**Did you know that Greece is not only about beaches, but also about incredible mountain reserves?** Discover the Pindus National Park! Here you will find Vikos Gorge, which has entered the Guinness Book of Records as the deepest in relation to its width. Vikos is breathtaking in its beauty and special atmosphere. Along the gorge there are traditional villages with colourful stone houses that complete the picture. For a long time this region was very difficult to reach. Its beauty has been revealed to the world only recently, with the development of roads. That's why these villages are fully preserved and there one feels as if one has gone back in time a couple of centuries! Another trademark of the region are the stone bridges. They are situated in amazingly picturesque places. Along the Vicos there are many viewing platforms with incredible views. Of course, I included the most impressive ones in my programme of the trip. However, the Vikos Gorge is not just something to look at; there are numerous hiking trails along its bottom. Back in the days when there were no roads, people used to take these paths and bridges to get between villages. You can therefore get down there from any village. There are signposts everywhere. If you are keen on hiking, you can stretch the route over more days and move between villages that way. The main thing is to time it well so that you can make it in the daylight hours, and take water and something to eat with you. Zagori is a nice place to relax without the crowds and the hustle and bustle. It's nice to walk leisurely, feel the harmony of nature and listen to the silence. *Helpful hints* Be prepared for active walking: take sporty non-slip shoes or trekking boots. If you go to Zagori in March/April or October/November, evenings can get quite chilly. Take warm and comfortable clothes. I wouldn't recommend going in winter, as there is snow and all travel can be problematic. The optimal time is from April till October. No petrol stations in Zagori! Get petrol in Metsovo or somewhere near the entrance to the region. There is also a lot of serpentine mountain roads. You can save time and not have lunch in the tavernas, but take a snack beforehand. The sites are so beautiful that sometimes you want to sit down somewhere along the way and enjoy the view instead of sitting in an establishment. In the evening, shortly after sunset, the villages fall silent. That's the way of life here. Itineraries are therefore planned to visit the most important sites while it's still light. In the evening you can have a leisurely dinner in a tavern. The food in Zagori is predominantly meat. There is no point in ordering fish, as it is not a traditional product for this region.
To make the journey from Thessaloniki more pleasant and easier, I suggest stopping in Metsovo. It is a large village, very popular among Greeks. People often come here for the weekend. Metsovo, as well as the villages of Zagori, are built entirely in traditional style. In about an hour you can walk around the village and then I highly recommend a visit to the Laografia museum. Then have lunch in one of the popular meat taverns. Metsovo is also famous for its cheeses, so it will be a great idea to buy a couple of kinds to take with you on the road.
We depart from Thessaloniki. If you start from the airport, add about 15 minutes
Metsovo is a very popular destination for Greeks. It is a village with interesting mountain architecture - all houses are made of grey stone.
It may seem like a standard museum, of which there are many. But its highlight is the guided tour. This service is included in the ticket price. A person, who is in love with his native places, will tell you about them in a very fascinating way! You will learn the history of Metsovo and the surrounding area, traditions and manners of the inhabitants, you will hear the story about the famous family.
There are many tavernas in Metsovo, this is one of the most popular. It is in such places in Greece where the meat is particularly good. When leaving Metsovo don't forget to refuel!
You have arrived at the first village of your route in Zagori. Immediately at the entrance to Kipi you will see the first stone bridge. The next bridge is only 10 minutes on foot or 2 minutes by car
Bridge number two in your journey :) Next to the bridge is the old mill building.
In Kipi village you will have an overnight stay. Leave your car on the main road or at the hotel, and walk to the two more bridges planned for today. If it is not yet dark and you have enough energy, walk in the village and visit the church of Agios Nikolaos. In general, it is better to move around these villages on foot, because the streets are narrow and you might get stuck in a cul-de-sac or just not be able to park.
Bridge 3. From the road, it's just a couple of minutes along the riverbed
Bridge #4. A very picturesque three-arch bridge
O Mihalis is a traditional meat tavern. The only one in the village. If the tavern is full or if it is not open for some reason, there is a restaurant in the hotel.
Today you will visit the incredible Vradeto Stairs! The route will start from the village of Kipi, where the overnight stay was. On the way you have 2 bridges marked - be sure to see them, especially the Misiou bridge. After that transfer to Vradeto. You will love the road, it's amazingly scenic with panoramic views and a forest of slender pine trees. Once in the village of Vradeto, prepare for the descent. From the edge of the village begins a serpentine stone staircase that seems to lead to an abyss. But in fact it leads to the neighboring village. Take your time to get down and enjoy the infinite view. Reserve some energy for the ascent. After that, it's on to Monodendri, where you'll stay at a hotel. If you have more energy, you should go to the church of Agia Paraskevi
From this bridge I suggest a walk along the river bed to the next bridge. It will be an easy and pleasant walk
While some bridges look a bit like each other, this one is different in that there are sheer cliffs on both sides. The landscape is impressive!
Go back to the first bridge. Here you get in the car and drive to the next point - Vradeto
This is where the road to the amazing Vradeto Stairs begins. On the way to this village, on the road, you may notice a sign for the lower part of the trail to the stairs. It is near the village of Capesovo. If you like, make a short stop there to take pictures of the gorge from the other side. However, I recommend that you do not start at the bottom of the stairs, but go to Vradeto and visit the upper part of the stairs. In the village, take water and something to eat, because the walk will be long. But fantastically scenic! You can even schedule more time on the Stairs if you've taken a lunchbox and don't plan to eat lunch at the establishment afterwards. Park in the center of Vradeto and continue on foot, following the signs to the stairs
There's the famous staircase! You can go all the way down, but remember that you have to climb back up again. Take your time and enjoy the view! Just imagine, recently this is how the inhabitants of Vradeto used to visit the residents of the neighbouring village of Kapesovo.
After a stroll up the stairs, you're sure to be in the mood for lunch. This and the neighbouring Vradeto tavern serve simple and delicious food
After a brisk walk in Vradeto, a relaxing evening awaits you here. Park outside the hotel and walk to the ancient church of Agia Paraskevi. Not only will you enjoy the church itself, but also the view of the canyon.
Very beautiful active monastery. There is a small church, you can visit it and buy different handicrafts. There is also an observation deck with a view of Vikos Canyon. The view is great!
Check into the hotel, walk through the streets of Monodendri - they are beautiful! By the way, this is one of the few places where you can buy souvenirs. Then go to the neighbouring village of Vitsa, where you can have dinner.
It is better to book a table in advance, because the restaurant is very popular. The restaurant has its own speciality: almost all the dishes here are made of mushrooms!
Today you will visit 2 viewpoints overlooking Vicos Canyon. Both are fantastic! Take a walk along the canyon. If you go in spring or early summer, you will also see the river at the bottom of the canyon. And then water treatments - "pools" near the Papingo settlements. At the end of the day, have dinner overlooking the Towers and celebrate a successful trip! :)
Interesting geological phenomenon! And just on the way to the first observation point.
It is simply breathtaking! The site is on a bluff, overlooking the canyon in both directions. One of the two best viewing platforms. It leaves no one indifferent! Be careful - there are no fences.
The monastery is in a beautiful place. The monastery itself is closed, but the main thing here is the walk. Walk along the river, then through a majestic dense forest. Climb the walls of the monastery and enjoy the wonderful view!
Here is the second famous site. The view here is from a completely different angle, and just as impressive! Take a break in the gazebo and go down into the canyon. You'll reach the riverbed and see a pretty little church there. Take as long a walk as you want to remember this beauty!
This is the end point of your journey to Zagori. Papingo is divided into two villages: Big Papingo and Little Papingo. If you want to eat now, it is easier to do so in Big Papingo - there are more establishments there. Including the tavern noted below. Or go straight to the Pools
Classic tavern with a good rating
Natural 'pools', similar in shape to the Stone Forest. If you come in spring or the first half of summer, there will be plenty of water, and some even bathe. The water is of course very cool. And, traditionally, there is a stone bridge :) Take a walk along the pools or just take a break with a beautiful view.
Free time. Walk through Micro Papingo, one of the most beautiful villages. At the extremity of the village there is an interesting view of the Towers, cliffs of this shape.
It's a beautiful tavern! Worth spending a leisurely evening here overlooking the mountains and celebrating your successful journey in Zagori
Today is the day of departure for Thessaloniki. I suggest stopping by the capital of the region, Ioannina. The town is located on a lake, so it has interesting views. And there is also a beautiful cave here. After lunch safely go to Thessaloniki.
On the way back stop in Janina, the largest town in the region. It is located on a lake, so it has many promenade areas and beautiful views
Janina's main attraction
The island is easily accessible, with boats departing from the pier every half hour to an hour. From here you will see the panorama of Janina, see a couple of authentic churches
Get something to eat... and go to Thessaloniki
Here you are back! I hope you enjoyed this trip!