Towering mountains, virgin forests and impressive gorges; a wild and evocative landscape. Zagorohoria – to give the area its full name – is a cluster of stone villages, masterfully constructed bridges and monasteries carved into the mountains. It’s a pure and seductive holiday destination for all seasons. You’ll discover its beauty walking along the Vikos Gorge, staring up at the Astrakas Mountain peak, listening to the rumble of the Voidomatis River and admiring impressive Mt Timfi.
You’ll feel it walking with your lover or friend in the mystical fog of Papingo, visiting the old monasteries and churches, or just relaxing by the fireplace in a luxurious guesthouse. Zagori is a priceless treasure waiting to be discovered.
What to do in Zagori
Vikos Gorge: the kingdom of the river and the eagles
A unique geological phenomenon: a schism in the earth that could have only been created by a divine hand. The narrowest section of the two sides is just 1,100m wide and its depths reach 900m. The Vikos Gorge is the realm of eagles, of rare medicinal herbs and steep vertical rocks. It begins from the bridge of Kokoros and ends at the bridge of Aristi. Passing through it is an experience of a lifetime.
Megalo Papingo and Mikro Papingo: famous winter brothers
Nightime. Your footsteps echo in the cobblestone streets, the moonlight bathes Mt Astrakas, rising high above Megalo and Mikro Papingo. The light in the windows of the guest houses warms the cold darkness. The smell of burnt wood from the fireplace awakens childhood memories. You’re already dreaming of enchanting evenings in your stone villa, with its fireplace, flokati rug and comfortable bed.
You eagerly anticipate the moment when you’ll sit at a traditional taverna, enjoying handmade savoury pies, warm fasolada (bean soup) with fresh bread, grilled meat, complemented by a few glasses of red wine. Early in the morning, well rested, you’ll walk the path that connects the two villages, along the bridge above the Rogova River, admiring the incredible architecture and old churches. It’s no surprise that these two villages are the most popular winter holiday destination in Zagori.
The majestic ‘towers’ of Astrakas
The most magnificent mountain in the North Pindus range is Timfi. One of its peaks is Astrakas, with an altitude of 2,436m. South of the peak are huge horizontal rock formations, the famous ‘towers’, linking it with the Vikos Gorge. Only ‘awe’ can describe the feeling as you look up at Astrakas, especially during winter when snow decorates its slopes.
Drakolimni – a lake attraction
This alpine lake is stunningly beautiful. A mythical dragon lurks in its depths, perhaps a distant cousin of Scotland’s Loch Ness beastie! Sightings are limited these days, but don’t despair, there are many real drakakia (small dragons) that are actually microscopic amphibians called alpine newts. It’s perhaps the only trace we have of the Ice Age. To reach the lake, allow for 2-5 hours of hiking from Mikro Papingo.
Zagorohoria: craftsmanship and traditions
These village-gems in Epirus are waiting to introduce you to their beauty and their customs. Aristi, Monodendri, Vikos, Dilofo, Kapesovo, Tsepelovo and Kipi. This cluster of villages is built in a circle. In their centre is a square with a large plane tree, a fountain, a church and traditional coffee shop. You’ll fall in love with every cobblestone alleyway, every home built of white carved stone and every old church with its rich history. The architecture of Zagorohoria is a source of inspiration and education for architects. The artistry of the stone craftsmen is unsurpassed.
The incredible art of stone
Kalogeriko: the most beautiful stone bridge in Greece and one of the most beautiful in the Balkans. The fluid movement and harmonious lines of its three arches are what sets it apart from the rest. ‘A moving caterpillar’ is how the rhythmical movement of its three stringers has been described. It’s located just outside the village of Kipi and it connects the banks of the Bagiotiko River.
There are even more masterly crafted stone bridges to visit including the Kokoris (or Noutsos), between the Koukouli and Kipi villages; the bridge of Misios, at the Vikos Gorge and Milos near Kipi village.
Winter holidays in luxurious guest houses
Do you prefer traditional cottages, high design or classic luxury? Are you in the mood for spa treatments, hydromassage or relaxing by the fireplace reading and playing boardgames? Looking forward to a traditional breakfast on a stone patio, the winter sun warming your back? Whatever your dream may be of the perfect winter holiday, you’ll find it in the villages of Zagori. Incredible stone guest houses and buildings that are architectural masterpieces are waiting to provide you with warm hospitality.
Hidden gems of Zagori
Skala tou Vardetou
Perfectly in harmony with the landscape, elegant and built with exceptional artistry, Skala used to be the only way from Vradeto village to Kapesovo. Every step of the way, you’ll admire the tireless skill and patience of the craftsman who gave us this unique cobblestone trail.
Ovires: natural water sculptures
Right next to the road that connects Megalo and Mikro Papingo, stop to see the ‘Ovires’. They look like small lakes and have blue water and rocks carved by powerful running streams. If you go during summer, you’ll be able to take a swim.
Agia Paraskevi at the edge of the ravine
The Monastery of Agia Paraskevi at Vikos is built on the edge of the ravine, and 800m separate it from the central square of the Monodendri village. It was built in the 15th century, has exceptional architecture and is considered a listed landmark.
Spileotissas Monastery: Faith’s elaborate embroidery
Walking through a forest with perennial plane trees, you’ll reach Panagia tis Speliotissas. The monastery leans, literally, on a huge steep cliff, that ends in the Voidomatis River. The bell tower is built at the top of the rock, which you can climb up to. The view from here is spectacular.
- Vikos Gorge
- Monastery of Panagia Spiliotissa
- Megalo and Mikro Papingo
- The Towers of Astrakas
- Vradeto Steps