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Ioannina Capital of Epirus Page 8

Dining in Ioannina

For eating the island has the most atmosphere, and one can avoid the dubious food fished from the lake, as the restaurants also serve farmed trout (called 'pestrofa'). In town there are decent places near the citadel gate, some of them inexpensive and quite good. Along the lake there are also grill places and ouzeries. Ioannina is the original home of the custard pastry known as bougatsa, which is worth sampling here, and there is a sweet-shop ('zakharoplasteio') with homemade ice cream.

Nightlife includes the many cafes near Platia Pirrou, bars, tavernas, and three cinemas, which, thanks to the university students in this university town, show some interesting first-run films. From mid-July to mid-August there is the big festival known as Politistiko Kalokairi (Cultural Summer), with music and theater performances and, to a lesser extent, cultural exhibitions. Most events take place in the Frontzos theater on a hillside just outside of town, where there is also a nice summer restaurant, with good views of lake and town. Tickets for the festival are available at the Folklore Museum. Performances of Classical drama and contemporary music have been held at the ancient theater of Dodona, which is something one should be able to find out about in Ioannina.

the caveThe Perama caves

The Perama caves allegedly Greece's largest system of caves, are at the north end of the lake, on the way to Perama (about 4km north of town). They are open in summer from 8am to 8pm; in winter 8am-sunset; 5euros, students 2.50.

These marvelous caves were discovered accidentally during WWII by a guerilla hiding from the Germans. A half mile of galleries here have impressive stalactites and stalagmites lit up with electric lights, shown in half hour tours (which is the only way you can see them) with lectures in Greek only, though there is a brief printed summary in English. Sadly, an ugly concrete path was built through the caverns. You can get to the caves by bus from Ioannina, and there's a ten minute walk from the stop before the caves.

On the hill of Kastritsa 8km from Ioannina (near an old monastery) at the south end of the lake, is ancient Tekmon, beneath which Paleolithic remains were dug up in 1966 by the British School. It is reached by taking the west road along the lake out of Ioannina and branching left for Katsika, then left again for Dhrosokhori.

To the west of Ioaninna is the large wine-producing village of Zitsa, where some of Greece's best dry and sparkling white wines are made. The Zitsa wine co-op here has revived this old wine region, where the Dobrina variety has been cultivated since the early middle ages. Their telephone number is 26510 70 961/ fax: 77 941.

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