Of the lesser promoted regions of Pilio, southern Pilio is visited by fewer people compared to other destinations such as Ntamouchari, Chorefto and Aghios Ioannis. Quaint villages, beaches, traditional tavernas and authentic coffee shops are what make up southern Pilio, a region that geographically begins from the villages of Afetes, Leftokastro, Argalasti and extends south to the end of the peninsula.
To the left lies the Pagasetic Gulf, to the right the Aegean Sea, and in the middle mountain slopes lush with pine trees, olive trees and cypress trees. On the southern tip of the peninsula, where Mount Tisaio stands imposingly, the village of Trikeri, which was built atop a hill overlooking the sea, offers even more tranquility and seclusion.
The eastern side of the peninsula is dotted with a host of small and large beaches, most of which are accessible by car through winding roads. The beach at Potistika, which is just 20 minutes by car from Argalasti, is the easiest to reach. The clear waters, the long sandy beach and the large rocks form a unique seascape. You can find a few umbrellas and sun beds on the left side of the beach, while on the right side the rocks offer shade to the first few lucky people who get the good spots. A cafeteria–restaurant operates at the beach, while to the right a short trail leads to the crystal blue waters of Melani Beach.
Further to the south, you will find the beaches of Paltsi, Mourtia, Liri and Theotokos. At the village of Katigiorgis, you can combine a swim in the small bay with excellent food. A cafeteria–taverna operates at Vromoneri beach, while it is worth driving all the way to the south, close to the village of Aghia Kyriaki, to Aghia Vaso Beach. It is not an organized beach so don’t forget to bring your towel and umbrella. The trees reach all the way to the water’s edge and the beach is sandy with small pebbles.
The Pagasetic Gulf
On the side of the Pagasetic Gulf, the beaches are smaller and the waters are shallower. Driving from Argalasti to Trikeri, you will pass by dozens of small bays, most of which do not have umbrellas and sunbeds, but there are coffee shops and small tavernas where you can enjoy a refreshing drink and excellent food.
Enjoy a day at the beaches of Kalamos, Paou and Tzitzikia (where the olive trees extend all the way to the water) or at the remote beach of Tzasteni: the bay is not visible from the road, there is no sign and you will have to leave your vehicle on the road and walk down to the beach via a small path.
A timeless place
Everything in Lafkos seems to have remained unchanged for decades, if not centuries, as if time has stood still. Vehicles are not permitted in this traditional village, while everyone gathers in the square and on the main pedestrian street.
The famous Forlidas coffee shop, located on the square, was established in 1785 and today is run by the family’s seventh generation. The large sycamore trees that offer precious shade were planted in 1882, while the bakery of Giannis Drositis (Tel. (+30) 24230.650.46) prepares sourdough bread that they have been baking in a wood burning stove since 1952. Visit the Radio Museum (Tel. (+30) 697.037.4922) where you can check out the collection of analog audio devices – the oldest date back to the 1930s.
A chequered history
Palaio Trikeri, the small island in the Pagasetic Gulf, has only 32 inhabitants. Centuries ago, pirate attacks forced the inhabitants to abandon the island and seek refuge on Greece’s mainland. They, thus, founded the village of Trikeri, which they built atop a hill so that they can keep a watch on the sea and warn people of any hostile movements. The small island is covered with olive groves and on the top of the hill lies the Church of Evangelistria, which can be reached on foot (a 10-minute walk) from the port. During the Greek Civil War and until 1953, around 5,000 women were exiled to Palaio Trikeri.
Today, the island has two cafeterias–tavernas that operate at the port, while the island also boasts beautiful beaches that can be accessed on foot via paths. Water taxis (tel. (+30) 698.051.5111) operate between Alogoporos Beach and Palaio Trikeri. The boat ride is about 5 minutes and return tickets start from €10, depending on the number of people. Sail With Us (Tel. (+30) 697.734.7172) operates six luxury yachts and, seated in Volos, charters boat trips to Palio Trikeri, the Pagasetic Gulf and the nearby Sporades islands. Tickets start from €70 per person.
Catch of the day
The Aegean Sea is bountiful and the tavernas get their fish and seafood straight from the caiques of the local fishermen. At Areti (or “Stamouli” as the locals prefer to call it, Tel. (+30) 24230.714.40) in Katigiorgi, you can enjoy delicious pasta with shrimp and crawfish, tuna fillet and other dishes that are prepared with the catch of the day.
In Aghia Kyriaki, Manola (tel. (+30) 24230.913.11) serves fresh lobster, seabream, grilled octopus, sea fig and many more delights.
On the island of Palaio Trikeri, Isalos (tel. (+30) 24230.558.62), where the water taxi will drop you off, offers a variety of fish and seafood mezes.
At the square of Argalasti, Pithari (tel. (+30) 24230.556.81) serves carefully prepared meat dishes and cool, wholesome salads – the burger is superb.
This article was previously published in Greek at kathimerini.gr.