With a rich history and lovely local traditions, classical architecture, breathtaking landscapes and a buzzing cafe scene, Ioannina is Epirus’ charming capital. Here we share our Top 12 reasons why you should add this unique destination to your 2021 travel list!
1. Many famous Greek novelists and award-winning poets originate from Ioannina, and several cultural events are organised in their honour here throughout the year, allowing visitors the opportunity to discover the rich local history. During these festivals you can taste the flavours, see the sights and enjoy the authentic sounds of Epirus.
2. With many multicultural influences throughout the centuries, a walk through the historic city centre highlights the Christian, Islamic and Jewish influences that all blend in to make Ioannina so unique. Visit the many mosques and minarets, and the rebuilt wall of the Kastro. Make sure you check out buildings such as the House Matei Hussein, the Dodoni Sanctuary and Theatre, as well as the Kehila Kedosha Yashan Synagogue.
3. Stroll along the pretty streets and visit the Old Quarter to admire the impressive architecture which includes folk residences, mansions, as well as the Old Bazaar and the Kale Citadel.
4. See the Museum of Ali Pasha and Revolutionary Era where Ali Pasha’s decapitated corpse was discovered.
5. To learn more about Greek history visit the Byzantine Museum, the Archaeological Museum of Ioannina and Epirus’ first ever school.
6. Make the most of the buzzing social scene as you sit down at one of the many cafes or taverns where you can taste the wonderful delicacies including local fish from the lake, and a wide range of herbs and spices, which are added to local dishes. Ioannina is most known for its frog’s legs, an alcohol free liqueur made from organic vinegar, fruit syrups, herbs and nectar; as well as a sweet wine named ‘sherbetia,’ and a variety of syrupy pastries including their own version of galaktoboureko and baklava.
7. Take a 10-minute boat ride to Nissi Island, founded in the 16th Century. Here you will find a couple of monasteries dating back to the 13th century (the boat departs regularly from the promenade).
8. Just 4km from Epirus’ capital you’ll find one of the most beautiful caves in the Balkans, called Perama. A walk through here will take around 45 minutes and you can admire stalactites and stalagmites that are over a million years old.
9. Stroll along Pamvotis, a picturesque and calm lake, with clear waters- it is surrounded by lush greenery and rocky mountains.
10. Visit the castle of Ioannina, which was built in the 6th century and is the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece.
11. Admire the small craftsmen shops where local artisans are still using their skills. Here you will find a range of jewellery stores with traditional and modern pieces for both men and women.
12. Near Ioannina you can also visit the Byzantine town of Arta or Pindus National Park with stunning views, it’s a must see.