Around 38km north of Ioannina, Monodendri is among Zagorohoria’s most-visited villages. Superb hiking trails lead from here to Papingo through Vikos Gorge (about six hours). This village of slate-roofed houses also has a cluster of great tavernas and some fascinating churches, notably the triple-bell Church of Agios Athanasios and charismatic 17th-century Church of Agios Minas.
Kato Pedina & Ano Pedina
Until the middle of the 20th century, Kato Pedina was the wheat-winnowing capital of Zagorohoria, producing the majority of the region’s grain. Today it’s an ideal departure point for adventure travellers to mountain bike, trek or ski the Pindos Mountains. Drive 4km east and you’ll find Ano Pedina (population 170) perched at an altitude of 960m on Mt Tymfi. This village charms with 18th-century churches and exhilarating mountain views.
Picturesque Aristi is tucked into the Pindos Mountains at an altitude of 650m. The village has ancient roots, evidenced by Paleolithic remnants discovered nearby. Today, a clutch of guesthouses snoozes along Aristi’s cobblestoned streets and adrenaline junkies descend here to raft and hike. Its most arresting sight is Moni Panagia Spiliotissa; this arched, frescoed spiritual site stands aside a boulder by the Voïdomatis River and dates from 1665.
If you’re driving from Ioannina, Aristi is the last village before Papingo. After Aristi, prepare for white-knuckle driving as the road winds upwards. If you aren’t venturing further than Aristi, take the Papingo road as far as Voïdomatis Bridge, a beautiful stone span over bright cerulean water.
The road ribboning north from Aristi to Papingo offers Zagorohoria’s most breathtaking views. Megalo Papingo and Mikro Papingo – respectively, the large and the small – are two villages tucked into the Vikos-Aoös National Park at a dizzying altitude of 960m. The most distinctive element of Papingo’s setting is the looming rock formations known locally as the Towers. The tallest is 1788m high. A 2km trail separates the two villages, along which you can find two natural pools fed by the Rogovo River. These rock pools are swimmable in summer.