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A rented car is by far the best way to explore the region, and one is essential to go beyond the main sights. Driving to Kalambaka or Ioannina from Athens takes the greater part of a day. To reach Ioannina take the National Road west past Corinth in the Peloponnese, crossing the magnificent Rion–Antirion bridge. The total trip is 445 km (276 mi). For Kalambaka, take the National Road north past Thebes; north of Lamia there's a turnoff for Trikala and Kalambaka (a total of 330 km [204 mi]). The drive from Thessaloniki takes around five hours and winds you over the mountains and river valleys of Kozani and Grevena on the National Road.
The road from Ioannina to Metsovo to Kalambaka is one of the most scenic in northern Greece, but it traverses the famous Katara pass, which is curvy and possibly hazardous, especially December through March (snow chains are necessary). If you are traveling with a few people, it might be more relaxing and almost as economical to hire a taxi to drive you around, at least for a day.
Budget (Dodonis 109, Ioannina, 45221. 26510/43901 or 6932/641943. www.budget.com.)
Hertz (Dodonis 105, Ioannina, 45221. 26510/44836. www.hertz.com. Airport, 45500. 26510/27400.)
Tomaso (Dodonis 42, Ioannina, 45332. 26510/66900. www.tomaso.gr.)
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