Pades: A village lost in greenery and close to Drakolimni Smolika


There is little tourist development, a relaxed lifestyle, traditional houses covered with thatch, and a nice view of the slopes of Tymfi.

The fame of the beautiful Drakolimni Smolika has been growing continuously in the last few years and has also brought fame to nearby mountain villages. Pades, however, could and did keep its character, combining it with only mild tourist development.

As one of the most mountainous settlements in the highlands of Ioannina, Pades has the closest access to Drakolimni Smolika, as it is built on its southern outskirts at an imposing altitude of 1,140 metres (the lake is located at 2,150 metres).

According to official data from the 2011 census, the area has a population of 31 permanent residents. However, in the winters, which are usually severe, only eight people stay.

When many expatriates come for vacations in the summer, the village bustles with life.

There are many attractions in Pades, fully compensating lovers of high mountains and winter tourism. After all, the wild nature around the settlement alone is enough: the river Aoos flows very close by, its running waters feeding green forests and pastures and the residents' gardens or fields with fruit trees.

Pades has the closest access to Drakolimni of Smolika.
Pades has the closest access to Drakolimni Smolika.

Going up to the Pades

The village first appears in the wider region's historical sources in 1692, although its foundation is considered older. According to local traditions, the first inhabitants came from Zagori, and the name Pades comes—in all probability—from the Vlach word "pande," which means "straight."

Just outside the settlement, there is a characteristically massive rock, which the locals call "Petrine Gria". Inside the village, you will see plenty of traditional houses covered with tin, as tiles are impractical for such mountainous landscapes.

Of course, it is worth visiting the central church of the Dormition of the Virgin, which was built in 1784 (it also has frescoes from 1823). The Panagia of Kato Mahalas is considered even older, from the 16th, and houses 17th-century icons. The current building is from 1938.

All around are forests of firs, pines, lindens and oaks. Photo: Guesthouse Munti Smolikas
All around are forests of firs, pines, lindens and oaks. Photo: Guesthouse Munti Smolikas

Other churches worth visiting are Agios Dimitrios, on a beautiful hill to the east of the settlement, the old church of the Prophet Elias on another hill to the south—among pines and oaks—and Agios Athanasios, a church from 1895 inside the linden trees, where there is also an icon from the 17th century.

The Memorial for the Fallen in the central square commemorates the destruction of the village by the Germans in October 1943.

Hiking lovers will certainly choose Pades as a base for wonderful routes to the surrounding mountainous beauty.

First of all, there is a climbing path to Drakolimni since, as we said, the village has the closest access. In addition, there is a climbing path to Smolikas and the path to Aoou (take this during the summer months to enjoy a swim).

Finally, ask the locals about the so-called "Ice Cave": thanks to the morphology of the subsoil and the existence of underground galleries, a strong current of air is transported to the surface, which is particularly noticeable if you put your hand in its hole.

"MuntiSmolikas" is a traditional guesthouse in Pades. Photo: Alexandros Avramidis
"Munti Smolikas" is a traditional guesthouse in Pades. Photo: Alexandros Avramidis

Accommodation and food

Pades offers guesthouse accommodation at "Munti Smolikas," which occupies the municipal building in the central square that was once a school (1901) and housed a traditional coffee shop.

This is the case even now, as the building also functions as the village cafe, serving coffee, tea, soft drinks, chocolate, tsipouro, wine, and beer—but try the homemade lemonade if it is available.

"Munti Smolikas" also offers food, usually 3-4 stews and some pie, which vary by day: in fact, the gigandes you will taste here are of their own production.

For food, you will also find the "Stou Anasa Ton Onda" tavern, with kontosouvli, Epirote cabbage pie and fresh fried potatoes.

Staring at the open horizon in the Tymfi mountain range. Photo: Alexandros Avramidis
Staring at the open horizon in the Tymfi mountain range. Photo: Alexandros Avramidis

How will you get to Pades?

Pades is (approximately) 90 kilometres from Ioannina. Starting from there by road, you will arrive within 1 hour and 35 minutes: you will head to Konitsa, which is 36 kilometres from the village, and from there, you will follow the provincial road Konitsas-Distratou.

As one reaches Pades, one immediately admires the amazing natural landscape that the village is given by its high altitude. There are forests of firs, pines, lindens, and oaks, making it look lost in the green while ensuring a nice, unobstructed view towards the slopes of Tymfi.

READ MORE: A culinary trek in Volos, the city of Tsipouradika.

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