Autumn getaway in Zagorochoria

With new hotels and restaurants popping up all the time, and with touches of renovation, the forty-six mountainous stone-built villages in the north of the beautiful city of Ioannina with the marvelous cobbled streets (most of which have been listed as traditional settlements) are always ready to offer you peace, relaxation, and refined luxury.  The highlights of the natural landscape range from great rivers, such as Voidomatis, and alpine lakes, such as Drakolimni, to impressive National Parks and the imposing Vikos Gorge. Century-old bridges, monasteries, and churches, developed hotel infrastructure, excellent local flavors and products and many outdoor activities (hiking, horseback riding, climbing, rafting, canoe kayak, mountain biking and swimming) round out the package. The most famous and picturesque villages are Megalo Papigo and Mikro Papigo, whose additional lure are the beautiful “Ovires Rogovou” (that look like natural swimming pools); Aristi, which is considered a hub for excursions in every direction and boasts remarkable accommodation suggestions; and the lush Monodendri. In Aristi we singled out the neat “Aristi Mountain Resort that feature the excellent “Salvia” restaurant, where many ingredients are sourced from the new organic greenhouse of the hotel, and the “Gamila Rocks, whose style moves toward a more “country-chic” direction. If you want to go a little bit off the beaten track, visit the up-and-coming village of Kato Pedina, with the maze-like layout and a vast plain stretching out in front of it that resembles a Tuscany landscape. You can stay in the new guesthouse “Apeiros Chorathat is housed in an old, 16th-century mansion and hang out at the art café “Mesochori”, a lively meeting place for the locals, with a very friendly atmosphere and local delicacies. Finally, if you a mushroom lover, be sure to try the dishes at “Kanela & Garyfallo in Vitsa, which highlight the delicious mushrooms that grow in the area in an imaginative and creative manner.