Ioannina: Festive experiences in the capital of Epirus

Lake Ioannina

As the new year approaches and the country wears its holiday clothes, the need for a short city break to refresh you and offer unique experiences is growing. Although the choices of destination cities abound, one thing is sure: Ioannina will always be the wintery alternative with its endless natural landscape and immense history, which will always offer you more than one reason to visit.

Arriving in Ioannina, the first thing you should do, weather permitting, is a stroll along the stone-cobbled streets of the castle. Also, remember that inside the castle are several of the city's best-known museums, the most prominent of which is the state-of-the-art Silversmithing Museum, a visit that will surely add colour to your quick city break. A short walk inside the castle is all you need to get a good taste of the historical past of the old town, while right after, the number one must is a short walk to the islet of the lake of Ioannina.


Taking one of the many boats at the pier of Lake Pamvotida - the historic boats are available almost every hour - you can cross over to the islet of Lake Ioannina and wander the alleyways of the small settlement on the only inhabited lake island in Greece.

Remember that you can visit the Museum of the Revolution on the lake island in the house of Ali Pasha and the enigmatic monastery of Philanthropies. Weather permitting, you can walk around the island and end up at the pier, where you started.

Photo: Amalia Kovaiou.

Leaving the island behind, you go up Averof Street towards the new city centre and reach the bustling crossroads, where the heart of modern Ioannina beats.

Starting first from Mihail Angelou pedestrian street, the modern shopping street in the heart of the city, you can spend as much time as you want shopping, since the roads around the city centre are full of shops of all kinds and cater to every budget.

Here, you can find everything from name-brand chains to independent retailers, and even if you still need to settle on your Christmas gift list, there's sure to be something small that will catch your eye and keep you going.

And, of course, after shopping, a proper city break must include hot coffee or tea for energy and stimulation. So don't hesitate to sit down and enjoy a hot, sweet drink in one of the countless cafes in the city centre.

From the modern cafes on the pedestrian street of Grigoriou Sakka to the small corner cafes on the side streets of the old market, one thing is sure: your options are countless, original, and equally high quality.

If you still feel like it, you can go to the lakeside area and sit in one of the many vintage cafes in the wider lakeside area. From the doll-like Chevalier that offers Greek coffee with cloves to the time-travelling Ludost, the warm drink just before the change of time will take on a different value.

Of course, between shopping and coffee, a visit to the 3Portes Contemporary Art Gallery, awarded by the French Consulate, is a must. The gallery's founders, Sophie and Tasos, will introduce you to the secrets of modern surrealism by letting you choose between three doors. Whatever you choose, the city a breath before the new year will not disappoint you.

READ MORE: Festive trip to Xanthi, a crossroads of cultures.

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