Voidomatis, Zagori, Greece

Zagori – Greek tranquility

WP Google Maps Error

In order for your map to display, please make sure you insert your Google Maps JavaScript API key in the Maps->Settings->Advanced tab.

It’s time to leave the picturesque town of Ioannina with its authentic restaurants and sophisticated little cafés,  and head for the Zagori region high up in the Greek mountain range of Pindos. Zagori is part of the Northern Pindos National Park.

Why Zagori?

Think of mystical forests, majestic mountains, pristine springs, turquoise blue rivers cutting through steep gorges, awe-inspiring rock formations, centuries old monasteries and stone arch bridges, traditional villages, hospitable people, and hearty Greek food made from local ingredients. Zagori is nothing less than a feast for all senses.

Vikos Gorge, Zagori, Greece

Vikos Gorge (Courtesy of Skamnelis)

How to get to Zagori

From Ioannina take the National Road towards Konitsa. Exit at Mesovouni and continue towards the village of Aristi. From there you can either drive towards the villages of Papigo and Mikro Papigo, or continue towards the village of Monodendri.

Our trip from Ioannina was smooth and uneventful up until Mesovouni. Then the landscape changes abruptly to mountainous and the road gets curvy and very narrow. The whole driving experience was nerve-breaking to stay the least, but I managed to put a brave face.

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Mikro Papigo

On the way to Aristi, we experienced a couple of standstills, caused by herds of cows and goats blocking the road. Some of the animals came as close as to lick our car, while staring at us suspiciously. My daughter and wife seemed pretty amused, but I was all sweaty imagining obese cows on heat mistaken our white colored car for a mating partner.

Zagori, Greece

Road-blocking cows

Zagori, Greece

They are everywhere, aren’t they? 🙂

We eventually reached Mikro Papigo in one piece. I suppose its pretty needless to say who rushed to the hotel’s bar as soon as we arrived at the lobby.

Hiking in Zagori

Zagori has an extensive network of hiking trails ranging from easy to difficult. We chose to stay in the village of Mikro Papigo at about 1.000 meters above sea level, an ideal starting point for many hiking routes

One of the most demanding and rewarding trails leads to the alpine lake of Drakolimni. It takes 3-4 hours to get there from Mikro Papigo and there is a mountain refuge on the way.

Drakolimni, Zagori, Greece

Drakolimni (Courtesy of Nikos A. Kanellopoulos)

 Another worth-trying option is to follow the path that connects the villages of Mikro Papigo and Monodendri, along the Voidomatis River, that cuts through the Vikos Gorge, one of the deepest in the world.

It should take around 7 hours to reach Monodendri. We met a  group of French teenagers that had just arrived to Mikro Papigo from Monodendri carrying their full-scale camping equipment, and they were still not in need of First Aid. I am not an expert but I suppose this could be a sign that the trail is not too demanding?

Voidomatis River, Zagori, Greece

Voidomatis River

And for those that have traveled to Zagori bringing only their loafers and stilettos, there is a Gucci-friendly path that leads to the springs of Voidomatis River. In about 90 minutes and 5 blisters later, you would be back to the comfort of your hotel’s terrace sipping martinis.

Voidomatis, Zagori, Greece

The trail to Voidomatis River springs

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Too cool for this view?

Activities for kids in Zagori

In the proximity of Mikro Papigo are the rock pools or “Kolymbithres”. Although the water is freezing cold, kids love them. We arrived at “Kolymbithres” early in the morning, only to find a few people lying on the rock formations,  enjoying the sun. By noon, the place was packed with children, jumping in and out of the  pool and having the time of their lives.

Kolymbithres, Zagori, Greece

Kolymbithres

There is also horse riding available, but I think that what the kids would enjoy the most is being close to nature. Being able to run freely, climb trees, play hike and seek is a real treat for the young and young at heart alike. Parents should also know that there are no cars in Mikro Papigo. At the entrance of the village there is a parking lot, where visitors leave their car, and from there on it’s all walking.

Timfi, Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Timfi Mountain as seen from Mikro Papigo

Having said that, Mikro Papigo and Zagori in general, might not be an agreeable destination for persons with disabilities due to the many stairs and steep elevation differences.

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

The village of Mikro Papigo

Where to stay and eat in Mikro Papigo

For affordable luxury, magnificent views and impeccable service  try the Mikro Papigo 1700 It only has 15 stylish rooms, and some of them come with a fireplace, others with a balcony or a jacuzzi.  The hotel’s junior and master suites have the best views over the valley.  This is pure mountain chic!

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Mikro Papigo 1700 Hotel & Spa

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Junior Suite (courtesy of Mikro Papigo 1700 Hotel & Spa)

What makes Mikro Papigo 1700 Hotel & Spa even more special is its indoor pool and spa, created by Austrian craftsmen specialized in alpine building techniques. Can you think of a better place to relax after a day full of mountain activities?

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Indoor Pool (courtesy of Mikro Papigo 1700 Hotel & Spa)

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Family’s CEO enjoying her Greek frappé

Finish the day in style with a dinner at the hotel’s Veranda 1700 restaurant watching the sun setting over the mountains. The chef uses only organic and locally produced ingredients to create traditional dishes of the region with a contemporary twist. Their savory Greek pies and desserts will linger in your thoughts for weeks.

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Mikro Papigo 1700 (courtesy of Mikro Papigo 1700 Hotel & Spa)

Mikro Papigo 1700 is a family run hotel. Elsa, the manager, loves children (she has two herself) and will be more than happy to give you advice on family friendly activities.

Listening to Elsa calling out her daughter who was playing at the church’s yard on the other side of the village, made me feel nostalgic. It reminded me of my childhood, when all the neighborhood children were playing together in the alley. “Playdates” were unheard of those days.

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Greek breakfast at Mikro Papigo 1700

There is no nightlife in Mikro Papigo, but the buzz at Dias (“ΔΙΑΣ”) Tavern makes for a good alternative. Apart from being a meeting point for locals and travelers alike, Dias kitchen is fresh, unpretentious and inexpensive. Greek food is delivered to your table with a smile and a big heart, making this restaurant’s reputation almost unbeatable.

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Dias Tavern

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

D enjoying her green beans in tomato sauce at Dias Tavern

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Feta-spinach pie at Dias Tavern

Zagori in our hearts

Zagori captured our hearts and minds with its authentic people and unparalleled beauty. Would I ever go again? Definitely, but next time I will leave the loafers at home and bring my hiking shoes instead. 🙂

Useful tip:

While at Mikro Papigo remember to visit the Information Centre. The people working there are extremely informative.

CHEERS!

Mikro Papigo, Zagori, Greece

Local “tsipouro”

(Traveller’s Tree is NOT affiliated with, endorsed, or sponsored either by Mikro Papigo 1700 Hotel & Spa or DIAS Tavern)

12 thoughts on “Zagori – Greek tranquility

  1. Sha

    Yea, I imagine it would be pretty hilarious for a cow to suddenly try their mating skills on your car…haha…but this place looks good! Love all the nature…:)

    • VasilisM

      I know. It’s a shame, because Greece has some fantastic mountain retreats, where life has hardly changed in the last 50 years. I remember walking in Mikro Papigo and coming across an old lady shepherding her goats, exactly like my grandmother used to do in the 70’s. Couldn’t believe my eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge