Family Destinations File: Pilio’s Beaches and Mountain Villages
Can't decide between a beach holiday or hiking in the mountains? In Pilio you can have it all.
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.
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