I grew up in Stockholm, in the middle of the city. Landscapes views and nature were not around the corner. It was usually up to date on summer holidays when we went to Greece. The exception is my earliest childhood year when I lived with my grandparents in a small mountain village. As the years goes by I’m drawn to the mountains like a magnet and love the views of the those hilly landscapes…
In the region of Epirus, in the north west of Greece, you will find the 46 stone villages in a magnificent landscape, just one hour drive from the city Ioannina. Zagori means beyond the mountains, from the Slavic za “behind” and gore “mountain”. The area had its greatness during the Ottoman period and that is evident in the architecture of the houses, the unique bridges and monasteries. Kalderimi is the name of the cobblestone paved roads around the stone villages in Zagori. They are designed for foot and hoofed traffic and tie together many of the villages in the region. Zagoria or Zagori or Zagorochoria (villages of Zagori) is divided into three regions, western, eastern and central Zagori. Here is the attractions you do not want to miss.
The villages you must visit here is Megalo Papingo and Mikro Papingo, its the villages in the photos above. From Mikro Papingo you can start your hiking up to the mountain top of mountain Tymfi and reach the top Gamilla with an altitude of 2436m. The famous lake Drakolimni is also on the way up to the top and about 4,5 hours from Papingo. Between the two villages you find he natural swimming pools of Rogovo, recommend you to take a swim here during the summer. On your way to the village Aristi, stop at Aristi bridge and perhaps join the rafting groups for a pleasant rafting tour in the river of Voidomatis.
The main attraction here is Vikos gorge, listed as the deepest gorge in the world by Guinness Book of Record. It begins between the villages of Monodendri and Koukouli and ends near the village Vikos. The village Monodendri has the most tourists as you have a spectacular view to Vikos gorge from this point. In the centre of the village you have Rizario Exhibition Culture Centre with nice handcraft and photography exhibitions. Central Zagori has the most famous stone bridges and monasteries in Zagori, don’t miss them if you are nearby. Villages like Dilofo, Kipoi are just some of the 20 villages in this section.
Consist of 16 villages which has the oldest villages in the area. This part of Zagori is for nature lovers, hikers, scouts and hunters. On your way up to the very east you find the villages Greveniti, Elatochori, Vouvousa and Perivoli among others. I have been to Vouvousa twice as its at least a few hours drive from Ioannina city. Here you can enjoy the national forrest of Pindos and the river Aoos which flows through the village.