Exploration in Ioannina

Ioannina, the city of legends and contrasts. When you hear the name of the city, the first thing that comes to mind is the famous Lake Pamvotis. And how could this not be the case, we will ask, when we are talking about one of the most beautiful lakes in Greece, which together with the city of Ioannina, reates the perfect backdrop for a painting. Pamvotida may be the main attraction for travellers and the undisputed protagonist of the region, but Ioannina is a modern provincial city that has accepted its past but is looking boldly to the future.

Ioannina (as it is also known) is a city with dozens of options for visitors, but also an ideal choice for a city break at any time of the year. The combination of the natural setting, of unparalleled beauty, that surrounds it, with the nostalgic charm of Lake Pamvotida and the mystical aura of the castle town, is the perfect blend of an intriguing destination that you should include in your travel agenda at some point.

Lake Pamvotida, the reference point of Ioannina

From the moment you decide to drive the 411 kilometres from Athens to Ioannina (or 261 from Thessaloniki) you know that the first thing that will fascinate you is Lake Pamvotis. Lake Ioannina has been around for about seven million years and is considered one of the oldest in the world and the second oldest in Europe, after Lake Ohrid. Its ecosystem is of particular importance and is therefore part of the network of protected areas of the Natura 2000 network, due to the rare species of fauna and flora that have been observed in its area.
A walk around its perimeter is one of the must-do things once you arrive in the city. The path along its banks is dotted with plane trees, poplars, willows and reed beds that complement the already charming landscape, hosting a multitude of birds such as cormorants and herons. Of particular interest is the small island in the middle of the lake, which is the second inhabited island in a lake in the country.

The captivating castle town

Ioannina is one of the least inhabited castle towns in the country (Monemvasia and Mesta in Chios are the other two. The castle town acts as a time machine for the visitor to the city. It is, in fact, the oldest Byzantine castle in the entire country, which is still inhabited today, full of secrets and legends that come to life before the eyes of walkers.
Strolls through the almost deserted, almost cobbled alleys with the characteristic buildings-houses with coloured shutters-travel back in time. Returning to the present day, the city of Ioannina is famous for its excellent food, while the local cuisine with the pies and pastries of the area impresses visitors.

Where to eat and have fun

And since we’re on the subject of food, in Ioannina you will taste everything from traditional Kontosuvli and interesting cuts of meat to creative Greek cuisine with local ingredients and culinary imagination.So you will definitely make a stop for food at “Thamon“.The small restaurant that opened on the main street of Ioannina and has already become talk of the town for the inspired and delicious dishes it serves. Try the sourdough trachana with barrel-aged Pindos feta cheese and sun-dried tomato, the mushroom risotto and the seasonal greens with trout from Voydomatis.If you see people waiting on the main street of Averoff, it’s because that’s where the temple of the city’s traditional roast beef is. The «Metsovitiki Folia» serves one of the best kontosouvlia you’ve ever tasted. The tavern has a few tables inside and many tables outside facing the pedestrian street, and with a little patience during rush hour you’ll manage to find a corner. Finally, it is worth a stop at “Suzi tros in Ioannina“. Based on local produce and incorporating Greek and foreign culinary cultures, the well-established new tavern offers a menu that is both entertaining and delicious. For your drink you will head to the Liabey stoa with its many bars, such as Bar Rote 66 that will win you over with its rock character.