All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.
• The hotels for this tour; the very comfortable and hospitable Anemolia Hotel, Ioannina and the well-situated luxury five-star Excelsior Hotel, Thessaloniki
• Two interesting and very different locations; scenic, historic, cosmopolitan Ioannina and vibrant, atmospheric, seaside Thessaloniki
• The magnificent Meteora Monasteries
• Tradition, cuisine, atmosphere and exceptional scenery
• The incredibly scenic Zagoria villages
Enjoy the wintery, scenic atmosphere of northern Greece where snow should be blanketing the mountains and fires roaring in the tavernas! A twin centre tour bases us first in the historic city of Ioannina, which spreads out around picturesque Lake Pamvotis with a magnificently scenic mountain backdrop. Then to lively, cosmopolitan Thessaloniki, that sits right next to the sea, a city with a wealth of history, a diverse culture, a lively seaside promenade and a remarkable cuisine.
Day 1: Fly from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki
Transfer to Ioannina, Epirus and check in to the Anemolia Hotel, Ioannina, where a warm welcome awaits us. Relaxed evening with a buffet dinner at the hotel.
Day 2: Exploring Ioannina. A leisurely morning will be spent exploring the historic city of Ioannina, a fascinating crossroads of cultures and religions. We will enjoy a guided tour to learn a little about the city’s historic highlights and its famous Ali Pasha Island, that sits in the middle of Lake Pamvotis. The rest of the day will be free for you to explore at leisure and take in the city’s lively Christmas atmosphere.
Day 3: Seaside Preveza. Today provides an opportunity to visit a little of the scenic Epirus coastline. Surrounded by sea on three sides, Preveza is defined by its international yacht harbour and, contrastingly, the Ambracian Gulf, an ecosystem of exceptional ecological value. The town has a scenic ‘old quarter’, which should be quite lively on Christmas Eve, a pretty water-front and some excellent tavernas and ouzeries. Returning to Ioannina, we will enjoy a Christmas eve dinner at a local taverna.
Day 4: Zagoriahoria and Christmas Day lunch
After a relaxed breakfast we take a short drive that brings us to one of the most beautiful parts of Epirus, the Zagoriahoria, an area of 46 stone-built villages that sit in the shadow of the majestic Pindos Mountains (probably snow-covered by Christmas), where impressive humped-back bridges span ice cold rivers, once the only connection to the outside world, and an impressive nature abounds in all directions. We shall enjoy Christmas lunch at a taverna in one of the villages where a warm fire and, of course, a warm welcome will await us. Return to our hotel in the late afternoon.
Day 5: The Meteora Monasteries
We journey through beautiful scenery to the village of Kalambaka where we find the impressive ‘sky-high’ Meteora Monasteries. Built on tall pinnacles of majestic rocks these serene inspirational monasteries cling to the top of these isolated and unusual rock formations. As early as the 11th century monks occupied the caverns found on the rock faces and by the 14th century the first monasteries of a total of twenty-four monasteries were built. Today only six remain in use and our visit here will include one or two of them.
Day 6: Morning visit to Metsovo and transfer to Thessaloniki
Today we journey back to Thessaloniki and check in to the comfortable Excelsior hotel. En route, we will take the opportunity to visit the scenic ‘Vlach’ village of Metsovo, which hosts a colourfully picturesque and traditional character. We will have time for a coffee break and also a visit to
the Tositsas mansion, an excellent folk museum, which provides a fascinating snapshot of everyday family life in the past and an understanding of the famous benefactors of Epirus. After checking in to our hotel in Thessaloniki there will a short orientation walk that will include Aristotelous Square, the central square of Thessaloniki, and Ladadika, a popular pedestrianised historic neighbourhood that offers a great atmosphere and an excellent choice of restaurants. This evening will be at leisure.
Day 7: Thessaloniki
We join our bus in the morning for a short visit to the upper part of the city where the walls of old castle sit. It’s a great spot for views both across the city and the sea where, on a clear day, a snow-capped Mount Olympus may appear in the distance.
For the energetic it’s possible to walk from here back down to the city, otherwise our bus will bring us back to the city and the rest of the day will be at leisure for you to choose where else you might like to visit, there are plenty of possibilities; the excellent Archaeological Museum with its great displays of Macedonian Gold; the historic White Tower, the most photographed spot of Thessaloniki; The Rotunda, the oldest monument of Thessaloniki with its beautiful mosaics. Or just promenade on the seafront, take in the lively atmosphere and enjoy a leisurely lunch!
Day 8: Transfer to Thessaloniki Airport (30 minutes) for the return flight to London Gatwick
NB: Exact order of excursions may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.
Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 30 passengers.
Anemolia Resort & Spa, Ioannina
Newly constructed four-star hotel, located about 2.5 miles from Ioannina’s city centre, overlooking the lake. The hotel is a wonderful and very comfortable base for a relaxing stay over the festive period. Set in landscaped gardens, facilities include a bar, spa including sauna, hot tub and various treatments (at extra cost) as well as well-appointed bedrooms with all modern amenities.
Excelsior Hotel, Thessaloniki
This attractive luxury hotel, with a 1920’s façade, is situated in the heart of Thessaloniki, just behind the seafront and close to the famous Aristotelous Square. This elegant hotel offers comfortable modern rooms with a choice of Classic (20msq city view) or Deluxe rooms (25msq city or courtyard view). All rooms include queen size beds, full-length windows, French balconies and ensuite marble bathrooms. The hotel has a French-inspired restaurant, Charlie D. Brasserie, on the ground floor.
7 nights from £1399View
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