Greece Self Drive 1 - Enticing Epirus

Athens - Delphi - Meteora - Ioannina - Zagori - Karpenissi - Athens

About Greece Self Drive 1 - Enticing Epirus

Summary

Uncover traditional villages, hilltop monasteries and the incredible natural beauty of the Zagori region.

START / FINISH - Athens

Activity code: GRFDEP01

Duration: 9 Days

This superb holiday is a full tour of the lesser-explored centre and northwest of mainland Greece, focusing on the beautiful region of Epirus. It includes some iconic locations such as Delphi and Meteora and simply stunning scenery. You'll visit a remote and less travelled part of Greece from Athens and to make the journey there and back more interesting we have included the world-famous site of Delphi and the monasteries of Meteora.

This recommended and very popular route is a tried and trusted itinerary which allows plenty of time to enjoy the countryside as you travel; however if you are looking for a modification of any kind then we can also offer a completely tailor made itinerary.

Highlights of the Enticing Epirus Fly Drive

  • Athens: Hadrian's Arch, Temple of Zeus, Odeion of Herodus Atticus and the sacred rock of the Acropolis crowned by the Parthenon. Don't miss the impressive Acropolis Museum, housing 4000 priceless finds. Soak up the atmosphere of Plaka with its busy winding streets, watch the changing of the guards at Syntagma Square. So much to see and do....
  • Delphi: enjoys the most fabulous location on the slopes of a mountain terrace, dwarfed by Parnassus. In ancient times it was believed to have been the centre of the earth but it became most famous for its oracle. People used to journey there to consult the oracle on matters of love, business affairs or war. A sacrifice would be made, the priestess would chant the prophesies, which were then interpreted by a priest.
  • Kalambaka: your base from which to explore Meteora. It is one of the holiest places on earth, huge monasteries built on top of granite boulders, 400m above the ground. The site was chosen as an escape from raiders but also as a place of solitude to be near to God. Logistically it was a difficult place, any provisions had to be winched up in baskets from ground level!
  • Ioannina - the capital of Epirus, spreads out around beautiful Lake Pamvotida. The natural environment, the climate and character of the town are defined by this stretch of water. A walk through the city has the feel of a bygone era, full of secret places. Wonderful buildings like the House Matei Hussein, the Ottoman mosque of Veli Pasha and the entire historic centre of the town are unique attractions.
  • Zagori Region - Visit the local villages & admire the typical stone arched bridges of the area. Vikos - Aoos National Park in northwestern Greece, was founded in 1973. It is named after the two main gorges in the area and covers 12,600 hectares of mountainous terrain, with numerous rivers, lakes, caves, deep canyons and dense coniferous and deciduous forests. The centerpiece is the spectacular Vikos Gorge with a depth of 1000 meters [3280 ft], one of the largest and finest gorges in the world, carved by the Voidomatis River. The rich variety of fauna and flora, natural habitats and ecosystems rank it among the most valuable parks for nature conservation in Greece.
  • Karpenissi In the central part of Greece there is a remote area called the "little Switzerland of Greece". As a result of this region being as remote as it is, it has remained pretty underdeveloped. Behind its tough yet proud history, there are pristine forests, beautiful rivers and lakes. Most of Greece is arid and dry but in Karpenisi there is much greenery and forestation as such it has become an important ski center and an outdoors play ground. During the summer it is a great place in which to escape the heat.

What's included:

  • 8 days car rental with unlimited mileage, full insurance, CDW, taxes, delivery and airport drop off.
  • 8 nights hotel accommodation at a grade of your choosing.
  • Bed and breakfast basis throughout.
  • Fully detailed itinerary with sightseeing and route suggestions
  • all local taxes
  • Fully protected for your peace of mind.

Extra Information:

All our fly-drive customers receive a welcome pack on arrival in Athens which contains maps, hotel vouchers and a detailed programme with hotel information and confirmation of emergency contact details.

If you would like to visit these wonderful places without driving then we can supply a private driver for the duration of the tour.

Please contact us if you would like a completely tailor made fly drive itinerary. All we would need to know are approximate dates of travel, what standard of hotel you would prefer, and if there are any particular areas or classical sites which you would like us to include (or to exclude!) in your itinerary . Your fly drive can be as active or leisurely as you please. Staying one night at each stop allows the maximum amount of sightseeing; two or more nights will allow you to do side trips, whilst staying in one place will give you the opportunity to relax and explore the local area.

Why not extend your stay with a relaxing few days (or longer) on one or more of Greece's beautiful islands - please ask us for further information or suggestions!

Contact us for further details.

Itinerary

  • Day 1: ATHENS

    Arrive at Athens Airport and collect your rental car; drive to your hotel in Athens.

    • Overnight stay in Athens.

  • Day 2: ATHENS - ARACHOVA - DELPHI

    In the morning leave Athens for Delphi. Drive across the fertile plain of Boeotia past the towns of Thebes, Levadia and the charming mountain village of Arachova, famous for its colourful carpets and rugs. Continue on to Delphi, the centre of the Ancient World, to visit the site and the impressive archaeological museum, containing the famous 'Aurige' (Charioteer) in bronze.

    • Overnight in Delphi.

  • Day 3: DELPHI - METEORA - KALAMBAKA

    In the morning drive to Kalambaka through the villages of Thessalia. Today you have the chance to visit Meteora. The monasteries at Meteora rise dramatically out of the Thessalian Plain above the Pinios River as it emerges from the Pindus canyons. These gigantic rocks have been etched by time into a variety of shapes; grey stalagmites rising towards the sky, they appear as nature's gift to the pious who, driven by faith, opted for solitude and a life of worship. The monasteries with their wooden galleries crown the summits of these formidable pinnacles. Precariously hanging over the sinister abyss, with the Pindus range at their back and the vast plain and woods below, these hermitages form one of the most truly breathtaking sights on earth. These monasteries have offered security and solitude to the faithful during times of persecution. This was particularly true at the end of the Byzantine period and the start of Ottoman rule over Greece. The history of Meteora dates from the 11th century and the first monasteries were established in the 14th century. The most important of these is the Great Meteora. Of the 24 monasteries built in the 15th and 16th centuries only five are still inhabited today. All contain priceless historical and religious treasures.

    • Overnight in Kalambaka.

  • Day 4: KALAMBAKA - METSOVO

    A beautiful drive up into the mountains to visit Metsovo, one of the most picturesque mountain villages in Greece, built like an amphitheatre on one of the highest peaks in the Pindus range at an altitude of 1160m. Its 4000 inhabitants are sturdy highlanders, many of whom still wear traditional costume and proudly preserve their local heritage. Tradition is kept alive in the distinctive woodcarvings, hand woven fabrics and folk art. Also particularly impressive are the smoked cheeses and robust red wine. The village has many small Byzantine churches, well worth a visit. Above Metsovo spreads the magnificent 'Politses' plateau with Alpine scenery, forests of beech, fir and pine and the man-made lake Aoos.

    • Overnight in Metsovo.

  • Day 5: METSOVO - IOANNINA - ZAGOROCHORIA

    A morning drive down to Ioannina, capital of Epirus, built on the shores of Pamvoti Lake. Ioannina is a fascinating city with history everywhere you look; a boat trip to the island is a must. Drive on to Zagorochoria, 46 traditional settlements bounded by Mounts Mitsikeli, Gamila and the Aoos River which form a distinct geographical and cultural region. This region is one of the country's richest in animal and plant life - many rare species are found in this area, including bear, deer, wild goat and jackal. Authentic stone architecture stands out in many villages, the houses having been built exclusively in local grey stone. In Eastern Zagori the most beautiful villages are Tristen, Grevenitsa and Frambouni. In Central Zagori the following villages stand out: Vista, Monodendri (the starting point for hikers wishing to walk the Vikos Gorge as far as the Voidomatis Springs), Tsepelovo and Skamneli. In the west are Mikro/Megalo Papingo, best known for their authentic stone architecture.

    • Overnight in Zagorochorio.

  • Day 6: ZAGOROCHORIA - VIKOS GORGE - ZAGOROCHORIA

    Spend the day enjoying the scenery in the Vikos Gorge National Park, the deepest and longest canyon in Europe. At the feet of the left wall of the canyon (1350m) is the source of the Voidomatis River where you can swim and you may also like to walk to the beautiful Spiliotissa Monastery. If time permits take a detour up to the village of Konitsa, just 12 km from the border with Albania.

    • Overnight in Zagorochorio.

  • Day 7: ZAGOROCHORIA - KAPENISSI

    In the morning leave this magical area behind and drive down to Karpenissi in the Evritania region (Central Greece), passing by small villages. This equally spectacular countryside with forested slopes and countless streams provides a very enjoyable and scenic drive. Karpenissi, the district capital is built on the foothills of Mount Timfristos (960m). Among the plane, fir and chestnut trees this town is an ideal starting point for excursions to nearby traditional villages like Korischades, with its excellently preserved stone houses, Mikro and Megalo Horio, Proussos, Domnitsa and Agrafa (its surroundings offer many secluded paths for those who like to walk).

    • Overnight in Karpenissi.

  • Day 8: KARPENISSI - LAMIA - KAMENA VOURLA - ATHENS

    Make your way back to Athens passing the towns of Lamia and Kamena Vourla.

    • Overnight in Athens.

  • Day 9: ATHENS

    Leisure time depending on flight departure time.

    Drive to Athens Airport and drop off your rental car.

Reviews

"I've been meaning to write since we got back from our trip to thank you for helping us to organise the 8 day self drive part of our longer trip to Greece. We had a fantastic three and a half weeks away, with all the different parts fitting together really well. Northern Greece was a revelation to us, absolutely stunning. All the accommodation was good, with really friendly and helpful staff.The directions you sent were excellent, although, as the Greeks don't seem to go much for road signs, we did have problems getting in and out of town (having stopped in town) onto the right road around Ioanina. Luckily my husband had a portable GPS that he uses for geocaching which proved very helpful. Apart from that it was fine!"

P Thomson, August 2016

"We just wanted to thank you both very much indeed for organising a truly fantastic walking holiday in Greece for us. Our self-guided walking holiday in Zagori National Park & Mt. Olympus was absolutely superb in every respect. The organisation, accommodation, food, walking & our local guide Alex were all excellent. I seem to remember asking when we first made contact if you could organise some walking for us in remote areas of Greece, away from the normal tourist haunts & having the “wow” factor. Well you certainly achieved those aims for us. The small hotels/guest houses you organised for us were all excellent & the food & welcome we received was second to none. I would thoroughly recommend the holiday as a brilliant means of seeing spectacular parts of Greece & staying in marvellous small hotels . The food was exceptional everywhere. The local people very friendly & welcoming.  Thanks again for all your efforts to ensure that we both had a wonderful walking holiday & witnessed magnificent parts of Greece that we didn’t know existed."

R Tookey, Sept 2016

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