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Zagorochoria Travel Guide

Searching for a unique winter destination in Greece that isn’t about just beaches? We admit that the beaches in Greece are hard to beat, but Greece’s mainland is also full of hidden gems in its interior. The Zagorochoria are a group of 46 small mountain villages in the north of Greece in the Epirus region, each with their own unique history and architecture. Nestled into the Tymfi mountain range, they feature amazing culture, local customs, and plenty of activities in nature.

Konitsa Stone Bridge

About Zagorochoria

The “Zagorochoria” are also known as the “Zagori villages” or “the place beyond the mountains.” For centuries, because these villages were hidden in the mountains, they kept a unique character compared to the rest of Greece and were protected naturally by the mountains from many intruders. This is why you will find local food and customs found only in this area.

 

Some of the Most popular Zagorochoria villages are Ano Pedina, Papigo, Vitsa, Monodendri, Asprageli, Aristi, and Greveniti. 

Vikos Gorge

When to Visit Zagorochoria

The best months in Zagori are May and October because of the mild weather and the opportunity to experience nature. Autumn walks are full of color, and the spring wildflowers in the mountains are truly to be enjoyed. If you love skiing, Zagorochoria are a great winter destination and feature some of the best skiing in Greece.

Tymfi Mountains

Food in Zagorochoria

The food in Zagorochoria is a perfect match for the climate. Unlike the fish and seafood dishes in the Greek islands, the traditional food in Zagorochoria includes savory Greek pies like alevropita, spanakopita, and tiropita. Other local favorites are hearty meat dishes and a local wine variety called Debina, which you cannot find anywhere else in the world. 

Spanakopita (Spinach Pie)

How to Get to Zagorochoria

By Plane

The closest airport to reach Zagorochoria is in Ioannina. Likely, you will need to fly through Athens or Thessaloniki to get here, since Ioannina’s airport is fairly small. From there, it is not far by bus or car to get to Zagorochoria. 

 

By Car

Many people prefer to visit Zagorochoria by private car, because it gives you freedom to explore the small villages and stay for as long as you want. It is easy to rent a car in Athens or in Ioannina.

What to Do in Zagorochoria

Mt. Ziria and Mt. Menalon are nearby and are some of the best hiking areas in Greece. These mountains have plenty of trails and also rafting opportunities from the Voidomatis bridge to the old bridge of Kleidoneias. Overall, there are a variety of trails, like Vikos Gorge Trail, which is 12 kilometers long and has steep ascents; Gamila to Astraka Refuge, which is 9 kilometers long and includes difficult stairways; and Monodendri’s trail, which is easiest and curls slowly to Vitsa village. 

 

In the winter, one of the the most popular ski resorts in the area is Papingo village. Visitors come here from the city to stay multiple nights and to enjoy the picturesque mountain landscape.

Mikro Papingo

Architecture in Zagorochoria 

The houses of Zagorochoria are made with raw materials that are available in the area. This means mainly stone, wood, and slate, which are assembled by master craftsmen and builders. The building style is unique to the area and also extends to the paths that connects between the villages, with arched bridges scattered in the countryside, especially when rivers or other barriers make the terrain difficult to cross. Local churches, stone squares, and alleyways also are built with this style and blend into the natural surroundings.  

Primoula Country Hotel and Spa

Zagorochoria House Construction

Each house in the Zagorochoria typically has a rectangular shape, with one or two levels, a tall yard wall, and a big wooden gate. This tradition is from a time when they needed to protect against raiders and from harsh weather. The wealthier homes, usually found close to the village square, had a special “hagiati” space – an outward-facing balcony where the owners could look down on everyday life in the village. 

 

Zagorochoria Craftsmen

Some of the craftsmen from this area were so good at their work that their fame spread throughout Greece and even to the rest of the Balkans. They were paid well for their stone-building, woodwork, and painting. Wherever they traveled – even as far as Vienna and Istanbul – they brought back furniture and learned new techniques which they could add into their own work. 

Papigo Village

More Greek Mountain Villages

If you’re curious to experience the magic of the Zagorochoria for yourself, this spring is the perfect time to visit. For more Greek mountain destinations, see our complete article here.

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