Thessalia, (Meteora + Larissa + Volos + Pelion) with local expert, Katerina
Insider guide to the Greece we don’t hear about often. Not just Santorini! This is an article from our local expert series where we ask recommendations and travel tips directly from locals for the most authentic experiences.
Katerina is my friend who helped me design our #OffbeatGreece holiday a few months back. Our primary reason to travel to Greece was her grand Greek wedding. We planned few days before and after her wedding to explore the hidden nooks of gorgeous Greece. Our initial plan was to go to the Greek islands (Santorini and Mykonos) but I was tired of seeing the same old pictures from everyone and wanted to see something different. That is when I involved Katerina is planning our time in Greece. She was super helpful. No only she helped me plan it, but, in fact, made some calls for checking out bus routines and even drove us to the stunning gravity-defying Meteora!
Why is Katerina the local expert for me?
First of all, she helped me plan the amazing holiday in Greece which is so far one of the most unexpected trips of my life. Secondly, Larissa (in Thessalia) is Katerina’s hometown. She grew up there and hence has insider knowledge not only about Larissa but surroundings as well (hence multiple day trips)! So let’s hear it from Katerina now:
What are the ‘must to-dos’ in Thessalia?
- Larissa: drink cold coffee, party at city’s bars with cocktails, enjoy Larissa’s coastline during summer time and visit Tempi.
- Volos: have some ‘tsipouro’ and taste special Greek delicacies in the traditional ‘tsipouradika’ around the port.
- Meteora: visit Meteora monasteries and Kalambaka city.
- Pelion: stroll/drive around numerous beautiful traditional villages and beautiful beaches with crystal waters.
Any special historical sites or museums you would recommend?
Places to avoid (tourist traps, not worth) and their alternatives, if any.
I am not aware of something like that.
Is Thessalia safe for solo travel? Should anything travelers know in advance?
All the above-mentioned regions are safe for solo travel.
Best offbeat experiences? Adventures?
- Trekking in Pelion and Mount Olympus
- Larissa’s coastline, Agiokampos
- Beaches in Pelion and Volos
- Sporades islands.
Local food/drinks? Recommendations for local restaurants/cafes in Larissa?
- Cold coffee (Freddo Espresso, Freddo Cappuccino)
- wine from local producers
- Local kebab
- cheese ‘anivato’ (produced only in Larissa)
- lamb or beef with kritharaki (Greek and Italian pasta)
Nisha’s comment: I fell in love with Greek food instantly. You can feel that freshness and flavors oozing from every dish you order. Talk about the local produce, eh? I was so impressed that I dedicated an entire article for my favorites Greek dishes.
- Taverna Xatzigiannis Dimitrios (kebab specialist)
- Νικόδημος tavern with traditional Greek food.
- Ματύλλη Ουζερί, for ouzo and tsipouro
- bier center: beers from Greece, Germany, Belgium, Czech Republic etc
- Kubrick for Greek coffee and cocktails,
- Las Ramblas cafe and brunch
- Klimax (Greek coffee, desserts, wines and beers)
- At Frourio area (fortress area): Nonna rossa restaurant /bar, Ten doors restaurant/bar
Nisha’s comment: I didn’t know it then but Greek cafes/bars turned out to be one of the most stylish ones I have ever seen. Each different from the other but still remarkably wonderful. I was super impressed by this focus on design and style!
Best nightlife spots? Recommendations for local’s favorite bars and discos?
- All the above mentioned
- People in Larissa stay till the first morning hours outside having fun and party time.
Nisha’s comment: I can vouch for that. I remember sleeping during the day after so many years (Siesta baby!), getting up all refreshed at 9 pm, taking a shower and then getting ready for the big night 😉 Believe me when I say this people, Greeks know how to party!
Best intercity travel options? The best way to travel within the city? Walking, biking, metro, bus, tram?
All the above-mentioned cities/towns are considerably small. Hence, the best way to travel within is walking and biking. For intercity travel options, check out the extensive railway network. KTEL bus services are also available between cities but the information is distributed across the bus stations: Larissa, Volos and Magnesia Prefecture, Meteora and Athens.
Best weather to visit and additional information like weather app/website. Advice for different weather conditions?
Anytime between the end of April and mid of October. You can check weather updates at the local website.
The best way to know about the current/future events in the Thessalia? Web sites, blogs?
There are few blogs where you can see the current or future events in the city. In summer, they have several film and music festival. Check out these blogs when you plan your travels to make the most of your experience: Volos, Thessaloniki, and Larissa.
Things you would like tourists to not do? General do’s and don’ts? Any tourist traps to be cautious about? Like currency exchange?
- I do not like when tourists drink too much and they lose control.
- tourist traps: for food and drinking always check the price catalog to avoid overcharges.
- Same for taxis.
Best day trips from this city/region?
As Larissa is situated at the heart of Greece, it is pretty easy and straightforward to plan multiple day trips. I would certainly recommend visiting Thessaloniki, Athens, Meteora, Volos and Pelion. These day trips can be individually planned using the extensive railway network. KTEL bus services are also available between cities but the information is distributed across the bus stations: Larissa, Volos and Magnesia Prefecture, Meteora and Athens.
Glimpse of traditional costumes
Traditional Greek costumes are quite colorful and pretty.
What do you like the most about the city? What makes Thessalia special?
Thessalia is a region located in the center of Greece. That means that one can visit Thessaloniki (the 2nd biggest city of Greece in 1 hour and 15 min. Or Athens in 3 and 1/2 hours. It combines great nightlife (Larissa is the 4th biggest city in Greece) and a very beautiful nature. It offers multiple activities for the outdoor lovers as well. For example, trekking through Olympos, swimming in Agiokampos etc. Pelion with its traditional villages, magical beaches and the crystal waters is one of my favorite weekend hideouts. Neighboring and much underrated Volos is excellent with the port and its nightlife. Sporades islands are also very beautiful. All in all, there is so much to see in this region in every weather.
Nisha’s final comments: I completely agree with Katerina! I would not have known about this #OffbeatGreece if it was not for her. She invited us to her beautiful (and crazy) wedding which was a madness in itself. We explored many regions in Thessalia: Pelion, Volos, Meteora and Thessaloniki, all because of her special suggestions. This trip to Greece was one of our most magical trips so far! Thanks a lot, Katerina, for sharing these recommendations with me and the And there she goes again community.
This was the first article in our local expert recommendation series. What do you think it? Are there some other questions you would like to get answered? Leave your questions below and we can get them answered in next article!
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