One of our favourite mountain destinations! Zagorohoria offers the most carte postale landscapes, and the most picturesque routes and images that will remain unforgettable. The architecture of the houses, the cobbled streets, the cozy shops and the romantic hostels are a few of the reasons they are worth visiting. But the most basic reason to visit them is for their location in a beautiful environment with lush green nature all around, which will provide you with the peace you are looking for. In our travel guide you will find all the necessary information before your first visit to Zagorohoria.
- The Zagorohoria villages are 46 in total.
- They are built amphitheatrically in the mountainous area of Tymfi, Pindos and Mitsikeli, or in the area of Zagori.
- The local architecture is based on stone, wood and slate. Many of the villages have been designated protected settlements.
- The villages are built at an altitude of 500 to 2,500 meters, which is the highest peak of Tymfi, Gamila.
- The word Zagori is Slavic and means “place behind the mountains”.
- Zagori is divided into West, East and Central Zagori.
Below we will list the villages we visited and recommend the ones we believe are worth a little more than the rest. However, as a whole all the Zagorohoria are beautiful and offer their visitor the tranquility they seek, in a beautiful, natural environment.
One of the first villages we met and headquartered in Central Zagori, at a distance of just 30 kilometers from Ioannina. It is a martyr village, with an important role in the resistance against the Germans, who in 1943 completely burned the village. You will find many beautiful stone houses and mansions, paved with many large plane trees. You can visit the Monastery of Dovra and the Monastery of Panagia dating from 1600. Also the church of Agios Nikolaos, is one of the largest churches in Zagori since 1778.
For homemade appetizers with a traditional atmosphere, sit at the tavern / tsipouro restaurant “To Lychnari”. Also, for local delicacies visit the tavern “Virginia” and the restaurant bar “Montaza”.
Dilofo got its name because of its location, at the foot of two hills. The altitude of the village is 860 meters and the distance from Ioannina is 34 kilometers. For many, the settlement is considered the most beautiful and well-preserved village. Upon entering the village, leave the car in the parking lot, as there are no vehicles in the village. You can wander the traditional cobbled streets, between the mansions (such as the Makropoulos mansion, the tallest house in Zagori 13.5 meters).
Walk to the main picturesque square and climb to the highest point of the village to enjoy the wonderful view. For traditional dishes we recommend the tavern “Orestis” and the restaurant “Lithos”.
It is located in West Zagori and is one of the largest villages of Zagorohoria. It is 48 km from Ioannina and its altitude is 650 meters. The traditional neighbourhoods and the picturesque cobbled streets make it one of the most beautiful destinations in Greece. It has shown significant tourist development in recent years.
In addition to the elegant hotels and hostels, Aristi is within walking distance of the surrounding attractions, the ravine of Vikos, the river Voidomatis and Drakolimni (which you will see below in the article). There are also many other activities you can arrange, such as rafting, horseback riding and trekking. One of the best restaurants in the area is “En Aristi”, with a unique view and delicious dishes. Also “Hani” in the middle of the square, with a balcony that offers an equally wonderful view.
One of the most famous villages in Zagorohoria due to its name. It is located at the edge of the gorge with the same name, where the Vikos – Aoos national park begins. It is 53 kilometers northwest of Ioannina and its altitude is 770 meters. Follow the signs for the view of the ravine of Vikos, where you will find two kiosks that offer amazing views. For traditional dishes we recommend the tavern “Tsoumanis”.
It belongs to Central Zagori and has been declared a traditional protected settlement. The distance from Ioannina is 36 km with an altitude of 960 meters. It is built amphitheatrically on the borders of the Vikos – Aoos national park and at the beginning of the Vikos ravine. In the picturesque square of the village, between the traditional cafes, there is a 600-year-old plane tree. The Zagorian architecture with many mansions, the stone cobbled streets and the churches, offer a picturesqueness of Vitsa that you will love. For homemade dishes (with mushrooms as the main ingredient) we recommend “Kanella kai Garyfallo”(Cinnamon and Clove).
It is located at an altitude of 800 meters and is 38 kilometers from Ioannina. In Kipi you will find most of the administrative services of Zagori, such as police, court, justice of the peace, mortgage office, forestry, etc. In addition to the impressive architecture and cobbled streets, the Gardens are characterized by rich natural beauty. They are renowned for the ornate arched stone bridges on the rivers Vikakis and Bagiotikos. We recommend the traditional taverna “Stou Michali”, on the main road of Kipi.
It is located in Central Zagori and has an altitude of 960 meters. The distance from Ioannina is 36 km. They have been declared a traditional settlement, as the architecture of Zagori is well preserved.
Papigo – Small Papigo
One of the most famous villages in Zagorohoria, with a developed tourist infrastructure. They are 59 and 61.5 kilometers respectively northwest of Ioannina and are located at an altitude of 960 meters. Their location is within the boundaries of the Vikos-Aoos National Park. There is a path that connects the two villages, which are the starting point for your excursions around. To reach them you will cross a bridge over the river Voidomatis. The route includes several turns, until you climb the villages.
In the villages you will find elegant accommodation, taverns and cafes. For food we recommend the restaurant “Kalliopi”, where in addition to the beautiful space of homemade traditional products and the kind staff, we lived the ultimate gastronomic experience (we ordered wild boar with plums, paprika and mushroom pie). We also recommend the tavern “Aris” with very good quality meat and traditional desserts “Bimtsa”.
A village that has also been characterized as a traditional preserved settlement in Zagorohoria. Its altitude is 1060 meters and is 39 kilometers northwest of Ioannina. You can walk amongst the stone houses and the picturesque cobbled streets and visit the Rizareio Handicraft Center. There you will find traditional, woven embroidery and many more works of traditional art. We suggest you follow the signs to the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi, which will lead you through a beautiful cobbled path up to the Monastery.
From there it continues to one of the views of the gorge of Vikos. Try the traditional pies at “Pies of Kikitsa”, the first shop in Zagori that has been feeding tourists since 1958. Mrs. Kikitsa made the famous flour pie, which is still available today.
What to Do
It is located in the mountain range of Tymfi, at an altitude of 2050 meters. It is a lake between the mountains that offers breathtaking views. Its shape is elliptical and although the landscape around the lake is bare, the panoramic view of the mountain peaks is stunning. It is filled with water permanently and its special feature is the Tritons, a rare species of amphibians that look like a dragon.
To reach Drakolimni, you must follow the hiking route, which starts from Mikro Papigo, a route of 4 hours. Alternatively, you can start from the Astraka shelter, from which it takes 1.5-2 hours hiking.
The routes below are some of the most popular for hiking enthusiasts, and are relatively relaxing:
- Mikro Papigo – Astrakas Shelter: approximately 5.6 kilometers in 3: 30-4: 00 hours.
- Shelter – Drakolimni Tymfi: 2.8 km approximately in 1: 30-2: 00 hours.
In total: about 17 km on the way back.
Altitude difference: about 1,080 meters.
A wild and imposing landscape with amazing views. It is a landmark in Zagorohoria. Vikos gorge is one of the natural attractions with significant ecological value. It has entered the Guinness record as the deepest gorge in proportion to its width, as at one point the depth is 900 meters and the width is 1100 meters.
The gorge of Vikos is located in the core of the national park Vikos-Aoos, one of the most important ecosystems in Greece due to the rare flora and fauna. More specifically, the special fauna of Vikos includes the brown bear, wildcats, wolves, the rare and endangered Eurasian otter and many more animals but also 110 recorded species of birds, rare and not so rare. Also, 2,000 species and subspecies of flora have been recorded, of which 250 are considered medicinal herbs, and there were many “Vikiatrists” as they were called, who helped people heal with them.
The spots that offer the best view of the gorge are in Beloi, the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi and the Oxia spot. Many consider the Beloi spot the most impressive, to which you will walk from the village of Vradeto (10 – 25 minutes). You will reach the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi from the village of Monodendri by a beautiful path, where you will find the sign that states the location of the gorge in the Guinnessbook of world records.
Bonus Tip: For us the best View Point was in the area of Oxia. There is a path that literally leads to the edge of the cliff, where you can see how imposing the gorge is. Not suitable for those who have height phobia and acrophobia.
But the best way to get to know the gorge is by crossing it. With an experienced guide who will guide you you will walk on the marked paths. The route is 5-7 hours and starts from Monodendri and ends at Vikos.
Near the area of Monodendri, there is the strange phenomenon of the Stone Forest that is very exciting to see. Tower-like structures of limestone rocks rise majestically through a forest of maples and oaks.
There are many mapped trails for nature and hiking enthusiasts. The natural diversity of Zagori, with the dense forests, the deep ravines, rivers, and impressive bridges complete the natural beauty of the landscape. Many hiking trails are available as the hiking trail is dense and varies in difficulty. The most famous is the passage of the ravine of Vikos (12.5 km, 5-7 hours).
It starts from the village of Vikos and reaches Monodendri or vice versa. The second best known is the Astrakas – Drakolimni refuge route (2.8 km, 1 hour). You will also find many more routes and accompanied by an experienced guide, along with the necessary equipment, you will enjoy the impressive landscapes that Zagori has to offer
It is a small tributary of Aoos river with a length of about 15 km. Its special feature is its crystal clear waters, the clearest in Greece and perhaps in Europe. Its crystal clear waters will impress you and many say that the water is drinkable. You can walk on the river and admire the landscape, or test your endurance among the extreme sports offered by Voidomatis, such as canoe, kayak and rafting.
The well-known Kolimbithres, or “ovires”, are limestone pits, which were created by the flow of water and formed these natural pools. One of the must places in Zagorohoria. The landscape is magical and in summer ideal for diving. Arriving at Mikro Papigo, you will see a sign to the Rogovo stream and the swimming pools. From there, after a few meters you will see the first swimming pools and moving upwards the landscape becomes more and more wild and impressive.
Balta Di Striga Waterfalls
Near the village of Iliochori, are the impressive waterfalls Balta Di Striga. These are 3 waterfalls, with the largest having a height of 25 meters, forming 2 large and 1 small pedestals (lakes). The landscape that is created is fairytale like and in the summer you can live the experience and swim in one of the lakes. It takes about 20 minutes walking.
For our stay in Zagorohoria, we chose the 19.40 Luxury Guesthouse, which is located in the area of Kalpaki. The location of the accommodation is ideal, since Kalpaki is a crossroads to Zagorohoria. The first villages started within walking distance, something that made it much easier for us, as far as distances were concerned, as we had planned to visit different villages in different directions.
In terms of quality, the rooms are spotless and state-of-the-art, with a special style and luxury that meets tradition, in a building dating back to 1940. The hotel has 3 rooms and 3 suites, which combine traditional architecture with modern tourist infrastructure. Whichever room you choose to stay in, when entering it, you will feel its warmth and tranquility. All rooms have a large double bed with an anatomical mattress and a choice between a hard or soft pillow by COCO MAT. At the welcome tray you will find the essentials for coffee and tea.
Apart from the beautiful and comfortable room, the owners are helpful and friendly and won us over from the first moment we met them. They gave us tips on the surrounding areas, what to see, as well as where to eat. This is a family business, which started their project in 2019 and they run it with love and passion, constantly having in mind its evolution and improvement.
Bonus experience: The most beautiful experience we had was enjoying our breakfast overlooking the green mountains, relishing the absolute peace. What they offered us was homemade and very fresh and we honoured it by finishing it to the last crumb.
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