Volos

Volos (Greek: Βόλος) (Population: 144,449 [2011]) is the 5th biggest city (and 3rd largest port) in Greece, situated in Thessaly, almost in the middle of the distance between Athens (326 km) and Thessaloniki (219 km). Volos is an industrial city with a large port - but there are a few hidden gems here that you might find as you pass through to islands or Pelion.

Understand

History

Modern Volos is built on the area of the ancient cities of Demetrias, Pagasae and Iolkos. Iolkos was the homeland of ancient Greek hero Jason who boarded the ship Argo accompanied by the Argonauts and sailed in the quest for the Golden Fleece to Colchis. Demetrias was established by Demetrius Poliorcetes, King of Macedonia, in 293/92 BC. In 197 BC Romans annexed Demetrias.

To the west of Volos there are the Neolithic settlements of Dimini with a ruined acropolis, walls and two beehive tombs dated between 4000-1200 BC and Sesklo with the remains of the oldest acropolis in Greece (6000 BC), as well as the foundations of a palace and mansions, among the most typical examples of Neolithic civilisation.

During Byzantine empire, emperor Justinian I in 551 fortified Palea hill. In 1423 Ottomans annexed Volos. Volos during the Ottoman empire was a hamlet, build on the hill in Palea district. The hill was fortified with walls. Today just a few parts of the walls can be seen near the Tsalapata building.

After its annexation to Greece from the Ottoman Empire in 1881, it had a population of only 4,900 but rapidly grew within the next 4 decades. Houses were built outside the walls and the main area of Volos by the sea was built up. Merchants, businessmen, craftsmen and sailors moved to Volos from the surrounding area. In the 1920s there was a large influx of refugees in Volos, especially from Ionia, but also from Pontus, Cappadocia and Eastern Thrace. In the 1920 census, Volos had 30,046 inhabitants but according to the 1928 census, its population had grown to 47,892.

Climate

Volos, unlike other towns of the Thessalian plain, enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with can-be-hot-but-bearable summers (though a little bit humid) and mild winters. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit the city itself, Winter is the time to be on the Pelion mountain villages, and Summer should definitely be dedicated to the numerous beaches of the region on the Pagasetic gulf and the Aegean Sea.

Being privileged to be situated on the foothills of Mount Pelion, the mythical mountain of the centaurs, and bounded by Goritsa Hill to the Southeast, Volos sports nice weather all year long, with the sea and mountain breezes dominant in all city areas.

Get in

Volos viewed from Makrynitsa, Pelion

By plane

Volos Airport (VOL) is in Nea Anchialos, about 30 km SW from the city. Flyniki operates every Friday from May to October (Flights to/from Vienna with connections to Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg, and many more). Austrian' operates every Saturday from May to October (Flights to/from Vienna) Ryanair operates flights from April to October to/from Hahn. (Frankfurt), Bergamo (Milan), and Charleroi (Brussels) airport. Transavia operate to/from Amsterdam.

It also operates weekly charter flights during the summer, directly from Amsterdam, the UK and Germany.

There is a bus connecting airport and Volos Bus Station. Buses are waiting to pick up travelers after a plane lands. The cost from the airport to Volos Bus Station is 5 €. Travellers of charter flights are transferred to their accommodation by their tour agency.

If you have a car, the airport parking area charge 1€ p/h 6€ p/d 14€ p/w.

By international bus

There are buses that originate in Serbia or Hungary and go to Volos, and also buses that start from Athens and stop on the highway close to Volos (at Velestino exit).

By regional bus

Buying KTEL tickets from a more central location

Frustratingly, the KTEL coach station is not particularly central in Volos. However it is now possible to buy tickets in person at two, more central, locations. Marked only by small signs, and sold at a small till in a cafe and a sweet shop, you can buy KTEL tickets at Iasonas 16 (at Σερραίος – Tυρόπιτες, which is open from morning until evening) and Iasonas 84A (at Ξηροί Καρποί Τσιαπάρας, which is open usual shop opening hours.)

Generally, intercity coaches ("KTEL" buses) (KTEL Volou) are by far the most convenient way to travel around Greece, as well as for intra-regional travelling. This is doubly true for travelling to Volos from Athens, where the train takes five hours or even more as opposed to four on the coach. With the train you have to change in Larissa, but the views you get along the way from the mountains is for tourists often worth a while.

There is frequent bus service from Athens Liossion Station to Volos about 15 times a day (cost is about €20), as well as from Thessaloniki bus terminal "Macedonia" to Volos about 10 times a day (about € 12). Volos is also connected with daily direct routes to Patras, Ioannina, Larissa, Trikala, Karditsa and to many more places in continental Greece via Larissa. Interurban Bus Terminal is opposite to "Volos info center" near the City Hall, the Railway Station and the Port, on a major hub. Note that if you buy the return ticket, it is cheaper than buying two separate tickets, though the return leg must be completed within one month.

By train

Trains (OSE) connect Volos to other cities in Greece via Larisa. Travelling with ordinary trains can be cheaper, although a little bit slower, whereas choosing a faster Intercity train will cost the same amount of money, or even more than a KTEL bus.

The train from Athens, whilst travelling through some of the most attractive parts of the country, takes approximately five hours and involves a change at Larissa - it's really not worth it! All the locals travel from Athens by intercity coaches. If you are travelling from Thessaloniki or elsewhere in the north, there's not much to choose between the coach and the train in terms of duration or cost. The train wins on comfort, with space to get up and move around.

By ferry

There are ferry services to Skiathos, Skopelos, and Alonissos.

Get around

By bus

Bus routes in and around Volos


  • Νο 1 Anavros - N. Ionia (Αναυρος-Ν.Ιωνία)
  • Νο 2 Ampelokipi (Αμπελόκηποι)
  • Νο 3 Anavros - N. Dimitriada - N. Ionia (Αναυρος-Ν.Δημητριάδα-Ν.Ιωνία (ΜΕΤΚΑ))
  • Νο 4 Ano Volos (Ανω Βόλος)
  • Νο 4 Katichori, Stagiates, Ag. Onoufrios (Κατηχώρι, Σταγιάτες, Αγ.Ονούφριος)
  • Νο 5 Agria, Lechonia, Platanidia (Αγριά, Λεχώνια, Πλατανίδια)
  • Νο 6 Alykes, Agios Stefanos (Αλυκές, Άγιος Στέφανος)
  • Νο 7 Ali Meria (Άλλη Μεριά)
  • Νο 8 Dimini (Διμήνι)
  • Νο 9 Chiliadou (Χιλιαδού)
  • Νο 10 Melissatika (Μελισσάτικα)
  • Νο 11 Cemetery (Κοιμητήριο)
  • No 15 Anavros - G. Dimou - Palia (Άναυρος - Γ. Δήμου - Παλιά)

There are twelve bus lines going around the city (tickets cost €1.10 for inner city routes, whilst using inner city buses for close destinations outside Volos costs €1.50), detailed info in the regional bus terminal (called "Astiko KTEL"), directly adjacent to the Interurban Bus Terminal ("Yperastiko KTEL"). Details on buses, can be found online here

For going further away around Volos, you can use the Interurban Bus Terminal ("Yperastiko KTEL"). Details on buses, can be found online here

By taxi

Taxis in Volos, as everywhere in Greece are comparably cheap. You should not pay more than € 7 if you hail a cab (silver colour) on the road to take you anywhere in the city. Note that taxi meters have two rates - rate 1 applies from 5am till midnight, and rate 2, the double rate, from midnight to 5am. Taxi fare fraud is rather rare but it could still happen, so make sure the rate is correct. If you feel you have been overcharged, ask for a receipt (they are obliged to give one) and take the plate number, then phone the tourist police to report the driver on 171. Expect to pay € 1 or € 2 extra if you take a taxi from the bus station, the train station or the port, and a surcharge if you call for a taxi service on demand. Note, also that the minimum charge is 3.39 euros. Groups of three or four could consider using a taxi to go sightseeing around Volos, Pelion [for example. It's more expensive but more comfortable, and in some cases quite cost-effective. Prices

By bicycle

Most of Volos is quite flat, that makes it very easy for cycling, and a lot of locals do cycle. Especially the waterfront is the best area for cycling. Generally, cycling is a recommended way to move around. Volos recently has developed a network of bicycle lanes, however the lines are often blocked with parked cars and hardly anybody use them.

On foot

Several streets at the center of the town have been recently pedestrianized, mainly around Ermou Street and St. Nicolas church. Along the pedestrianized streets there are a lot of cafe places. The waterfront is also an excellent area for walking. When the weather is good it's packed with people walking around and enjoying the sun.

See

Volos tourist office


Volos tourist office has plenty of useful information about Volos, plus a free town map, a free Volos travel guide and many more. Volos tourist office is located opposite the bus station in Palea district. Also you can visit via your browser www.ilikevolos.gr,volos and pelion online guide.

Archaeological site of Ancient Dimini
Athanasakeion Archaeological Museum of Volos

Do

Swim

There are acceptable beaches towards the southern end of the city at Anavros. To get there, follow the coastal promenade south from Argonafton St or park in the roads behind the city hospital.

There is also Alykes municipal beach, a 5-minute-drive from the center to the southwest, in the more easygoing Alykes district of Volos, having cafes and bars offering sunbeds on the sand during late at night, where you can enjoy your cocktail and take a swim as well. The municipal beach in Alykes has an entrance fee of € 1 during the day, offering a lifeguard, showering facilities, clothes-changing chambers and a beach bar. You can easily go to Alykes with city bus (blue bus) number 6 from the city hall.

Most locals, however, head to beaches outside of the city on the other side of the giant cement works, to beaches at Agria (20 mins by bus), or Platanidia. You can easily go to Agria and Platanidia with city bus (blue bus) number 5 which starts from the Bus Station and passes through Iasonos and Polymeri str. Generally, the water is clearer and cleaner the further away from Volos' port.

If you do have a car and you want to go to a beach, it is well worth getting out of the city limits and beyond - some of the best beaches on the Greek mainland can be found on Pelion.

Cinema

There are several cinemas in Volos. Films are shown in original language with Greek subtitles, whereas cartoons are dubbed. In the summer make sure you get to one of the open air cinemas (Θερινό σινεμά).

Buy

The main shopping district is along and around Ermou St.

English books can be bought at main bookstores:

There is a good food market every Friday.

For washing your clothes:

Eat

Tsipouradika

Volos specializes in "Tsipouradika" (Greek Τσιπουράδικα) (also called "Ouzeri" (Greek Ουζερί)) where ("Tsipouro") (local Greek spirit) is served with a huge variety of mezes (small dishes of food, like tapas.) There are plenty of tsipouradika along the waterfront near the port, but the cheaper choices can be found in Nea Ionia and the best choices near Plateia Eleftherias. Most of tsiouradika have a fixed price for tsipouro with meze, the price may vary from 3€ - 3,5€ per 25cl, usually it's the same price in every tsipouradiko. The difference in price comes when ordering extra dishes. Meze vary from tsipouradiko to tsipouradiko also, some serve one meze per 25cl, while some in the center serve one meze per 50cl of tsipouro. Tsipouro is served in open bottles or closed bottles of 25cl, bottled is 0,5€ more expensive but the standard quality may be worth it. The 'correct' way (i.e. the way the locals do it, and therefore the cheapest way) to order in a tsipouradiko is to order a round of tsipouro bottles, and then the meze dishes will be brought along with the drinks - this will result in greater variety and cheaper prices! Generally, the larger the group that orders, the better the food.

As with the rest of Greece, the restaurants in Volos are far more varied than appears at first glance. In Greece, the so-called restaurants (eστιατόριο) usually serve hot food that has been prepared earlier in the day and kept warm in large dishes (better than it sounds!) Beyond that there's the local specialities, the tsipouradika restaurants (Τσιπουράδικα or Ουζερί) where seafood is served, and the tavernas (Ταβέρνα) where mostly meat dishes are served.

There are also psistaries (Ψησταριά) (Grill houses) where the main dish is grilled meat, and also souvlatzidika (Οβελιστήριο or Σουβλατζίδικο) where souvlaki are served. Psistaries serve mostly meat, salads and french fries. The meat usually is ordered by weight, and the price is per kilo also. One portion is 330gr of grilled meat. You'll be able to pick up a pitta gyros (Greek kebab) from any souvlatzidika, which are by far the cheapest option if you are on a budget, and don't mind gaining a few extra pounds (starts from 1.50 €).

People in Greece usually eats late in the evening (9pm - midnight), and so, during the day, most taverns, psistaries and restaurants are closed. However, tsipouradika and the ubiquitous Greek fast food restaurants are open all day long.

Soulvaki / fast food

Tsipouradika

Grill house

Budget

Mid range

Drink

Winter bars, pubs and clubs, usually close down during summer. Most of them have a different facility for the summer, usually by the sea. The most popular Coffee places are in Koumoundourou (Κουμουνδούρου) Str. and at the seafront. Another place which gathers a lot of people in the evening, mostly during the summer, is Palaia, near Krokiou (Κροκιού) Str.

Budget

Mid-range

Splurge


Coffee

Sleep

There are many hotels in Volos. Most are in center near the sea. Car parking could be hard to find in the center of Volos.

Budget

Mid range

Splurge

Stay healthy

Connect

Internet

There are many internet cafes, mostly used for playing online games. Most cafes have free WiFi access, as does Public (on Ogl).

Post

There are also courier services in Volos.

Cope

Consulates

Volos is home to a few consulates:

Go next

Volos Suburbs are covered by Astiko (innercity) bus.

Finding Intercity coach stops

Iperastiko (intercity) coach stops are harder to spot than the Astiko (innercity) stops. Don't just wait at a bus shelter, instead look out for a blue sign saying KTEL Iperastiko at the top of the pole by the side of the road. Tickets can be bought on the bus from a conductor, and only one-way tickets are available.

You'll most definitely want to take the opportunity to visit the close mountain villages of Portaria and Makrinitsa, offering you a splendid specimen of the renowned traditional architecture of the Pelion mansions. The city view from Makrinitsa is magnificent.

One of the greatest secrets that the Greeks have kept from the world, Mount Pelion, is close to Volos. It can easily be reached by bus or car. Pelion has wonderful beaches, fantastic hiking routes, and pretty villages. There are far fewer tourists than there should be, simply because it is a peninsula and not an island. Of particular interest in the region are skiing in nearby Chania or taking the steam train from nearby Ano Lechonia to Milies.

The nearby Sporades Islands are great during the summer. Ferries and hydrofoils connect Volos with the islands.

There are nice, close(ish) beaches at

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