10 Things To Do, Eat and Visit in Ioannina

By | July 12, 2017 at 8:00 am | Beyond AEGEE, Travel Guide | Tags: , , , , ,

You all know the saying: “You never get to fully know a country, unless you visit its most original places”. I would add to this that these places usually happen not to be the capital or the big cities. This seems to apply a lot to Ioannina, a city located in the northwest of Greece. Known for its mountainous landscape and the lake that holds a central role in its everyday life, Ioannina reveals itself to the travellers that wish to discover the authentic Greek culture. You can find it in the city’s rich history and legends that go back to the Medieval era, in the Ottoman element prominent in every corner, in the traditional grandmas in the villages, who wear black and will welcome you with a piece of cheesepie and a story. Let’s discover the 10 things that draw the mosaic that Ioannina is.


ιωαννινα1) Kyra Frossini’s lake  Pamvotis lake, the landmark of Ioannina, is combined with a legend that leads us back to the Ottoman era. Ali Passas, ruler of the Epirus (1788-1822), fell in love with a woman, Lady Frossini (Kyra Frossini in Greek). Unfortunately, she didn’t reciprocate to his love. To have his revenge, he imprisoned her along with 17 other women, who were accused for loose morality, and he drowned them in the lake’s deepest point. Ever since the lake is called after her name. Once in Ioannina you should not miss the chance to take a long walk along the promenade and marvel at the landscape that reaches its peak during Spring and Autumn.


2) The Castle  4408670251_1dde573262The Castle was built by the Byzantines, but it reached its glory days when Ali Passas moved his serai in it, making it the executional and strategic centre of his region. Nowadays, there are a lot of locals that still live here, transforming the castle into a living community in the heart of the city centre. Here you will take one of the most romantic strolls, wandering and getting lost in the alleys and discovering all its paths either to the past or to the current akropolis, Its Kale.

Its Kale is the Akropolis of the Castle. In there you can see Fetije Mosque, the most famous of the Mosques that still exists in Ioannina. Its Kale offers a look from above on the lake and the promenade that surrounds it, as well as on the mountain Mitsikeli and the villages nearby. In Its Kale you can also find the grave of Ali Passas and the Silvercraft Museum.


3) Old Market  anexThe Old market is in the city centre, near the castle. Its main road is Anexartisias Street, where there are various shops selling silvercrafts, furnitures, bakeries and groceries. The Market exists there since the Ottoman era and is one of the most vivid roads in Ioannina. Nowadays though, along with the shops you will find traditional places to drink tsipouro and bars. Here beats the rhythm of the nightlife and the place is always crowded either with locals who are shopping during the day or with the almost 10 thousand students who study in the University of Ioannina, who are partying at night.


4) Museums  If you visit Ioannina and don’t really feel like going to every sinlge museum, you should only pay a visit to two of them. The Wax Museum of Paul Vrellis in Bizani and the Silvercrafts Museum in Its Kale. The Wax Museum hosts statues of historic Greek figures and scenes of the Greek history focusing mainly on Ioannina and the modern era. On the other hand, the Silvercrafts Museum is connected to the the silver processing procedure that runs deep in Ioannina’s culture. In the past, silver used to play an important role to the economic and social life of the city and continues to do so up to the present day. The circle of its life is what you can observe in this museum.


5) Nissaki  nissi-sosHave you ever thought of an island in a lake, with permanent inhabitants? Probably not, because in Ioannina there is the only island which answers to this description. Nissaki is in the centre of the lake and it is connected with Ioannina city only by boat. Take the boat to the island and you will witness  the warmest hospitality from the locals. Help yourselves to the treats that they will offer you, which may vary from traditional tsipouro shots to baklava or pies. Take them with you and start walking until you reach the house where Ali Passas was killed. If you feel hungry choose one of the restaurants to taste a very fine delicacy… fried frogs’ legs!


6) Tsipouro τσιπουροIt is transparent! It is like fire! It is the reason of our existence in Ioannina! Tsipouro knows no time and you can drink it from the morning to heat up during cold winter or to cool down after a long hot day in the summer. And of course, all over the city you will find many shops which are called, what else, Tsipouradika. Don’t hesitate. Just grab your chair, order tsipouro in a shot, raise your glass and drink. Oh! I forgot it is made from Tsipouro and it only has 60-65% alcohol! Light, right?


7) Cuisine  Μπατζίνα-Πίτα1Ioannina is known to have one of the most recognisable traditional cuisines in Greece. Cheesepies (aleuropita) and chickenpies, trachanas and kayianas are only few of the recipes you should taste once in this city. Lamb is also very well honoured here, so don’t miss it in one of the many restaurants across the city and the villages. As for sweets, saragli, a different process from baklava, is the local recipe and will leave you bereft between the syrup, the pistachio and its fine pastry.



8) Litharitsia  λιθLitharitsia is a park just above the stone clock in the centre and offers a panoramic view to the whole city. It is the finest place to go and see the sunset, espacially from Spring to Autumn. Get your cameras ready to capture the nostalgic vibes that this hour manages to bring up in the air of Ioannina. Just a combination in which the past and the present become one in a magic feeling.



9) Perama Cave – sphlaioThis cave was discovered in Perama, a district 4 km outside of Ioannina, in 1940. It consists of various natural rooms, which are full of stalactites, stalagmites, curtines and columns. The whole cave is a marvelous site made by nature and it is dated back to the Paleolithic period. Nowadays, it is an exhibitional area, available to the public.



10) Zagorochoria  Zagorochoria is a region in the Pindus mountain range in Epirus. They are actually a network of 46 villages which preserve pure their identity and their local culture. The villages are standing out between the mountains and their architecture as a whole is made out of actual rocks. They offer themselves rich to the foodlovers, natureprotectors and extreme sports lovers. If you want to taste some traditional Greek cuisine, observe the nature at its majesty and try hiking in Vikos Canyon or rafting in Arachthos, this is a great opportunity that you will have.


P.S. +1 about reachability  Ioannina may not have an international airport, but it is very easy to approach from Thessaloniki within 3 hours by bus or 1 1/2 hours from Corfu in the summer or Igoumenitsa port all year round.


Written by Vasiliki Andrioti, AEGEE-Ioanina


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