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Eternal Epirus: One of Greece’s best-kept secrets

The northwestern state of Epirus is home to timeless natural beauty, enduring traditions, mouthwatering gastronomy – and countless authentic, off-the-beaten-track travel experiences. From white water rafting through virgin forests to strolling the cobbled alleys of hidden mountain villages, there are adventures to get the pulse racing and others to quiet the soul…

Eternal Epirus: One of Greece’s best-kept secrets
Vikos Gorge, Epirus. Image: H.Kakarouhas/visitgreece.gr

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Trek the Vikos Gorge

The world’s deepest canyon cuts through the spectacular Pindus mountain range, offering secluded hiking along a twisting, dry riverbed and sublime views across forested valleys. Hike it either from the stone village of Monodendri, north to Vikos, where the Monastery of St Paraskevi is perched above the ravine; from Vikos to Papingo; or from Monodendri to Kipi. A trail runs from Pápigo to a shelter near the Astráka peak and on to Drakolimni, a lake that, legend says, was home to dragons.

Rafting on the Voidomatis River

Rafting on the Voidomatis River. Image: Zagori Excellence Network

Raft the Voidomatis River

One of the cleanest rivers in Europe, the Voidomatis curls through the picturesque Vikos-Aoos National Park like a turquoise brushstroke. Take to the waterway as part of a rafting tour group: from the icy, drinkable waters intrepid rowers can admire rare birds, wild horses and flitting fish — as well as drifting under ancient arched bridges and past tumbledown monasteries. But it’s not for the faint-hearted! There are whitewater rapids of moderate difficulty, perfect for both brave beginners and advanced paddlers.

Stone built bridge, Epirus

Stone built bridge, Epirus. Image: Zagori Excellence Network

Seek out the stone bridges of Epirus

The stone bridges of Epirus are architectural marvels, steeped in folklore and set in rugged landscapes. To find them, you may need to wade into babbling streams, raft down emerald rivers, carve a path through lush woodlands, dodge goats on riverbank trails — or, for some, just follow roads.

Mountain Village, Zagoria

Mountain Village, Zagoria. Image: Zagoria Excellence Network

Discover the mountain villages of Zagoria

Zagoria’s 46 historic settlements are tucked into the pine-clad mountain of northwest Epirus. The slate-roofed stone houses are home to exquisite traditional eateries and boutique pensions, while rustic churches are decorated with frescoes and carved wooden altar screens. Each village spreads out from a central, cobbled square in which feast days are celebrated. Two of the most magical are Papigo, perched on one of the highest peaks of Mt Tymfi, and Vradéto, home to the staggering Vradéto Stairs — 3,937ft of stone steps that, until 1973, offered the only access to the village.

Traditional Sweets, Zagori

Traditional Sweets, Zagori. Image: Region of Epirus

Dig into local cuisine

Whether pulling up a chair in a koutouki (small cafe), tsipouradika (tavern) or gourmet restaurant, a menu staple will be pie. Stuffed with free-range meats, wild mushrooms, spiced vegetables or local cheese, these savoury filo creations are the backbone of the culinary scene. In Epirus, diners can sample refreshing regional wines and home-grown fare in a lively, family atmosphere.

Greece logo For more information about visiting Epirus, go to visitgreece.gr