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 take you to dramatic Meteora, whose medieval monasteries sit miraculously atop narrow limestone perches. Our early evening hike takes you into this incredible landscape of softly molded cliffs surmounted by the miraculous architectural feats of centuries ago. Next we take you into the Zagori region, a hiker’s paradise that contains two national parks. The region’s unspoilt stone villages, impressive canyons, and pristine rivers are linked by an ancient web of spectacular trails. You also experience the area’s natural beauty from a different perspective as we take you rafting (very easy rapids, no worries!) down a gorgeous turquoise river. Join our Greek guides Dimitris and Nefeli for a wonderful week of fabulous food, wine, and hiking in this surprising and undiscovered corner of Greece. Brett and twelve Customwalks guides did a trial run of this tour in August of 2018 and we all loved it. The itinerary is almost established, but we're still working out a few details. Here below is a brief itinerary, and you can be sure that the lodging is in comfortable and charming small inns and the food is absolutely fantastic. For those of you who have already travelled with Dimitris, you know that he has a vested interest in finding the best places to eat! We were all amazed by the beauty of the Zagori region, and of course by the incredible monasteries of Meteora. The tour is wonderful, and we all appreciated getting off the beaten path and into an area that is still authentic and inhabited almost exclusively by Greeks and visited mostly by Greeks. This won't last forever, however, so we recommend you come to visit this lovely, peaceful, unspoiled part of the Balkans before the word gets out!
Greece Meteora & Zagori itinerary
Brett and twelve Customwalks guides did a trial run of this tour in August of 2018 and we all loved it (as you can see in the photos above!). The itinerary is almost established, but we're still working out a few details. Here below is a brief itinerary, and you can be sure that the lodging is in comfortable and charming small inns and the food is absolutely fantastic. For those of you who have already travelled with Dimitris, you know that he has a vested interest in finding the best places to eat! We were all amazed by the beauty of the Zagori region, and of course by the incredible monasteries of Meteora. The tour is wonderful, and we all appreciated getting off the beaten path and into an area that is still authentic and inhabited almost exclusively by Greeks and visited mostly by Greeks. This won't last forever, however, so we recommend you come to visit this lovely, peaceful, unspoiled part of the Balkans before the word gets out!
Independent arrival in Athens and check-in at our pre-booked hotel. Meet your guides at 7 p.m. on the hotel's rooftop terrace with a view across to the ever-impressive Acropolis. We have a welcome drink and then walk to dinner at a fabulous 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 at a lively taverna for the first of many excellent meals to come. Travel time to Meteora: 3.5 hours. Hiking time 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 Hellenistic, the town flourished in the late Byzantine period (13th–15th centuries) and finally surrendered to the Ottomans in 1430. Ioannina was ceded to Greece in 1913 following the Balkan Wars. The result is an intriguing mix of Ottoman and Greek Enlightenment architecture. We visit a fascinating small museum located in the castle that is dedicated to the silversmithing tradition in the region of Epirius. Believe us, it’s cool! After lunch we have one more hour of driving into the mountains to the charming village of Dilofo. The 46 villages of Zagori are home to stone-built mansions topped off with smart slate roofs which were built by wealthy merchants in the 18th and 19th centuries. Dilofo is one of the most beautiful and best preserved of the villages, and sits at 880 meters (2,600 ft) so the evenings are cool, even in summer. We check into our lovely boutique hotel which is a restored village mansion house. We then stretch our legs with a late afternoon hike to the neighbouring village of Vitsa where we have a superb dinner in a special restaurant. We return to Dilofo by van. Overnight Dilofo. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
This morning we have a scenic 20-minute drive to the start of our walk up to the delightful village of Tsepevolo, where you enjoy a morning coffee break. Then begin a wonderful Alpine hike to the tiny village of Vradeto, at 1,340 m (4,230 ft) the highest village in the region. We lunch here, prepared by our friend Labros. Wait till you see his kitchen! The day continues as we hike to Beloi viewpoint 1,450 m (4,640 ft) out over the world’s deepest gorge (in proportion to its width, which is only a few meters at some points). You will have a breathtaking view out over the 490 m (1,600 ft) deep Vikos Gorge. After admiring the wild, untouched mountains you will experience a man-made wonder as you zig-zag down an impressive stone staircase that was painstakingly built, stone by stone, to connect isolated Vradeto with the village of Kapesevo, located in the valley below. Our van will be waiting here to take you back to Dilofo. Dinner in the village. Overnight Dilofo. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
After a breakfast featuring traditional savoury pies of filo pastry, transfer to the neigbouring 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 the craftsmen of their time, the bridges are 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 centuries-old plane trees which adorn every village square. This afternoon you have some down time back at the hotel to relax but you also have the option to hike out to an isolated monastery. This evening we dine in the village of Kapesovo. Overnight Dilofo. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Today features a little "soft adventure" on a pristine river whose emerald green waters meander through the southern section of the Vikos Gorge. The water is crystal clear and is 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, 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 narrow cobbled streets, stone houses, and vegetable gardens provide some delightful local colour to the town. Overnight Megalo Papigo in another beautiful hotel in a restored mansion house. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Leave directly on foot from Megalo Papigo along ancient cobbled lanes that take us to the “sister village” of Micro Papigo. From there, begin a gradual descent down to the river while you admire expansive views of the rocky ramparts of the surrounding mountains. Take a break by the river where you can cool your feet in the inviting water before a gradual hike out of the gorge. Once again, magnificent views open up as we proceed to the village of Vikos. We gratefully sit down in the local tavern for yet another delicious meal of local delicacies. Return to Megalo Papigo and relax on the hotel terrace, or enjoy a glass of wine or two at the rustic wine bar around the corner, or join us for a cooking lesson in a local kitchen. This is a great opportunity to have some fun with the locals and learn some of the secrets of their cuisine. Of course, we eat what we have prepared. Dine tonight in the garden, beneath the stars. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included. Hotel, breakfast, lunch and dinner included.
Note: For fast, fit hikers we offer the option of hiking up to the "Dragon Lake" (2050 m / 6600 ft) via the Astraka Refuge. This is an 18 km hike with 1,400 m / 4,500 ft of climbing and descending. It is an out and back hike. The views are truly outstanding and the hike takes you into high alpine terrain. The trail is very good. This hike is also weather dependent.
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 them a satisfying workout and challenging but do-able for not-so-fit hikers who invariably feel a great sense of achievement at the end of the tour!
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 3 rated tours.
Actual walking time: between 2-5 hours per day, mostly in the morning but also in the afternoon.
Distances: Usually between 8 and 12 kms/5 and 7 miles. Max distance is 16 kms/9 miles.
Surfaces: Trails consisting of compact earth, gravelly earth, and sometimes dirt-gravel roads and frequently on rocky and uneven trails. Ancient stone staircases and trails with stone steps are often present.
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 and uneven terrain. Trails are often in the sun, and we walk between 6 - 16 km/4 - 7 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+ tour. Our most common comment about these trips 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, have good balance, and are coordinated. 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, then Cinque Terre, followed by Sardinia, Northern Greece Meteora & Zagori, and Andalusia.
Trip Cost Includes: 7 nights accommodation (1 night Athens in a four star hotel, 1 night Meteora in a 3 star hotel, 3 nights Dilofo & 2 nights Megalo Papigo in comfortable boutique hotels, all rooms with private ensuite bathrooms); 7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners; river rafting, entrance to Ioannina museum, all activities and visits as per itinerary; all van and luggage transfers from departure from Athens Day 2 to arrival in Ioannina on Day 8; two Customwalks guide. The logistics of this tour are such that we always have two guides, even for "groups" of two people.
Not included: air travel to Greece; airport/hotel transfers; travel insurance; beverages other than water at meals; and items of a personal nature.
Booking: e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a booking contract (or use the 'Contact Us' link at the top of this page), or click on the 'Book Now' button to the right.
Insurance: We highly recommend the purchase of Trip Insurance. We recommend “Travel Guard” to our North American clients, just click on the logo below. Australian, New Zealander, and British travelers, please consult your insurance brokers.
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 back to Athens or on to some 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.
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