6 tips when visiting the city Ioannina in Epirus, Greece
January 4, 2016
Ioannina is the capital of Epirus in Greece and you can find her in the north west of the mainland. Around 80km east of Igoumenitsa and 80km south of the Albanian borders. Ioannina has around 112.000 citizens and the city is located at a big lake surrounded by mountains. Ah and I forget one fact: I am living here at the moment for two months...
If you cross this region on your way to the sea or mountains, you HAVE to make a stop. Well actually I advise you to stay here a little while, because the city is also perfectly located to visit the sea (Sivota, Parga only 1 hour away) and the most beautiful mountains of Zagoria (also within 1 hour). But oke: for now I just want to give you some tips if you visit Ioannina for a day. Of course there are plenty of tips to find in the usual guides etc. So I will try to keep them a little bit more original.
1. Walk trough the Castle
Oke, not original but a must. Inside the old centre of Ioannina, next to the lake, you will find the walls of the medieval Castle. There are several entrances to go inside the castle. Here you find small streets with old houses and two great coffee bars. The streets are like a maze, to "confuse pirates of old who breached the castle walls: they would get lost within the fortress, and thus be captured before escaping with their booty". In the Castle you can also find the Byzantine museum, a Jewish Synagogue, several citadels and a mosque.
2. Eat a crêpe If you think of a crêpe, you think of France. But in Greece you can find some very good ones as well. Although they make their own recipes and combinations. If you walk from the Lake, into Averof street (uphill) you find several on your right hand. Try a 'recommended' one on the menu and just see what you will get.
Oke small hint: if you take a salty one you might end up with a crêpe filled with cheese, chicken, potatoes, tzaziki and many more ingredients... You will definitely get a full stomach!
3. Visit the Island Also not original but again a must see... In the lake there is a small island, Ioannina Island. It has one village and some people actually live here. A whole round on the island covers a stunning distance of 2,3 km. So it is small, but the village is made from traditional stone houses and it is really romantic. From Ioannina it is 5 minutes with the boat, costs are €4,- per person in total. Ah and you can eat frog legs in the restaurants at the island!
4. Drink coffee at Skala My favourite bar! I guess it is also the oldest bar from Ioannina and still in its original state. The coffee is great and you will be accompanied by some good music and many students. If you are in summer: order a 'freddo' coffee. It's ice coffee: either freddo cappuccino or freddo espresso. You need to tell them up front if you want sugar or not. For medium sweet, it is for example a "freddo cappuccino metrio", without sugar it is 'freddo cappuccino sketto'. If you want a hot coffee, you need to order a cappuccino, espresso, espresso lungo or Greek coffee (which is by the way very nice! Try it sometimes). I tell you this because if you just order coffee, they will look at you and say 'what kind of coffee'. This is everywhere in Greece... Of course you can also try the mountain tea in winter, or ouzo in summer :P.
5. Take a walk to "Route 66" Ioannina has many streets in the old centre that make you feel you are in medieval times. During Christmas it is even like a fairy tale with all the lights. There is one tiny street with some bars that I just really like. You can go there for a drink but just to pass trough, it is already great. One of the bars is in this street is called Route 66 ;). I am not putting any pictures of this, so you can see it for yourself! Please go to see it for yourselves.
6. Eat a burger at The Cantine An silver Airstream-look-a-like-trailer is parked at the municipal parking of Ioannina nearby the lake. Dimitri and his wife are the owners and in that 'cantine' they serve the best burgers in town. You have to try them... Walk onto the parking lot and you will find them easily. Or ask the students, they know it ;).