Breadbasket of Greece

Thessaly  is one of Greece’s largest regions in size and population. It has some of the highest mountains in the country, Olympus, Kissavos and Pelion, and several smaller ones all over its region. The third longest river in Greece, Pinios, runs through the Tempi Valley. Thessaly’s coastline has a lot of beautiful beaches and landscapes and it is very attractive to tourists. Volos is the only big harbour in Thessaly and to the east there are Northern Sporades islands, namely Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonnissos and other smaller islands. The climate is continental.

Human presence in Thessaly goes back to the Palaeolithic Period. Europe’s first Neolithic civilization was created in Thessaly in the 7th millennium B.C. Significant remains of settlements from the Neolithic Period were found at Sesklo  and Dimini, both very well preserved archaeological sites.
It was from ancient Iolkos (modern Volos) where the Argonauts began their trip. This period of time was marked by the migration and relocation of various racial groups.

During the Persian invasion in 480 B.C. because they didn’t find any resistance, the Persians used the region as their winter base.
Macedonian rule was replaced by Roman rule in 196 B.C. Many military operations took place in Thessaly during the Roman “civil” wars. As soon as Diocletian reorganized the Roman State, Thessaly and Magnesia became a separate province.
Christianity appeared in Thessaly during the 1st century A.D. Since the 4th century A.D. and onwards the region had been suffering many enemy attacks by the Goths, Ostrogoths, Slavs, Bulgarians, Normans and Vlachs.

From 1205 to 1222, Thessaly was under the dominance of Franks, and in 1222 it became part of the Despotate of Epirus. In the period of Serbian Dominance around 1348, the monastic life flourished at Meteora, a UNESCO site. The Ottoman occupation in Thessaly started in 1392-1393 and led to an extensive islamisation and feudalism in Thessaly. The liberation came in 1881.
In 1910 a big agricultural reform started in Thessaly (known as “Kileler Riot”) and as a result of that, agriculture in Thessaly had a great development in all fields. The German-Italian occupation caused severe problems and regression during the 2nd World War and the civil war that followed also had negative effects on the development of the region.

After 1950 there have been both domestic migration and emigration in Greece, mountain villages were deserted and their inhabitants moved and made the modern urban centres, Larissa and Volos. Nowadays, in all its four big cities of Thessaly there are quite big industrial zones, active trade, big agricultural, animal and milk production and a continuously growing touristic activity. Pelion, the Northern Sporades islands, Meteora, Tempi, Pertouli and Lake Plastira are really worth visiting.

In the heart of Greece, Thessaly, with its exhilarating nature,  geological marvels (Meteora), majestic mountains and villages (Pelion), famous rivers (the Pineios) and a multitude of gorges, valleys, lakes and beaches… 
Top attractions in Thessaly 
  • Meteora: Το nature’s masterpieces, people have added their own. The largest, most important monastic community in Greece, after Mount Athos, the Meteora monasteries are built in seemingly impossible locations at the top of the evocative meteoric rocks of Thessaly.
  • Volos: Volos’ colourful waterfront is a gourmand’s delight, with its many eateries, including early industrial buildings transformed into multi-purpose centres that offer dozens of dining and entertainment choices. But don’t overlook the city’s museums and the archaeological sites of Dimino and Sesklo.
  • Larissa: One of Greece’s most important cities lies on both banks of the Pineios River, where you will find attractions such as famous ancient theatres and the acropolis on the hill of Agios Achillios.
  • Tempi: At Tempi, the Pineios River carves a narrow gorge between Mt Olympus and Mt Ossa. Nearby Ambelakia is famous for its listed grand houses.
  • Pelion: A favourite destination in Greece, with its fine traditional architecture, untouched villages, bridges, old fountains, grand houses and the narrow Moutzouris railway. The villages of Makrinitsa, Zagora, Tsagkarada, Mouresi, Kissos, Vyzitsa and Milies stand out.
  • Lake Plastira: A natural wonderland in which to relax and enjoy various sports and outdoor activities.
  • Elati & Pertouli: An ideal year-round destination in an area of rare beauty in the southern Pindos mountain range.

It might be on the mainland, but Pelion boasts a number of popular beaches, with a choice of sand or white pebbles to go with the clear water. Some of the best are Horefto, Ai Ioannis, Papa Nero, Damouhari, Fakistra and from Mylopotamos to Potistika on the southern coastline. 

Hiking, canyoning, water sports and snow skiing

Walking along the old stone paths of Pelion, you will explore villages and monasteries, and cross fertile forests and stone bridges. And hiking in the vicinity of Meteora offers once-in-a-lifetime views. Kissavos is the ideal choice for off-road experiences, as well as mountain biking and canyoning (the Kalypsous Gorge and its cascades). Beaches in Agiokampos, Pelion are ideal for all kind of water sports. While the calm waters of the Pagasitic Gulf south of Pelion are suitable for sailing and kayaking. Choose the popular ski resort of Pelion to enjoy incredible views during winter, and Lake Plastira for dozens of exciting activities (horseback-riding, cycling, canoeing, rowing and more). Off-roaders will enjoy the tracks around northern Pelion, Tsagarada and Kissos. One very special experience is crossing the Agrafa next to the river, while the mountain trails above Nafpaktos drawn comparisons with Switzerland.

Local culinary wonders

Thessaly offers a wide range of local delicacies, from homemade trahana soup (sometimes even for breakfast), in the mountain villages during winter to pies of various kinds throughout the year. In Pelion, especially in Zagora and Portaria, women’s cooperatives produce various sweets that you can buy, while in the tavernas you might try the spetsofai (sausage sauteed with peppers) and galotyri, a creamy curd cheese. At the tsipouro joints of Volos, you’ll be initiated into the tsipouro ceremony, which involves downing many little glasses of the fiery liquor, tempered by lots of small plates of mezedes. And in Larissa and Trikala, you will savour delicious cheeses, such as kasseri, kefalograviera and graviera.

Map of Thessaly prefectures

Thessaly (Thessalia) is divided into four prefectures: Trikala, Larissa, Magnesia, and Karditsa

There are  so many more places to visit and enjoy; using Trikala as the hub you can reach an array of places for day trips. Enjoy the photo gallery of the unknown Thessaly!


City of Trikala - panoramic view (Tzoumerka mountain in background)

Located in central greece 330 km north of Athens, Trikala is a gateway into the mountainous region of northwestern Greece. While not normally high on the itineraries of most visitors to the country  a stay in the city will not disappoint. It  opens up a wealth of potential day-trips in Central Greece, combining all of the advantages of staying in a sizeable town (restaurants, cafes, shops, the free wifi offered by the municipality) with access to some of the region’s most famous landmarks.

World-famous Meteora with its monasteries built seemingly impossibly on top of pillars of rock is a little over 30 mins away by car.

For lakeside fun visit Plastira Lake about 90mins away by car. The artificial lake is located in a beautiful area and visitors can engage in numerous outdoor activities such as boating on the lake, archery lessons and more.

The popular and quaint mountain villages of Pertouli and Elati are also easily accessible by car.

City of Trikala - bridge
City of Trikala - Kursum mosque

Info link to Greek National Tourism Organization

Rising from the Plain of Thessaly in mainland Greece, Metéora is a mesmerizing group of vertical sandstone  rocks, reaching up to 300 meters high, which time has carved into unique and beautiful formations. And perched atop these rocks are the monasteries of Metéora, which appear to hang in the air above the rocks, and are some of the most fairy-tale, magical attractions in all of Greece.

Built from 1356 AD onwards by monks from Mt. Athos, at their peak in the sixteenth century there were 24 monasteries. Today there are six still open and are now accessible by staircases and pathways cut into the rock formations.

Of the six functioning monasteries, the Holy Monastery of St. Stephen and the Holy Monastery of Roussanou are inhabited by nuns while the remainder are inhabited by monks. The total monastic population of the Meteora monasteries in 2015 was 56, comprising 15 monks in four monasteries and 41 nuns in two monasteries.

From Monday to Friday one or two monasteries remain closed, depending whether it’s  the summer season (April to October) or winter season (November to March). During the weekend all 6 active monasteries are open to visitors from morning until late afternoon. 

For a one day trip to Meteora we can  visit 2 or 3 monasteries, whether in the morning or in the afternoon hours. Have in mind that in order reach the monasteries  you’ll have to climb steep footpaths and staircases, with approximately 150 to 300 steps! The monastery with the easiest access is the monastery of St. Stephen  that has no stairs at all, a perfect choice for people with mobility limitations.

City of Trikala - Christmas village
City of Trikala - Christmas village
Trikala - village of Elati
Trikala - village of Mouzaki
Trikala - Pertouli forest and valley
Trikala - Pertouli winter sunset

Info link to Greek National Tourism Organization

Click for a 360° view of a typical village in Trikala. 


City of Karditsa - main market
City of Karditsa - archaeological museum

In Karditsa, everyone seems to own a bike. It’s easy to see why. The town is small, and everything (sights, museums, and tavernas) is close by. In fact, the pins we added to our Google map are so close together, we can’t tell which one is which. There are no hills, and by walking or cycling you’ll quickly become familiar with the streets and learn to find your way around.

The people here are no house cats. They enjoy going out, and the cafes and meze restaurants are always full of people sipping tsipouro and playing backgammon. Living up to its name, Karditsa is situated in the very heart of Greece (Karditsa literally means little heart), and is smaller compared to the nearby cities of Larissa, Volos, and Trikala. Yet it is a great getaway and an excellent starting point for discovering the surrounding countryside, villages, and sights.

Lake Plastira is the most common excursion, but the city can also serve as a base for exploring the famous monasteries of Meteora, cosmopolitan Elati, Pyli, as well as the relatively little-known Smokovo thermal springs.

Worth visiting: city park (Pafsilypou park), archaeological museum, bistro at Domotel Arni.

City of Karditsa - main square
City of Karditsa - snow in main park
City of Karditsa - main park entrance
City of Karditsa - main park resident
Karditsa - lake Plastira
Karditsa - road to Argithea
Karditsa - Smokovo baths
Karditsa - Smokovo lake

Info link to Greek National Tourism Organization


City of Larissa - Ag. Achilleas cathedral
City of Larissa - Kissavos mountain

On the main highway from Athens to Thessaloniki, lies Larissa a bustling eco-friendly town with excellent places to eat, drink and enjoy coffee.

Located just south of Mount Olympus in the heart of the Thessaly kampos, Larissa  is the fifth largest city in the country after Athens, Thessaloniki , Patra, and Heraklion in Crete. It is a lively city with a rather extroverted populace who love to go out, shop and drink coffee for hours. Indeed, it is often referred to as “Coffee City” thanks to its cafes that are numerous even by Greek standards.

After getting your caffeine fix, it’s worth taking a stroll through the city center and around the its outskirts. Locals enjoy strolls and runs through the centrally located and lush Alcazar Park. Further out, the Aisthitiko Alsos is another green space popular among bike riders. Alternatively plan a route that will take you by Blana Square where teenage boys gather in the evenings to practice parkour over the remains of Byzantine walls, the Bezesteni (the old Ottoman market), the First Ancient Theater of Larissa and the Pappas Mill – a former flour mill that now hosts cultural events of all kinds.

City of Larissa - Acazar park
City of Larissa - stadium of premier league team
City of Larissa - art gallery
City of Larissa - art gallery lobby
City of Larissa - Foklore museum
City of Larissa - Byzantine museum
City of Larissa - Theater of Thessaly
City of Larissa - Etz Hayyim Synagogue

Info link to Greek National Tourism Organization

Ellasona - panoramic view
Ellasona - view of Mt. Olympus
Ellasona - Mosque
Ellasona - Church of Ag. Demetrios


Pelion mountain with its beautiful villages, close to city of Volos.

Pelion - village of Tsagarada
Pelion - village of Makrinitsa

In Mount Pilio  you and your family can have the best of both worlds: easy access to some of the country’s most splendid beaches as well as some of its greenest, most idyllic mountain villages. It’s not by chance that this was the holiday spot of the 12 Greek Gods and legendary land of the centaurs: in Pilio you can fully savor old fashioned tranquility.

Here your days will revolve around swimming at sandy, child-friendly beaches, before snaking up oak, fir and plane tree-lined roads (especially on the northern side) that are like cool jungly tunnels speckled with shards of light. Nature on the 95km-long peninsula (on the Pagasetic Gulf, exactly between Athens and Thessaloniki) remains lush year-round, although in the coldest winter months snow blankets the slopes of Pilio and the curved, somewhat harrowing roads become harder to negotiate. Meanwhile Pilio’s Agriolefkes ski resort bustles with skiers and snowboarders.

Almost everywhere in Pilio you’ll hear the hypnotizing sound of running water – gushing out of stone fountains on the side of roads, trickling down mossy mountain walls and babbling in streams at the sides of trails.

The relatively cool evenings (by Greek summer standards) lend themselves to strolls along narrow cobblestone pathways bordered by nature brimming with life.

The slopes of Pilio are famed for their biodiversity, as the mountain’s proximity to the sea creates a large variety of microclimates in a relatively small area. Here the forests are full of medicinal herbs (many of which are dried and sold in the villages), wild blackberries to pop into your mouth, toads, electric blue dragonflies, hedgehogs, deer and foxes. In the villages ancient walls are splashed with bougainvillea, the air is laden with the mulchy, musty aroma of wet vegetation and kids can run free, playing hide-and-seek in village squares.

Throughout its 28 stone-built villages you will struggle to find a bad meal. The food in Pilio is primarily authentic and traditional although more modern and gourmet options are also available. Local specialties include stewed rabbit, baked goat and handmade pasta with rich sauces.

Pelion - Filippidi traditional geusthouse at Milies
Pelion - Lamb shanks with potatoes
Pelion - Asparagus omellete
Pelion - Restaurant with a view

Info link to Greek National Tourism Organization

Info link to Greek National Tourism Organization

If you are ready for Thessaly (Thessalia), request a quote by clicking on the “Inquiry Form” button… 

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