From the impressive peaks of Mt Voras and the majestic wetlands of the twin lakes of Prespes, to the gravity defying monasteries of Meteora and the stunning landscapes of the Vikos canyon, the mountain range of Pindus delivers an unforgettable travel experience. On this 8 day, 4x4 driving adventure we visit landscapes of unparallel beauty, explore remote villages where it seems that time has stood still and visit Unesco world heritage sites and ancient monuments of great importance. Pindus, Greek mainland's backbone, is the largest mountain range in the Balkan peninsula and home to astonishing flora and fauna, boasting the deepest gorge in the world, Vikos. The great number of lakes, canyons, gorges, rivers and forests makes Pindus the perfect playground for adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers.
During the first day of your trip, you get a chance to explore the sights of downtown Thessaloniki. The impressive White Tower, the cityu2019s most iconic landmark, along with the Museum of Byzantine u00a0Culture and the Archaeological Museum are all located conveniently within a minuteu2019s walk from one another.
For those of you who want to get a first culinary taste of Northern Greece, the nearby neighborhood of Ladadika is bustling with traditional tavernas and is popular year round.
If you feel like immersing yourself further into the history and culture of Thessaloniki, there is the option of joining a walking tour that guides you through the main archaeological sites and areas of cultural interest.
In the evening a welcome dinner takes place at a local taverna. As the chefs prepare delicious interpretations of traditional Greek dishes, we introduce you to the detailed schedule of activities and sightseeing opportunities the rest of your trip holds.
Overnight: 3* Hotel in the center of Thessaloniki
Meals included: Welcome Dinner at a local restaurant
Today we leave Thessaloniki for the great outdoors and our adventure begins. In the morning, we pick up our vehicles and the tour leaders briefly introduce the group to the itinerary and the security regulations of the convoy.
Driving along the national road, we head towards the foothills of Mt Voras and the Pozar thermal baths. There you can enjoy a dip in the warm waters of the natural pools, by the waterfalls.
An off road journey through the eastern slopes of the Black Forest, eventually leads us to the village of Agios Athanasios, the final destination for the day. The village itself is the premier northern Greek destination for mountain sports enthusiasts.
Overnight: Traditional Guest House in Agios Athanasios
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Leaving Agios Athanasios behind, we pass by the town of Florina. An off road trail takes us up to an altitude of over 2000 meters, reaching the peak of Mt Vitsi. The lush beech and oak forests that cover the mountain slopes are an important biotope for a number of endangered European mammal species, the most well known of these being the brown bear.
Early afternoon finds us exploring the Ramsar Treaty protected wetlands of the Prespa Lake on foot, one of the most important water ecosystems of Greece and home to more than 150 species of migratory birds.
Our final destination of the day is the lakeside town of Kastoria in western Macedonia.
Overnight: 4* Hotel in Kastoria
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
The road along the Greek - Albanian borders, on the foothills of Mt Grammos, leads us into the Vikos National Park. This area of northwestern Greece is renowned for its charming villages, mountain related activities and impressive natural landscapes.
On this day we have the option of hiking through forest trails or go white water rafting in the Voidomatis river, an adrenaline infused activity available year round.
Late evening finds us at a traditional taverna in the beautiful village of Papingo, where we have a chance to unwind, while tasting delicious local dishes.
Overnight: Traditional Guest House in Papingo
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch
On this day we explore more of the Vikos-Aoos National Park. We pass through traditional stone built villages with rich history, unique architecture and warm hospitality, scattered along the edges of the Vikos gorge.
The gorge itself is the deepest in the world and a must see for everyone visiting northern Greece. Natural viewpoints on both sides of the gorge provide amazing photo opportunities of this unique landscape.
Late evening we head back to our base in Papingo, having passed through impressive stone arch bridges and lush forested areas that abound in the area.
Overnight: Traditional Guest House in Papingo
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch
Leaving Papingo behind us, another great driving experience begins. Early in the morning we drive through mountain trails, surrounded by stunningly beautiful landscapes, towards Ioannina, Western Greece largest city.
A place with rich history and an important trade hub in Byzantine times, the city is built on the hills around lake Pamvotis. We stretch our legs by the lake and visit the 15th century castle near the town center.
From there we drive towards Tzoumerka National Park, a lesser known part of northwestern Greece, with picture postcard views of the surrounding valleys and lush forests, rivers and canyons.
Our destination for the night is Syrrako, a protected 16th century settlement up in the mountains, that is renowned for its traditional Epirotic architecture and aristocratic history.
Overnight: 3* Hotel in Tzoumerka National Park
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
From the village of Syrrako the off road crossing of Mt Tzoumerka takes us to the traditional settlement of Kalarites and the isolated 13th century Monastery of Kipina, that is hanging from an almost vertical cliff.
Following the banks of Greece's largest river, Acheloos, the downhill drive passes through heavily forested areas and green valleys, eventually leading us to a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the highlights of this trip: The gravity defying ancient Monasteries of Meteora.
The name Meteora, which translates into 'suspended in the air', is given to the only 6 surviving 14th century monasteries, built on the tops of unique rocky cliffs. We take a guided walking tour in one of the monasteries and learn about the history of one of the most striking natural and cultural sites in Southern Europe.
We spend the night at the village of Kastraki located at the foothills of the Meteora cliffs.
Overnight: 3*Hotel in Kastraki
Meals included: Breakfast, Dinner
The journey back to Thessaloniki takes us through the eastern part of the Pindus mountain range. Driving through country roads, we visit the Portitsa canyon and cross the Venetikos river. By the river banks, near a centuries old stone bridge, we allow for plenty of time to relax (and possibly have a swim, if the weather conditions allow for it).
From there we drive along the national highway towards Thessaloniki where our adventure ends.
Meals included: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch
In order to guarantee a memorable overall experience throughout your adventure with Bearing True South, we have carefully handpicked a mix of family-run, traditional hotels and guesthouses for your accommodation.
In all our trips, accommodation is operated on a twin share basis. This means that travelling as an individual, you will be sharing accommodation and room facilities with another person of the same sex or your partner, spouse, family, friend etc. There is also the option of booking a single room for an additional cost depending on availability at the time of booking. Our usual accommodation as described on the extra info of our tour may alter due to lack of availability. On such an occasion accommodation of similar standard will be arranged.
When travelling with Bearing True south, you will experience a great variety of delicious food, based on traditional Greek cuisine. Emphasizing on the regional cuisine of our destinations, we have carefully selected local, family run, restaurants for our groups.
Generally all breakfasts, picnic lunches as well as some lunches and dinners are included in the standard tour price. This gives our groups the opportunity to enjoy their meals all together and taste a larger variety of local dishes in each destination we visit. When a lunch or dinner on a specific day is not included, you are free to explore at your own expense, the food options in the town or village we are staying. Feel free to ask your tour leader to suggest a local restaurant. On a camping day or when we have a picnic lunch, we usually buy local cheeses, vegetables, meat and bread from local markets so you don't miss out on the specialities of the region.
For the meal plan of the tour please refer to the day to day itinerary and the extra info of the tour. If you are a vegan or vegetarian, have any food allergies or any special requests when it comes to food, please let us know at the time of booking.
The style of travel in our adventures provides a great deal of excitement, however it is dependent on several factors, such as weather, terrain conditions and technical problems of our transportation. These may create unexpected circumstances throughout our tours that we have to deal with by making minor changes to the tour itinerary or the activities included in a particular day. For that reason the described day to day itinerary is used as a guideline which gives us the flexibility to make changes when needed.
Some of the activities listed in the day to day itinerary are included in the standard tour price, while there are also optional activities at your own expense. When a guided tour at a historical/cultural site is mentioned, the cost of a professional guide is included in the standard tour price. In every outdoor activity we work with fully qualified operators whose safety track has been extensively assessed personally by us. The necessary equipment needed for every outdoor activity is always provided by the local activity operators. For your personal gear please refer to prepare for your trip below. Please note that all activities are subject to availability, while due to the time limit in each destination, it may not be possible to do all the optional activities listed in the itinerary. In the following list you can find the tour activities, included or optional as well as the approximate prices of the optional ones:
Activities included in the standard tour price:
Pozar thermal springs
Guided Tour at the Byzantine Monasteries of Meteora
Optional activities at your own expense:
Mountain Hiking at Zagoria: 30 euros pp
Rafting in Voidomatis river: 30 euros pp
Half day Thessaloniki guided walking tour
Please refer to What's included/What's not included section for the services that are included or not in the standard price of your tour. For the optional activities of our tour, outdoor activities and cultural sites? entrance fees, take a look at the Tour Activities.
In appreciation to the outstanding quality of services provided throughout your adventure, you may also consider tipping your Tour Leader and Local guides. Although tipping is not compulsory and it may not be customary to you, it works as a kind voluntary gesture to the people who will guide you throughout your adventure.
Each traveller is different when it comes to spending money while travelling. Take your spending habits and requirements into account and prepare your tour budget allowing for food, drinks, souvenirs and participation in activities not included in the tour price.
The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in Greece. You can exchange your currency for Euros at the airports or in major towns. Cash may also be drawn for ATMs available in most of our destinations. Credit cards are widely accepted in Greece. However, you should always have some cash on you, as in some remote villages no ATMs may be available.
At Bearing True South, we operate 'Land Only' based adventures. This means that flights to Macedonia International Airport (SKG) are not included in the tour price. Travellers are responsible to make their own travel arrangements and make sure that they will be able to join the group at the joining point and time announced when booking, as described at the overview of the tour. Please note that the finishing point of the tour is always the same as the joining point. If you want post tour accommodation for Thessaloniki let us know and we can arrange it for you.
Our 'Land Only' adventures provide you the flexibility to join one of our tours as part of longer holiday in Greece. You may spend a couple of days before or after your tour in Thessaloniki or even visit another Greek region, combining adventure, leisure and rest.
Bearing true South travellers are required to be in good physical health in order to be able to participate in one of our adventures. Please read through the day to day itinerary carefully and take into account the 'Level of Difficulty' icon that appears on each one of our adventures, before booking your place.
If for any reason you are not able to participate in activities included in the tour itinerary, please inform us before booking. For any other important health issue please don't hesitate to contact your tour leader.
Travellers with Bearing True South are required to hold valid travel insurance, covering a minimum medical expenses due to accident or sickness and 3rd party liability. We strongly advise you to ensure that your insurance covers you for all outdoor activities you intend to participate in during your adventure. There might be an additional charge for certain ones. Your travel insurance needs to be evident when you join our tours.
Holding a valid passport and visa in order to visit Greece is your responsibility. Generally EU citizens or citizens of Member-States of the Schengen Agreement do not need to display a visa in order to travel to Greece.
Visas are not required by holders of valid passports from the following non-E.U. countries if they want to visit Greece and remain in the country for up to 3 months (90 days): Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Israel, Monaco, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, Lichtenstein
For travellers not coming from the above countries, please contact your local Greek embassy/consulate for visa information. Please also note that most countries expect you to have at least 6 months validity on your passport in order to be issued a visa.
Before you travel, we encourage you to learn about the region you'll explore while on a tour. From local weather conditions to information on geography, local history and culture, all are essential in order to make the most out of you tour, while minimizing the possibility to face unexpected, unpleasant circumstances.
Greece in general has warm and humid summers lasting from May till October while temperatures reach mid thirties Celsius especially between June and August and the possibility of rain is generally low. In May and October weather can be less predictable with some rain and chilly temperatures being possible especially in Greek mainland. Greek winters are generally mild, with temperatures rarely getting lower than 5 degrees Celsius in most of our destinations. In the mountains, weather can be tough to predict all year round. Generally, cool temperatures and occasional rainfalls occur especially at night, a fact that you have to take into account when packing for your adventure.
When touring with us, you are expected to bring with you a backpack or suitcase that you should keep as light as possible, as well as a daypack for your personal items and valuables (for the times when long outdoor activities are part of the tour).
Travel documents: Passport, visa if required, valid travel insurance,valid international driving license (for self-driving tours), diving certificates (for diving tours)
Personal health care items: personal medication, sunscreen, insect repellent, travel sickness tablets, sunglasses, insect bite gel
Clothing/walking/camping gear (depending on the season and tour): fleece/soft-shell jacket, waterproof & windproof jacket, thermal underwear, waterproof trousers, wool hat, gloves, sun hat, long trousers (wearing shorts is not permitted in monasteries), shorts, swimming costume, t-shirts, hooded tops, waterproof hiking shoes/boots, trainers/walking shoes, wool socks, personal mattress and a 3-4 seasons warm sleeping bag (when camping is included in the itinerary), torch, umbrella.
If our dates don't suit your plans, or if you want to experience one of our adventures with your family or group of friends, we can arrange a private tour just for you on the dates that suit you, based on one of our existing itineraries.
Furthermore, with a minimum number of 4 participants, all of our tours can be customised as far as date of departure, activities and itinerary are concerned, according to your group's requirements. For groups of less than 4 travellers, standard tour prices are subject to change. In that case, please contact us in order to get a new quote.
For more information don't hesitate to contact us with your ideas at : email@example.com and we'll get back to you shortly with detailed information and pricing.
Duration: 8 days
Level of Difficulty: 2/5
Group Size: Generally 4-24, maximum 4 persons per vehicle, a minimum of 4 persons is required
Ages: 8 years and older, younger kids travel at the parents' discretion and responsibility
Please have a valid EU or International Drivers Licence with you if you intend to drive your 4x4 vehicle
3 nights traditional guesthouse / 1 night 4* Hotel/ 3 nights 3* Hotel
7 Breakfasts, 3 Lunches (days 2,3,5) / 2 Picnic Lunches (days 4,8) , 5 Dinners (days 1,2,3,6,7) , welcome snacks
4x4 vehicle rental costs, 4x4 vehicles full insurance (4 drivers per vehicle so you can share driving with your fellow travellers), leading vehicle expenses, fuel costs, toll costs, Airport transfers
Bearing True South Tour Leaders, Outdoor Activities Instructors, Local Guides
For outdoor and cultural activities included please refer to Tour Activities
Optional activities as listed in Tour Activities