Zagóri is part of the Greek
region (periféria) Ipiros, which is one of the 13 Greek regions; Ipiros is
located in the north-west, between the Ionian Sea and the Albanian border.
It is also the most mountainous region of Greece: the Píndos massif,
considered as the backbone of Greece, spreads from north to south over a
distance of 160 km, with peaks as the Smólikas (2637 m), the Týmfi (2466 m
), the Gamilá (2480 m) and the Astráka (2432 m).
The area of Zagóri is 1000 km˛: the region lies more or less north of the
city of Ioánnina, the capital of the largest province (nomós) of Ipiros. Administratively, Zagóri
forms a single municipality (dímos), but it counts no less than 46 small
villages, the so-called Zagorochoriá (chorió = village) or Zagoriá. However,
the total population does not even reaches 4000 inhabitants, which
corresponds to a density of less than 4 per km˛.
Zagóri is probably Slavonic and could mean "beyond the mountains".
This mountainous region is not easily accessible and is also crossed by some
very deep valleys, with rivers like the Vikos, with its tributaries Vikákis
and Mégas Lákkos, and the Voidomátis and the Aoös. During millions of years
the Vikos has carved the canyon of Vikos, which is about 20 kilometers long
and has a depth of 450 to 1600 meters; the canyon of Vikos thus appears in
the Guinness Book of Records as the deepest canyon in the world - taking
into account that the canyon has the greatest depth / width ratio, because
the canyon is very narrow in some places.
Because of these geographical features, the history of this region of Greece
is just as remarkable. While large parts of Greece have had a turbulent
history, the region of Zagóri has been living
in relative safety during centuries,
largely due to its difficult accessibility - invasions often avoided the
region. Even when Ipiros fell into the hands of the Turks, in 1430, the
region retained considerable autonomy. Many merchants came to live there,
which contributed to a relative prosperity: many schools have emerged in the
18th century, a lot of bridges and
water mills were built, and the “archontiká" or large luxurious stone houses
also testify to this prosperous period. It was only in the 19th century that
the Turkish occupation became more
severe – until finally Zagóri was liberated from the Turkish occupation
during the first Balkan War in 1913.
After the reunification with Greece, the region experienced a long exodus to
the cities of Greece and a steady depopulation. It also suffered heavily
during World War II , first as a result of the
Italian invasion, then of the German occupation, and finally of the civil
war. All this has meant that the region of Zagóri remained cut off from the
world: it thus retained its original
character - this explains the presence of very traditional villages and a
well maintained trail and bridge network.
Most of these villages are very typical, with their central square or platía,
with a large church, a huge plane tree and a public fountain; winding alleys
cross the villages and a network of trails or monopátia connect the villages
- with here and there the famous arched bridges. The most famous villages
are Monodéndri (with Vítsa close to it), Tsepélovo (the largest village),
Vradéto (the highest village, 1340 m) and the very attractive villages of
Kípi , Koukoúli and Dílofo; north of the Vikos canyon you can find
the very famous villages of Megálo
and Mikró Pápingo, the village of Vikos, Arísti , etc.
For the most beautiful villages of Zagóri, see e.g.
The network of trails that connect the villages is well preserved, with also
very impressive stairs – the famous skáles –, which allow you
to descend into the valley
from Monodéndri, Víkos, Vradéto or Koukoúli. In these valleys some splendid
arched bridges can be found in certain places, see among others
The most famous is probably the Plakída- or Kalogerikó-bridge with its three
arches - see the beautiful pictures on
If you want to see a slide show of our 2014 walks, see the following
These trails lend themselves to hikes of one day, but also to trekkings of
6-8 days, which are organized by many travel agencies. One of the most
famous trekkings starts in Tsepélovo, taking the following steps: Tsepélovo
- Vradéto - Kapésovo / Kapésovo - Koukoúli - Kípi / Kípi - Dílofo - Vítsa-
Monodéndri / Monodéndri - canyon of Víkos - village of Víkos / Vikos -
Megálo and Mikró Pápingo / and a stage of two days from Pápingo to the
Astráka refuge and the Drakólimni lake - sometimes this trek is closed by a
solitary stage back to Tsepélovo.
For some nice walks in and around Pápingo, there is the charming booklet
Exploring Pápingo, by Frances Annear.
As so often, the best map is the one of Anávasi: the map 3.1 for Zagóri is a
very good map with a scale 1: 50.000
- it represents all of the major trails and is very accurate.
Some important practical information
Even today, Zagóri is isolated: there are very little
bus connections, and almost
exclusively with Ioánnina, thus not between the villages...
See the information on the website of KTEL (bus) Ioannina,
(only in Greek).
In summer 2014, you could find the following connections:
- Ioánnina - Pápingo: only on Tuesdays at 5.30 am,
return at 7.00am + (if there are travelers!) at 2.30pm, return at 4.00 pm
- Ioánnina - Vítsa – Monodéndri - Ano Pediná - Elafótopos: at 5.45am on
Monday, return at 6.30am
+ at 2.00pm with return at 3.15pm
- Ioánnina - Skamnéli: at 6.00am and 1.35pm on Friday (by Koukoúli), return
via Kapésovo and Koukoúli at 6.55am and direct return at 3.15pm
- Ioánnina - Frangádes - Leptokaryá: Thursday at 5.15 am, return at 3.15pm
- Leptokaryá - Frangádes - Dilofo - Ioánnina: Thursday at 6.45 am, return at
3.45pm (by Dilofo only if there are travelers!).
Conclusion: Given the fact that the connections are only once
a week and at difficult times, it is unlikely that the bus will help you to
establish a good
Since taxis are very rare, a rental car is very useful ...
* Service stations are also rare:
no service station at all in Zagóri itself! There is one (coming from Ioánnina)
on the road
Metamórfosi to Monodéndri and another (coming from Kónitsa)
in Klidoniá. You should therefore take
* The same foresight is necessary for
cash: there are
teller machines (ATM) in Zagóri
- there is since 2016 one in Kípi, next to the restaurant Margarítes.
many hostels and even hotels do not accept bank cards, you should provide
* The nearest pharmacy is
* You easily will find accommodation
with the help of the Internet
the links on this site. Good centers for excursions are especially Tsepélovo
and Mikró Pápingo, but also Kípi, Monodéndri, Vítsa and Megálo Pápingo are
* Even in summer (July), not all
taverns and restaurants are open, especially on weekdays. We found
restaurants in Tsepélovo, Kípi, Dílofo, Vítsa and Monodéndri in central
Zagóri, and in Mikró and Megálo Pápingo and Víkos.
Since Januari the 1st 2004
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