The stunning islands and beaches of Greece get most of the attention. But the truth is, even without them Greece would still be one of Europe’s loveliest countries. Anyone who visits one of the gorgeous mountain ranges in the late summer would quickly be convinced. Greece’s beauties are truly endless.
Of the finest mountain ranges in all Greece is the Pindus range. In late summer, the famously sweet light of Pindus will be tinged with golden hues. Even as the sun continues to heat up the beaches, here in the mountains it is pleasant by day, with refreshingly cool evenings for a restorative night’s sleep. The leaves may just be taking on hints of the vibrant colors of autumn, adding great beauty to your visit.
Zagori: A Place of Rare Natural Beauty
One of the most famously lovely mountainous regions in Greece is Zagori, a municipality in the Pindus mountains. Zagori is just north of the gorgeous cosmopolitan lake town of Ioannina, bordering on the Pindos National Park.
This dramatic region – boasting the Tymphi, Mitsikeli, and Mavrovouni mountains. Mount Tymphi, at 2497, is Greece’s 5 tallest mountain. The majestic but more petite Mitsikeli (1810m) is abundant in natural springs that feed the lake of Ioannina.
This lushly forested region is a thriving natural habitat for all manner of plants and rare species of wildlife. For this reason, it belongs to the Natura 2000 network of areas of conservation and protection in the European union.
Zagori: An Abundant Natural Habitat
Many rare species make their home in the Zagori region, protected by the Natura 2000 network. Ornithologists will delight in Zagori, knowing that many rare and even endangered raptor species – such as the particularly rare Egyptian Vulture – find a home here. There are also varieties of eagles, peregrines, storks, woodpeckers, and quail. The woodlands that shelter them are glorious.
Birdwatching expeditions can be arranged for both experienced and new amateur ornithologists, to experience fully the beauty of the habitat.
The region is also home to various species of mammals and reptiles, as well as indigenous plants. It’s a joy to take in.
Zagori is a haven for both wildlife, and for the traveler who is in search of the truly exceptional.
Zagori: for Majestic Hiking Trails
Within The Zagori region is the famous Vikos Gorge, in the Vikos–Aoös National Park. This national park is part of the Natura 2000 network and is a UNESCO Geopark. The area offers caves, canyons, streams, and forests.
There are hiking trails for every level of experience throughout the region. Even in the lovely villages, the beauty of the region is always before you, in grand vistas.
The Zagori Gorge: One of the most Majestic Hikes of all Greece
The magnificent gorge itself is approximately 20 km long. The main section enjoyed by hikers is approximately 12 km. The Vikos gorge is one of the deepest gorges in the world – 1,000 meters at its deepest point. It can be as wide as 400 meters, or just a dramatic few meters wide at its narrowest point. The gorge is carved by the crisply cold and sweet waters of the Voidomatis river.
The Vikos gorge has varied terrain. Along part of it are the lovely rustic arched stone bridges that are characteristic of the area. Hiking along part of the magnificent gorge is a wonderful experience.
The “Zagorohoria” – The Fairy-Tale Stone Villages of Zagori
For Greeks, this region is synonymous with the Zagorohoria- “Chorio” means village in Greek, and Zagori is very famous for its stone villages, surrounded by lush forests, mountains, and unparalleled vistas.
These villages are some of the best preserved in all of Greece. The unique traditional stone architecture gives the Zagorohoria a dreamy character. With their cobblestone streets and alleys, mansions and simple homes, and village squares shaded by plane trees, they offer authenticity and true local character.
You have your choice of charms- the Zagori region has 46 (!) such dreamy villages.
Rugged Nature and Cosmopolitan Charms
One of the great delights if the Zagori region is that you can experience the raw beauty of nature by day, and the delights of civilization in the afternoons.
The Cuisine of Zagori
Not surprisingly, this mountainous region is rich in natural bounty and is known for the excellence of its cuisine.
Hearty flavors complement the natural surroundings. Rustic delights abound, particularly Zagori’s artisanal cheeses. The feta of Epirus is known all over Greece. You can also savor smoky Metsovone, piquant Kefalotiri, and creamy Galotiri- among others.
The whole Epirus is famous for the excellence of its pies, flaky-crusted and delicate with delicious fillings of cheeses and greens that make a wonderful breakfast or hikers’ snack. But after a long day in the mountains, the region’s famously satisfying cooked foods are delightful. Wild boar and game birds are cooked in rich sauces and accompanied by traditional hand-rolled pasta. There is also a great variety of exquisite mushrooms here, both foraged and cultivated.
Red wines are a natural fit for both the terrain and its cuisine, and you will find many delicious wines. But Raki – often also known as “Tsipouro” – the distilled spirit of grape marc – is also a warming local specialty. It goes well with “Meze” – small bites to accompany wines or raki which can become a meal in themselves. Zagori is also known for its aged Tsipouro. The Tsipouro ages in wooden barrels, mellowing and taking on a golden hue.
Living in Luxury, with Authentic Charm
The Zagori region, with its many rustic Zagorohoria, offers a great variety of accommodations. Excellent boutique hotels cater to the discerning traveler, who wants premium comfort, but not at the expense of true character. The traditional vernacular architecture makes for elegant living, in harmony with the natural and historic surroundings.
Elegant Mountain Holidays, Greek Style
The mountains of Greece are a wonderful combination of warm Mediterranean character, rugged natural beauty, authentic and unique architectural character, and outstanding cuisine. Have you enjoyed visiting any of the famous mountains of Greece?