WINTER IN GREECE
Zagori: Mountain Paradise in Nothern Greece
Taking a tour of this breathtakingly beautiful area boasting 46 traditional villages - with gorgeous old stone-built mansions and arched bridges and marvellous local cuisine - tucked away in the Pindus mountains of Epirus.
From here, head for the village of Vikos. Its old stone threshing floor offers a view of the Vikos Gorge and the Voidomatis River's headwaters. Then follow the signs for Papigo along the road below the impressive Astraka Towers, five striking rock formations on Mount Tymfi. Megalo Papigo and Mikro Papigo, among the region's most traditional villages, feature wonderful architecture and well maintained cobblestone paths. Between the two villages, at the Ovires in the Rogovo stream - small natural pools suitable for swimming during the summer months.
Tour Central Zagori
Start at Ano Pedina, the location of the Monastery of Evaggelistria, a fortified construction dating back to 1647. Four kilometres away, Kato Pedina, a picturesque small village nestled in the hillside, is home to the Mesochori Kafeneio. A narrow road that branches off that running between Ano Pedina and Kato Pedina leads to Elafotopos, which has remained untouched by mainstream tourism. Head back to the main road and follow the signs for Vitsa and Monodendri, two villages built overlooking the Vikos Gorge. From the square at Monodendri, a cobblestonepath leads to the Monastery of Agia Paraskevi and ends up at the edge of the Vikos Gorge, where the view is sensational. However, the best place for photographs is Oxia, beyond the village, where there is a natural viewing platform.
After the village of Elati you'll find Ano Kato, a traditionalwool-weaving workshop. Next, head to the village of Dilofo, where the main square with its grand mansions and cobblestone pathways, will transport you back in time. The Voidomatis River is spanned by a number of stone structures, and Dilofo is close to two of these - the Bridge of Captain Arkoudas and Kokkori's Bridge. The village of Kipi, our route's next stop, feautures the impressive triple-arched Plakidas bridge. The single-arched Kontodimos bridge and the Mylos Bridge -with a water mill- are located a little further down the track.
"The lake with the lilies near the village of Graveniti"
Kapesovo, one of the most striking of the Zagori region's villages, has a lovely central square. Explore its cobblestone streets and look out for the imposing Paschalios School building.
In Vradeto, the Zagori region's highest and oldest village, the renewed Skala -a stone- constructed 1,200-step staircase- links the village to Kapesovo and is a main attraction. A comfortable 30-minute-walk from Vradeto leads to the Beloi viewpoint, which looks out over the Vikos Gorge.
At Tsepelovo, the largest of all the Zagori villages, head to the pretty square and the Agios Nikolaos Church, featuring superb frescoes. Continuing in an easterly direction will bring you to the beginning of a charming route that passes through a pine and fir forest. Stop for a look at the open-air folklore museum with a construction of a Sarakatsani settlement near the village of Skamneli.
Head on for three remote villages, Iliochori, feauturing wonderful waterfalls, Vrysochori and Laista, whose splendid square is graced by three age-old plane trees.
"The Renewed Skala, in Vradeto"