Explore the extraordinary rock formations and Byzantine monasteries of Meteora.
Spend a night in the beautiful lakeside town of Ioannina.
Hike through the awe-inspiring Vikos Gorge, the world’s deepest canyon.
Walk to the best viewpoints above this incredible natural wonder.
Discover the beautiful stone bridges and charming mountain villages of Zagori.
Self-guided walking holiday to Meteora and the Vikos Gorge
This week-long walking holiday combines the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Meteora with the breath-taking Vikos Gorge in Greece’s stunning Zagori region. In between, you will have a day to discover the beautiful and historic lakeside town of Ioannina.
You trip begins in the village of Kastraki, at the foot of the famous gigantic rock pillars of Meteora. In two walking days, you will explore the wonders of this magical site. You will visit Byzantine monasteries perched spectacularly atop the immense rock pinnacles. A local guide will take you to hidden caves with fascinating histories.
From Meteora, you travel west to Ioannina. Located on the shore of tranquil Lake Pamvotida, the town’s attractions include the atmospheric walled old town, the Ottoman Mosque of Ali Pasha and the small car-free island in the middle of the lake.
A short transfer from Ioannina takes you to the Zagori region in the Pindos Mountains. Here you will have three days to explore the plunging Vikos Gorge. On the first day you will walk to some of the best viewpoints for the most spectacular views over the gorge. Your last two walking days take you through the heart of the Vikos Gorge. You will have ample opportunities to dip your feet or take a refreshing swim as you walk along the crystal-clear Voidomatis River, passing beautiful springs and inviting rock pools.
|8 DAYS / 7 NIGHTS||€775 per person sharing*
*Discounts available for groups of 3 or more. Please enquire for prices.
|AVAILABILITY||You can start on any day of the week (subject to availability) between March 21st and November 11th.
The best time to travel to this area is from April to October. In July and August it can be very hot and uncomfortable for walking. During these months we recommend starting your walks early in the morning to avoid walking in the hottest part of the day. Considerable sections of the walks are in shaded forest.
|ACCOMMODATION||You will stay in elegant, hand-picked boutique hotels located in traditional stone mansions.
We have chosen accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local charm. All rooms have private facilities. The rooms do not usually have balconies, but most of the accommodations have nice, shaded terraces where you can relax and enjoy a pre-dinner drink in the afternoon.
The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If a hotel is fully booked, we book a similar alternative for you and inform you about the alternative booked.
You can book additional night(s) at any of the accommodations along the way.
|MEALS||Breakfast is included every morning and consists of traditional local produce. Characteristic for this area are the pies, usually with wild herbs and feta cheese.
Lunch supplies can be purchased from the local mini market in all villages. In most hotels you can also order a packed lunch; discuss with the hotelier what he can make for you and what you like and pay for your lunch on the spot in cash. Occasionally there is the possibility to stop for a tavern lunch on your walk.
Evening dinner can be enjoyed in one of the local taverns. Some accommodations on this trip offer evening meals also.
|DIFFICULTY||The difficulty level of this tour is rated as easy to moderate overall.
You should expect daily walks of 3-5 hours (excluding breaks) in hilly to mountainous areas. The walks are not as difficult as you would expect looking at the dramatic scenery. Nevertheless, some experience with walking in mountainous areas is recommended. Most of the walks (except the Vikos Gorge traverse) have longer or shorter options.
You will walk on well-maintained, sometimes stony paths and old, cobbled footpaths (kalderimi). The walks can be hot in the summer, although the routes are partly shaded by forest. At some viewpoints you can get close to steep drops, but it is up to you how close you get to the edge and you can avoid this should you suffer from vertigo.
NOTE: The trip is suitable for families. We recommend a minimum age of 8 years old, as some stamina is needed to accomplish the walks!
Day 1: Arrival in Kastraki
Kastraki (meaning ‘small castle’) is a small, peaceful and very picturesque village nestled among the gigantic cliffs of Meteora. Despite its rapid growth in recent years, the village has retained its old atmosphere and authentic Greek feel. The people of Kastraki share a particular affection for flowers. You can see impressive flower displays even in the yards of the humblest houses.
To reach Kastraki from Athens or Thessaloniki you will first have to take a train or bus to Kalambaka. From there it is just a short local bus or taxi ride to Kastraki. Please note that it isn’t possible to pre-book a taxi from Kalambaka to Kastraki. A local taxi should cost around €10 for up to 4 people.
Day 2: Meteora Loop Walk
Distance: 9.4 km | Ascent: 400 m | Descent: 400 m | 4 hrs approx.
Self-guided walk to the spectacular monasteries of Ypapanti, Megalo Meteoron and Varlaam.
Your first walk begins in the shadow of the imposing Doupiani rock, under the ruins of the ancient Pantokratoros Monastery. You will walk across the immense and famous rock formations to the northern side of Meteora. Along the way, you will have the opportunity to visit the hidden monastery of Ypapanti (Mon-Fri only), as well as the monasteries of Great Meteoron and Varlaam. Finally, you descend from the rocks via an ancient footpath that was used by the monks for centuries before the construction of roads.
The walk can be shortened to 7 km by skipping Ypapanti.
Day 3: Discover the caves of Meteora (guided walk)
Today you have the opportunity to learn about the history of this fascinating site as you join a great guided hike. On this 3-hour hike you will discover the caves of Meteora before a spectacular clifftop walk to Agio Pnevma (The Rock of Holy Spirit). The view from the top of the cliff is absolutely breath-taking!
Starting from Kastraki, you will climb some 250 metres above the village while enjoying incredible views over the surrounding area. The rock of Agio Pnevma is located in the middle of the valley that extends from the village towards the vast rock complex of Meteora. As you reach the top, you find yourself walking along a plateau where a small chapel dedicated to the Holy Spirit once stood. On the northern side of Agio Pnevma, you will reach the ‘prison cave’ where expelled monks were once incarcerated. Finally, you pass beneath the cave of Ag. Georgos before descending back to the central square of Kastraki.
Day 4: Travel to Ioannina
Today you will travel by public bus to the beautiful town of Ioannina. Buses run twice daily (departing from Kalambaka at approx. 9.00 and 15.30. Journey time 2½ hrs, ticket not included). You may prefer to book a private transfer (105 km / 2 hours, bookable at an extra cost).
Ioannina is a beautiful town situated on the shore of Lake Pamvotis in the foothills of the Pindos Mountains. The city was once the home of Ali Pasha, a famous ruler of the Ottoman Empire. The well-preserved Ottoman city offers plenty of attractions: the Itch-Kale (fortress) of Ali Pasha, the Byzantine Museum and the Fetiche Mosque, just to name a few. You can also take a boat trip to the small island in the lake. Along the shore you will find numerous taverns for a lovely lakeside dinner.
Day 5: Transfer to Monodendri and walk to the Vikos Gorge viewpoints
Distance: 7.7 km | Ascent: 325 m | Descent: 325 m | 3 hrs approx.
A private taxi transfer is included this morning to take you to your next hiking location. In just an hour you will find yourself in the heart of the Zagori region – your destination is the village of Monondendri, situated at the rim of the famous Vikos Gorge. Along the way, you will make photo stops at two of the gorge’s famous stone bridges; the Kokkorou bridge and the Plakidas bridge.
After checking in at your hotel, you have the option of taking one (or more) of 3 walks to different viewpoints over the stunning gorge. The nearest viewpoint is at the abandoned monastery of Agia Paraskevi, while the most famous is the Oxya viewpoint. This is reached via the ‘stone forest’, a series of eroded rock pillars with a bizarre appearance. The third option is the lesser-known viewpoint at the chapel of Agioi Apostoloi. Each viewpoint offers wonderful photo opportunities as you enjoy panoramic views over the awe-inspiring Vikos Gorge.
Day 6: Hike through the Vikos Gorge
Distance: 12.5 km | Ascent: 700 m | Descent: 1,000 m | 5 hrs approx.
Today’s hike through the famous Vikos Gorge is sure to be a real highlight of your walking holiday! You will begin by descending 400 metres from Monodendri village to the bottom of the gorge. You then walk through the gorge, mostly staying close to the riverbed but occasionally climbing higher along the side of the gorge. You will have lots of opportunities to cool your feet or even take a refreshing swim in turquoise river. When you reach the beautiful springs of Voidomatis, you begin your ascent on an old cobbled path to the village of Vikos. From the village you can enjoy yet another fantastic view over the gorge.
Day 7: From Vikos to Papingo
Distance: 13 km | Ascent: 1,000 m | Descent: 900 m | 5 hrs approx.
Distance: 8 km | Ascent: 750 m | Descent: 600 m | 3 hrs approx.
You begin your final hike by descending once again to the Voidomatis springs. On the way you have the option to make a small detour to the church of the once bigger monastery of Panagia tou Vikou. At the icy springs of Voidomatis you cross the river. Until June there is a chance that you have to take off your boots to go across. You then follow the zigzagging path uphill on the other side.
Just before entering the village of Mikro Papingo, you have the option to make a loop to the ‘Kokkino Lithari’, meaning the ‘Red Rock’. From this point, you have a superb view of the Papingo villages and surroundings. Back in Mikro Papingo, you continue towards the Kolombithres (rock pools). These natural pools are a great spot to spend some time, especially during summer. After an afternoon relaxation at the pools, you walk to nearby Megalo Papingo for your last night.
Overnight: Megalo Papingo.
Day 8: Departure
After breakfast you have a prebooked taxi transfer to the bus station of Ioannina or to Ioannina airport for your onward travel. We would also be happy to book extension nights in Ioannina, Thessaloniki or Athens on request.