Hiking, rafting and relaxing in Greece’s Zagori wilderness

The Zagori region in north west Greece is little known among visitors heading to Athens and the islands. But amid its mountains, canyons and ancient villages are superb hiking trails, delicious local fare and top places to stay.

Forested mountains stretch into the distance – the craggy peaks still topped with snow – and the clear waters of the Voidomatis River whoosh by below. In a country so blessed with ancient ruins, islands and beaches, people tend to forget about Greece’s mountains as a holiday option.

Unspoilt Vikos-Aoös National Park is in the Zagori region, near the Albanian border and an uncomplicated three-hour drive from Thessaloniki airport. As with everywhere in Greece, times are hard in this region, and businesses are keen to attract tourists. Prices have been slashed. The national park has smooth, empty roads, pristine hiking trails and traditional stone villages, many of which are home to good-value restaurants, B&Bs and small hotels.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the villages were prosperous staging posts for Ottoman traders, and the paths they traveled are now ideal for hiking: routes between villages range from under two hours to all-day treks.

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