Greece Meteora & Zagori Write a review
Come and explore authentic Greece with us as we take you into the rugged north. We pick you up from Athens and transfer to dramatic Meteora. Our early evening hike takes you into this incredible landscape of softly molded cliffs and rock pinnacles surmounted by spectacularly perched medieval monasteries. Next we take you to Zagori, a remote region of the Balkans in Greece’s mountainous north. The 46 villages of Zagori are clusters of stone-built homes, churches and schools, all surmounted by slate roofs. Built by wealthy merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries but completely abandoned after WWII, the area has been forgotten until very recently. Families are returning to their ancestral homes and restoring them with love and care. The result is that the villages have not been marred by the “progress” and construction that has ruined so much of our collective heritage in the last 70 years. Zagori is also a hiker’s paradise. It contains two national parks and the region’s unspoiled stone villages are linked by an ancient web of spectacular trails. Impressive canyons, and pristine rivers also feature. In addition to the fantastic hikes, you will also have a half-day of rafting down a gorgeous turquoise river (easy rafting). Zagori is truly a wonderful and unknown part of Europe. However, this won't last forever so we recommend you come to visit this lovely, peaceful, unspoiled part of the Balkans before the word gets out!
Meteora & Zagori Tour Includes:
Greece Meteora & Zagori itinerary Request full itinerary
Independent arrival in Athens and check-in at our pre-booked hotel. Meet your guides at 6:30 p.m. on the hotel’s rooftop terrace that features a perfect view across to the ever-impressive Acropolis. We have a welcome drink and then move on to dinner at a super restaurant around the corner. Overnight Athens. Hotel and dinner included.
After breakfast we transfer by van to Meteora, the surreal and mystical land where nature’s grandeur and man’s quest for spiritual understanding come together. Centuries ago, medieval monks built impressive monasteries and humble hermitages atop steep limestone pinnacles and even within natural caves. From early Christian times the vertical cliffs of Meteora provided both protection and isolation for the men and women who came here for quiet reflection and spiritual enlightenment. We take you to visit one of the smaller monasteries that features impressive views as well as ancient frescoes. Later that afternoon, follow your guide on a memorable evening hike as the limestone spires are lit by the soft rays of the setting sun. Just as dusk falls we arrive back in the village and sit down for dinner in our hiking clothes at a lively taverna for the first of many excellent meals to come. Travel time to Meteora: 3.5 hours. The Hike: 9km/5.5mi, about 3 hours. Overnight Meteora. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
We leave the escarpments and rock towers of Meteora to transfer to Zagori, a region of pristine rivers, wild mountains, and isolated stone villages. We stop along the way in the picturesque town of Ioannina, which sits on the shores of Lake Pamvotis. Originally founded in Ancient Greek times, the town flourished in the late Byzantine period (13th–15th centuries), surrendered to the Ottomans in 1430, and finally was ceded to Greece in 1913. We stop here for a break before taking you into the Pindus mountains and the village of Kipi for lunch. Our first hike in Zagori takes us up through the stone village of Kipi to the woods and then on to the neighbouring village of Tspelevo. Along the way we enjoy vast views over the folded landscape and discover a long-forgotten trading route. We arrive in Tsepelovo in time to enjoy a cold drink in the main square in the shade of a centuries’ old plane tree. A short transfer takes us to charming Dilofo, our home for the next three nights. We dine in a taverna in the village square. Overnight Dilofo. The Hike: 9km/5.5mi, about 3 hours. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
After an abundant breakfast we transfer to the neighbouring village of Koukouli. From here we start a beautiful hike which features five amazing stone bridges that arch elegantly over the rivers of Zagori. Built centuries ago by local craftsmen, the bridges are a testament to the once vibrant commerce that flowed through this former Ottoman province. After a 4-hour loop hike, sit down to lunch in the taverna in Koukouli in the shade of the ubiquitous ancient plane tree which adorns every village square. This afternoon you have some down time back at the hotel to relax then we transfer to another village to meet Elena, who welcomes us into her home and teaches the art of making filo pastry and traditional savoury pies. Elena has spent years talking to the elders of the Zagori villages, collecting the oral history, culture, and recipes that are slowly disappearing. She shares her passion for and knowledge of the region with us over dinner. Overnight Dilofo. The Hike: 12km/7mi, about 4 hours. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
Today’s hike features one highlight more impressive than the next;
After lunch, return to Dilofo for some well-deserved down time. Optional evening hike to Vitsa where we have dinner. Overnight Dilofo. The Hike: 12km/7mi, about 4 hours. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
Today features a little "soft adventure" on the pristine Voidomatis river, whose emerald green waters meander through the southern section of the Vikos Gorge. The water is crystal clear and so clean that you can drink straight from the river. We float through the canyon and encounter a few easy rapids, which have just enough white-water to give a little thrill without any danger. After this refreshing break on the water we return to land for a delicious lunch. In the afternoon we have a short but very steep drive up out of the gorge to the start of our hike to Megalo Papigo, whose stone houses, narrow cobbled streets, and stone courtyards give testimony to a once prosperous past. Overnight Megalo Papigo in another beautiful hotel in a restored mansion house. Enjoy a cold drink on the terrace and take in the soft rays of the setting sun as they shed their golden light on the impressive rock face of the “Astraka Towers.” The Hike: 8km/5mi, about 2.5 hours. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
Leave directly on foot from Megalo Papigo along ancient cobbled lanes that take us to the “sister village” of Micro Papigo. The path leads us along the flank of the mountain to several breathtaking look-out points over the Vikos gorge and the whole of eastern Zagori. We stop for lunch in Micro Papigo. Return to Megalo Papigo to explore its streets and alleyways or relax on the hotel terrace. Dinner is yet another feast of delicious local delicacies. Overnight Megalo Papigo. The Hike: 12km/7mi, about 3.5 hours. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and hotel included.
A 1.5-hour transfer takes us to the airport at Ioannina for the regular 10:50 flight back to Athens. Or, you can pick up a rental car here and continue to explore Greece on your own (the popular island of Corfu is just a short bus ride and ferry hop away!). Breakfast and transfer to Ioannina included. Onward travel not included.
Activity Level 3+ = Moderate Plus:
In general: This is a Moderate tour for fit hikers who will find the walks a satisfying workout, while less-fit hikers will find them challenging but do-able and have a great sense of achievement at the end of the week.
Terrain: Rolling to hilly terrain with frequent steep ascents and descents. The "+" indicates that they also involve more rugged, rocky, or steep terrain than the standard 3-rated tours.
Actual walking time: Between 3-5 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon.
Distances: Usually 8 - 12 kms (5 - 7 mi) per day. Max distance 16 kms (9 mi).
Surfaces: Trails are a mix of compact earth or dirt track, gravel roads, and rocky, uneven wooded trails. You will also encounter centuries' old stone stairways and rocky steps.
Footing: Good, but you have to pay attention to where and how you place your feet. Proper hiking shoes with thick soles with good treads are required. Sport sandals, running shoes and tennis shoes are not adequate.
Specifics: The terrain is often rugged but not technically difficult. Most of the trails are rocky and some involve short sections of scree (loose rock), with some steep ups and downs on uneven terrain. Trails are often in the sun, and we walk between 6 - 16 km (4 - 10 mi.) every day.
Hiking Poles: Highly recommended but not required, and if you habitually use hiking pole you will regret it if you don’t have them.
Compared to the Cinque Terre: The Cinque Terre is the perfect example of a 3+ rated tour. Our most common comment about the Cinque Terre walk and other tours rated 3+ is “More challenging than I expected but I am glad I did it”.
Other: This tour is appropriate for “sporty and fit” first-time hikers who enjoy walking and have good balance. People with hip and knee issues might find a 3+ tour challenging because of the terrain and the duration of the hikes.
Moderate Plus Tours: Amalfi is the easiest of this group, then Dolomites Lite, followed by the Cinque Terre, Sardinia, Northern Greece Meteora & Zagori, and Andalusia.
Getting There: the trip starts in Athens, which is easily accessible via international flights.
Air: Athens airport receives both domestic and international flights, through European hubs such as London, Paris, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, Munich and Brussels.
Getting Away at the End of the Trip: the trip ends after breakfast on the morning of Day 8 in the city of Ioannina, which has flight connections to Athens or other European hubs via the major carriers (Aegean, Olympic) as well as low-cost airlines like Ryan Air and Easy Jet. We can also arrange transport back to Athens at the end of the trip.
If you book a trip with us you will receive detailed information about how to get to and from the trip, and of course you can e-mail us with any questions.
Fabulous Custom Walks tour AGAIN!! My thrid trip with you all and this time I brought a friend. It was simply wonderful. Dimitris was a great leader/organizer working with owner Brett. Food was amazing. Two words -- DO IT!
by Gwen B.