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An easy to moderate culture and nature hike visiting the magnificent UNESCO site of Meteora, hiking through the imposing mountain range of central Pindos and traditional villages in Zagori, and adventuring us in the remoteness of Prespes lakes national reserve. The complex of monasteries of Meteora, dating the oldest from the 14th century, was unimaginably built on top of such extraordinary steep rock formations. A man-made wonder! The perfect starting before continuing a hike throughout the mountain range of Pindos, a pristine wonder. It contains some of the highest peaks of the country and the "deepest relative to its width" gorge in the world, Vikos Gorge; part of our hiking itinerary. These mountains gem are home to 46 typical “stone-house" villages dating from the 9th century, preserving their rich traditions and culture in Zagori. Nowadays, all of them are still connected through a network of old mule paths and well-preserved old stone bridges crossing dozen of rivers. In the last few days, we move to Prespes lakes district right on the border with Albania and North Macedonia. Probably, one of the most isolated and untouched destinations and well-kept secrets of Greece. Lake fish meals, local beans stews, fresh eggs for breakfast, native birds colonies, old frescoes in hermitages still not pointed on a map, ruins sites. History, local life, and their interactions with nature are fully palpable.
This is a unique circuit for hiking lovers, for nature and traditions seekers, a destination to responsibly explore, consciously sense and respectfully preserve for the future.
Highlights of Meteora, Pindos & Prespes
- Monastery of Vaarlam, Meteora
- Monastery of Grand Meteoron
- Stone Bridges hike
- Vradeto Steps
- Traditional stone-house villages
- Vikos Gorge
- Drakolimni (Dragon Lake)
- Rock Pools
- Prespes Lakes
- Agios Achillios Island
- Byzantine ruins
- From Saturday 17 to Thursday 29 June 2023
- Or ask us for trip schedules within your timing for July and September 2023.
Prices from €1490 to €1990 depending on the season and number of travelers.
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Day 1: Arrival in Thessaloniki
After landing at Thessaloniki airport, a private transfer will take you to your hotel booked for your first night. Take the time for sightseeing in the lively city center or join us in a city tour we have arranged. A visit to its main ancient sites (Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman) present in almost every corner of the city, will give you a good impression of the historical importance of Thessaloniki. Agora, forums, churches, mosques, arcs, old baths are testimony of its ancient settlements. Or, discover the vivid markets right in the center of this city and start tasting the local flavors in any of its good local restaurants.
Around 19:00 we will take you for a welcome tapas dinner at a local Greek restaurant, and start to discover its delicious and healthy food.
overnight in Thessaloniki
Day 2: Thessaloniki - Meteora
At 9:00 am we will depart from the hotel in Thessaloniki to Meteora, our first stop, arriving approx at midday at this UNESCO world heritage site. We will walk under the caves where monks living in isolation inhabited during the 11th century when the first settlements appeared. First, we will visit the Great Meteoron Monastery, the biggest of all and an imposing building nestled on top of the highest of the pinnacle rocks of this complex. Time for our on-site outdoor lunch-break, enjoying the panoramic views. After lunch, we will continue with a short and easy hike admiring the uniqueness of these constructions from the trails. We will also be visiting the Varlaam Monastery, the second biggest of Meteora monasteries, dating from mid 14th century. In Kastraki, just next to Meteora, we will spend the rest of the afternoon surrounded by the valley scenery where we also will have our overnight.
transfer: 225km - 3h hike: 12,5km - 4h
overnight in Kastraki
Day 3: Meteora – Vradeto – Beloi – Kapesovo - Tsepelovo
Early morning, we will depart from Kastraki directly to Vradeto village in the Zagori region (appr0x 3 hours by private transport). From here, we commence first walking to the panoramic bird-eye viewpoint of Beloi and its dramatic views over the Vikos Gorge (1,5 hours up and down). Back in Vradeto we will enjoy a typical local buffet lunch arranged by a local guest-house. We continue through the emblematic Vradeto Steps to Kapesovo village (1 hour) where we can stop for a coffee at the main square facing the mountains scenery. Time permitting, we could hike one more track on our way from Kapesovo to Tsepelovo or we take the transfer directly to the village where Ms Anthoula will wait for us at her traditional guest-house. Tsepelovo is probably one of the most active villages in Zagori (because of the trade of timber), compared with the others in the region, with its charming main square and local restaurants.
transfer: 145km - 3h hike: 12km - 4,5h ascent 430m - descent 690m
overnight in Tsepelovo
Day 4: Tsepelovo – Negades
From Tsepelovo, a pleasing and easy half-day hike to Negades along one of the least walked paths, though beautifully surrounded by beech forests and scenic views of the mountains. We will encounter our first stone-bridge (Chatsiou Bridge), following a small stream for approx one hour before reaching the ridge that leads to the outside forests around Negades. This almost abandoned village is maybe one of the least explored in Zagori. Nevertheless, its abandoned character has ironically helped to keep the charm and authenticity of its constructions and local life. In Negades, we will visit its impressive Saint George Church considered the most relevant in Epirus region due to its triple nave interior and walls structure. Its old frescoes and Tower speak of the splendor past of this village. We will scroll around its stone-paved streets discovering even one of the tallest stone-house of its style in the entire area. In the surroundings, we can walk to the lookout points to contemplate nature or to the near rivers to chill, have a healthy bathing in the cold waters, and relax. Depending on the host's availability, we can arrange a cooking workshop to learn how to prepare their traditional spinach pie.
distance: 9km duration: approx 3h ascent m - descent m
overnight in Negades
Day 5: Negades – Kipoi – Bridge Trail - Vitsa
A long though easy cultural and charming hike that passes through 6 magnificent old stone bridges, typical constructions of the area dating from the 17th and 18th centuries. We start from Negades, back to the ridge from where we came the day before to follow the path on this ridge until we reach the village of Kipoi (2 hours). Here we will visit the Lazaridis Bridge just next to the village and Mylos Bridge a few hundred meters from the main road. Time for a short rest and our lunch break. We continue through the Bridges Trail for approx 3,5 more hours. We cross the last and most characteristic stone-bridges (Plakkida, Kokkoris, Misiou) of this trail before arriving in Vitsa village where we will stay the next two nights. A typical local dinner will be waiting for us at our accommodation.
distance: 17,5km duration: approx 6h ascent 800m - descent 830m
overnight in Vitsa
Day 6: Monodendri and surroundings (activities)
Today is intended to calmly decide by yourself how to discover more about Zagori, its nature heritage, its local culture and traditions in the surroundings of the picturesque village of Monodendri. You can freely stroll around the village corners, stone-paved streets and architectural icons, visiting its several old Orthodox Churches and Monasteries. The Agia Paraskevi Monastery, the oldest in Zagori, with its well-preserved frescoes and astonishing panoramic views of Vikos Gorge is dating from the 15th century and it’s just 15 minutes walk from the village. Or, a visit to the interesting Rizario Museum of local handcrafts work. Alternatively, you can walk up and down the streets of Vitsa encountering on the way traces of the ancient Molossian settlement, testimony of the probable origins of Zagori when it started being populated (9th to 4th century BC); several old Orthodox churches like the fortress-monastery of Prophet Elias well deserves a visit. A short hike to the Stone Forest could also be arranged (approx 3 hours). You can even decide to simply chill and read a book at a local cafe.
overnight in Vitsa
Day 7: Monodendri – Vikos Gorge – Papigko
After enjoying a recomforting homemade breakfast, get ready to start early in the morning to profit the best of this demanding hike though loaded with stunning views along the paths. From Monodendri, we start descending to the bottom of Vikos Gorge and then walking along the deep canyon for approx 4h; the easy part of this day hike. In the middle of the gorge, there is a spring where we can refresh and will have our lunch break. At the end of the canyon, we will start ascending for two more hours to the village of Papigko.; the tough and demanding part of the hike. In Papigko, we will rest and recover energies in a comfortable and typical accommodation run by our welcoming hosts Voula and Tasos. This village is one of the most picturesque and lively in Zagoria with plenty of local and international restaurants, bars and cafes. Though fortunately, not disturbed by mass tourism. Time permitting, we can visit the nearby Rock Pools for a deserved refreshing bathing.
distance: 14,5km duration: 6-7h ascent 1100m - descent 1325m
overnight in Papigko
Day 8: Papigko – Refuge – Drakolimni - Papigko
Be ready today for a more intense hike day, though only for the first three hours. From Papigko we will start early morning (7:00 am) ascending the mountain range of Tymfi, and after approx three hours, we will be reaching the Astraka refuge. The peacefulness, wild landscape and mountain views featured from this spot are unbeatable!
From the Astraka refuge, we walk for 1 hour and 15 minutes to Dragon Lake (Drakolimni). An alpine lake at 2.000m altitude; one of the most spectaculars things to do in Pindos. Here we will take the time to sense nature, the cool air, the quietness of these breathtaking views that this mountain scenery offers us. After this vitalizing break, we will return to the Astraka refuge (1 hour). From here, we will start the descent following the path that leads us back to the village of Papigko and to our cozy guest-house. At the picturesque Papigko, you will find several restaurant options for dinner serving typical Greek food.
distance: 17km duration: 8-9h ascent 1430m - descent 1430m
overnight in Papigko
Day 9: Papigko – Prespes – Agios Germanos
Early morning, we will drive to Prespes lakes area where your adventure will continue (a car ride of approx 3,5 hours through landscapes of Alpine forests and valleys). Our destination will be the mountain village of Agios Germanos almost on the border between Greece and North Macedonia. Once there, we settled in our guest-house to refresh and relax for a few minutes before we ride for only 20 minutes to the neighboring fisherman village of Psarades on the Big Prespa Lake shores. Here, we will go for a short walk of approx 2 hours (out and back) to Cape Roti and to the Askitaria (small caves with Byzantine paintings) where small monastic communities used to leave in another era. At Cape Roti, we can contemplate the beautiful Big Pespes lake scenery (sunset) before heading back to Psarades to enjoy a fresh local dinner at a traditional local fisherman restaurant.
transfer: 175km - 3,5h hike: 5km - 2h ascent 50m - descent 50m
overnight in Agios Germanos
Day 10: Agios Germanos – Potistra Plateau
In the morning, we will hike for approx 2,5 hours all the way up to the Potistra plateau just next to the village. From the plateau, we will be able to contemplate the immensity and sense the isolation of this pristine National Park of Prespes. An interesting spot from where you can also observe the tripartite border of the three countries – Greece, North Macedonia and Albania. Our descent will follow a bit longer lateral path taking us approx 3 hours to get back to Agios Germanos. For the rest of the afternoon, we can visit the well preserved old Church of Saint Germanos (11th century), a picturesque restored watermill a few meters from the village, or scroll around admiring the notable architecture of this village.
distance: 14km duration: 6h ascent 1080m - descent 1080m
overnight in Agios Germanos
Day 11: Agios Germanos – K0kkalis Caves – Agios Achillios
Today we have two easy hikes, combining nature with culture trails. After a recovering late wake-up, at 11 am we move to Vrondero village from where we will start a hike of 3 hours (out and back) to the Kokkalis caves. These caves were utilized by the partisans as a covert hospital during the Civil War of 1946 – 1949. From Vrondero, we will drive back for about 15 minutes until the floating bridge which connects with Agios Achillios island. Along this bridge, you will be closely encountering bird species that have made Prespes lakes their habitat. We hike around the island for approx 2 hours visiting Orthodox churches and the ruins of old Byzantines temples from the medieval era. Back to our accommodation in Agios Germanos (15 mins ride) to savor our last local dinner in Prespes National Park.
distance: 10km duration: 4h ascent 40m - descent 40m
overnight in Agios Germanos
Day 12: Prespes - Thessaloniki
Enjoy your late wake-up and your fresh homemade breakfast. For now, the last one during this mountain journey. Time to recap your travel experience, an unconventional Greek experience. Calmly, we will start our 3,5 to 4 hours driving back to Thessaloniki where we have a comfortable hotel arranged for you. The rest of the day will be for you to explore a bit more of this lively city by yourself.
transfer: 240km - 3h
overnight in Thessaloniki
Day 13: Departure from Thessaloniki
9:00 am, transfer to the airport. Depending on your plans, you could decide to extend your trip around the proximities of Thessaloniki. Archeological sites of Pella (birthplace of Alexander the Great), Stagira (birthplace of Aristotle) and Vergina (tomb of King Phillip II) are all a few km from modern-day Thessaloniki. Trekking around Mount Olympus, turquoise beaches in Halkidiki are a couple of hours by land.
Want to explore more? Ask us for the available options.
- All transfers during the trip (private minivan with AC from/to Thessaloniki)
- 2 overnight stays in a 3-stars city hotel in Thessaloniki, based on 2-person (day 1, day 8)
- 10 overnight stays in typical guesthouses, based on 2-person (private double/twin room)
- 2 breakfasts at the city hotel in Thessaloniki
- 9 breakfasts at the guesthouse accommodations
- 9 lunch-boxes
- 1 buffet lunch (day 2)
- 1 tapas dinner (day 1)
- 8 dinners
- Luggage transfer between the overnight locations (except day 6)
- Dossier with the routes and activities descriptions in English
- English speaking mountain guide
- Excursions as mentioned
- Tourist tax
- International, domestic flights
- Dinner Day 6
- Drinks, snacks
- Excursions no mentioned (e.g. boat tour in Psarades)
- Optional Single Room (supplement 330 euro)
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