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Ioannina City – Portal to the natural wonders of Epirus

Ioannina is the beautiful capital of Epirus. In the city centre you will find the lake Pamvoti, set in a landscape of old trees with a small ferry taking tours to a tiny islet in the middle of the lake. Enjoy interesting museums about Greece under Ottoman rule before you head for adventures in the mountains and the gorges.

  1. Top 10 things to do in Ioannina
  2. Where is Ioannina Greece?
  3. Map of Ioannina, Epirus
  4. Pamvotis – Lake of Ioannina
  5. Islet of Lake Pamvotis
  6. Fethiye Mosque
  7. Other Museums in Ioannina City
  8. Activities in the Area of Ioannina City
  9. How to Reach Ioannina Greece?

Ioannina is the capital and the largest city of the Ioannina regional unit of Epirus. Ioannina City has a population of around 65,000 while the municipality has around 112,000 inhabitants.

Top 10 things to do in Ioannina

Coffee shop in Ioannina City, Epirus, Greece
Coffee shop in Ioannina City
  • Lake Pamvotida and the small island within – walk around the beautiful lake and take the short ferry ride to the tiny islet in the lake
  • Aslan Mosque
  • The grave of Ali Pasha, who was the enigmatic symbol of Ottoman rule
  • Taste Ioannina traditional desserts like the “Sker Bourék” (sugar pie) or the Baklavá (syrup pastry)
  • The historic centre of Ioannina – go for a stroll through the traditional streets and alleys
  • The Castle of Ioannina built in 528 A.D. by the Emperor Justinian. It is the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece.
  • The Cave Perama – one of the most beautiful caves in Europe. It dates back about one and a half million years. See the “Hall of the Cross” and the “Hall of Legendary Palaces”.
  • Visit the traditional coffee shops and try the local “Sherbetia”, sweet wine flavoured with fruits and flowers
  • Go shopping at the silversmiths in Ioannina – famous for the wirework or cast jewelry with traditional or original modern designs
  • Go on a trip to the Zagoria villages and Vikos Gorge for a few days
Beautiful stalactites and stalagmites in the Cave of Perama, Ioannina, Epirus, Greece
Beautiful stalactites and stalagmites in the Cave of Perama, Ioannina

Where is Ioannina Greece?

    
(1) Ioannina (2) N. Tzoumerka (3) Dodona (4) Zagori (5) Zitsa (6) Konitsa (7) Metsovo (8) Pogoni

Ioannina City lies on the western shore of Lake Pamvotis about 500 m above sea level. It is located 410 km northwest of Athens, 260 km southwest of Thessaloniki and 80 km east of Igoumenitsa port in the Ionian Sea.

Map of Ioannina, Epirus

Map of Zagoria in Epirus, Greece
Click to enlarge map – Coordinates: 39°40′N 20°51′E 

Pamvotis – Lake of Ioannina

View of Lake Pamvotis in Ioannina City at sunset, Epirus, Greece
Sunset at Lake Pamvotis in Ioannina City

The Lake of Ioannina also Pamvotida  is the largest lake of Epirus, located near the central part of the Ioannina prefecture in Greece. Ioannina to the west and the town or Perama to the north are urban settlements fringing the lake while the remaining of its periphery is composed of farmland.

The lake features small fishing ports and a boating port while the island is situated in the east side of the lake. There is a regular boat service to the island (Nisi). Mountains lie further north and south with Mitsikeli overhanging the east part of the lake. The GR-6 surrounds the northern half of the lake.

Islet of Lake Pamvotis

Ioannina, Epirus
Lake Pamvitis with the tiny islet

One of the most notable attractions of Ioannina is the islet on Lake Pamvotis. The island is referred to as “Nisaki” Greek for “little island” by everyone, including its inhabitants. Passengers are ferried back and forth from the mainland to the island (about a 15-minute ride each way) on small motorboats which run on varying schedules, according to the season (about once every half hour, or more, in the spring and summer, much less frequently in the winter). Tourists can visit the monastery of Agios Panteleimon which has been converted into a museum containing information and paintings, as well as re-creations of Ali Pasha’s lounging and living quarters. Ali Pasha spent the last days of his life in St Panteleimon, waiting for a pardon from the Sultan.

Fethiye Mosque

Ali Pasha grave, Ioannina City, Epirus, Greece
Ali Pasha grave

The Fethiye Mosque (“Mosque of the Conquest”) is an Ottoman mosque in Ioannina. It was built in the city’s inner castle (Its Kale) immediately after the conquest by the Ottomans in 1430, near the ruins of an early 13th-century Byzantine church dedicated to the Archangels Michael and Gabriel. Originally it was a wooden structure, which was replaced in 1611 by a stone building. It was extensively remodelled in 1795 by Ali Pasha, who made it the main mosque of his palace. The graves of Ali’s family and of Ali himself are located before the mosque.

Other museums in Ioannina City

Ioannina has wealth of attractions and museums, highlighting that the traffic difficulties in the city and the spatial fragmentation of attractions, the visitor finds it difficult enough to visit them all. The most notable attractions are the following:

Aslan Pasha mosque is an Ottoman-built mosque in the city of Ioannina Greece
Aslan Pasha Mosque seen from Lake Pamvotis

The Municipal Ethnographic Museum of Ioannina is housed in the Aslan Pasha Mosque, also known as the Mosque of Ali Pasha, in the Old Castle (Kastro) of Ioannina since 1933. The Mosque was built in 1618 and in 1993 it was renovated to its present form. Its permanent exhibition includes pottery, pictures, and other traditional decorative items, as well as jewelry, textiles, hand-weapons, wood-carved pieces of furniture and several personal objects that belonged to historical personalities. There are also early photographs and paintings related to the liberation of the city of Ioannina. Additionally the museum hosts exhibitions on historical topics as well as collections of art.

The Island Museum
Museum Proepanastatikis Period: Located on the island of Ioannina and housed in a cell of the Panteleimon monastery, which killed Ali-Pasha. The collection includes exhibits from the Ottoman era, personal effects of Ali-Pasha (documents, the mission of Kyra-Royal, etc.). In another cell of the monastery housed the archives of the monasteries of the island.

The Byzantine Museum contains a remarkable collection of Byzantine and post-Byzantine icons and items of the above period. To access the museum you can enter the Castle (one of the oldest of its kind in Greece as it is built in 528 AD) use the central gate at Neomartiras Georgios sq. street sings will lead you to the museum from that poit on.

The National Archaeological Museum of Ioannina
Located in city center at Litharitsia Park just behind the 8th Brigade Headquarters. Includes 5 main halls with archaeological finds from all over Epirus. Contains an important collection of utensils, idols, weapons, jewellery, coins, inscriptions and sculptures.

Activities in the area of Ioannina City

Rock climbing

rock-climbing
Rock climbing – Photo by Kdezmac

Three different ascensions with different degrees of difficulty challenge your limits near the city of Ioannina.

Route 1: The first route is south east of Lake Pamvotis on the way to Drosohori and it is 11 km away from the town center. The mountain of Kastritsa is found there, which includes routes of a specific training character, as the rocks are no higher than 35-40 metres and the routes with a difficulty degree of III to VI are secure. The ascension can be conducted with safety in all seasons.
Route 2: The second route is found in the Island of Lake Pamvotis exactly next to the only peripheral road of the island. This ascension is of a training character as well as there are secured routes where the degree of difficulty does not go beyond VI. The ascension can be conducted with safety throughout the year.
Route 3: Finally, the last route is found about 30 kilometers on the way to Arta and the location is called Terovo. The rocks, with a height not beyond 85 meters, are made of high quality limestone. In this case, the ascension requires bigger experience as the degree of difficulty is from IV to VII and it would be better if the climbers formed groups. The ascension can be conducted all seasons of the year.

Hang gliding – Parapente

Hang gliding in Greece

Do you want to try flying? Those of you, who have not yet dared, can taste this magic feeling as “fellow-passengers” in a tandem flight. Those of you, who have experienced a parapente flight say that it is magical to fly. The fans of the sport say that you feel complete freedom. The truth is that a trip in the sky is a challenge and thousands of stills with beautiful pictures will be kept in your memory. You will find schools of theoretical and practical training of parapente near the city of Ioannina in the area of Asprangeloi. If you are novices and you want to taste this unique experience you can be part of a tandem flight as a “fellowpassenger”.

bike-race-in-the-morning-on-uphill-road-in-ioannina-city-greece
Bikerace in the morning near Ioannina

How to reach Ioannina Greece?

The Via Egnatia Highway passes by Ioannina
Via Egnatia Highway passes by Ioannina

You can fly directly to Ioannina National Airport King Pyrrhus which is serving frequent flights to and from Athens as well as charter flights from abroad during the summer months.

If you arrive in Greece by plane at either Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos or Thessaloniki Airport Makedonia, you can rent a car and reach Ioannina driving yourself. From Thessaloniki it is 3 hours’ drive on the Egnatia Highway (part of the E90). From Athens Ioannina can be reached via Patras on the beautiful route across the Rio Antirrio Bridge. Long distance buses (KTEL) drive daily from Athens (7 hours) or Thessaloniki (3 hours). Alternatively, you can take the ferry boat to Igoumenitsa from Italy, and from there to continue by car to Ioannina.