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Hidden Greece: where to stay and what to do away from the beaten track – Ioannina, Epirus region

Source; theguardian.com

Explore Greece’s wealth of secret beaches, mountains, sleepy islands and tempting tavernas

Gorgeous Greece has always been a classic, go-to summer holiday destination, and the pandemic served as a stark reminder that tourism is the main motor driving the economy. As a result, many new initiatives were rushed through: from improving infrastructure and promoting sustainability to developing lesser-known destinations.

Early projections suggest that these measures have succeeded and, if all goes well, 2022 could be a bumper season, with tourism reaching 80-90% of pre-Covid levels. So maybe this is the year to discover an out-of-the-way beach or an underrated resort, to recharge those sun-depleted batteries far from the madding holiday-deprived crowds, or to embark on a scenic mountain trek.

For trips to the islands, ferry timetables change from week to week, so it’s best to book tickets one to two days in advance using an agent such as First Choice Travel, which has the latest dates and times.

Ioannina, Epirus region

The capital of the north-west mainland region of Epirus, facing the Pindus mountain range on the banks of Lake Pamvotis, Ioanninna is a chief contender for Greece’s prettiest non-coastal town. It achieved prominence in the early 1800s under the rule of the notorious Ali Pasha, who made a lasting impression on Lord Byron.

Although 2022 marks 200 years since his death while fighting Sultan Mahmud II, his spirit never abandoned the town. The current fortress was restored during his reign and the mosques he worshipped in, the palace he built and his tomb are all city landmarks. As a result, Ioannina radiates more of a feeling of Ottoman past than any other town in Greece.

A 19-mile tour of the lake by bike offers views of the town and the mountains. A second day could be spent at the island on the lake, reached by passenger boat, with its fishing village, Ali Pasha Museum and seven Byzantine monasteries.

A 40-minute drive away is Metsovo, Greece’s mountain capital, bordering Pindos national park. In the winter it’s a ski resort; in summer it’s a hub for adrenaline junkies, with mountain biking, hiking, canyoning, kayaking and rafting on the River Aöos. As the birthplace of two of Greece’s major philanthropists, George Averoff and Michael Tositsas, who built universities, hospitals and more, it has a remarkable cultural heritage, punctuated by the Averoff Gallery of Greek Painting and the Tositsa Museum of Folk Art.

Read the article, here.