Welcome to the prefecture of Ioannina, an area of rare natural beauty and well maintained tradition in all its aspects. A wonderful capital city, picturesque mountainous villages, alpine meadows, lakes, rivers, gorges, caves, archaeological sites, museums, Byzantine churches and monasteries are all parts of a beautiful mosaic to bring out the best of the Greek mainland.
Visit the capital city of Ioannina at the banks of a wonderful lake, full of historic buildings as signs of its former glorious past, and the scenic villages of Zagorochoria, Metsovo, Tzoumerka and Dodoni that hosts significant archaeological sites. Numerous museums located at central villages and cities unfold aspects of the traditional life style of the locals, rich in arts and crafts. The sustainable touristic development of the area, offers luxurious accommodation in marvelous luxury hotels and spas some of which offering conference facilities of high standards, while the traditional villages offer a thorough selection of traditional villas.
Nature lovers and outdoor activists reach for the region of Ioannina to enjoy the beauties of the land, along with their favourite sports such as skiing, horse riding, hiking, climbing, as well as caving at world known caves, while the unique monasteries and churches offer for religious tourism.
The Prefecture of Ioannina can be accessed by plane or car as the railway system does not connect to the region. Daily flights connect the city of Ioannina with Athens as well as Thessaloniki, while national roads lead to the prefecture with through highways. For those wishing to travel from Italy, the port of Igoumenitsa is only 100km from the city. Finally the national bus services operate daily to transfer passengers from Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, Agrinio, Arta, Preveza and Igoumenitsa.
The prefecture of Ioannian boasts a wonderful capital city and traditional villages, all balanced with the natural wealth of the area. Once being at the region, visitors should not miss the biggest city of Epirus, its political, commercial and cultural centre, Ioannina. Built on the bank of Lake Pamvotis, is a very bubbly city featuring traditional alleys and squares, an amazing castle with a mosque and an ancient city, several museums and wonderful spots for afternoon strolls. The countryside of Ioannina can easily amaze every visitor being of unique natural beauty, among the most astonishing in the country. First and foremost the area of Zagori, a cluster of 46 villages scattered on the mountain slopes and the Vikos Gorge and National Park of Aoos, Zagorohoria with their unique traditional architecture with stone houses, paved alleys, stone bridges above running waters to offer countless opportunities for sallies and outdoor activities. The city of Metsovo built right on the slope of a mountain is claimed to be one the most picturesque settlements in Greece of historical importance, with several museums, stone built mansions, founts, churches and monasteries, where locals retain their traditions while offering warm hospitality. Konitsa is another settlement traditionally built according to the Epirotic architecture, with amazing mountains and rivers, the absolute trip back in time. Of equal beauty both architectural and natural is the area of Dodoni to house sites of archaeological importance. The area of Tzoumerka compared to other areas of Ioannina lacks in publicity and popularity, undoubtedly without falling short in beauty, with rivers, stone bridges, museums, churches and monasteries, being also ideal for athletic tourism.
SIGHTSEEING & MONUMENTS
Across Ioannina there is a plethora of significant sites and imposing monuments to unfold the history and tradition of the area. The city of Ioannina nests the Pamvotida Lake of exceptional beauty that houses a marvelous ecosystem of flora and fauna, while in the center of the lake, the inhabited Island of Ioannina is situated, adding beauty to the landscape. The picturesque island is covered by dense vegetation of pine and cypresses and is home to several monasteries, while the hamlet features traditional small houses with flowery gardens and narrow stone paved streets. At the very same room where Ali Pasha was killed nowadays is a museum with the killing bullet signs on the walls, personal belongings and documents. The Castle of Ioannina, built by Ioustinianos Emperor as a fort of the Byzantine state, was afterwards used as the administrative center of Greece during the era of Ali Pasha. The 200 acres of land embraced by the walls features several historical buildings and museums, such as the old city of Ioannina, the Aslan Pasha Mosque featuring barracks, baths and a
small library, along with the Municipal Ethnographic Museum of Ioannina, Ali Pasha's Faculty of Cavalry housed in a magnificent two-storied building, the cook shops, the Voimoundos Tower build by the Byzantines rebuilt by Pasha as a serai, the Citadel with Its Cale and Kastropoliteia to include a Byzantine Museum. The region Bizani just a few kilometres off the city houses the Pavlos Vrellis Museum of Wax Effigies, to exhibit wax replicas of major figures of the Greek history. The most distinctive archaeological sites of the prefecture are located at the area of Dodoni, featuring the Ancient Theatre of Dodoni, one of the largest among Greece with sitting capacity of 18.000 people, remains of the Oracle of Dodoni, dominated by an enormous holy oak tree, along with several remaining buildings. The region also counts several Folkloric Museums in Zagori, Metsovo, Tzoumerka and Konitsa as a revival of local traditions, crafts, and art. Ioannian boast a large number of monasteries and churches of unique architecture and historical importance. The Filanthropinon Monastery located in the island of Ioannina is one of the most significant monuments of the Byzantine era, as its church is a catholic wooden basilica, with arch ante-nave and three ante-chapels and it is decorated with brilliant murals. On the other hand, the Monastery of Kipina is a site of awe as it is build literally inside the rocky mountains of Tzoumerka to offer magnificent view of the gorge of River Kalaritikos, including a dome, cells, a cave and astonishing 18th century murals.
THINGS TO DO
Ioannina is an ideal destination for nature and extreme sports lovers. Mountains, rivers, gorges, valleys and lakes bounded with dense vegetation along with several infrastructures and facilities available in the area, guarantee unique experiences. Climbers can choose between three ascensions of different degree of difficulty, while several trails are ideal for hiking and mountain biking. Parapente flyers rank Ioannina among the best destinations, while the non experienced ones have the opportunity to be fellow passengers along with skilled professionals. Rafting and kayak are thoroughly practiced at the several rivers of the area, while skiing and snowboarding at the Ski Centers of Metsovo and Profitis Ilias is the favorite sport of the area's visitors. Horse riding among the dense forests and rivers through organized riding clubs is an experience not to be forgotten. Finally the region is home to some of the most astonishing caves around the world such as Perama Cave at Perama, 1,5 million years old with marvelous stalactites and stalagmites of amazing shapes and colours, fossilized bones found in several chambers. Tzoumerka house the Cave of Anemotripa decorated with stalactites and stalagmites, small lakes and uniquely found rivers.
The region of Ioannina is a fine producer of several local products such as apples, chestnuts, walnuts, along with milk and diary products, butter, yoghurt and Metsovone cheese. The local meat cooked traditionally in earthen vessel is of exceptional taste, as well as the home made noodles. The traditional pies with several fillings like kassiopita, a pie filled with cheese or bougatsa, a pastry filled with cream, traditionally made across Northern Greece, are well worth a taste along with original flavours such as frog legs, eels, trout and all kinds of fish, all perfectly accompanied by a sip of raki. Above all, the area is known for the production of honey, spoon sweets and marmalades.
USEFUL TELEPHONE NUMBERS
Airport of Ioannina: +30 26510 26218-23120
Ioannina Bus Services: +30 26510 26286
Ioannina Police of: +30 26510 26290
Ioannina Tourist Police of: +30 26510 65938
Ioannina Hospital: +30 26510 80111, 26510 99111
Ioannina Museum: +30 26510 01050
Ski Centre in Metsovo: +30 26560 41095
Profitis Ilias Ski Centre: +30 26560 42630