Central Greece Itineraries

Marvels of Central Greece

With a rich wilderness of mountains, rocky gorges, and white-water rivers crossed by stone-arch bridges, Epirus is the antithesis of what most people think about Greece. Take a tour of the region that sweeps down from the borders of Albania, and drive south into Central Greece almost to the Gulf of Corinth to discover a stunning landscape that shows off Greece’s mountainous character at its best.

1 Day: Ioannina

Ioannina, which was a crossroads of trading, is the handsome capital of Epirus and reflects its Balkan, Ottoman, and Byzantine roots that are preserved in its Old Town. You can soak in the panoramic view of the city from its castle walls that date back to AD 528 and visit the city's Byzantine Museum within the city's citadel. Take a boat ride and glide to the city’s landmark, Lake Pamvotis, for a stop at Nissi Island. Visit the little village on Nissi, which is free of most vehicular traffic, then head to the museum that unveils the historical details of enigmatic Ottoman ruler Ali Pasha during his dramatic reign of the region from 1788 until he was deposed by the Turks in 1821. It's housed in the 16th-century era Pandelimonos Monastery, where Ali Pasha lived until he was killed.

Logistics:A bus from Athens to Ioannina can take 7 hours; it's much easier to fly.

1 Day: Zagorohoria

In the Zagorohoria region north of Ioannina, numerous traditional villages defined by stone, wood, and slate rock hug the mountain slopes. Admire the handicrafts in Monodendri village, altitude 3,400 feet, where you can also enter the depths of the Vikos Gorge, the deepest in the world, and walk the cobblestone trail to the 15th-century Aghia Paraskevi Monastery.

Logistics:Drive from Ioannina to Zagorohoria (1 hour), or take a bus. There are just a few places to stay in Zagorohoria, so you may want to remain for a second night in Ioannina and visit on a day-trip, especially if you have a car. The area can be especially busy during summer weekends in July and August, so plan ahead if visiting during that time.

1 Day: Metsovo

Metsovo is a traditional village cascading down a mountainside in the heart of the Pindos mountain range (below the Katara pass marking the highest point in Greece and the border between Epirus and Thessaly), where outdoor aficionados can hike and raft. Even during the summer, the temperatures at this altitude will be considerably cooler than in other parts of Greece, with highs in the 70s F. Wind down in the village and walk through its stone-paved streets. Be sure to see the Tositsa Museum, the home of one of the village's most prominent families. Stop to sample local wines and cheeses; the Katogi-Averoff Winery is an important regional winery and produces fine red wines.

Logistics:Metsovo is another 1½ hours from Zagorohoria; drive to Kalambaka (1 hour farther), just outside Meteora, for an overnight stay.

1 Day: Meteora

Wake up ready to spend the day exploring Meteora’s sky-high monasteries built on seemingly inaccessible sandstone peaks. In an awe-inspiring effort, Byzantine emperors funded the construction of these aeries, and monks settled on these rock towers from the 11th century onwards. At one point there were 16 monasteries. Today only six remain, and they are on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Logistics:Two or three monasteries are usually enough for anyone. After your visit, drive to the next stop, Delphi (3½ hours), in the early afternoon.

2 Days: Delphi and Environs

Wake up in the land that was once regarded as the center of the world by Ancient Greeks. Spend the day touring the archaeological site of Delphi. Positioned on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos the site housed the ancients’ most famous oracle. Next, visit Arachova, also perched on the slopes of Mt. Parnassos, and stop at the monastic complex of Osios Loukas before returning to either Delphi or Arachova for the night.

Logistics:It's 3 to 4 hours back to Athens by car, longer if you are going by bus.

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