A stone's throw from Ioannina, at the foothills of Pindos, there are 46 settlements that pretty up the mountains of Greece, Zagorohoria!
Architecture and nature
During a visit to Zagorochoria you will come across one of the most beautiful natural sceneries that exist. You will come across villages huddled in dense forests, with immense views of the nature of Zagori, enchanting colors that last all year round, rivers with crystal clear waters and mysterious dragon-lakes! Most of the 46 villages in the area have been declared as traditional settlements because of their architectural, cultural and historical features. Primarily, the architecture of the area is based on the local culture and for this reason the dominant architectural materials are stone and wood. Almost every part of the inhabited area of Zagori, such as the houses, the bridges, the courtyards, the fountains, the wells, the chapels and the squares, are stone-built and coexist with the wildness and the imposing landscape of the mountains with the dense forests, while creating a beautiful scenery.
The beautiful streets of Zagori lead you to places of unparalleled natural beauty where you will come across towering imposing mountains, ravines, deep gorges, caves, rivers, waterfalls and plains that will impress you and give you the opportunity to admire the greatness of nature.
The traditional bridges of Zagori
The bridges that are scattered all over the area of Zagori are surely something not to miss. The traditional stone bridges, great ambassadors of the Zagorian architecture and culture, have stood for centuries between forests, dense vegetation, over rivers, adorning the surrounding natural environment with their grace. Most of the bridges you will encounter, ranging from one, two or three arches bridges, are built during the 18th and 19th centuries, with the most famous being the Plakida or Kalogerikos Bridge, a three-arched bridge built in 1814 and located near the villages of Kipoi and Koukouli in central Zagori and the bridge of Kleidonia or Voidomatis, a single-arched bridge built in 1853 and located in the village of Kleidonia, where the Vikos gorge ends.
The Vikos Gorge, which has won a Guinness record as the deepest gorge in the world in proportion to its width (width 1.100 meters, depth 900 meters, length 11 km), is one of the most important attractions of the region with great environmental significance. Vikos Gorge is part of the Vikos - Aoos National Park, one of the most important ecosystems in Greece, due to its rare flora and fauna. Besides the unique and rare biodiversity, Vikos Gorge is characterized by the torrent that crosses it and ends up in the crystal clear waters of the Voidomatis river. Your best choice is to cross Vikos Gorge by following a 5-6 hour hiking trail, with experienced guidance, and enjoy the enchanting natural scenery and all the rare species of this great ecosystem.
The lucky ones who visit Zagorohoria discover that this magical place gives you the opportunity to explore it in many different ways!
Zagori is one of the best mountain destinations and a paradise for those who love hiking in nature. The diversity of the area’s landscape gives you the opportunity to enjoy hiking trails in the dense vegetation where the guided trails lead you into the paths of tradition and history of the area. Walking routes will take you to some of the traditional stone-built villages, along the crystal clear waters of the rivers, to traditional bridges and impressive gorges.
For the most adventurous guests there is the opportunity to participate in extreme sports such as rafting in the Voidomatis River, horse riding by the river or canyoning in the Vradeto Gorge, as part of organized groups that are escorted by proffesionals.
Drakolimni of Tymphi
During your visit to Zagori, do not miss the chance to visit Drakolimni of Tymphi. It is one of the alpine lakes that exist in the mountains of Epirus, and at an altitude of 2,050 meters. According to local folktales the lake used to be inhabited by dragons, which is also the reason it is called ‘drakolimni’ (drakos in greek means dragon and limni means lake).
The Lake Hotel provides services for organizing all of the above tours and activities, in cooperation with local companies and organizations.
On the slopes of Pindos and at an altitude of 1.160 meters, you will come across a traditional village ‘lost’ in the dense nature!
Metsovo is a village that respects the traditional architecture of Epirus, which is evident in all paved alleys and stone-built houses. It is an ideal destination for all seasons, situated on the slopes of the mountain, and offering enchanting views of natural scenery that invites you to explore the traditions, the history and the pure natural beauty of Greece.
Places to visit in Metsovo
Besides the natural beauty, Metsovo also offers cultural stimuli, making your visit even more interesting!
Folk Art Museum of Metsovo
At the Folk Art Museum of Metsovo you will have the opportunity to find yourself in front of hand-woven textiles and embroidery, traditional decorations and furniture, objects such as utensils, weapons and coins, and learn about the history and tradition of the area.
At the Averoff Gallery you will have the opportunity to enjoy some of the Greek art heritage, as the gallery hosts an impressive collection of paintings by Greek painters of the 19th and 20th century.
The Garden of Averoff
The Garden of Averoff covers an area of about 10 square km and houses all the different types of trees that grow in the wider area of Pindos. It is an impressive scenery that you should not miss to visit!
Lake of Aoos’ springs
The artificial lake of Aoos’ springs covers an area of approximately 8.5 square km and is situated at an altitude of 1,300 meters, while being a natural habitat of great importance for the region.
The Lake Hotel provides excursion services in Metsovo for the whole family.
Action at the Anilio Ski Center, Metsovo
The newest ski resort in Greece, at an altitude of 1650m - 1850m, is located a stone's throw from the city of Ioannina and is an ideal short getaway for the whole family!
The Anilio Ski Center is located at "Guzel Tepe", a name given to the site during the Turkish occupation, which in Greek means "Beautiful Spine", and invites you to explore its and have fun at its 9 slopes. The variety in the levels of difficulty of the slopes lets everyone enjoy their time in the ski center whether they are experienced skiers and snowboarders, visitors who try the sport for the first time, or even young children. The ski center facilities include a two-seater lift of 800 meters, two slidings 280 and 300 meters, two baby lifts and two snowmobiles.
All routes will give you a magnificent view of the nature of Metsovo as you enjoy the fresh air of the mountain. Experienced trainers can accompany your mountain adventure and engage in the enjoyment of an unforgettable experience!
Visit to Tzoumerka
Villages with stone houses and mansions coexist with the natural surroundings and create a picture of serenity and harmony that invites you to explore it and admire the greatness of nature.
An important characteristic of the area is the large variety of bird species. The protection of these rare species, which are under extinction, has led to the inclusion of many of the Tzoumerka villages in the Natura 2000 network of protected areas.
Natural beauty and exploration in Tzoumerka
Tzoumerka, as well as the wider region, is a gem of mountainous Greece due to the dense forests and the impressive and rich flora and fauna. In the deep green, the river Arachthos, and its tributary, Kalárytikos, create a fairytale like scenery that remains engraved in mind and soul.
During the tour in Tzoumerka visitors will come across many pleasant surprises! Traditional bridges sprang up in various parts of the area, with the most famous one being the Plaka bridge, which is the largest bridge of its kind in the Balkans (40 meters long, 18-20 meters high). Other places worth visiting include the Red Church just outside the village of Vourgareli, the Pantelis Karalis Museum, the Anemotrypa Cave just outside the village of Pramanta and the Kipina Monastery.
Tzoumerka can be described as a 'paradise' for nature lovers and those who love exploration! The area has wonderful hiking trails that will lead you to spectacular beauty spots and give you the opportunity to admire the natural richness that surrounds you. For the more adventurous ones, Tzoumerka hide more treasures! The area offers activities such as rafting, 4x4, mountain biking and horse riding and invites you to enjoy this magical natural scenery from a different angle.
The Lake Hotel offers its services for organization of trips to Tzoumerka and can assist with all the necessary information.
The ancient theater of Dodoni
The greatness of ancient Greece and the architectural miracles of ancient times, will take your breath away during your visit to the ancient theater of Dodoni, 22 kilometers south from the center of Ioannina!
The theater of Dodoni (2000 BC), which was started to be built at the beginning of the 3rd century BC. by the King of Epirus – Pyrros, at the foot of Mount Thomas, is a place of national prestige and a significant part of the country’s cultural heritage. Its capacity of about 18,000 seats, place it among the largest and best-preserved ancient theaters in the country.
The archaeological site of Dodoni, where you will have the chance to admire unique monuments and ancient buildings, is of great cultural value and an important part of the ancient Greek cultural heritage!
The theater of Dodoni continues to serve its purpose as theatrical performances are still being performed during the summer season.
Action and myths in Acheron River
If you want to enjoy the majestic coexistence of natural beauty with the Greek mythology, then visit Acheron River!
Acherontas River carries the myth of the 'house of the souls' in its waters. According to ancient Greek mythology, Hermes transfered the souls of the dead to Charon, through Acherontas River, in order to reach the kingdom of Hades, the king of the dead. That is why it is said that the flatland of Acheron, next to Lake Acherousia, was the ‘house’ of the souls, where the Nekromantio of Acheron was created.
The Acheron River today
The Acheron River crosses, among several regions, the region of Ioannina and the large number of its springs comes from the snow of Mount Tomaros in the region of Ioannina, the mountains of Souli and the mountains of Paramythia Thesprotia.
In the modern times, the Acheron River, with a length of around 52 kilometers, and the surrounding area, consist a popular destination for visitors due to the natural beauty and environmental significance. The streams and river estuaries, as well as the wider area belong to the Natura 2000 European Nature Conservation Areas and are a key source of information in the field of environmental education.
In the frame that creates the beautiful natural landscape and the morphology of the area around the river that facilitates access to visitors, you will have the opportunity to enjoy unique moments with your friends or family and try out various activities such as canyoning, kayaking, rafting, and even riding. But for those who prefer to stand their feet on the ground, there is the possibility of hiking, where you can cross the river to the river’s mouth in Ammoudia, accompanied by an experienced guide.
The Lake Hotel provides services and helps you organize a visit to Acheron River as well as your participation in the above activities, in cooperation with local organizations.
One of the most interesting and adventurous nearby excursions that you can experience, during your time in Ioannina is in the area of Konitsa! Konitsa is located in the northernmost part of Ioannina Region, and about 1 hour away from the city of Ioannina (64.7 km). Konitsa is a protected area, part of the NATURA 2000 European Nature Conservation Network, and the whole southeastern part of the wider region of Konitsa (Smolikas, Vasilitsa, Trapezitsa, Tymphi, Aoos valley and gorge, Vidomatis gorge) is part of the North Pindos National Park, the largest national park of Greece (2 million acres) with great environmental value at a national and global level.
The area of Konitsa is of extreme natural beauty and probably one of the most impressive in the country, full of rich vegetation and fauna, canyons, mountain lakes of unique beauty, 3 rivers (Aoos, Voidomatis, Sarantaporos) and protected areas (National Park of Vikos-Aoos, Natura 2000 Networks, Dusko-Nemertsica, Aoos-Voidomatis riverside, Sarantaporos Straits, North Pindos National Park).
In addition to the captivating natural scenery, the area also hides other surprises, with great environmental and wildlife significance, as it is a habitat for the brown bear, the wild boar, the deer, and many other animal species!
Konitsa is an area with incredible SIGHTSEEING opportunities that will take you to a journey through the history and cultural heritage of the place. Some of the most unique landmarks of the area are the Aoos Bridge - a stone bridge at the exit of Aoos canyon and the largest one-arched bridge in Greece, Hamko’s Residence - Zeinel Bey's mansion, father of Hamko who mothered Ali Pasha of Ioannina, Stomio Monastery - one hour and ten minutes hike from the Konitsa bridge, the Folklore Museum of Konitsa and the Bouzourani environmental park.
A one of a kind experience for the whole family can be discoverd in the wide range of HIKING ROUTES in the wider area of Konitsa!
The hiking route choices are numerous, with the most widespread and loved, to be at the 2 alpine lakes - the alpine lake of Gamila and the alpine lake of Smolikas - located in the surrounding area of Konitsa and Zagori, because of their natural beauty and geological significance.
1. The alpine lake of Gamila
The alpine lake of Gamila is located at an altitude of 1,900 meters, near the top of Tymphi Mountain. It is one of the favorite and most popular hiking destinations and is well known for the alpine newts (dragons) inhibiting its waters. The hiking route from Mikro Papigo to the alpine lake of Gamila lasts 4 hours, while from the organized and fully equipped shelter of Astraka 1 hour. More experienced hikers, can choose a longer-lasting journey, which starts from the Aoos Bridge, meets the Stomio Monastery and ends at the lake, with a duration of seven and a half hours (a 12 km route). Access is only possible on foot.
2. The alpine lake of Smolikas
The alpine lake of Smolikas is located at an altitude of 1,900 meters, near the top of Smolikas Mountain, the second highest mountain in Greece. Also one of the most preferable and commonly visited destinations for hiking lovers worldwide! The hiking route choices to the alpine lake of Smolikas are several, with the most widespread being the ones that start from the village of Pades village, Palioseli or Agia Paraskevi. Hiking lasts 5 hours and is one of the most beautiful and popular hiking routes on the Greek mountains.
More hiking routes:
- Route: Kleidonia – Uper Kleidonia
- Route: Kleidonia – Vikos Gorge
- Route: Konitsa - Stomio Monastery – Alpine lake – Mount Gamila
- Route: Konitsa - Kalogeriko or Plakidas stone bridge – Siadi Migas
- Route: Konitsa - Stomio Monastery
- Route: Konitsa – Mount Trapezitsa
- Route: Aetomilitsa – Epano Arena
- Route: Plikati – Mount Grammos
- Route: Pades – Alpine lake – Mount Smolikas
- Route: Palioseli – Alpine lake - Mount Smolikas
- Route: Agia Paraskevi – Alpine lake – Mount Smolikas
More information about the area of Konitsa and an excellent choice of accommodation in the area can be found on the website of Konitsa Mountain Hotel: www.konitsahotel.gr