The Vikos Gorge, Meteora, and the Abode of Zeus

Overview

Traditional Greece can still be found in Zagoria, where stone-built villages are perched along the Vikos Gorge in the rugged Pindos Mountains. We discover this beautiful realm on hikes along shepherds’ paths and across arched stone bridges that span the gorge. Heading to the famed monasteries of Meteora, we’ll walk the monks’ paths up to these airy medieval sanctuaries, built in the 13th century. Our grand finale is an incredible hike up Mt. Olympus (9,600'), storied home of the gods, where from the summit we gaze over the ancient world. Our Trip Leaders make culinary adventures a highlight of the journey, and we’ll fuel our hikes with delicious meals and renowned wines from ancient vineyards.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Ioánnina / Dodóna / Zagoria

From Ioánnina, we explore Dodóna, home to the impressive amphitheater of the Oracle of Zeus, the first ancient oracle of Greece, then head to the village of Tsepélovo in Zagoria to begin our hikes. As we follow paths to the hilltop village of Vradeto (4,700'), the highest in Zagoria, we’ll have splendid views of the Vikos Gorge and enjoy a local wine tasting before we descend the famous “Vradeto Steps,” a 17th century stone staircase leading into the gorge.

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Days 4-6
Kipi / Vitsa / Koukoúli / Dragon Lake / Zagoria

Spectacular stone bridges span the Vikos Gorge, and we cross our first one to arrive at the handsome village of Kipi. From Vista, with its cascade of stone houses, we have the option for a hike to the Agia Paraskevi Monastery. At atmospheric Koukoúli, the absence of motor traffic evokes a past era, and when we reach Pápingo, a truly breathtaking place nestled beneath limestone towers, we’ll have views of the entire length of the Vikos Gorge that we have just traversed. A final Zagoria hike brings us up to gleaming Dragon Lake (6,800'), below the striking peaks of the Pindos. Between hikes, we swim in sun-warmed springs, relax in ancient village squares shaded by huge plane trees, and enjoy the local wines and herb-infused cuisine of this remarkable region.

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Days 7-8
Meteora Monasteries

At Meteora, which means “suspended in the air,” monks of the Eastern Orthodox church built hermitages atop sheer pinnacles in the 13th and 14th centuries. We follow paths to these seemingly inaccessible sanctuaries, where some 60 monks still reside, then head to the coast at Thessaloniki, a city with fantastic local cuisine, which our Trip Leaders will make sure we sample.

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Days 9-12
Thessaloniki / Mt. Olympus

From Thessaloniki, we head to the village of Prionia, below Mt. Olympus, and start our hike, ascending above treeline to the Spilio Agapitos Refuge (7,200'). The next day we hike to the rocky point of Skala (9,403'), the hiker’s summit of this majestic sacred mountain. Depart on Day 12 via Thessaloniki, or join our Archaeological Sites of Classical Greece Extension.

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Highlights

Highlights

Hike to the traditional stone-built villages of Zagoria in the Pindos Mountains
Follow monks’ pathways up to the surreal clifftop monasteries of Meteora
Hike to the top of Mt. Olympus, a fitting abode for the ancient deities
Experience a wonderful array of local Greek cuisine and wines

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $3795  
Arrive: Ioannina, Greece
Depart: Thessaloniki, Greece
Lodging: 10 nights hotels and traditional guesthouses, 1 night in mountain refuge
Meals: All meals included except 1 lunch (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

7 hiking days on moderate to steep trails, 2-8 hours a day, altitudes between 3,000-9,400 feet. This is a strenuous hiking trip, read “What the Trip is Like” for more details.

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