Zagorochoria is an intricate island on the northwest side of Greece. The island is filled with small villages built on the mountains of the Epirus region. The beautiful villages of Zagorochoria, like Pepigo, Monodendri, and Vitsa, are so mesmerizing that they look like postcards. The island of Zagorochoria is filled with narrow alleys and stone-made houses with grey-tiled houses.
Every corner of this island gives out a charm and a calming feel. The abundance of breathtaking landscapes, like the Monastery of St. Paraskevi and Aoos National Park, have made Zagorochoria the top destination for an intimate holiday.
The Island is a perfect fit for adventure lovers as well. You can go trekking, rafting, mountain climbing, horse riding, and hiking around the mountains of this magnificent island. So, if you are planning a trip to Zagorochoria, keep reading as we discuss everything the beautiful island offers its visitors.
How to get to Zagorochoria
Zagorochoria is a region filled with beautiful landscapes and attractive sites, and there are many ways to get to this picturesque island. Let us discuss them in detail
By a plane
The nearest airport to Zagorochoria is Ioannina National Airport, as there are no international airports on the island. You will have to land in Athens, and from there, you will get on a plane that will take an hour to get to Ioannina airport. From there, you can easily get on a bus or a car which will take you to Zagorochoria.
Once you land at Ioannina airport, you can easily catch a local bus from the bus station and travel cheaply. The buses run the whole day, so you can book whatever flight suits you and then hop on the bus that will take you to Zagorochoria.
You can also get to Zagorochoria from Athens by catching a KTEL bus in almost 6 hours. The bus will take you to Ioannina. From there, you can catch a local bus and get to Zagorochoria.
A majority of the visitors prefer traveling in Zagorochoria by private car. A car gives you the freedom to roam around the island on your terms. You can go wherever you want and stay there for as long as you want. You can travel in your car or even rent one if you do not have a personal ride. There are many car rental shops in Athens. You can simply rent a car from one of them and get to Zagorochoria in 4 hours and 45 minutes.
To get to Zagorochoria, you must first travel to Ioannina from Athens via National Greek Road Athens – Corinth. Once you reach Ioannina, you will spot a sign saying Zagorochoria. Follow it, and you will reach one of the villages of Zagorochoria.
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What is the best time to visit Zegorochoria?
The island is still not exposed to many tourists, so if you are planning a trip to Zagorochoria and thinking of when is the best time to do so, then here are some of the things which will help you decide:
Weather in Zagorochoria plays a great part in attracting tourists. The summer season, from June to August, is the warmest, with the least chance of rain. But this is also the time when most of the tourists come to Zagororchoria, making the island a bit crowded.
On the other hand, the months of May and September have a milder temperature with less crowd, but these are also when you can expect high rain chances.
If you are visiting Zagorochoria for outdoor activities like trekking and hiking, we suggest going somewhere between late spring to early autumn. The weather is very mild during these times, and the island’s beauty is at its prime. Mountains like Mt. Ziria and Mt. Menalon are one of the best hiking tracks on the island.
There are other activities as well, such as rafting from the Voidomatis bridge to the old bridge of Kleidoneias. Late winter and early spring would be the best time for rafting as the rivers are at their highest during these times. You can also mountain bike around Zagorochoria’s forests and explore the island; fall would be the perfect time to do so. You do not need to bring a bike with you. One can easily rent a bike from the village of Kipi di Zagori and go on to explore the island.
Zagorochoria is a land of Greek culture, and the people of the island celebrate different festivals throughout the year. So, whenever you plan the trip, you will definitely get to attend a festival. But these are some of the festivals you would not want to miss.
One of the biggest festivals is held on 15th August in Aspraggeloi and the village of Vista, which goes on for three days. The festival is more of a feast to honor the Virgin Mary; people are treated to the best quality food, wine, and music.
If you plan on visiting the island during July, then late July would be the best time as the people of the island celebrate two festivals during this time. One is on the 20th of July to celebrate Prophet Ilias in Papigo, and the other is on the 26th of July in Monodendri village to honor Agia Paraskevi.
The busiest time of the year
The time between June and August is the busiest time at Zagorochoria. The weather is the warmest during these months, and people from all over the world visit the island to spend their summer vacations. The streets are crowded, the restaurants are booked, and the hotel fares skyrocket.
So, if you are looking forward to spending some quality time with your loved ones, then we would suggest not picking these months. But if you are a fan of the crowd and want to spend the vacation in places filled with people, June to August would be ideal.
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Natural beauty and scenic views
Zagorochoria is a land recognized for its rich fauna, flora, and natural beauty. The whole island is a treat you must not miss, but some scenes are especially beautiful during a specific time of the year. Let us discuss some of them:
It is an alpine late with a high altitude located on Mt. Tymfi. The lake is mostly frozen throughout the year but becomes a famous hiking point during the summer. As the ice melts, the area becomes a beautiful Eden, offering a breathtaking view of the valleys and mountains.
It is the most beautiful place in all of Zagorochoria, best recognized for its crystal-clear river and steep cliffs. We would suggest that you visit Vikos Gorge during spring. It is when the snow melts and fills the rivers to their highest level, giving a beautiful sight.
Papingo Rock Pools
The water from the Rogovo stream kept collecting at one point, forming this beautiful natural pool at Papingo Rock. If you are visiting Zagorochoria during the summer, we would suggest you visit Papingo. Dipping into the shallow, cool water will surely give you the freshness you need during the hot weather.
This river is a branch of the Aoos River, most known for its unique ecosystem and turquoise waters. The hot summer weather would be the best time to swim in the refreshing waters of the beautiful lake.
The mountains of Zagorochoria create a breathtaking snowy landscape during winter. December to February is the best time to experience the beautiful snowy mountains.
The time from mid-October to early November is when the island’s forests are at their best. It is when the leaves turn orange and fill the forest ground with vibrant foliage.
Waterfalls and mountain stream
The waterfall and mountain streams of Zagorochoria are in their prime state during early summer and spring when the snow melts and the water gets higher.
The warm weather and clear sky during the summer seasons give the best night view in Zagorochoria.
Activities and the weather
The weather and temperature greatly affect the activities one can do in Zagorochoria. For example, the summertime is the best for activities like hiking, trekking, and hiking as there is less possibility of rain. The paths are dry, and the pleasant weather makes it easier to go to the mountains.
On the other hand, people visit the island in winter for snowboarding and skiing, which cannot be done during any other season as the snow stays only from December to February. People fond of kayaking and rafting should come between April and June as this is when the snow melts and the rivers reach their highest level.
Things to do in Zagorochoria
Zagorochoria is a land full of activities and different scenic points. The island is best known for its beautiful mountain ranges, stone villages, and canyons. The region is still not fully explored, and not many people visit the island, but it still manages to attract a satisfactory number of audiences. It offers a variety of activities like hiking, snowboarding, rafting, and much more. It is also the top picked by people to enjoy some alone time away from the crowd.
Activities and must-see attractions
Zagorochoria is a land of picturesque and beautiful landscapes, with a number of activities and attraction points for visitors from over the world. You can hike to the top of Vikos Gorge and Drakolimni to enjoy the beautiful view of the nearby villages and mountains. Beautiful villages like Vitsa, Monodendri, and Papingo carry a mixture of narrow streets, stone houses, and architecture.
Some beautifully constructed monasteries include the Monastery of Panagia Spiliotissa and the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi. Other attractive architectures include the Zagorohoria bridge, the Plakidas bridge, and the Kokkoris bridge, which were built centuries ago. You must not miss the beautiful Zahori Folklore Museum, which has a collection of rich cultural heritage and the region’s history.
Lastly, all the roaming around will make you starving. So, you must try the top Zegorochorian dishes like pies, graviera, and smoked port.
Zagorochoria is most known among tourists for its hiking trails and the different levels of difficulties each trail has. Like Vikos Gorge trail is the most popular trail among all others in the region, you will get a stunning view of Vikos Gorge from the top. The trail is 12 km long and takes around 7 hours to reach the top. It is also known as a slightly difficult trail because of its steep descents and ascents.
Gamila to Astraka Refuge trail is a challenging track with rugged terrain. It is 9 km long and takes around 6 hours to reach the top. Similar to Vikos Gorge, it is also known for having steep ascents and descents, which can cause a bit of difficulty.
Monodendri to Vitsa is the easiest trail of all. It goes through the beautiful Monodendri forest and leads to the Vitsa village. It is about 5 km long and takes around 3 hours to finish. The only difficulty is a few uphill and downhill areas. On the other hand, the Drakolimni trail is considered to be a challenging trail with sharp ascents and descents. The trail leads to the beautiful Drakolimni lake. It is 11 km long and takes around 7 hours to finish.
Lastly, the Tymfi Moutain trail is known to be the toughest trail, which is 15 km long and takes 9 hours to finish. It leads to the attractive summit of Tymnfi mountain, which offers a breathtaking view from the top of the mountains surrounding the area.
Zagorochoria is a land worth exploring. The beautiful traditional villages, the picturesque mountains, and the adventurous outdoor activities like rafting and hiking make this land a perfect holiday spot. To help the visitors explore the best of the island’s offerings, the travel companies offer a variety of tours. If you want to explore the villages of the traditional land, we suggest contacting tour guide companies such as TourbyLocals and exploring the beautiful village of Aristi, Monodendri, and Papingo. Enjoy the beautifully crafted stone houses, local architecture, and cobbled streets, and get educated about the culture and history of the land.
Next, if you are a fan of hiking, then book yourself into the hiking tour and embark on the journey to explore the majestic trail of Mount Tymfi, Vikos Gorge, and many more. The rafting tour of Voidomatis river will satisfy the adventurer inside you. The crystal-clear water and the picturesque scenery will fulfill your heart with warmth and joy. There are other tours as well, such as a photography tour, where you will be taken to some of the most beautiful spots on the island, and a culinary tour, where you will get to enjoy the exquisite Zagorochorian cuisine, learn about the local cooking techniques and ingredients.
Zagorochoria is one of the few islands in Greece that also stands out during winter. The mountains around the island are covered in snow, which turns the island into a perfect skiing spot, and people from around the world visit the island during December and March for activity. In such cases, tourists prefer staying at the nearest ski resort to avoid traveling from the city, and lucky for them, Zagorochoria has plenty of them.
One of the most popular ski resorts is in Papigo village. The mountains around the village get covered in snow, making it a perfect skiing spot. Another popular ski resort known as Metsovo is built on Mount Pindos. It is 1160 meters high and gives a mind-blowing landscape. The weather on Mount Pindos is mostly cold throughout the year. It has 3 lifts, 5 tracks, ski equipment, a ski school, a restaurant, a bar, and a chalet.
Another nice ski resort is Vassilitsa which is an hour away from Zagorochoria. It has 10 lifts, a baby lift, and 17 tracks, and it also allows the visitors to ski off-track. The resort also provides lighting for those who like to ski at night, with necessary ski equipment which you can hire. Vassilitsa also has a chalet, a ski school, a café bar, and a restaurant where you can sit and wait for your turn.
Zagorochoria is home to a number of traditional villages built on the mountains around the island. The villages have narrow alleys, grey tiled roofs, and stone-made houses. The sight of the villages looks exactly like a picture from the postcards, and every corner of it speaks charm. Monodendri is said to be the most attractive village, with cobblestone streets and a stunning view of Vikos Gorge and stone houses. The village also has the 14th century Monastery of Agia Paraskevi.
The beautiful Papigo village also holds great importance. It is located in the heart of Vikos-Aoos National Park. Tall mountains surround the village, filled with narrow alleys and stone houses. Papigo also has a hiking route that leads to the Gamila summit. Aristi is the most picturesque village located on the slope of Mout Tymfi. The beautiful architecture, traditional stone bridge, and Church of Agioi Anargyroi are some of the main attractions of this village.
Vitsa is also located in Vikos-Aoos National Park. It is known for its unique traditional cobbled streets, stone house, and Church of Agios Nikolaos. Lastly, Kipi is a village of stone bridges. It has the famous three-arched Bridge of Kokkori, the Folklore Museum of Central Zagori, and the Church of Agio Georgios.
Museums and Historic sites
Museums in Zagorochoria
Zagorochoria is the land of natural beauty and attractive monuments. The people of the island have preserved their history and cultural artifacts in several museums around the island. The Rizarios Centre for Exhibitors is built in the Monodendri village. The museum is dedicated to the Rizari brothers, who were originally from Monodendri. They financially helped the land during the Greek War of Independence. The center is filled with attractive photographs and is also a school of traditional art.
Other places like the Museum of Traditional Jobs provide a bunch of traditional items, such as vessels and tools that people used in the past. The museum is in Elfotopos, which is known as one of the most scenic villages in Zagorochoria. Another museum called the Lazarides Museum of fauna and flora is the main attraction for nature lovers. The museum was established by the naturalist Lazarides, who devoted his life to collecting different types of plans around Vikos Gorge.
Historic sites in Zagorochoria
Zogorochoria is filled with a number of historic sights, monuments, and beautiful ancient architecture, which is the main attraction for tourists. One of these attractions is the Monastery of St. Paraskevi in Monodendri village. This monastery was built in the 14th century on a rocky hill. The monastery has a small museum which is decorated with beautiful frescoes. Another monastery located in the Vitsa village is the Monastery of Agia Kyriaki. It was built in the 16th century and contains a remarkable collection of Byzantine icons.
The region is also filled with stone bridges that were built in the 18th and 19th centuries to make trade and transportation easier. Some famous stone bridges include the Bridge of Plakidas, the Bridge of Kipoi, and the Bridge of Konitsa.
Natural landmarks and scenic areas
Zagorochoria is a land of mountain villages and beautiful natural landmarks such as the National Reserve Vikos Aoos, Vikos Gorge, and many more. Within the last few years, the island has begun to turn into a tourist spot and people from all over the world visit the island to explore places like Vikos Gorge, also known as the second deepest gorge after the Grand Canyo. Closer to Vikos Gorge is the beautiful Voidomatis river, which gives a beautiful scenic view and is a good spot for pictures.
If you want to have a moment of tranquility, then the Rockpool between two Papiga villages will be the best spot. The quiet forest and the sound of water flowing into a rock water body is a beautiful sight.
Events and festivities
Zagorochoria is a land of celebrations and festivities. The people there are so attached to their culture that they celebrate almost every event there is in Greek history. Other than celebrating religious and cultural festivals like the feast in honor of the Virgin Mary, the celebration of Ilias, the feast to honor Agia Paraskevi, and the Sarakatsans Festival.
Zagorochoria also hosts a number of other events, such as Mountain running, the Zagorochorian race, and the Mountain Bike Marathon. Other festivals include the Vovousa festival, Mushroom fest, and summits like The Land Beyond, a summer school on cinematography called Zagori Wood.
Accommodation in Zagorochoria
Zagorochoria is a beautiful island filled with mountains and beautiful picturesque sceneries. The beautiful architecture of this island is one of the many parts that mesmerize visitors. How about we tell you that some of these beautiful places also provide accommodation to tourists. Dilofo Hotel is a luxurious place to stay with your family. Built in Dilofo village, the hotel provides a snack bar, Wi-Fi, TV, and hot tub service in all the rooms. Every room also provides the guest with a beautiful view of the garden or Timfi Mountain. Another beautiful place that you would love to stay in is Avragonio. The beautiful architecture of the hotel has tilted wooden roofs and parquet floors. The hotel offers every guest an open pool, a bar, and free Wi-Fi.
If you are more of a guest, you must stay at Balkoni Zagoriou. It is located in the picturesque Vradeto village. The beautiful guesthouse gives a beautiful view of the mountains. It also offers a number of services like an in-house bar and restaurant, sound-proof rooms, flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, and a shower in the bathroom.
If you are looking to rent a place during your stay in Zagorochoria, then Villa Aristi will win your heart. The beautiful villa comes with 2 bedrooms, a balcony, a terrace, a dining room, a living room, and a fireplace. The villa can easily accommodate 6 people and guarantees a comfortable stay.
Dining and Nightlife
Zagorochoria is well-known for its traditional food, and it offers a different variety of restaurants where you can try exquisite Zagorochorian cuisines. Lithos in Dilofo is one of the best restaurants, which you must not miss. Other than having an attractive interior, the restaurant offers a delicious variety of food, such as chicken fillet, saganaki cheese, and pork souvlaki. You must also try their goat in vinesauce with grilled mushrooms. Another great restaurant which you must visit is En Aristi. They serve the best Suflsky, Pasta bolognese, and mouthwatering galakticos.
Lastly, the Wine Café in Monodendri is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of tasteful wine with some good quality snacks. The place is also open late on weekends, so if you want to enjoy the Zagorochorian nightlife in Monodendri, then this café would be a good spot. There is not much happening on the streets of Zagorochoria during the night. So, taverns are the best place to spend quality time at night.
People in Northern Greece speak the Pontic Greek language. It is a dialect with strong consonants and short vowels and gives a distinctive sound. It is a fusion of Byzantine koine Greek and ancient Ionian Greek dialects. So, catching up to Pontic would help you a lot if you want to know a bit about Greek. But if you cannot find the time to learn Greek, you do not have to worry, as the locals speak French, Italian, German, and English there. People of Greece learn English for better education and career opportunities. You will find a great English-speaking audience in Greece.
Also, Zagorochoria accepts euros as a currency because it has been a part of the European Union since 1981. So, we suggest converting your local currency into euros before you land in Greece. Where security is concerned, Zagorochoria is a peaceful and safe island. However, in a new country, you must always be cautious and aware of where you are. Lastly, Zagorochoria is a place filled with culture and customs, so we suggest you spend your time observing the locals closely. See how they live and worship, try the local cuisines, and make the most of your trip.