Hiking through the ‘Grand Canyon of Greece’, the awe-inspiring Vikos Gorge
Enjoy spectacular views from clifftops and high mountain passes
Discover the pretty mountain village of Kipi and its arched stone bridges
Walk historic cobbled paths between the traditional villages of the Zagorohoria
Refresh yourself in the clear waters and natural pools of the Voidomatis river
Hiking the Vikos Gorge: Self-guided walking holiday in Zagori
Explore the unspoilt Zagori region and spectacular Vikos Gorge on a wonderful week-long walking holiday. The perfect holiday for people who want a combination of dramatic natural scenery, tranquillity, traditional villages and quality hiking trails.
Zagori is a little known wild and remote corner of Northwest Greece which is one of the best hiking regions in the whole country. An extensive network of well-marked paths criss-crosses this land of ancient mule tracks, tumbling streams, and dramatic gorges. The undoubted highlight of the region is the 12km-long, 900m-deep Vikos Gorge, the deepest canyon in the world in relation to its width. The scenery here is simply breathtaking, with dramatic cliffs, emerald-green rivers, and natural rock pools.
The heavily forested mountains of Zagori are dotted with tiny stone villages, known as the Zagorohoria, each with its own character. The villages are linked by old cobbled footpaths known as kalderimia, which you will follow through the gorge, via zigzagging staircases and arched stone bridges taking you over and back across the crystal-clear waters of the Voidomatis River. You will be accompanied by the sound of birdsong and the smells of many wild herbs which grow along the slopes of the gorge.
Your walking holiday begins in Kipi, famous for its artfully crafted stone bridges. From Mondendri you will traverse the magnificent Vikos Gorge, passing some of the best viewing points of the dramatic canyon. You will spend a night in the tiny village of Vikos, with only 35 permanent residents, located near the springs of the Voidomatis River. Your trip finishes at two of the most famous stone-built villages, Megalo and Mikro Papigo, located at an altitude of 950m and 1,050m respectively. There is also the option to extend your trip with a crossing of the Astrakas high alpine plain. Please enquire for info.
|7 DAYS / 6 NIGHTS||From €440 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 24th until November 11th.
In July and August, it might be more difficult to make the walks due to high temperatures. Even still, leaving early in the morning makes it possible to accomplish the walks in mid-summer. Considerable sections are in shaded forest and the cool breeze that drifts through the gorge makes it relatively comfortable in summer compared to other regions of Greece.
|ACCOMMODATION||The hotels and guesthouses that we use in the Zagori area are all in traditional stone mansions. Some are housed in buildings dating back to the 17th Century. All rooms have private facilities. Usually there is no balcony, but the accommodations offer a nice shaded terraces to enjoy your afternoon pre-dinner drinks. The standard hotels of this trip are listed below. If any are unavailable then we will book accommodation of a similar standard and inform you of the alternative booked.
You can book additional night(s) at any of the accommodations along the way.
|MEALS||The overnights are on bed & breakfast basis. Every morning you enjoy a traditional local breakfast with ingredients from local produce. Characteristic for this area are the pies, usually with wild herbs and feta cheese.
You can purchase lunch supplies from local mini markets in all villages. In most hotels you can order a packed lunch (to be paid for on the spot in cash). Occasionally there is a possibility for a tavern lunch on your walk. Evening dinner can be enjoyed in one of the local taverns and some accommodations on this trip offer food as well.
|DIFFICULTY||The difficulty level of this trip is rated as moderate overall. The walks are on footpaths and cobbled paths (kalderimi). The terrain is quite hilly, but the walks are not as difficult as you would expect given the dramatic scenery. Some sections are steep, and many sections follow old cobbled foot paths dating back to the 17th and 18th Centuries. You have to be sure-footed and experience with walking in mountainous areas is recommended. Summers can be hot, although many sections are through shaded forest. At some viewpoints there are steep drops, but you can always choose 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 10 years old, as some stamina is needed to accomplish the walks!
Day 1: Arrival in Kipi
Your Zagori walking holiday begins in the picturesque mountainside village of Kipi. The village is renowned for its arched stone bridges, which were constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries to connect Kipi to the rest of Zagori.
To reach the village you can take a taxi from Ioannina airport or bus station. We would be happy to arrange this for you in advance. Kipi is approximately 40 km from Ioannina and a taxi costs €60 for up to 4 people.
TIP: We recommend booking an additional night in Kipi to do a fabulous walk from Vradeto (1450 m) to Beloi, one of the best viewing points over the Vikos Gorge. Back in Vradeto village you follow the famous rock-cut steps of Vradeto down to Kapesovo; a magnificent cobbled path zigzagging down the slope.
Day 2: Walk from Kipi to Monodendri
Distance: 9 km | Ascent: 450 m | Descent: 150 m | Walking time: 3 hrs approx.
From Kipi you descend to the Voidomatis river, which you cross via the old Mylos bridge. You then walk along the river before crossing it again via the beautiful Kokkorou bridge. Here you enter the upper end of the Vikos Gorge, which gives you a little taster of what is to come. You cross the old Misiou stone bridge and ascend via a beautiful path to the gorge-side village of Vitsa. You continue to Monodendri where you will rest for the night. Monodendri is one of the most beautiful of the Zagori villages, and offers great views of the slopes of Tymfi and Astraka.
Day 3: Monodendri Stone Forest
Distance: 8 km | Ascent: 325 m | Descent: 325 m | Walking time: 2½ hrs approx.
From Monodendri you have the option to make 3 different walks all to different viewpoints over the magnificent Vikos Gorge. The most famous is the Oxya viewpoint, which is reached via a path through a bizzare “forest” of eroded rock pillars. We recommend going at least to the nearby abandoned monastery of Agia Paraskevi, from where you have stunning views over the gorge. The third option is a lesser known but also very beautiful viewpoint at the chapel of Agioi Apostoloi.
Day 4: Hike through the Vikos Gorge
Distance: 12.5 km | Ascent: 475 m | Descent: 760 m | Walking time: 4½ hrs approx.
Today’s walk is the real highlight of the trip as you will hike right into the heart of the Vikos Gorge!
You first descend 400 meters from Monodendri to the bottom of the gorge, before following the Voidomatis river back to its spring. You will hike sometimes along the riverbed and sometimes a little higher up the gorge on woodland paths. There will be plenty of opportunities to refresh your feet in the cool, clear river water. From the Voidomatis springs you ascend via a beautiful cobbled path up to the village of Vikos, a tiny village overlooking the impressive gorge. You can reward yourself for your efforts with a well-earned drink at one of the vine-shaded tavernas.
Day 5: From Vikos to Papingo
Distance: 6 km | Ascent: 550 m | Descent: 630 m | Walking time: 2½ hrs approx.
You can first admire once more the views over the Vikos gorge before descending to the Voidomatis springs. On the way you have the option to make a small detour to the church of the monastery of Panagia tou Vikou. You cross the river once again at the cool springs of Voidomatis. Early in the season (before June) there is a chance that you may have to take off your boots to go across. You follow the zigzagging path uphill to Megalo (big) Papingo, one of the most popular Zagorian villages located under the great limestone rocks known as the “Towers of Astraka”. You will stay in a beautiful traditional hotel built in the typical Zagorian style.
Overnight: Megalo Papingo
Day 6: Papingo loop walk
Distance: 9 km | Ascent: 600 m | Descent: 600 m | Walking time: 3 hrs approx.
Today’s route is a lovely loop of the Papingo villages and natural rock pools. You walk first toward the pretty little village of Mikro Papingo, the smaller twin village of Megalo Papingo. Just before reaching the village, you have the option to make a loop to the Kokkino Lithari (Red Rock), from where you have a superb view over the Papingo villages and surroundings. Stop to explore the village of Mikro Papingo before continuing to the Kolymbithres (natural rock pools). After a relaxing afternoon at the pools, you return to nearby Megalo Papingo for your last overnight.
Overnight: Megalo Papingo
Day 7: Departure
Your walking holiday in Zagori comes to an end after breakfast this morning, unless you have booked any additional services with us. We would be happy to arrange a taxi to Ioannina bus station or airport for onward travel.
TIP: This trip can be extended with a 4-day hike from Papingo across the Astrakas high alpine plain back to Kipi, the starting point of this trip. The trip then becomes 12 days in total. Please enquire for more info.