The rising sun and emerald crystal water the of the Aegean Sea glittering under the clear blue sky – that is the view I used to see every morning during my Greece vacation in Agios Ioannis Pelion. Last year we decided to spend our summer holiday in the region of Volos Greece because we were amazed by its beauty when we passed through the Monthain of the mythical creatures – halfman/halfhorse – Centauros on our way to Skopelos Island. So I did my research, spoke with a few Greek residents in my country, and chose the East coast of the Greek peninsula of Pelion for a family vacation at the beginning of July 2015. Agios Ioannis is the most developed resort on East Pelion`s coast but has still kept its magic. This area features a rare combination of green forested mountain and wide beaches.
Agios Ioannis Hotels
As usual, we needed a hotel with cheap prices. I started arranging our Greece vacation by searching Booking.com and Venere.com’s databases but all offers seemed expensive to me! We targeted room prices of up to 50 euros per night in a beachfront hotel in a lively village. One day I found the website of hotel Evripides in Agios Ioannis. From their page it was difficult to get an idea of the residence`s features but we booked 3 rooms.
When we arrived at Agios Ioannis, Pelion we were pleasantly surprised – the hotel was situated in the center of the village, just in front of a swimmable beach. All rooms overlook the sea – a fact that was not mentioned in the website. You cross the promenade and jump into the sea. At the reception we learned that breakfast is included in the price. We paid 40 euros per night for a double room and 35 euros – for a single room.
For breakfast they served coffee (frappe, Greek coffee, instant coffee or filter coffee), fresh orange juice, bread, yellow cheese, honey and home-made cake. The menu was all the same every day.
As every other lodging in this village, there were no sound proof rooms in Hotel Evripides. It is great to have a rest during the low season – June, 1-15 July and September but in high season it could be a challenge to sleep well at night.
Thanks to its superb location, Hotel Evripides was the best choice for our Greece vacation. It is next to the village`s pharmacy. The local mini market, restaurants and bars were a few meters from the hotel. The building neighbors with a travel agency where you can book boat tours, sea-kayaking and other activities organized by Pelion venture partners.
Another convenient Agios Ioannis accommodation is hotel Eden on Plaka beach. It is amphitheatrically built on a hill. The lodge is surrounded by lush vegetation. All rooms are overlooking one of the most spectacular sceneries of the peninsula. Rooms are equipped with air conditioning, tv, refrigerator, and Wi-Fi. The staff is very helpful. Just for example, a member of our company was bitten by a hornet. We ran from the Eden beach bar to the hotel`s reception for remedies to control the pain. A lady who was a hotel manager gave us a special medicine to treat the irritated skin. She cheerfully explained us that if a person is not allergic, one can benefit from the bite since it has anti-cancer effect. She advised us to put ice on the place. Her reaction made our day!
Personally, I would not choose hotel Eden in Agios Ioannis for a family vacation because it is considerably far from the village center and from restaurants and bars.
A good option is to stay at hotel Kelly which is situated on the main street of Agios Ioannis. I wonder if the rooms are quieter since the building is very close to one of the most crowded bars – Paralos. Maybe hotel Sofoklis is a better place to stay but it is more expensive than hotel Evripides because it has an outdoor swimming pool. The accommodation offers 20 rooms It is also located near a tiny harbor.
Best Pelion Beaches
#1 Plaka beach
This spectacular place is a paradise for the nature loving tourists. It reminds me of the exotic Freedom beach on Phuket Island with its emerald water and wide sandy beach. The lush vegetation growing on vertical cliffs is like a live green curtain. There is a small organized part of the beach with sunbeds and umbrellas. You can rent 2 chairs and sun umbrellas for 5 euros per day. The Eden beach bar offers excellent espresso coffee (2 euros), cocktails (9 euros) and fresh juices (4 euros). You have an amazing view from the bar`s balcony over the extremely beautiful Plaka beach. The music they play is a perfect addition to this summer experience.
There are two natural swimming pools formed by cliffs in the water. They are an ideal spot for families with children. The greatest part of Plaka beach is a wild territory of sand. There are many romantic spots where you can relax under the natural shadow of the trees.
Plaka beach is perfect for snorkeling, swimming or just relaxing on the beach. It can be reached by 5-7 minute walk from Agios Ioannis village.
#2. Papa Nero Beach
In a direction opposite the Plaka beach, there is another beautiful sandy shore. A 5 minute walk across an incredibly beautiful bridge will bring you from the center of the village to the sandy beach of Papa Nero. It looks more organized than Plaka beach. There are 2 restaurants, camping and 3 hotels. Anyway here you can enjoy breathtaking scenery featuring green forest and crystal clear water of the sea.
#3. Agios Ioannis beach
Agios Ioannis beach is also considered one of the most beautiful spots in the area. It is an opportunity to get in touch with the sea and stay close to the main highlights of the picturesque village. You do not have to pay for an umbrella and sunbeds. Instead, you are expected to order a drink from a bar. Cocktails are cheaper on the beach of Agios Ioannis – 6 euros plus complimentary seasonal fruits.
There are more treasures along the coast of East Pelion. One of them is the fishing village of Damouchari. It is only 3 km from Agios Ioannis. This settlement is a small mountain village featuring a natural harbour, and 2 romantic bays with little rocks. I personally cannot recommend the beach of Damouchari for swimming and sunbathing since stones on the beach are too big and there a slippery ground surface.
Damouchari features old stone houses with stone roofs, narrow paving streets, and a Byzantine church. Here you can explore the perfect examples of the distinctive traditional architecture of this region. The picturesque scenery of of Damouchari beach with its white marble pebbles and high cliffs has attracted the producers of the Mamma Mia! Musical. Some scenes were filmed around the harbor. The bay is the main setting of the “Dancing Queen” choreography. The film crew built a wooden platform where Meryl Streep danced. Now this platform does not exist but you can sit on the beautiful terrace of the Tomas’ café where the film crew was sitting in 2007. In our article on the island of Skopelos you can explore the other places where shots were taken on.
Damouchari is a place for nature lovers and adventurous people. They enjoy hiking, walks in narrow paths, horse-riding and sea-kayaking. We booked from the tourist agency in Agios Ioannis a 1,5 hour sea-kayaking tour. We really wanted to explore this picturesque coast from a different perspective and to see places that only boats can reach. Our guided trip took us to a place where fresh water mixes with salty water without sinking thanks to a natural fountain. We saw numerous sea caves and the biggest surprise was to encounter a seal! This amazing creature was only 200 meters from our kayak.
The Pelion Secrets company organizes many full-day guided kayak tours along the coast of Pelion. You can see one of the most beautiful and remote spots in the area – Fakistra beach, Fakistra sea cave and Mylopotamos. You do not have to be skilled in paddling since sea kayaking tour starts with the basic paddling techniques. All participants paddle as a group. You are expected to bring with you a sun screen, a t-shirt, a hat and a bath towel.
Fakistra beach and Fakistra cave are located between Mylopotamos beach and Damouchari. The day we visited Mylopotamos we tried to find the path to Fakistra. Unfortunately, we spent too much time in search of this remote and mystic place. There were no signs and we tried several small and steep paths. We managed to see these hidden gems from above and the view was stunning. I think that getting to Fakistra beach is a big challenge. You have to bring with you walking shoes because the route is very extreme.
# 6. Mylopotamos
Mylopotamos is one of the most exotic beaches on the Greek peninsula of Pelion. To get from Agios Ioannis to this place you will pass through a landscape of unique variety. Your eyes will roam from the high mountain views to the scenery of the Aegean Sea. This beautiful natural setting features stunning cliffs and crystal emerald water. There is a magical arch formed on a coastline.
Mylopotamos beach can be very crowded even in low season since everyone wants to take a picture of this natural wander. We visited this place once but preferred Plaka beach to relax and swim.
Places to See During Your Greece Vacation
This is one of the most prominent villages on the Pelion peninsula. It is 13 km from Volos. Here you will enjoy stunning panoramic views of the Volos city and the Pagasitic gulf. There are charming cafes and taverns where you can taste the Greek cuisine. Speaking about food, in my opinion the dishes they serve in the area can hardly be called a culinary experience of a lifetime. Compared to Halkidiki’s restaurants the traditional dishes of Pelion are not so tasty. But they still reveal the unique character of the region.
Tsagarada lies 10 km of Agios Ioannis. The village features rich forest vegetation, 4 squares, various fountains, century old trees, and a dozen of churches. The road from Agios Ioannis to Pelion is very extreme. It is a very scenic drive but we do not recommend it at night since there are very dangerous curves.
Agios Ioannis, Pelion can be a great starting point for an unforgettable Greece vacation. You can enjoy places that few tourists have visited. This boutique travel will give you freedom to explore little known places.