10 things I love about the Greek mountain region Zagori
November 8, 2016
Everybody knows all about the Greek beaches, islands and sea. The famous blue skies, tropical seas and white villages. But something a lot of people don't know, is that the mainland of Greece has many mountains. Greece actually even has ski resorts....
Maybe that is the biggest thing I love about the Greek mountain region Zagori. It is such a unique and unknown destination, right here in Europe. Zagori is actually Slavic and means 'beyond the mountain'. It covers a big part of the Northern Pindus mountain range, all the way up to the borders with Albania. There are 48 mountain villages part of Zagori, all existing out of traditional stone houses with roofs made of thick slates. Nowadays a road goes through the park and crosses the villages. But before these roads were build, hike trails and stone paths were used to go from village to village. You will find many of these still existing paths and amazing stone bridges to cross the crystal clear rivers.
As you might have noticed, I am in love with this place. And here is just a couple of reasons why (the pictures are at the end of the blog):
The waterfalls of Illiochori Illiochori means village of the sun. It is a gorgeous village with a great little taverna. It is actually a 'kafe neo'. If you visit this place in the weekend, check if they have food for you before you start walking down to the waterfalls. Or take your lunch with you down! When you start walking down, you will find first a huge plantana tree. This is one of the biggest you have ever seen. Behind the tree, the path goes down. Follow this all the way down. It is only 2 km but steep. Here you will find a waterfall with a kind of natural pool to swim in. Maybe the water is cold, but just jump in!
The Voidomatis river From the village Aristi you can go down to this beautiful river. The water is crystal clear and the scenery just stunning. The water will be really cold but if it is hot, take a dip to cool off ;). If you like rafting, in the village of Aristi you can arrange that as well. Next to the river there is a hike path. Cross the river by car (coming from Aristi) and drive up to the first u-turn. There in the corner the path starts. If you like to do some running, this trail is also perfect for that! Do use trail running shoes...
The worlds deepest canyon: the Vikos Gorge The Vikos Gorge is the worlds deepest canyon, according to the Guinness Book of Records. It is amazing and beautiful. If you like to hike, go to the village Monodendri (it means single tree) and take the path down into the gorge and hike all the way through the gorge to the village Vikos. For the most stunning views: follow from Monodendri the sign 'Oxia' by car. This will lead you to an awesome viewpoint. The other viewpoint, you will find it nearby the village Vradeto. Put your car there and follow the sign 'Beloi'. It is an easy hike of about 30 minutes.
The outdoor museum of the Sarakatsani tribe I have written a blog for 'Discover Greece' about this amazing place. Read here all about this gorgeous location in the middle of a fairytale forest. It is just a must-visit if you are around.
Drink good tsipouro and eat giant beans in the old centre of Tsepelovo Tsepelovo is one of the biggest villages in Zagori. You will find a couple of tavernas and nice shops like the Woodpecker. This is a shop with all handmade things out of wood. Don't forget to visit this as well, before you go for the tsipouro. In the tavernas you can also try one of the traditional foods called 'Giantis'. It is giant beans in tomato sauce, really tasty and nutritious.
The town Ioannina Oke, this town is just outside Zagori, but if you are here anyway take one day to visit this old town. It has a beautiful centre with a castle. I have written a blog about this town last year. Read here what to do in Ioannina.
You can hike your *** off There are so many paths to take for all levels. Of course you can go up to the peaks if you can, but also for those who just want to do an easy hike, there are nice trails of less than 10km to take.
The stone bridges As I mentioned before, to connect the villages by foot, they have build many paths and bridges. One of the most famous one is the Kokori bridge. If you drive into Zagori towards Kipi/Tsepelovo/Kapesovo, you will pass by this bridge. But there are many more of those!
The autumn colours The vegetation of Zagori is so divers, that autumn is just spectaculair. You will find so many colours: green, red, orange, yellow, purple and even blue! At the end of October the party starts and the colours change every single day...
The Drakolimni of Tymfi This is one for the more advanced hikers. It will take you around 5-6 hours to reach this 'dragon lake' but it is absolutely worth it. There is a refuge there, called 'Astraka Refuge'. Stay a night, enjoy the scenery and hike back down the following day.