Difference between revisions of "Volos"
Revision as of 19:33, 7 July 2012
Volos (Greek: Βόλος) (Population: 123,815 (2001)) is the 5th biggest city (and 3d largest port) in Greece, situated in Thessaly, almost in the middle of the distance between Athens (326 km) and Thessaloniki (219 km). Volos is an industrial city, with a large port - but there are a few hidden gems here that you might find as you pass through to islands or Pelion.
Modern Volos is built on the area of the ancient cities of Demetrias, Pagasae and Iolkos. Iolkos was the homeland of ancient Greek hero Jason who boarded the ship Argo accompanied by the Argonauts and sailed in the quest for the Golden Fleece to Colchis. Demetrias was established by Demetrius Poliorcetes, King of Macedonia, in 293/92 BC. In 197 BC Romans annexed Demetrias.
To the west of Volos there are the Neolithic settlements of Dimini with a ruined acropolis, walls and two beehive tombs dated between 4000-1200 BC and Sesklo with the remains of the oldest acropolis in Greece (6000 BC), as well as the foundations of a palace and mansions, among the most typical examples of Neolithic civilisation.
During Byzantine empire, emperor Justinian I in 551 fortified Palea hill. In 1423 Ottomans annexed Volos. Volos during the Ottoman empire was a hamlet, build on the hill in Palea district. The hill was fortified with walls. Today just a few parts of the walls can be seen near the Tsalapata building.
After its annexation to Greece from the Ottoman Empire in 1881, it had a population of only 4,900 but rapidly grew within the next 4 decades. Houses were built outside the walls and the main area of Volos by the sea was built up. Merchants, businessmen, craftsmen and sailors moved to Volos from the surrounding area. In the 1920s there was a large influx of refugees in Volos, especially from Ionia, but also from Pontus, Cappadocia and Eastern Thrace. In the 1920 census, Volos had 30,046 inhabitants but according to the 1928 census, its population had grown to 47,892.
Volos, unlike other towns of the Thessalian plain, enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with can-be-hot-but-bearable summers (though a little bit humid) and mild winters. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit the city itself, Winter is the time to be on the Pelion mountain villages, and Summer should definitely be dedicated to the numerous beaches of the region on the Pagasetic gulf and the Aegean Sea.
Being privileged to be situated on the foothills of Mount Pelion, the mythical mountain of the centaurs, and bounded by Goritsa Hill to the Southeast, Volos sports nice weather all year long, with the sea and mountain breezes dominant in all city areas.
Volos was one of the 4 cities in Greece, other than Athens, where Olympic venues where constructed for the olympic football tournament. Apart from the flashy 22,000 seats "Panthessaliko Stadium" that was built in the district of Nea Ionia, there have been constructed some new roads (like a ring road to the city, making access to Pelion easier for travellers coming from E75 Athens or Thessaloniki) plus a facelift of the waterfront and the city inner districts.
Other athletic events
Approximately 2 years after the Olympic Games, Volos is the first Greek city to host a major sport event on an international level; The Men&Women, Juniors and Seniors Artistic Gymnastics European Championship 2006. The Games took place at Nea Ionia Sport Complex, and particularly at the Indoor Swimming Hall, which was specially transformed for this cause. There was a major works' scheme in the city, with renovation and enlargement of hotels etc, in order to be able to host the Games.
The Artistic Gymnastics Games took place between the end of April and the beginning of May 2006.
Volos airport  (VOL) is situated in Nea Anchialos, about 30 km SW from the city. Air Berlin  operates every Monday and every Friday from May to October (Flights to/from Berlin, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, Nuremberg, Vienna). Ryanair  operates flights from April to October to/from Hahn. (Frankfurt), Bergamo (Milan), Rome and Charleroi (Brussels) airport. Lauda Air  operate to/from Vienna. Transavia  operate to/from Amsterdam. Sky Express  operates to/from Heraklion and Mykonos.
It also operates weekly charter flights during the summer, directly from Amsterdam, the UK and Germany.
There are expansion projects of the airport underway, as well as a rail connection from Volos city to the airport. The new airport building is in use since November 2010.
There is a bus connecting airport and Volos bus station (). Buses are waiting to pick up travelers after a plane lands, the cost form the airport to Volos Bus station is 5 €. Travellers of charter flights are transfered to their accommodation by their travelling agency. If you have a car, the airport parking area charge 8 €p/d 47€ p/w.
By international coach
There are buses starting from Volos, and also buses that starts from Athens and stops on the highway close to Volos (at Velestino exit). FPtravel  (Serbia, Hungary).
By regional coach
Interurban coaches ("KTEL" buses) (KTEL Volou (site in Greek)) are by far the most convenient way to travel around Greece, as well as for intra-regional travelling. There is frequent bus service from Athens Liossion Station to Volos about 15 times a day (cost is about €20), as well as from Thessaloniki bus terminal "Macedonia" to Volos about 10 times a day (about € 12). Volos is also connected with daily direct routes to Patras, Ioannina, Larissa, Trikala, Karditsa and to many more places in continental Greece via Larissa. Interurban Bus Terminal is opposite to "Volos info center" near the City Hall, the Railway Station and the Port, on a major hub.
Trains (OSE) connect Volos to other cities in Greece via Larisa. Travelling with ordinary trains can be cheaper, although a little bit slower, whereas choosing a fancy faster Intercity train will cost the same amount of money, or even more than a KTEL bus.
There are twelve bus lines going around the city (tickets cost €1.10 for inner city routes, whilst using inner city buses for close destinations outside Volos costs €1.50), detailed info in the regional bus terminal (called "Astiko KTEL"), directly adjacent to the Interurban Bus Terminal ("Yperastiko KTEL"). Details on buses, can be found online here
Taxis in Volos, as everywhere in Greece are comparably cheap. You should not pay more than € 7 if you hail a cab (silver colour) on the road to take you anywhere in the city. Note that taxi meters have two rates - rate 1 applies from 5am till midnight, and rate 2, the double rate, from midnight to 5am. Taxi fare fraud is rather rare but it could still happen, so make sure the rate is correct. If you feel you have been overcharged, ask for a receipt (they are obliged to give one) and take the plate number, then phone the tourist police to report the driver on 171. Expect to pay € 1 or € 2 extra if you take a taxi from the bus station, the train station or the port, and a surcharge if you call for a taxi service on demand. Note, also that the minimum charge is 3.39 euros.
Most of Volos is quite flat, that makes it very easy for cycling, and a lot of locals do cycle. Especially the waterfront is the best area for cycling. Generaly, cycling is a recommended way to move around. Volos recently has developed a network of bicycle lanes, however the lines are often blocked with parked cars and hardly anybody use them.
Several streets at the center of the town have been recently pedestrianized, mainly around Ermou Street and St. Nicolas church. Along the pedestrianized streets there are a lot of cafe places. The waterfront is also an excellent area for walking. When the weather is good it's packed with people walking around and enjoying the sun.
Volos hasn't been lucky to preserve the large number of neoclassical buildings that could be spotted almost everywhere, as a sign of its industrial boom in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately, a devastating series of earthquakes in 1955 destroyed many parts of the old town. The architectural and urban-planning character of Volos is achieved by the layouts of streets and squares. The current urban plan of Volos was fundamentally formed in 1882, shortly after the liberation of the city and was much influenced by concepts of neoclassical town planning. Modern city isn't really interesting architecturally, apart from "Achilleion" cinema on the promenade, Volos railway station (officially described as one of the most beautiful in Greece from Hellenic Railways, once a departure point for the nowadays touristic "Pelion train") and the churches of Aghios Nikolaos (cathedral) and Aghios Konstantinos (basilica, on the promenade). Former brick factory "Tsalapatas" renovated in a museum and leisure area with taverns, bars etc. The University of Thessaly, has preserved a series of old industrial warehouses and other buildings in various places in the city, to use them as academic faculties today, "Papastratos building" on the promenade, originally a greek tobacco company warehouse is the administration building of the university and could be thought as the trademark of Volos. Some typical examples of Neoclassical buildings are: The 3-storeyed Hotel de France, with its impressive decorative murals (1894, Iasonos and K. Kartali streets), The National Bank, formerly the Epirothessalian Bank(1895), The Athens Bank (1903, today the library of University of Thessaly), The Achilllopouleion Hospital (1901), The Archaeological Museum of Volos, Athanasakeio (1909), The Agricultural Bank (1909, formerly the Kosmadopoulos Bank), The Cinetheater Achillion, (1925), The Aegli Hotel, (1927), designed by Kassiopoulos, The Building of the Air-force High officials Club near Agios Konstantinos Park, believed that it was designed by Le Corbusier, The Bank of Greece (1935), The Averofeian courts of Justice, The well preserved Regas house and its singular decorative murals, today the Lyceum of Greek women.
There are acceptable beaches towards the southern end of the city at Anavros. To get there, follow the coastal promenade south from Argonafton St or park in the roads behind the city hospital. Most locals, however, head to beaches the other side of the giant cement works on the outskirts of the city, to beaches at Agria (20 mins by bus) or further down the coast. Generally, the water is clearer and cleaner the further away from Volos' port. But, Anavros is acceptable and many many locals do swim there. But seriously, if you do have a car and you want to go to a beach, it is well worth getting out of the city limits and beyond - some of the best beaches on the Greek mainland can be found on Pelion.
There are several cinemas in Volos. Films are shown in original language with Greek subtitles, whereas cartoons are dubbed. In the summer make sure you get to one of the open air cinemas (Θερινό σινεμά).
Winter bars, pubs and clubs, usually close down during summer. Most of them have a different facility for the summer, usually by the sea.
All year round
Downtown choices are:
Other choices are:
The main shopping district is along and around Ermou St.
English books can be bought at main bookstores:
There is a good food market every Friday.
For washing your clothes:
The choices for eating are Tsipouradika (Τσιπουράδικα or Ουζερί) where seafood is served, Taverns (Ταβέρνα) where mostly meat dishes are served, Restaurants (Εστιατόριο) where Greek dishes can be found (there are Italian and Chinese restaurants also), Psistaries (Ψησταριά) (Grill houses) where the main dish is grilled meat, Fast Food choices are local Souvlatzidika (Οβελιστήριο or Σουβλατζίδικο) where souvlaki is served, and typical fast food chains such as Goody's and Everest. Souvlatzidika is the cheapest option if you are on a budget.
People in Greece usually eats late in the evening (21:00 - 24:00), during the day most Taverns, Psistaries and Restaurants are closed. However, Tsipouradika and Fast Food restaurants are open all day long.
Restaurants (Εστιατόριο) and Taverns (Ταβέρνα)
Tsipouradika (Τσιπουράδικα or Ουζερί)
Most of tsiouradika have a fixed price for tsipouro with meze, the price may vary from 3€ - 3,5€ per 25cl, usually it's the same price in every tsipouradiko. The difference in price comes when ordering extra dishes. Meze vary from tsipouradiko to tsipouradiko also, some serve one meze per 25cl, while some in the center serve one meze per 50cl of tsipouro. Tsipouro is served in open bottles or closed bottles of 25cl, bottled is 0,5€ more expensive but the standard quality may be worth it.
Psistaries (Ψησταριά) (Grill houses)
Psistaries serve mostly meat, salads and french fries. The meat usually is ordered by weight, and the price is per kilo also. One portion is 330gr of grilled meat.
There are many hotels in Volos. Most are in center near the sea. Car parking could be hard to find in the center of Volos.
Mount Pelion is close to Volos. It can easily be reached by bus or car.
Sporades Islands are famous during summer. Ferries and hydrofoils connect Volos with the islands.
There are nice, close(ish) beaches at
Volos is home to a few consulates: