A day at the lakes – in the peace of Prespa lakes

A day at the lakes – in the peace of Prespa lakes

Agios AchilleiosAfter a 2.30 hours’ road trip from Veria (along with a stop to overview Florina) and you reached the shores of Little Prespa! As the road descents towards the lake basin, the eye stretches to the vast bean fields that extend up to the riparian reeds and the wet meadows! That’s where the happiest cows graze! Pelicans, lagons, cormorants and herons in low flights over the waters! The area is protected due to the rare biodiversity of the wetland which is home to one of the largest colonies of silver pelicans. An ideal place for bird watching!

Leave the car in the open space near the lake and walk on the 650 m long floating footbridge (built in 2000) that connects the mainland with Agios Achilleios, the remote island in Lake Mikri Prespa. In the unique settlement of only 23 permanent residents of the island stand only 11 houses. Some in ruins… Cars are not allowed on the island and the locals moor their boats in the port of the settlement. A kiosk / mini market and a small cafe will serve you fine.

floating footbridgeTake the path to the basilica church of St. Achilles. You will soon see one of the largest basilicas in Greece that gave the island its name and stands there since the 10th century. You will be impressed! Today, in the surrounding area of ​​the archeological site, the cultural events “Prespeia” take place every August.

The island is ideal for hiking! The circular hiking route that starts from the lakeside settlement in Agios Achilleios and passes through the basilica of Ag. Achilles, leads from one end of the island to the other, overlooking each side of the lake. On the way you come across the churches of Agios Georgios (15th century) and Agios Dimitrios (14th century)

the basilica of Ag. Achilles

On the hill above the settlement stands the modern church of Ag. Achilles that offers panoramic views.

Take the uphill road between Mikri and Megali Prespa leading to Psarades, a village on the banks of Megali Prespa! Time to taste the local delicacies. Don’t leave without tasting fresh carp, trout or roaches, fresh from the lake. Florina peppers as well of course! Their meat dishes are super, too. We have eaten well at “Syntrofia” (tel. 23850-46107, www.syntrofia-prespes.gr) and at “Paragadia”.


 Before leaving Prespa, take a boat trip to Megali Prespa setting off from Psarades. The cruise to Triethnes, on the water border between Greece, Albania and FYROM, and the visit to the hermitages with the rock paintings hanging above the lake, will be unforgettable.

 Agios Germanoshagiographiesthe old church of Agios Germanos

Guest House Agios GermanosMove on to the unique village of “Agios Germanos”! No luxury, no restored mansions! A real movie scene with its abandoned houses! Be sure to enter the old church of Ag. Germanos right at the square with the most remarkable hagiographies. Visit the watermill (read here: https://www.spp.gr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&catid=6%3A2010-03-04-13-52-03&id=190%3A-europa-nostra -2016 & lang = en) and the Information Center of the Society for the Protection of Prespa. If you feel like having a bite, enter the “Tzaki” (tel. 23850-51303), which bakes in the wood oven. This time we chose the dreamy courtyard of the Guest House”Agios Germanos” (Guest House Agios Germanos, see here: http://prespa.com.gr/). Some homemade sour cherry dessert accompanied our coffee… The day ended sweetly before the return trip!

On a spring Sunday outing in Velvento

On a spring Sunday outing in Velvento

It’s spring time! The perfect time for walking, outing and taverns in the sunshine! A great opportunity for daily excursions to nearby destinations that may not be the first to think of as an option.

Lake view

Velventos or Velvento, a town in Kozani’s Prefecture, on the northeast side of the artificial lake of Polyfytos is the perfect choice! With 3.437 inhabitants, Velventos is situated on the foothills of Pieria mountains.

Just before we reach Kozani, on Egnatia street, turn left towards the airport and Servia. Arriving at the bridge of Lake Polyfytos we have a nice view of Pieria mountains and Servia village across the river on the the slope as well as the bow- shaped lake, spread wide at this point. After the bridge follow the road to the left towards Velvendo. A neat, picturesque village, in a beautiful landscape! If you combine it with wine / tsipouro and snacks in one of the restaurants in the area (we ate in the beautiful courtyard of “Remvi” (Texas), tel. 2464031473) then there is nothing else to ask for on a spring Sunday!

Walk through the streets and the squares of the village among plane trees, beautifully tended gardens with flowers and traditional two-storey houses surrounded by the fields of apple trees and vineyards of the region, which thrive for many years thanks to the rich waters that run almost everywhere.

Skepasmeno Canyon waterfalls Skepasmeno Canyon

But first of all take a walk in “Skepasmeno” Canyon, just 5 km far from Velvento up to the waterfalls. After a small hike up on a prominently marked path, you get over the big waterfall and, if you continue, you will enjoy the magic of nature as well as many lakes and small waterfalls give another energy in your escape. Information about the flora of the region on cards placed on the trees, spaces with tables and benches and built barbeques cover those wishing to spend more time there.

And when coffee time is near, if not Velvendo, then choose to enjoy it in the nearby settlement of “Neraida” , right after the bridge as you leave, enjoying the wonderful view of the lake from above. Oh, and before you leave try the “touloumbes” (churros) and donuts of “Zande” sweet shop (at the entrance of the village tel. 2464032501 open S / K 18.00-21.00)

The neighboring village of Servia with the Byzantine castle and the canyon towering over the city can be included in the excursion program. We stopped there for our morning coffee.

Try the trip and you and tell us your impressions and form an ideal excursion for the area!

– The Wineries. of Vogiatzi, the Zande and Kamkoutis. You will find exquisite wines

Where to Stay

Nine Muses, tel. 24640- 49012. hostel with 9 rooms in the center of Velvento. Each room named after a muse.

Agnanti, tel. 24640- 49002. Above the village at the foot of Pieria with great view to the village, the valley and the lake.

Where to eat

“In VELVENTOS”! Near the central square you will find “dreamy” cooked.

“Metochi”, high in the foothills of Pieria. Grilled meat and spit.

“Remvi”. Well meats time and cooked.

“Watermill” Of Time and sometimes spit.

What to buy

The cooperative products are excellent and famous! Indeed many stars for them! Especially their local jam types!. You will also find very good wines (the very famous “Domaine Vogiatzi” and the worth trying wines of “Zande” and “Kamkoutis”. Finally, the famous “touloumbes” (churros) made by Zande.

Plastiras lake in early spring

Plastiras lake in early spring

Just nature and you! This is the sense you get from the first moment you face the lake. It activates all your senses. You can hear the silence interrupted by tweeting birds or the sound of wind passing through the foliage of the trees, smell the smoke from the fireplaces while your eyes follow the turquoise waters of the lake forming small fjords.

The lake view from the East Our 2 days’ trip to the region was more than enjoyable. We set off on Saturday morning with direction Larissa – Karditsa. After Karditsa we followed the south direction so we turned left towards Agios Athanasios – Lambero.

The view of the lake from this side is unique! Swiss landscape with snowy peaks above the lake! Each turn reveals a new setting. After a small adventure that led us to the center of Lampero we arrived at the Dam.Megdova Dam The 220 meters long Megdova Dam, completed in 1959, holds the waters of the flood Tavropos, former plateau of Nevropolis, forming Lake Plastira or otherwise Tavropos. On this side there are small shops with local products (ouzo, liqueurs, honey, noodles, herbs …). We walked along the arc that forms the dam, gazing at the lake from one side and on the other the precipice of 83m. and when the traffic light turned green we passed on the opposite side.

Continuing our way northwise now, we crossed Belokomiti village to arrive later at Neochori where hotel “Pandion” hosted us on Saturday night. Neochori -the most touristic village in the area- spreads on the slopes and offers panoramic views of Lake Plastira. The two junior suites of “Pandion” suited us fine. The people of the hotel with their warm hospitality made us feel at home!

Our hunger led us to Tavern “Mushroom” just outside the village, in a beautiful location overlooking the lake. Preference of many visitors from what we saw, it left us happy with the dishes we chose. Mushroom soup, prasotigania (fried pork with leek), burgers and chicken ala crème. The very nice “tsalafouti” dish (local cream cheese) and less “Cleomenes potato”. (90 euros / 7 persons).


hotel "Pandion" «Tavropos» activity centre

The sun was still warming us when we were heading to Kalyvia Pezoula lakeside. We were looking for a coffee spot but we ended up at a center of outdoor activities, a few meters before the beach. «Tavropos» activity centre offers bike rides in the lake or outside, archery, canoeing, etc. Half the group went water cycling, the rest tried archery. Until it got dark…… Coffee was waiting for us in Kazarma hotel. So was the chocolate soufflé! What is there to say about Kazarma? You have to see for yourself! (In Kalyvia Pezoula heading north, a sign leads left on the slope)


the monastery of Panagia Pelekiti Breakfast in “Pandion”, a full buffet covering all preferences a nd planning the rest of the day. Our first stop was the monastery of Panagia Pelekiti (open hours: 10.30 to 4.00 “) carved in a vertical rock with two temples, Ascension and Virgin Mary (1640), overlooking the lake from above. There we shot some of the most beautiful panoramas. The impressive stone-built church was recently restored and its unique frescoes of the 15th century were preserved, as we were informed in a thorough tour that was offered to us. Tavern FloresiWe skipped the visit to the Observatory and the Botanical Garden for the next visit and we got uphill towards Anthochori. In order to see if the information they had given us was valid.

Waterfall of Anthohori”: 1200m. distance, was written on the sign just berore the village entrance. Not so far some of us thought! The uphill path took us 50’to walk it to and fro and it was worth every minute of it.

We were more than ready for lunch when we got back! Tavern Floresi for uniquely home cooked food! In the center of Anthohori! There are simply no words to describe it! Rooster with noodles, beef in a pot, and galotyri (type of local cream cheese), all unique! Ms. Helen is an artist in cooking! Everything cooked with local ingredients, handmade by her. Excellent service as well! (EUR 70/7 person) And when it was time to leave we thought that we had such a beautiful time, worthy of sharing our experiences in that place with you!

For more information about the area visit the site: http://www.limniplastira.gr/en/

panoramic view of the lake

Ioannina – The city of legends

Ioannina – The city of legends

“Christmas and Ioannina blend perfectly!”, I would say to anyone who asked me. The choise to spend a weekend there between Christmas and New Year belonged to our 12-year daughter Helen. She prefers city traffic and strolling around the market streets rather than the mountainous villages we like. The capital of Epirus with its lake was an ideal choise!

the lake island   Less than a 2 -hours comfortable drive far from Veria and at 12.00 we were at the hotel “Politeia” in the city center (http://www.etip.gr/en/home). Our room on the ground floor facing the beautiful courtyard was very cozy. Very nice for a start!

Half an hour later we were in the boat to the lake island . Departing every half hour or more frequently if the traffic is increased! The ticket is 2 euros (1 euro for children up to 8 years). Sailing on the calm waters of Lake Pamvotis that defines the nature, the climate and the character of the city took us there, in less than 10 minutes. Through streets with old stone houses, small shops with souvenirs and silverware, we were led to the monastery of Ag. Panteleimon (17th century), where Ali Pasha was murdered. Today it functions as a folklore museum (2 € entrance), where the style of a pre-revolutionary mansion of the area is represented. Besides important exhibits (documents, weapons, jewelry …) many exhibited paintings represent Ali Pasha. You can see the holes on the floor of the first floor from where the bullets found their way and fatally wounded Ali. We were impressed!

We were informed that, in addition to the monastery of Saint Panteleimon, there are five other monasteries on the island, with the monastery of St. Nicholas of Filanthropinon, 13th c., being one of the most important post-Byzantine Greek monuments with very beautiful post-Byzantine frescoes of the 16th century, as well as coveralls depicting the seven philosophers of Antiquity: Solon, Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Plutarch, Chilonos and Apollonius.paved square

At the paved square with the tall trees people were having coffee or eating fresh fish at the taverns with the aquariums, where you can choose the lobster or eel you would you like to eat. While outside of the traditional delicacies you can enjoy frog feet, a specialty of the area.

After buying some traditional syrup sweets, we chose to return to Ioannina. We took the road to the center on foot. In “Averof” street we stopped to dine at “Masa roufa” restaurant. We barely found a table in the loft. Very large portions, tasty food and good prices. On our departure the city seemed different with the Christmas decorations. Very beautiful narrow streets, shops, galleries full with people shopping in the stores. A rich market! A coffee on the “Liampei” stoa ended the night.

The next morning, the fog was sitting over the city until almost noon, and a journey to “Bourazani” (we watched a documentary about it on television the night before), led us to the decision to take the road north towards to Kalpaki and the Albanian borders. Soon we arrived at the War Museum of Kalpaki, where we were guided at the exhibits and later we took left road at the junction to Bourazani, we passed the bridge and turned left towards the borders. Customs station “Mertziani” said the sign. We were 12 km. far from Konitsa and 58 from Ioannina. On the way back we stopped at the bridge. Next to the stone bridge there is a military iron bridge over the river Aoos.river Aoos Shortly after we turned right towards the monastery “Panagia Molivdoskepasti”. Lovely, harmonized with the landscape, 400 meters from the Albanian border. Everything frozen all around. The thick layer of frost looked like snow. We continued to the village Bourazani. The road was icy and we didn’t go further. On the way back we stopped at the “Bourazani” hotel. They informed us that they have their own Environmental Park and Natural History Museum, where the entrance was 12 euros. We preferred to visit the river springs nearby and continue to Ioannina. It was around lunch time and turned left to “Asprangeli” looking for the hostel “Virginia”. It’s built on the hillside, in a very nice setting and was so beautifully decorated . We tasted “pork prasoselino” and “flour pie” both delicacies of the area. We really enjoyed it!

On our way back we thought of visiting the castle before it got dark. It’s the old town of Ioannina offering you the feeling of a bygone era, full of secrets and legends. Unique attractions buildings such as “House Matei Hussein”, the “Ottoman mosque of Veli Pasha”, across the historic center of Ioannina and the town’s castle (built in 528 AD). The walls enclose the old town, two mosques and several museums, including the Byzantine Museum and the arms. In the picturesque “Its- Kale” which was previously the inner fortress of the castle, dominates the “Aslan Mosque”, the famous Kale. There lived Ali Pasha, the emblematic and enigmatic figure of the Ottoman Empire. The great love of the notorious Kira – Frosini (Lady Frosini) was legendary and part of the city’s history. We finished the walk at the Castle enjoying at the same time the views of the lake and the island, against the magnificent mountain Mitsikeli. In the cafes of the old square many were having their coffee accompanied by homemade sweets.

We enjoyed our coffee and dessert at «Montley coffeesweet shop» in Ioannina! Nice coffee and fresh pastries prepared on the spot, right when you order them in the open kitchen!

On the way back we passed “Stoa Louli”, one of the points at which the three communities in the multicultural city, Christian, Islamic and Jewish, worked and prospered. The gallery which originally functioned as an inn, it has become a commercial center of great importance for the entire area.

inside castle  To tell the truth, all the littoral region, full of small shops and great restaurants in which the exquisite flavors are combined with lush greenery, is an ideal area for walks. The options for entertainment are many depending on tastes.

That’s how he spent our 3 days ! The next morning we decided to depart earlier in fear of the projected snowfall.

On a longer stay or if you choose to spend your time otherwise see below:

Ideas for extra visits

Just four kilometers far from Ioannina on the northwestern side of Lake Pamvotis, taking the road that leads to Metsovo-Trikala, you meet the village Perama. There is a mythical world beyond your imagination. Perama Cave was created 1.5 million years ago inside Goritsa hill, just above the village. It is one of the most beautiful caves in Europe. In a route of 1500 meters and 45 minutes (provided the mood for walking as required lifting and lowering stairs) you will discover a different world of stalactites and stalagmites, natural sculptures that surprise with their complex structure and harmony of shapes. Once you pass the cave exit stand to admire the view of the lake and feel the magic of nature. The train of Perama -Ioannina connects the picturesque village and is a nostalgic choice. In the village of Perama you can buy traditional silverware and jewelry.

On the 14th km. of Ioannina-Athens national road, near Bizani, is the wax museum of sculptor Paul Vrellis. One of the best and most impressive museums of Greece where the life sized creations of Paul Vrellis from beeswax, revive the Greek history and those who took part on it. The topics presented in the museum are: the pre-revolutionary period, the events of 1821 and images from WWII. The visit there brings back memories from our history.

12th km National Road Ioannina-Athens, Bizani, Ioannina (Tel. 26510-92128)

(Prefixes) 1 / 10-31 / 3: 10: 00-16: 00 – (Summer time) 1 / 4-30 / 9: 09: 30-17: 00

Aslan Pasha Tomb   Like a ” Pasha in Ioannina” concerning the culinary options in Ioannina was always a rich and aristocratic state. Pond fish, such as eels and trout, are, along with the particularly frogs, the Ioannina’s Kitchen trademark. The traditional sweets of Ioannina is famous throughout Greece. The famous sker patties, meaning sugary pie, the excellent baklava and other sweets are just some of the flavors that you will never forget. A completely original product, you can not find it anywhere else except at Ioannina, are liqueurs without alcohol. It is completely separate liquor, resulting from mixing organic vinegar with nectar, herbal and fruit aromas. Enjoy with crushed ice. In traditional cafes in the city to try the unique “sherbets” sweet wines with aromas of fruits and flowers.

 Silver and gold

The art of the silversmith of Ioannina is one of the most important aspects of native culture. The wire or cast jewelry Epirus, the famous “tzovairia” was famous outside the Greek territory. The expression “Arta to Ioannina” meant – and means – “all the wealth of the earth.” The beautiful jewelry of Ioannina, in traditional or original designs continue to be synonymous with understated elegance.