This page, describes a trip to the mainland. Northern Greece is a complete contrast to Corfu, from the dialects, the buildings and certainly the terrain. This short trip with little driving involved
takes 2-3 days, and is to Metsovo - high in the so called 'Greek Alps'.
Day 1 - Ioannina
A trip to the mainland, first requires a 2 hour ferry journey from Corfu town to Igomonitsas.
The views from the ferry of Corfu on a clear day are stunning.
The ferry costs 30 Euros per car and 4 Euros per person (one way). They operate from the main port in Corfu town daily from 6am to 11pm, hourly. I recommend setting off early so that you can make the most of the day.
Igomenitsas from the ferry
Arrival into Igomenitsas is nothing special. The town is a typical commercial port and should be left as soon as possible! As you leave the ferry, turn left and look for the port exit - it is easy to find and is next to the police 'shed'. At the exit, take a left - be careful as the road here is quite busy. Now, on your right you will see several cafe bars and numerous ferry ticket offices and on your left the sea. Stay on the road for about 200-300
meters and it will 'fork off' to the right (at this point you may spot a signpost for Ioannina). Now you will be driving through the main high street of Igomenitsas. After about 1km, the high street will end and the road will fork right and join the main road to Ioannina. You stay on this road all the way (94Km) and it takes about an hour and a bit.
The road to Ioannina goes up into wild mountains and has some impressive hairpin bends, but the views are stunning.
Watch out for cattle in the road.
Vrosina is a small mountain village and is about halfway - convenient for a coffee stop.
From here the road starts to widen and gently slopes down into the Ioannina basin.
700 meters above sea level and nestles among towering mountains - often
snow-capped for 10 months each year. The main feature though is the very large lake that almost surrounds the town.
I suggest spending the rest of the first day exploring the town - this is actually a bit of a mixed bag. The old part is down by the lake front dominated by the large fort. Small winding streets selling handmade sliver
jewellery (which the area is famous for), and traditional wares.
The large square (or platia) at the lake front has several excellent restaurants, offering spit roasted lamb over a charcoal grill. You must try the local feta which is very creamy, but you may want to avoid the local specialty called 'Kokavetsi' which will be recommended to you - it is a 'lamb innards' kebab wrapped with intestines and char grilled - not for the faint-hearted!
If walking around the old town does not excite you, then head for:
The caves of Perama. These are located just 1km out of Ioannina town and are world famous - well worth a visit.
On the archaeological front, is the almost intact ancient ampy-theater at
Dodoni a short 18km drive away.
In the middle of the lake is a small island which is serviced by a small ferry - there are no cars - and it is worth a visit for the historical value.
Incidentally I started by mentioning that the town of Ioannina was a bit of a mixed bag, well the old part is fine, but the new part which looks down onto the lake is modern and nasty.
For a hotel for your first night, there are many in Ioannina, but I would recommend staying just outside at .........(I'll find the name!) It has a small swimming pool which is sure to be welcomed after a day of touring.
Day 2 - Metsovo
Head out of Ioannina on the road to Perama. (Sign posted: Metsovo.) Once you go though the small village of Perama the road starts a rapid accent up into the mountains.
The road to Metsovo is only 54km and should take just over one hours drive. It is a little narrower than the Igomenitsas to Ioannina road and with little or on traffic - but a new road with many tunnels is being built. Villages are few and far between. The views are just stunning.
The village of Metsovo is set in a valley, and seems like an oasis in the middle of the mountains. Originally its remote location was ideal for elusive criminals on the run.
The turning off the main road down to Metsovo (pictured above) is easily missed as it is just after a hairpin bend. Driving down to the village as first
is a little worrying. The first buildings you see are made of concrete with corrugated roofs. Do not despair! After 200-300 meters, you will be greeted by the old village. Drive down to the square and park.
Many of the houses use a local stone to clad the roofs. This is a picture of the museum there.
Local village crafts include wine - the Alverof white is excellent. Also, the many varieties of goat cheeses. We particularly enjoyed the smoked ones.
There are several hotels to choose from, but I would recommend having one already booked. The hotel Apollon is a good choice, although I was surprised to find an Internet cafe next door! I'll find their details and post them here.
Once booked into your hotel, you will probably be hungry! We ate at a Taverna just above the square. As it was winter we ate inside, but they had a large tree shaded terrace - ideal for summer dining.
We were offered wild boar and lamb in lemon - both were stunning - especially as they were being washed down by the local plonk.
Metsovo is great. Small stone houses, cobbled streets and just small enough to be explored in one day.
Day 3 - the return home
Today you have a choice:
Head back to Corfu, stopping at Ioannina for lunch. A relaxing drive, would have you back to Corfu for evening diner at Taverna Agni.
Else, drive up to Zagori - about an hours drive. View the deepest gorge in the world (1km deep - makes the grand canyon look like a stream!) and return to Corfu. If you drove to Zagori and stopped for lunch, you would still have time to drive back to Igomonitsas to catch an evening ferry - but would it require a 3-4 hour drive.