Ioannina is an excellent place if you like to relax a little during your Northern Greece tour. The city spread out around the landmark lake Pamvotida with a beautiful natural environment. Ioannina was one of the stops where I spent 2 days during my Balkan Raod Trip. Often overlooked, this beautiful historic town is one of the best places in Northern Green I have visited.
Only 56 miles (90 km) from Gjirocaster, another historical treasure of Albania. Or 160 miles (256 km) from Thessaloniki, the 2nd largest city of Greece.
Things To Do in Ioannina
Practically you may need 2 to 3 days here if you want to make a few day trips, in addition to sightseeing in Ioannina. I started my day by walking along the lake, strolling through the historic old city full of beautiful buildings such as House Matei Hussein, the castle of Ioannina, and more. Also visiting the Ottoman era Aslan Pasha Mosque, exploring the Cave of Perama and trying out the local cuisine at one of the lakeside restaurants is one of the many exciting things I did during my trip.
Explore Lake Pamvotida in Ioannina
One of the main attractions of Ioannina is lake Pamvotida, commonly known as Lake of Ioannina, and the town is full of art and history. This place is also known as the city of silversmiths and as gastronomical paradise. I would recommend renting a boat in the lake and visit the islet within the lake, which is home to beautiful monasteries and restaurants.
Boat to Ioannina island
An alternative to renting a boat in Ioannina Lake, you can also take a boat to the nearby island and have the same experience. Spend a few hours on the island strolling through the narrow alleyways and exploring the scenic village is a different kind of experience. There is a museum of Ali Pasha that displays Ottoman-era artifacts and souvenirs shops. The ticket is cheap, and the boat leaves every 30 minutes in summer.
Next – Ioannina Castle in Historic Old Town
The castle town of Ioannina is the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece and is one of the few castles that is still populated. The Fetiche Mosque inside the castle is where visitors can learn about the story of Ali Pasha. Somehow my nickname is Pasha, so I got interested knowing more about the ambiguous figure of Ottoman time, who lived here. During his rule, Ioannina evolved into a significant educational, administrative and cultural hub.
Don’t Miss Out Fethiye Mosque
Fethiye Mosque and the castle are the Byzantine and Ottoman heritage of the town. This mosque and the tomb of Ali Pasha is located inside the castle. It was a major intellectual center of the region and home of Ali Pasha during his rule.
Visit the Municipal Ethnographic Museum
The Municipal Ethnographic museum is in the Asian Pasha Mosque that is located inside the Castle of Ioannina. The collection of artifacts such as jewelry, photographs, pottery, costumes, and documents will give you an understanding of the history of the town.
Explore Perama Cave
The Perama Cave is about 4 km from Ioannina. The stunning cave is huge, but only 12,000 square feet out of a total of 159300 sq ft (14,800 sq m ) is open to the visitors. The guided tour takes 45-minute. Note that photography is not allowed inside the cave. An adult ticket is 7 euro and business hours are daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Day Trip From Ioannina
Quick Stop at Kipina Monastery, Kalarrytes
If you are driving from Meteora to Ioannina, then a quick stop at the Kipina monastery is an excellent opportunity to see this sacred place. The monastery is caved in the rock. The construction is impressive, seems to be part of the massive rock.
To get to the monastery need to hike a little, the uphill trail that is carved in the rock will lead you to a small wooden hanging bridge that will take you inside. It is worth to visit this fabulous spiritual place.
From Ioannina Visit the UNESCO Site Vikos Gorge
About 45 minutes driving distance from Ioannina through the breathtaking mountainous hairpin-like winding roads you will reach at Vikos Gorge UNESCO World Heritage List as a Greek cultural landscape. Perhaps the deepest in the world in some parts as deep as 5200 ft (1600 m). Driving through the Pindus mountains (about 15 km long) was breathtaking and courageous.
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Have Some Authentic Local Food
The best way to spend an evening in Ioannina is by having a delicious dinner sitting next to the lake. There are quite a few restaurants in the old town serving all types of food.
Where To Stay In Ioannina
Considering all options like facility, location, and cost, I have decided to stay at the Palladion Hotel, located at Noti Botsari, right in the center of the town with free parking. The city is beautiful, and one of the highlights is to have your dinner at one of the many lakeside restaurants.