Epirus - An Appealing Mountain World and Pure Nature
No wishes remain unfulfilled in Epirus. The region has high peaks, magnificent gorges, raging streams and steep mountain slopes, which alternate with breathtaking valleys, lush green forests and wonderful beaches.
Geography - Mountains as far as the eye can see
Epirus is a region in the north-west of Greece. It comprises the southern half of the ancient landscape of Epirus, while the northern half is part of Albania. The region has an area of 9,203 km² and a population of 336,800 people. Epirus borders on the Ambracian Gulf and Central Greece in the south as well as on Thessaly and Macedonia in the east, which are separated from the region by the Pindus mountain range. The natural border in the west is the Ionian Sea. The region's capital is the city of Ioannina. Epirus is divided into four regional units: Arta, Ioannina, Preveza and Thesprotia. The Ionian coast has typical Mediterranean climate but there is more rainfall than on the Ionian Islands. Temperatures are temperate in the remaining parts of the region.
Nature - Vikos, the second deepest gorge on earth
Epirus is a very mountainous region. You see the high Ceraunian Mountains in the north-west, Gramos (2,520 m) in the north at the border of Albania and Greece's second highest mountain, Smolikas (2,637 m), further south. Between these mountains and the capital of Ioannina, travellers find Tymfi, which is 2,497 metres high, and the Vikos-Aoös National Park. Large parts of Epirus are protected. The delta of the rivers of Phlegethon, Kokitos and Acheron, for example, consisted of a vast marshland in ancient times, parts of which have been preserved to the present day. Visitors can experience a rare and protected flora and fauna there. The whole region is rich in waters and forests. Significant rivers in Epirus are Inachos, Arachthos, Thyamis and Aoös. The forests are mainly vegetated by oaks, beeches, stone pines and firs. In the coastal areas, you find the characteristic olive trees. A special natural beauty is Vikos Gorge, the second deepest gorge on earth. It fascinates with a great ecosystem with about 1,700 different plants and 182 animal species. Along the steep cliffs, you see vultures and eagles nesting. In addition, the region is home to several bears, wolves and wildcats. Besides the harsh and wild landscape of the mountains, visitors find sunny beaches at the coast in the middle of a lush green landscape. Despite the increasing tourism in this region, the landscape maintains unspoiled and promises a special holiday experience.
Culture - Of ancient sites and traditional villages
Due to Epirus' chequered history, the region is full of Ottoman stone bridges over rivers, traditional settlements, Byzantine monasteries and other ancient buildings which astonish travellers. Important cities in this region are the coastal city of Igoumenitsa, the capital of Ioaninna and the romantic Parga. A special highlight is the village of Dodoni. It is the second cultic site with an oracle after Delphi and was dedicated to Zeus. Therefore, the complex consists of a Zeus sanctuary, a theatre (one of the greatest and oldest theatres in Greece) and the remains of different buildings, which have been preserved to the present day. Epirus also offers a number of natural sights such as the Vikos-Aoös National Park, the limestone cave of Perama and Vikos Gorge.
Experience - Discovering the mountain villages in Zagoria
Travellers who want to experience the typical Epirus should visit the region of Zagoria. Near Vikos Gorge you see the famous Zagoria Villages, a group of 46 mountain villages with beautiful churches, old patrician houses as well as stone bridges and settlements with traditional structures. Since the region is separated from the rest of the Greek mainland by the Pindus mountain range, it has maintained its own architectural style. South of Zagoria, you find the beautiful town of Metsovo, which is known for its art handicraft and its livestock products. The small village of Ammoudia at the Ionian Sea is famous for the fresh fish and excellent wines which are served in its local taverns.
Activities - A paradise for active holidaymakers
Epirus offers a wide range of leisure and sporting activities. The region is, for example, excellently suited for going cycling, riding, hiking, climbing, swimming, diving and sailing. Almost all destinations in Epirus are great starting points for individual and exciting hikes, on which you can explore the relics from bygone times or the diverse flora and fauna. The rivers offer great conditions for going kayaking, canyoning and rafting. Epirus is also popular in winter because the mountains are great for going skiing. The most popular destinations at that time of the year are Ioannina and the mountain villages of Zagoria. In summer, travellers love spending time at the stunning beaches along the coast of the Ionian Sea. An insider tip is Aloni Beach, a coastal landscape with idyllic deserted bays. Valtos, Lichnos and Sarakiniko Beach near Parga are characterised by crystal clear water. You should not miss out on a boat tour, for example from Ammoudia on the Acheron River. There are regular ferry connections to the Ionian Islands and to Italy from the harbour in Igoumenitsa.
The best way of reaching Epirus is flying to Aktio Airport in Preveza (PVK) or to Ioannina (IOA) via Athens and Thessaloniki. Travellers who prefer taking their car can take the ferry from Italy (Venice, Ancona, Bari or Brindisi) to Igoumenitsa.
Epirus displays extraordinary natural beauty. It offers everything you could want from holidays in nature. Active holidaymakers get their money's worth and there is a variety of cultural sights too. The region is an unspoiled area which is waiting to be discovered.