to explore this fascinating region is on foot, using the ‘kalderimia’ mule track network. Although by car the recently improved roads leading into the mountains are no longer a driver’s challenge. As one local put it, when asked about the road up to the apple centre of Zagora, ”Ah, it’s ok, but it’s like a politician, many twists and turns!”
The Aegean coast though rugged, has a number of delightful small villages. Some are no more than a cluster of silver roofed stone cottages above a small cove which make a perfect base for exploring gentler paths that often follow the shoreline past pristine beaches.
The Pagasitic Gulf coast is more sheltered and typically Mediterranean, with olive groves and pine trees overlooking the sand and pebble beaches. Exploring this coast by small boat is a delight or one can take a caique cruise down to the ‘claw’ of Pelion at Trikeri, with its small island and monastery.
Even in July and August, when people from Athens and Thessaloniki arrive to escape from the summer city heat, the Pelion never seems overcrowded, nor loses that sense of being a world apart. Those who live here are determined that it never will.
- Horse back riding from Arghalasti
- Take a ride on the mountain steam train from Ano Lehonia to Milies
- Cruise the Pagasitic Gulf on board a gullet to beaches & Trikeri island.
- Enjoy the magnifi cent sandy beaches on the eastern coastline
- Take the Pelion Tour, exploring the seaside resorts and the mountain villages of Tsangarada and Milies
- Experience the cosmopolitan city of Volos from its archaeological museum, the municipal gallery to the shops and atmospheric waterfront walks in the evenings
- Take your own motor boat to explore the hidden beaches and islands of the Pagasitic Gulf
- Take a guided tour walking tour from Agia Kyriaki.
- Walk the Milies - Potistika path to enjoy views of the Aegean Sea and the Pagasitic Gulf from the peakline
- Diving school in Trikeri
- Take a trip to Meteora and its incredible mountain top monasteries
Direct flights from London Gatwick and Manchester
Your hire car will be waiting for you at the airport with driving instructions. Other transfers will be by taxi/mini coach. Approx transfer time: 40 mins to 1 hour 30 mins
PRE-BOOKING YOUR AIRCRAFT SEAT
To pre book your seat please contact the airline directly quoting Ionian Island Holidays as your tour operator, your booking reference number, flight number, date of departure and specific flight request. Payments for these seats are direct with the airline.
AIRLINE CONTACT DETAILS
Fly Monarch: 01582 556331
20kg for checked baggage, 5kg hand baggage.
Security restrictions may apply, please contact the airline, the airport or ourselves before departure.
We are able to offer a limited number of flights direct to Kefalonia, Preveza and Corfu. Contact out UK office for further details on 020 8459 0777.
Please also fully inform us of any disability or walking difficulty you may have, so we can provide assistance at the airport. This must be made at least 7 days before departure.