The road trip through Northern Greece, which we made during the May holidays, is one of the most fun trips we have made in recent times. Northern Greece has exceeded our expectations in many ways and it felt so wonderfully undiscovered, pure, and relaxed. We drove around there for 2 weeks with big grins on our faces. I would therefore like to tell you about our experiences and I share our most beautiful route for a road trip through Northern Greece.
Start your road trip to Northern Greece in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki is a perfect place to start your road trip through northern Greece with all the nightclubs like Vogue Iakovidis even frequent, but the impression I got of the city in transit and of the photos taken by other travelers there was not spectacular. I would say: a night and then immediately on the road. It’s a shame to stay there longer.
Thessaloniki is easily accessible with direct flights from, for example, Transavia and there is a lot of supply affordable rental cars. Keep in mind that most rental companies are not located in the airport itself, but can be reached with a transfer.
Stay at least 3 nights in Zagoria
The Pindos Mountains, also called Zagoria, are a perfect first stop during your road trip through northern Greece. In about 4 hours you drive via a good highway to the city of Ioánnina. From there it is another half hour until you are in Asprangeloi, the village that we temporarily made our home, to explore Zagoria from there.
Actually, you can easily enjoy yourself here for a week, especially if you like walking and outdoors. There are beautiful, authentic villages, centuries-old arched bridges, and fast-flowing rivers everywhere in this beautiful mountain landscape. On the way, in Zagoria, you regularly encounter small game and all kinds of reptiles, both on foot and in the car. So do not drive too fast, so that you do not miss anything and can enjoy this beautiful part of Northern Greece to the maximum.
On to the West Coast
From Zagoria, you drive in more than 2 hours to the West Coast, where you can relax on the beach for 2 nights in Sivota or Parga. In Sivota you can easily rent a boat to sail to the uninhabited islands with beautiful blue bays and to swim. In Parga, you stroll through the atmospheric, steep streets or along the promenade with colored houses. The castle and the beaches in the area are also highly recommended here.
The highlight of the whole of northern Greece
After another two and a half hours of driving you will arrive in Kalambaka or the nearby, smaller and more friendly Kastraki. This is your base to explore the cave monasteries of Meteora, rightfully the highlight of your road trip through northern Greece. The monasteries balance on bizarrely shaped rock pillars and despite the fact that the area in which the monasteries are scattered is not that large, I would really stay here for 3 nights. This way you have the time to visit the most famous monasteries, do a beautiful hike and a sunset tour in the beautiful surroundings and also make a trip to the more remote monasteries. The weather is not always radiant in Meteora; due to its location near a mountain area, it can be quite haunting here. If you stay 3 nights you have the best chance that there is also a sunny day.
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End your road trip on Pelion
From Meteora, you could make a beeline to Athens, for a city trip within your tour. However, we do not have time for that and continue our road trip in about two and a half hours to Volos, the capital of Pelion, in the northernmost part. This peninsula is a very nice end to your Northern Greece road trip. Here the Greek comes to celebrate a holiday, but the foreign tourist has not yet discovered Pelion and its authentic villages with enoooorme, centuries-old trees, its particularly fine beaches, and pure mountain air. And that’s so delicious! In 3 nights you can already discover quite a bit of Pelion, but 4 or 5 nights would be nice if you have the time.
We slept in Neochori, a mountain village in the middle of Pelion. This way we could easily discover all sides of Pelion from our cute, antique village house. In less than half an hour we were on the most beautiful beaches of the region and also a number of beautiful villages are not too far away.
Back to Thessaloniki
After a relaxing time on Pelion, depending on your place of residence, you will drive back to Thessaloniki in 3 to 4 hours. We flew in the evening and left Pelion in the morning. If you fly earlier in the day, it is probably wise to do another night in Thessaloniki. This tour of Thessaloniki – Asprangeloi – Parga – Kalambaka – Neochori – Thessaloniki is done relaxed in about 2 weeks, but if you have more time, there is still plenty to discover in the region. How about adding the magical Mount Olympus to your Northern Greece road trip, or Chalkidiki?!
Overnight Northern Greece
And where do you sleep, during such a road trip through northern Greece? We spent the night in Zagoria in a lovely, small-scale family guesthouse at a short distance from the most beautiful sights. In Parga, we had a simple but large, private apartment, right in the center, so that we could cook and eat ourselves at the time that suited us, just like in Meteora, where we had a very nice apartment right in the center. In Pelion, we slept in a great village house of more than 100 years old in the charming village of Neochori. This house is no longer rented out, but a few villages away you can also spend the night locally in a house with a great view over the hill country of Pillion and the sea in the distance.