Epirus is a region in the west of Northern Greece. The beaches of the coast are developed for tourism and well visited, while the mountainous interior receives little attention, even though it is one of the most beautiful landscapes in Greece.
Epirus consists of 5 underlying regions: Arta, Ioannina, Preveza, Thesprotia and Zagori.
- 1 Parga – In addition to some beautiful beaches (Kryoneri, Piso Kryoneri, Valtos, Lychnos) and the winding inner city with the promenade, the Venetian fortress, built around 1570 and overlooking the rugged coast, is probably the most important sight.
- 2 Arta – Worth seeing provincial town. The main attraction is the old, impressive stone bridge and the castle ruins in the center.
- 4 Ioannina – Capital of the province and the lake of the same name with many sights, especially in its surroundings.
- 6 Metsovo – Located on the edge of the Zagoria in the highlands, settlement area of the Aromunes or Vlach. Nice mountain place.
- 8 Preveza – A charming location with a beautiful promenade and some remarkable fortifications and the harbor.
- Along the coast are beautiful coastal towns (e.g. Sagiada, Plataria, Syvota, Ammoudia, Lygia, Pidima Kiras, etc.), which are strongly tourist-oriented and offer everything you would expect as a tourist.
- 1 Pindos Mountain ranges – The Pindos Mountains in the north offer particularly attractive mountain landscapes with deep gorges, lakes and waterfalls, varied vegetation, many old stone bridges, traditional villages with stone-roofed houses, wonderful hiking trails, good food in the restaurants and relatively little tourism.
- 2 Zagori – A region with 46 traditional villages known as Zagori villages, the famous Vikos gorge, beautiful stone bridges and many other picturesque nature sights and the Vikos-Aoos-National Park .
- 3 Tzoumerka National Park – A wild mountain landscape with many waterfalls, old stone bridges and romantic villages
- 4 Acheron Gorge – In Greek mythology it is Acheron one of the five rivers of the underworld, into which the other, Styx, Kokytos, Phlegethon and Lethe flow. In addition to the Styx, it is regarded as the river of the dead, over which Charon used his ferry to bring the dead souls into the Hades. According to legend, there was an oracle at its mouth. The beautiful landscape is particularly worth seeing.
Epirus is one of the poorer regions in Greece. The mountainous landscape, which is one of the most beautiful in Greece, is not yet well developed in terms of traffic and tourism - with the exception of the coast. The region was under Turkish rule until the Balkan War in 1912, only then did the southern part of the historical region come to Greece. Unfortunately, this scenic mountain region is hardly known to travelers to Greece, although it is practically on the way for everyone arriving via Igoumenitsa. If you drive along the coast, you will pass a variety of very beautiful beaches, bays and coastal resorts with a strong tourist focus.
Igoumenitsa is regularly served by ferries from the Italian cities of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi and Venice, and there are ferry connections to Patras and Corfu.
At Igoumenitsa is the starting point of the A2 motorway, which goes to Thessaloniki via Ioannina and Metsovo.
In the mountain regions, your own vehicle is a prerequisite to get to the places of interest for tourists. Public transport also runs, but the time it takes is quite high.
There are a number of very interesting ancient and medieval sites in Epirus that are worth visiting and are described in the corresponding sub-articles. Some highlights are Dodona, an ancient oracle near Ioannina, medieval Rogoi Castle near Arta, the ancient Nikopolis and its aqueduct ruins near Preveza, and the Kipina Monastery near Pramanta.
There is a large number of monasteries in the mountainous, lonely landscape of Epirus. The most important ones not mentioned in any city articles, can be found below. Even if you are not religious, a visit to these facilities is worthwhile, as they were mainly built in unique locations.
- 1 Chrysospiliotissa. Beautiful little church in an impressive mountain location with a fantastic view.
- 2 Gyromeri. Very nice monastery with a rich religious history. It was founded in the 13th century. Very beautiful view.
- 3 Molivdoskepasti. A well-known monastery complex in a very nice place right on the Greek-Albanian border. There is a waterfall near the monastery.
- 4 St. Minas. Small monastery in an impressive landscape and location and a very nice view.
The following sights are inside the region but away from nearby towns and villages.
- 5 Acropolis of Polyneri. Polyneri is one of the rare cases of a place in the world that has been inhabited since the Paleolithic Age until today. Among the remains of the various eras are the ruins of a small medieval castle. It was probably built in the late Roman period, but was also used by the Byzantines.
- 6 Kassiopi. A rather excellent preserved amphitheatre between ruins with magnificent view of the coast.
- 7 Nekromanteion (Ephyra). The oracle of the dead, Nekromanteion, was the only oracle of the dead in Greece. The remains of the Necromanteion were found 500 meters from the remains of the Mycenaean ruins from the 14th century BC. The ancient temple of Persephone and Hades as well as the sanctuary of the death oracle stood on the Acheron, the river of the dead, on the hill of Ephyra. Below the hill, Lake Acherousia, which has disappeared today, expanded. The oracle of the dead was in the 3rd century BC. built and destroyed by the Romans when conquering Epirus. Pilgrims came from far away, hoping for advice for the future from their dead.
- 8 Nikopolis Roman Aqueduct. A wonderful work of ancient technology, the superstructure that supplied Nikopolis with a population of 150,000 with water from a distance of 50 km.
- 9 Pente Pigadia castle. A small but impressive Ottoman fortress built by Ali Pasha in the early 19th century.
- 10 Riniasa castle. From a strategic point of view, the location of the castle was excellent, as it is on the road that leads from the Albanian mountains to southern Greece and the route from Nicopolis and today's city of Preveza to Parga and Thesprotia controls the sea routes to Italy and the Ionian Islands
- 11 Zalongo. A monumental sculpture standing on top of the rock of Zalongo that commemorates the dance of Zalongo, a mass suicide of women of Souli (a mountainous region) in 1803 holding their children and dancing to their death falling off the cliff, in order not to fall into the hands of the Turkish armed forces (specifically Ali Pasha, the Ottoman ruler of Epirus). The statue is at 700 m on Zalongo Mountain
Those who visit the mountainous interior of the Epirus at the Vikos Aoos National Park will find wonderful landscapes that invite you to go hiking or just to relax. Along the coast, it is bathing fun that attracts visitors. The coast is also a popular sailing area.
- Beaches – In addition to the wonderful mountain landscapes, the beaches are of course a main attraction for many tourists, especially from England and Italy. The main beaches are: Karavostasi Beach, Valtos Beach, Parga Beach, Lichnos Beach, Loutsa Vrachos Beach, Lygia Beach, Preveza Beach. Less frequented and also partly suitable as a nudist beach: Dei plus Beach, Artolithia Beach, Kastrosykia Beach, Kanali Beach.
- Thermal Bathes – North of Konitsa there are two thermal baths, worth to go if you are in the area:
- 1 Sulfur baths of Kavasilas (5.5 km from Kavasilas itself). Jun-Sep. 32–38 °C. Even if closed, you can go inside. The surroundings are quite picturesque and allow for beautiful sunsets.
- Thermal baths of Amarandos.
- Sailing – Along the coast of Epirus and the Ionian Islands is one of the hot spots of sailing in Greece. Good, predictable winds, many bays and harbors along the coast or on the islands and low prices of the marinas make it a popular sailing area that is not too difficult for beginners. Because of the many sailors, you always have to be at the known anchorages in good time to get good places.
- Hiking – The best hiking area is at Zagori and the Tzoumerka Nation Park.
A specialty of the area are the pittas (pies) filled with cheese (Tiropita), spinach (Spanakopita), wild vegetables (Hortopita), pumpkin (Kolokothopita - sweet or salty) or spinach and feta cheese (Tirospanakopita). The goat and sheep meat of the area is particularly tasty because the animals graze freely and eat many different grasses and herbs.
In the mountain villages, the nightlife is mostly limited to restaurant visits or in the hotels. In contrast, Ioannina, as a student city, offers a rich nightlife. In the coastal towns, the nightlife is much more pronounced, with a variety of restaurants, bars, beach bars, etc.
- Corfu – One of the touristic hotspots of Greece.
- Meteora – World famous monasteries on the top of rocks.