By many (and by me) Ioannina is considered one of the most special and romantic cities in Greece. For those of us who have visited it, this is an indisputable fact, for those of you who have not yet had the pleasure to meet it, in the following article I will try to inspire you for an escape to the romantic Ioannina and show you how to spend a perfect two day trip . Although I won’t have to try too hard.
Ioannina is a beautiful mix of tradition, special architecture, intense life and excellent food. Exactly what you will need for a two-day getaway. It is located at a key point, very close to the magical Zagorochoria and the equally wonderful Metsovo but also for the lovers of the Ionian, near Sivota and Parga. The always sensual lake Pamvotida will captivate you, as well as the walks in the picturesque streets of the city.
Walk the town of Ioannina
There is no better way to get to know a city than to walk its streets, smell its aromas and experience some of its daily life. Having visited Ioannina many times, it is a city that changes depending on the seasons and each of them gives it a different look. But I love it a little more during the winter time, when the mountains are snowy and the lake is covered by this light fog.
It is worth discovering Stoa Liabei and being photographed, in one of the most instagrammable narrow alleys of the city.
You might also be interested in 5+1 instagrammable cafes of Corfu and where to find them.
Explore the Castle of Ioannina
The Castle of Ioannina is perhaps the most emblematic attraction of the city and the oldest Byzantine castle in Greece. It was built around 528 AD and consists of four sections. The outer precinct, the Northwestern citadel with Aslan Mosque, the Southeastern citadel with Its Kale, and of course the Castle City, the old town of Ioannina. It is worth walking inside the Castle and admiring the traditional houses, before climbing to the top of the Castle.
At the top of the Castle, you can visit one of the following museums, the Byzantine, the National Ethnographic Museum and the Fotis Rapakousis Museum, where you will find a collection of weapons and other household items, from the pre-revolutionary period to the first Balkan wars. The view of the lake from the Castle is of unique beauty. Another point for amazing photos.
Extra tip: If you are a fan of museums then I suggest you not to miss the Archaeological Museum of Ioannina.
Coffee stop => Arte povera
One of the most special cafes I have come across, not only in Ioannina but also in whole of Greece, is right there, in the Castle City and it is called Arte povera. Externally it looks like another traditional house in the area but its interior is designed to remind you of your grandmother’s always welcoming house while at the same time it offers delicious handmade sweets and savory dishes. You must not miss it! Thank me later!
Follow on instagram : @artepovera.ioannina
Walk alongside the Pamvotida Lake
Lake Pamvotida is probably my favorite place in this city. An escape to Ioannina is half without the lake, after all. Walk along it, drink your coffee in one of the many cafes (the Kyra-Frosini cafe is a must all year long), enjoy the view and finally, get on the boat and explore the island in the lake.
The island of Ioannina is one of the few inhabited islands in lakes throughout Europe and … it has no name! Yes, they just call it the “island of Ioannina” and you can be there in less than ten minutes just taking one of the boats waiting on the pier of the lake. The boat routes in summer are every half hour, while in winter they are one each hour.
And yet, on this tiny island is a settlement that has 250 permanent residents and seven whole monasteries, not to mention a number of shops with folk art items, taverns and patisseries. She has been inextricably linked with Ali Pasha and Mrs. Frosini, who after her performance became a song, a novel and a film. You can easily take the boat at noon, enjoy the ten-minute boat ride in the lake and arriving on the island to spend some pleasant hours exploring it.
Food stop => Mystagogia
One of the timeless values and one of my favorite restaurants, is called Mystagogia. The food is always great and the place is wonderful. I honor it on my every escape to Ioannina.
Other sights of interest
Just four kilometers from Ioannina, in the village of Perama you will find the homonym Cave, which is 1.5 million years old and is one of the best caves in the world. It stands out for its variety of stalactites and stalagmites and the average indoor temperature is stable at 17 degrees Celsius. It is open daily from 9.00 to 17.00.
Paul Vrellis Greek History Museum
Another very interesting place. It is located in the area of Bizani, where you can learn a lot about the history of Greece, through almost live performances of wax figures. I think one of the most special points of interest of Ioannina.
You can find more information here : http://www.vrellis.gr/en
Day trips from Ioannina
Zagorochoria and Metsovo
Eating kontosouvli in Metsovo is now a ritual, whether you are in the area or just on your way, you have to make a stop for food and a walk in this wonderful place! Don’t leave without buying at least a large piece of metsovone cheese!
Zagorochoria has a special place in my heart and I never miss the opportunity to visit them! They are less than 1 hour away from Ioannina and this complex of traditional villages is ideal all year round! You can explore the villages, admire the ravine of Vikos, do various sports or just relax in one of the most beautiful places in Greece.
You might also want to read about you should visit Zagorochoria during the summer!
Returning to Ioannina, we drink the last coffee in my favorite Shelter Coffee Store, which you will find very close to the Bus Station and you will love not only its coffee but also the most special decor.
Follow also on instagram : @shelter.coffee.store
I hope i see you there by the lake!