Scenic Drives in Northern Greece

Ioannina to Meteora and Kastoria to the Prespa Lakes

Ioannina stands on the shores of Lake PamvotisIoannina stands on the shores of Lake Pamvotis

Greece has great beaches but its scenic drives are beautiful too. Travelers may know the Greek islands best, and think of Greece as perfect for a beach vacation, but you can take great drives through its spectacular mainland scenery. Here are two of the best scenic drives in northern Greece. The first winds from the lakeside town of Ioannina, capital of Epirus, through spectacular mountain scenery to arrive at the fabulous monasteries of Meteora. The second drive also takes visitors from a lakeside town, Kastoria, to the beautiful remote Prespa Lakes, on Greece's northern borders.

Scenic Drives in Northern Greece 1

From Ioannina to Meteora

The region of Epirus in north-west Greece is one of the most stunningly beautiful in the whole country… indeed, in the whole of Europe. There are pretty lakeside towns like Ioannina and Kastoria and the awe-inspiring Pindus Mountains. A drive east from Ioannina takes you through the mountains, over a high pass that can be closed in winter, and down into the region of Thessaly, and one of the most distinctive and magical sights in the world: the monasteries of Meteora.

The Monasteries of Meteora in GreeceThe Monasteries of Meteora

The capital of Epirus, Ioannina, has a character all its own. It sits on the shores of a lake in the middle of which is a small island called Nissi, which means ‘the island’. You could easily spend several days in and around Ioannina, and you should drive out on the road towards the Perama Caves – well worth stopping off to explore the cave network. The road then rises around the lake to give lovely views back of Ioannina, before winding upwards into the mountains.

Metsovo in GreeceMetsovo

Another essential stop is the mountain town of Metsovo, a ski resort in winter and another very distinctive Greek community. Beyond here is the Metsovon Pass, one of the highest in Greece at 1705m (5594ft), but don’t set out on this drive in winter without checking the state of the roads. Even if the pass is open, the sharp bends and sheer drops can be dangerous for the driver unused to them.

At other times the rewards are enormous, not just here in the high mountains, but the descent into the lusher plains of Thessaly and, at the very end, the amazing sight of the monasteries of Meteora sitting on top of the rock formations jutting out of the plain. This has to be one of the best drives in Greece. 

Map of drive from Ioannina to Meteora

To see this map with driving directions
click here

Prespa Lakes in GreeceThe Prespa Lakes

Scenic Drive in Northern Greece 2

From Kastoria to the Prespa Lakes

This is only a short drive, but definitely one that will live long in the memory. Like Ioannina, Kastoria is a pretty lakeside town of the kind not normally associated with Greece. There are handsome mansions, one of them now a folk museum, and a wealthy history because of its fur-trading past. Head north out of the town and you climb through woods and head towards Greece’s northern frontier.

KastoriaKastoria

It’s only just over an hour or so until you start to descend, and round a corner you will get your first glimpse of the Prespa Lakes. The whole area here is a National Park, and there’s wildlife in abundance. There are small fishing communities on the shores of the lakes, and it is one of the most peaceful areas of Greece. A visitor centre in the main village of Ayios Germanos gives information about walks and wildlife, and you may be able to take a boat trip out onto the lakes with one of the local fishermen, if you ask around. In the middle of the Great Prespa Lake is the border point where Greece meets Albania and the Republic of Macedonia. You can’t get much more off the beaten track than this.

Map of drive from Kastoria to the Prespa Lakes

To see this map with driving directions
click here

See these pages about driving in Greece...

  • Travelling Around Greece

    Practical information on travelling around Greece by plane, by ferry, by bus, by train and by driving, including car rental, parking and other driving advice.

  • Best Drives in Greece

    The best drives in Greece chosen and driven by Mike Gerrard of Greece Travel Secrets including from Ioannina to Meteora, the Prespa Lakes and the Mani.

  • Athens Car Rental

    Athens car rental options include almost all of the major international car hire firms such as Avis, Budget, Hertz, and Europcar.

  • Athens Airport Car Rental

    Athens Airport car rentals include Alamo/National Car Rental, Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz and Sixt, all with offices at the airport.

  • A Drive around Attica

    This drive around Attica offers visitors high hills, beach resorts, small villages and classical sites like Marathon and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

  • Driving in Greece

    An account of driving in Greece for Greece Travel Secrets including links to the best drives in Greece, practical information and a note of some of the hazards.

  • Santorini Car Rental

    Santorini car rental companies include Budget, Hermes, VIP Rent a Car and Euro Dollar, with Santorini car hire at the airport, and around Santorini.

  • Our Hire Car in Crete

    The travel tale Our Hire Car in Crete describes what it’s like when you go driving in Greece and get off the beaten track, resulting in kindnesses.

  • Northern Corfu Drive

    There are two sides to every Greek island, the tourist and the traditional, and this drive from Corfu Town through northern Corfu shows the two faces of Corfu.

  • Driving in Greece Practical Information

    Driving in Greece practical information including speed limits, fines, drink-driving, buying petrol and other advice for driving in Greece.

Enjoy this page? Please pay it forward. Here's how...

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.

Latest Posts

  1. Hotels on Santorini

    Hotels on Santorini, Greece, in the Cyclades, range from luxury choices to good cheap accommodation in Fira, with caldera views.

    Read More

  2. What Is Metaxa?

    What is Metaxa? Metaxa is an amber Greek spirit combining brandy made by distilling wine, sweet wine from Samos and a secret recipe of Mediterranean botanicals.

    Read More

  3. Greece Updates Covid-19 Travel Rules for Domestic Flights to All Destinations

    The Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority (HCAA), on Monday issued a new Covid-19 aviation directive (NOTAM) with rules for passengers traveling on domestic flights to all destinations in Greece.

    Read More

  4. Covid-19: How the Unvaccinated in Greece Can Travel by Land, Air, Sea – Rules

    All unvaccinated people in Greece from Monday, September 13, will be allowed to board all means of transport for domestic travel between regions (airplanes, ferries, intercity trains and KTEL buses) o…

    Read More

  5. Greece Stays Open to American Travelers Despite EU Recommendation

    Greece is among the European countries that have not followed an EU recommendation to curb nonessential travel for visitors from the United States and has kept its borders open for American tourists.

    Read More

  6. Some Fish with your Ouzo?

    It’s a quiet Tuesday lunchtime when we pass through Eleftheroton Square in Chalandri, one of Athens’s northern suburbs. Anyone living in the surrounding areas knows that this boisterous neighborhood i…

    Read More

  7. Crete: 10 Places to Experience in the Lasithi Region

    The easternmost part of Crete is full of surprises. Add these spots to your list of things to see and do (map included).

    Read More

  8. Athens Showcases Culture with ‘Art on the Road’

    Athens museums, cultural spaces and all forms of art take the spotlight as part of the “Art on the Road” campaign launched by the municipality together with advertising firm Interbus. The initiative d…

    Read More

  9. Online Searches for Travel to Athens Increase in Summer, Says Survey

    The interest of international holidaymakers for Athens has grown stronger during the last few months, with online searches for the Greek capital picking up pace in July compared to the previous months…

    Read More

  10. Central Greece Region: €40m for Reconstruction of Fire-hit Evia

    The Region of Central Greece agreed on Tuesday to release 40 million euros for the reconstruction of Evia, devasted for over a week earlier this month by wildfires. Funding will go towards anti-floodi…

    Read More