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Volos, Greece

The span of highrise buildings that line the waterfront at Volos speak to modern Greece, rather than the ancient land. Indeed Volos is a very Greek city, a busy port and not high on the list of places for a traveler to visit. Yet like most places in Greece, its roots are deep in the mythic and historic soil of the country. Volos lies on the doorstep of the Plain of Thessaly, the pastures of Centaurs. In the nation’s heart, at Kalambaka, the plain erupts into a phalanx of towering granite pillars, each topped by a monastery over 600 years old. This is Meteora, one of the most unforgettable sites in Greece. Nearby, Mt. Pelion looms, its slopes dotted with picturesque villages of characteristic homes with wooden stories stacked atop stone ground floors. In the city itself, an archaeological museum holds treasures dating from the Neolithic through the Bronze Age, including jewelry fashioned 35 centuries ago.