We not too long ago returned to Athens after touring round northern Greece, and when our servers, guides and drivers requested us the place we arrived from, they have been delighted and shocked to listen to that we had come from Epirus. Everyone stated that we have been the first individuals (they’d heard of) who had visited this hidden gem of Greece. One bartender advised us she was so impressed with us going to Epirus that she provided us scrumptious pictures of Mastika to sip on. That’s simply how impressed she will need to have been!
Most vacationers head to Santorini or Mykonos when touring to Greece. We agree, that these islands are extremely lovely, however there are different places in Greece that may actually take your breath away, removed from the crowds of the well-trodden locations. Epirus, Greece is certainly one of them.
About Epirus, Greece
When we first acquired the invitation to Epirus, we needed to look it up. Were there seashores? Check. What about monasteries or historic ruins? Check. How about outside actions? Another verify! Epirus has all of it. And we’re going to share an itinerary to journey by this secret nook of Greece, to create your individual journey of a lifetime.
Where is Epirus, Greece?
Epirus is situated within the northwest nook of Greece, bordered by Albania and the Ionian Sea. It is a 1h 15min flight to the capital of Epirus, Ioannina (pronounced, Yo-ah-nah-nah) from Athens or you can rent a car. It is simply a 4h 30min drive from Athens to Ioannina and attending to see the Greek countryside is an actual deal with. We know, we’ve executed it!
Getting Around Epirus
Renting a car is certainly one of our favourite methods to get round in Greece, particularly when you get out of Athens. We flew into Ioannina (on this journey to Greece) and had a driver take us round on a jam-packed itinerary. Since we have been friends of the Epirus vacationer board, we had the privilege of getting a personal driver, however we do recommend renting a automotive from the airport in Athens and hitting the street.
However, in case your finances permits, hiring a personal driver is an incredible strategy to journey and Prime Transfer Services excursions is an outstanding firm owned by our good friend Vasili who can get you round from place to position in security and luxury. Visit his website to ebook day excursions and transfers round Epirus, Greece. For our different day excursions and adventures in Epirus, we used Alpine Zone which is the chief in journey tourism round Epirus. Check out Alpine Zone to ebook your individual Epirus, Adventures.
Rental automobiles are fairly cheap in Greece in comparison with different European international locations and Epirus sights are unfold out. Plus, you may make a detour to Meteora, one other of our favourite locations in Greece alongside the way in which! You’ll wish to as a result of like Meteora, Ioannina has some of the necessary Monastic settlements in Greece. It is certainly one of solely three with the others being in Ioannina and the opposite in Halkidiki. See RentalsCars.com for worth comparisons.
So, are you able to see why you need to journey to Epirus? Let’s go!
Places to Visit in Epirus, Greece
Ioannina is the capital metropolis of the Epirus area and it’s price spending two to a few days on this bustline college city. We made a base on the Hotel du Lac Congress Centre and visited all of its prime sights and ended every day with the everyday three-hour dinners that make Greek hospitality so well-known. Be ready for lengthy days, loads of meals, and a whole lot of sightseeing as a result of there are a whole lot of issues to see and do in Ioannina! Ioannina is a fortified city the place the fortress partitions nonetheless stand and residents reside among the many historic complicated with Its Kale (interior fortress) making for the right place to benefit from the sundown over the lake.
On your first day in Ioannina, catch a brief 10-minute ferry to the Island of Lake Pamvotida. This is the island with no identify, but it surely packs an enormous punch. It is right here that you may go to the seven Byzantine monasteries that date again to the thirteenth century. The island itself is a stunning go to with procuring stands lining the streets from the boat dock and loads of eating places and cafes shaded by big aircraft timber.
While on the island, remember to cease within the Ali Pasha Museum to see the paintings and jewels, and weapons together with the gold-plated rifle of Ali Pasha and the silk costume of Ali Pasha’s spouse, Kyra-Vassiliki. Make certain to try the caves that acted as a shelter towards Italian air raids throughout World War II.
Cave of Perema
Speaking of caves, one place that’s not to be missed in Ioannina is the Cave of Perema. Located only a few km from the centre of city, the Cave of Perema is the second largest collapse all of Greece. It was additionally used throughout WWII by locals to cover from the Nazis.
This lovely cave is very large at 161,000 sq. ft (15,000 sq. meters) and homes and homes 1000’s of pristine stalactites and stalagmites the place it’s thought of one of many best-preserved caves on the planet. Guides take you on a 45-minute journey by the system to view its waterfalls and its most well-known stalagmite, The Cross. Visit their website for opening hours and cost.
The tour completed excessive above the town the place you emerge to see a few of the finest views of Ioannina and Lake Pamvotida.
Where to Stay in Ioannina
Hotel du Lac is among the finest locations to remain in Ioannina situated strolling distance (20 minutes) to Old Town. Its buffet breakfast was a spotlight for us with the eating space immediately by the tranquil pool. Check charges and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
The Lake Hotel can also be a well-liked convention middle with a wonderful pool overlooking Lake Pamvotida.Located close to the airport, this can be a great spot to remain in your first or ultimate day in Ioannina. Check charges and availability on TripAdvisor / Booking.com
Restaurants in Ioanna
After exploring for a few days, you’ve gotten numerous eating places to select from lining the waterfront. Enjoy an Aperol Spritz earlier than dinner and with every drink, they may convey you a snack. For a restaurant with a view make your means as much as Frontzuou Politia Hotel or for some fashionable Greek fusion, take pleasure in a multi-course meal full with wine pairing at Thamon (our favorite meal in Ioannina) within the Old Town and Seirios for his or her wonderful tree-covered patio.
Zagori is simply an hour and a half from Ioannina and in case you have a automotive, you are able to do day journeys from the town to discover the journey capital of Epirus, however we recommend making a base on the town to actually profit from it Alpine Zone is the corporate for all of your journey and adrenaline actions right here and there’s loads of issues to see and do in Zagori. They can arrange an itinerary for you, however listed here are a number of highlights that you simply can not miss when street tripping by Zagori, Greece.
Everyone in Epirus advised us that Vikos Gorge is listed within the Guinness Book of World Records because the deepest gorge on the planet however I’ll admit I used to be skeptical. There are so many gorges that attempt to maintain that declare, I can assume of some off the highest of my head which are in all probability deeper. But upon additional investigation, we realized that it’s the deepest gorge on the planet in proportion to its width and that’s spectacular sufficient.
This gorge is spectacular and there are some lovely pull-offs the place you possibly can exit to view its wonderful magnificence from safe lookout factors. There are loads of mountain climbing alternatives round Vikos Gorge and we noticed many individuals doing a little lengthy multi-day treks by the area.
One of the preferred issues to do within the Vikos Gorge is to go whitewater rafting alongside the Voidomatis River. Who would have thought that whitewater rafting was a factor in Greece, however it’s! We donned our wetsuits and set off on a enjoyable journey downriver by one of many world’s deepest canyons.
The surroundings was pretty however be ready, that water is simply 6 levels Celsius, (43F). Our journey took is a mere 16km from the Albanian border and it was a enjoyable strategy to actually take within the energy of one of many world’s deepest canyons.
One of essentially the most shocking locations to go to in Epirus was Mount Tymfi. Alpine Zone took us up a steep and slender bumpy path by way of 4×4 to view the snow of Mount Tymfi. It was 30 levels (86 fahrenheit) under, however up right here we have been strolling on snow! They stated the snow can final nicely into August.
Stone Arch Bridges of Zagori
But the true sights of Vikos are its gorgeous arched bridges spanning the Voidomatis River. The historic stone bridges of Kokkori and Tritoxo are actual standouts.
Kokkori is situated between two excessive cliffs and has develop into the image of Epirus. Water fluctuates all year long with it operating dry whereas we have been in Epirus, however at occasions it runs so excessive that there are holes lower into its excessive single stone arch to permit for water to circulate by.
Trixoto is one other spectacular three-arch stone bridge that stands 55 meters excessive. It was inbuilt 1814 and it’s a stunner. Make certain to stroll throughout these constructions and take within the views down the valley.
Kores Boutique Hotel and Spa
Our favourite place to remain in all of Epirus was Kores Boutique Hotel and Spa If you’re exploring the extra rural areas of Epirus, make a base right here in your outside actions. The house owners are pleasant and the facilities are divine. Compare charges and opinions on TripAdvisor
Tzoumerka is situated simply an hour from Ioannina and is among the hottest locations to go to in Epirus as a result of its beautiful village, outside adventures, stone arched bridge and well-known monastery.
It’s then on to some of the spectacular monasteries you’ll ever see outdoors Meteora. The Kipina Monastery jogged my memory of the Casas Cosgodas in Spain with the construction clinging to the aspect of a excessive cliff wall. Located simply outdoors the village of Kalarrites in Tzoumerka, Epirus, this thirteenth century monastery will be reached by strolling a steep path to its entrance that crosses a small picket bridge dangling over the abyss.
The picket construction blends into the rocks and the monastery have been used not solely by the monks but in addition by villagers to cover from their Turkish occupiers. There is a cave that continues behind the monastery deep into the rock. The monastery is free to enter and inside you’ll see spiritual work and altars, monks’ quarters and the cave. It is actually a formidable location and certainly one of our favourite locations to go to in Epirus. We aren’t spiritual, however we all the time are fascinated by the human spirit and dedication.
Plaka Arch Bridge
Tzoumerka not solely homes some of the extraordinary monasteries in Greece, it additionally boasts the most important stone arch bridge in all the Balkins. Spanning the Arachthos River the Plaka Arch Bridge is a single arch that rises 50 meters into the air. Trixoto could also be larger, but it surely took three arches to achieve that top within the middle, that is one single arch that’s completely breathtaking.
But it was our hike by nature that we loved essentially the most. A beautiful hike simply outdoors Kalarrites took us alongside an historic path resulting in the dual waterfalls. This is a wonderful hike that may take you all the way in which to and from the village of Kalarrites.
It’s now time to make your strategy to the coast the place you get a style of the Greek Islands. We had spent days exploring the mountains and gorges of Epirus and have been shocked to see how lovely the villages alongside the Ionian Coast have been. Our first cease was the fishing city of Preveza.
Fishing Village Waterfront
We really felt as if we might reside right here. The strolling streets have been crammed with cafes full of locals. Restaurants line the waterfront and there are outlets loads all through its outdated city.
Beach life shouldn’t be removed from Preveza with the pristine Monolithi Beach only a stone’s throw away. We had all of it to ourselves as we walked alongside a portion of the 22 km lengthy lovely stretch of sandy seaside. Monolithi Beach is the longest seaside in Europe!
Beach umbrellas line the sand with loads of watersport and sea enjoyable available within the clear waters. We might have spent days enjoyable on this quiet seaside. It isn’t practically as crowded because the seashores of Santorini or Mykonos with solely (largely) locals understanding of its magnificence.
Make certain to finish your day at one of many eating places at Preveza’s waterfront. We tried the native shrimp at Alati eating places. We have been advised that this shrimp is so good that Roger Moore’s James Bond solely eats Preveza prawns.
Where to Stay in Preveza
We completely cherished DALIZ Boutique Hotel in Preveza. It has a stunning swimming pool, wonderful breakfast and stylish fashionable rooms.
To our shock, there was an much more lovely area on the Ionian Coast of Epirus. Parga is a city that rivals the likes of Greece’s southern islands. But in reality, Parga reminded us of the cities of the Cinque Terre in Italy.
The foremost attraction of Parga is Parga Castle the place you possibly can hike up for lovely views of the colorful buildings lining the seaside. Parga Castle was constructed by the Venetians, however all through the centuries it had been sacked by pirates, and dominated by the British, The Russians, and Ali Pasha earlier than lastly changing into part of Greece in 1913.
Parga is situated on the mainland, but it surely definitely appears like a Greek Isle, so even if you happen to don’t make it to close by Corfu, you’ll get your fill of what a Greek Island trip appears like in Parga. There’s a stunning waterfront with eating places and secluded seaside that’s excellent for swimming and sunbathing.
Other close by seashores embody Valtos Beach which is usually named among the best seashores in Greece and Sivota and Plataria have seashores as nicely. Make certain to loosen up at a seaside bar to benefit from the native seafood, this a part of Greece if well-known for its gastronomy, which says loads since Greek meals, generally, is so superb! Read Delicious Greek Food – 29 Traditional Greek Dishes To Try Now
And lastly, in case you are on the lookout for extra issues to do in Epirus, make your strategy to the city of Metsovo. Metsovo is a wonderful area nestled within the mountains with conventional cities scattered all through the rolling hills. It’s a well-liked place for snowboarding in Greece within the winter and in the summertime it’s crammed with journey sports activities. When we visited, there was a mountain bike race occurring and the village was a flutter with individuals. We loved lunch at Apokentro with views of the deep valleys and mountains earlier than our eyes.
Museum of Hydrokenisis
One of the highest locations to go to in Metsovo is the Museum of Hydrokenisis. This new attraction showcases the custom of washing carpets and harnessing the facility of water.
It is a wonderful setting with a restaurant and cafe the place you possibly can order scrumptious Greek Coffee. You can take a tour of the normal water mill to see the facility of the water operating from the mountains. We even tried our hand at cleansing a carpet within the churning water. It’s loads tougher than it seems to be!
After a tour of the normal water mill, we made our strategy to downtown Metsovo to tour this vigorous conventional village that’s well-liked for outside adventures. See more details here
Katogi Averoff Hotel and Winery
One of our favourite issues to do in Metsovo was to take a tour of the Katogi Averoff Hotel and Winery. You can stay at this hotel as nicely, so if you happen to take pleasure in an excessive amount of wine, you possibly can stroll on to your roome. This vineyard is a pioneer of wine tourism in Greece and you’ll tour its conventional wine cellars and tasting room.
Located subsequent to Apokentro, the Averoff Gallery is a contemporary artwork museum that homes the gathering of Evangelos Averoff. His grandson runs the gallery. It is a captivating assortment of well-known Greek items depicting historic occasions and every day lives of Greek historical past. It’s an important escape from the outside to soak up some native tradition.
Ebiking with Bikewise
If you want to stretch your legs in spite of everything that meals and wine, a enjoyable exercise is to go e-biking. Bikewise supply biking round AOOS Lake. Riding on an ebike makes it really easy so you possibly can benefit from the surroundings and if you find yourself completed they’ve a stunning unfold of Greek meals and Tsipiro, the native liqueur. This firm is aware of learn how to create an journey itinerary. Fun within the outside adopted by food and drinks. Yes! Check them out to book tours to cycle Greece.
And there’s your tour of Epirus, Greece. Have we made you wish to add it to your listing? While it isn’t as nicely often known as another locations in Greece, it quickly can be. So make your strategy to Epirus now earlier than the entire world finds out about all the superb locations to go to on this quiet nook of the nation.
Where are you stepping into Greece subsequent?