Greece is one of our favorite destinations for sailing. It’s numerous islands, hospitable people, delectable dishes and rich cultural heritage make Greece the perfect place to explore by boat. We’ve been lucky to get some terrific insider tips from our guest blogger, Georgie Moon. This week, she reveals one of the best-kept secrets in Greece: the Gulf of Volos. Discover the alluring and mythical Gulf while sailing in Volos, Thessaly. Book your boat in Volos and set sail for an unforgettable journey in Thessaly, one of the most captivating areas for sailing in the center of Greece.
The engaging Gulf of Volos
Are you looking for a sailing destination in Greece which has fairly gentle sailing waters, is undeveloped in terms of tourism, has magnificent scenery and steeped in ancient history, and also with relatively few yachts compared to the Ionian? I’m happy to share my secret with you, and tell you about the Gulf of Volos in Thessaly.
This area of water is roughly diamond-shaped, 18nm wide and long, with a 3nm wide entrance at the southern tip. It is approximately 330km north-west of Athens, and no more than half a day’s sail from Skiathos and the other Sporades islands to the east.
The tiny village of Pigadhi in the far south of the Gulf was our first stop after we left the harbour at Oreoi on the island of Evia. Pighadi has good shelter from the prevailing winds and you may choose to anchor off the harbour, or go alongside the little jetty. There are several tavernas ashore, and water is available at the base of the quay. We took a short walk eastwards from the village and discovered an amazing Greek beach resort complete with sunloungers, umbrellas and a bar – an excellent place to spend a lazy day.
Not far from Pigadhi is the slightly larger harbour town of Achillio, named after the Greek hero Achilles. He set sail from this area with 300 warships, each with three tiers of oars, known as triremes in 300 BC for the Trojan wars. A tower was built in his honour high on a hill near Pigadhi. Achillio now has a new breakwater making the main quay less exposed to the prevailing winds. Water and electricity are available on the town quay, which makes the quay popular with cruisers. There are also some trip boats moored here, which leave daily for Skiathos.
In the Gulf itself, a very sheltered spot in the south east corner is Vathoudi bay. It is home to a large charter fleet who will allow you to use their pontoon mid-week when their yachts have left. Across the water is a boatyard which is a possible choice for those who wish to lay up their boats over winter. There is a good bus service from here to Volos, and then onwards to Athens.
Another little gem we discovered on the east coast of the gulf is the seaside village of Milina. As well as an attractive beach where you can watch the astonishing sunset, there are many tavernas and small shops here, including an amazing Greek bakery where the bread you buy is warm to the touch. There is also a pharmacy, two butchers’ shops and several well-stocked fruit shops. We discovered a newly built harbour at the southern edge of the town, which is a recent addition. Many local fishing boats use it, and a tourist trip boat, but we successfully managed to berth side-to, along with a couple of other visiting yachts. On another occasion, we anchored off at the entrance to the harbour, and took a stern line ashore.
The western coast of the gulf of Volos is probably less popular, as there is a large military area nearby, but one place we visited was Amaliapolis, which also has a small harbour as well as a jetty. There were several attractive tavernas on the waterfront, as well as an excellent beach and an interesting church.
Probably our favourite harbour was Palio Trikeri on the small island of the same name, at the southern end of the Pelion peninsula. Trikeri island is small enough to explore in a morning, and a visit to the monastery up the hill should not be missed. On the weekends, the waterside tavernas are packed with Greeks visiting from the mainland on the little water taxis which buzz across the bay. There are no cars on this tiny island, and even the dustbins have to be collected by mules. There is a large water barge permanently moored at the south end of the harbour which can be used for alongside mooring, otherwise go stern-to against the quay near the fishing boats. As an alternative, anchor off in front of the old fishermen’s cottages and take a line ashore. Pithou Bay along the coast is also a very pleasant quiet anchorage and only a short walk back to the tavernas.
Volos town itself is also worth a visit. From here, Jason set off many centuries BC with his Argonauts, in pursuit of the Golden Fleece. The impressive backdrop of Mount Pelion was once home to the Centaurs – the half-man, half-beast creatures of Greek mythology. The mountain now has a popular ski resort in the winter months. The fifth largest town in Greece, Volos boasts a university, a theatre and some very respectable shops. The bus station and tourist information office are within walking distance of the fishing quay, as well as several large supermarkets. The airport is approximately 30km away, with several scheduled and charter flights every day.
It would be worth hiring a car for a day while you are in Volos, as the Pelion area and Magnesia peninsula are full of notable sights, such as the mountain village of Makrinitsa which clings precariously from the rocks behind Volos, and offers spectacular views. It gives you an insight into the way of life in Greece in days gone by. Or you could take the little narrow gauge steam railway, built in 1894, from the eastern outskirts of Volos at Ano Lechonia into the mountain foothills, crossing stone viaducts and traversing fertile valleys. It is described as one of the most enchanting train rides in the world.
So the Gulf of Volos is no longer a secret. With relatively calm mornings and fresh afternoon sea breezes, the gulf is an exquisite, undiscovered sailing area, which is ready to be explored.
Book your boat in Volos with Zizoo and start sailing in Thessaly.You can find more of Georgie’s sailing routes in Greece here, here and here. You can then choose one of our fantastic boats in Greece and try the routes out yourself.