Western Greece is one of the 13 administrative peripheries of Greece and is further subdivided in 4 prefectures, bordering the peripheries of West Macedonia and Thessaly to the east, Sterea Ellada or Central Greece to the south, the Ionian Sea and the Ionian Islands to the west and Albania to the north.
The beautiful city of Ioannina is the capital in the prefecture of the same name. Built by a lake on the highlands the city is the historical, cultural and commercial center of the entire Epirus region. The old town is adorned by the remains of the Ottoman quarters with the mosque and the old fortifications, while it offers a wonderful promenade by the lakeside, where you can enjoy a drink or meal by the water. To the background, the picturesque islet, now a museum, was formerly an Ottoman palace. Ioannina is also a center of silversmithing, where for centuries fine artisans have been working the precious metal as skilfully as filigree lace.
Twenty two kilometers to the South of Ioannina you can visit the archaeological site of Dodoni Oracle. It was the oldest Hellenic oracle, dating to perhaps as early as the second millennium BCE and was devoted to Zeus (Greek: Dias) and the Mother Goddess Rhea or Gaia, who was here called Dione. The rustling of the leaves of the sacred oak trees in the shrine was interpreted by the priests and priestesses in order to determine the right actions to follow. The site also includes an amphitheater dating to the 3rd century BC.
In the same prefecture Vikos Gorge is listed as the deepest gorge in the world by the Guinness Book of Records, second only to the Grand Canyon in Arizona. It is a landscape of awesome beauty, as the walls of the canyon reach at some points the height of 1 kilometer and the crystal clear waters of Voidomatis river run through it in a spectacular route of 12 kilometers amidst the national park and forest. Up on the mountains of Pindus some 45 picturesque villages called Zagoria or Zagorohoria offer unforgettable images to the visitor: traditional architecture and a unique folkloric character, countless centuries-old bridges and water fountains, cobble-stone meandering streets and passages, stone-built churches and tiny chapels.
Another settlement of exceptional folkloric identity is Metsovo, built in the middle of a verdant mountainscape. Here you will walk among its streets, admire its traditional houses and proud mansions, or sit at one of the town’s main square coffeehouses or tavernas to enjoy a hot beverage or taste the delicious local cuisine. Metsovo is also famous for its folkloric woven ware. In the Arta prefecture, the famous landmark which crosses the Arachthos river is Arta’s Old Bridge on its west side. According to an old folk ballad every day ‘1300 builders, 60 apprentices, 45 craftsmen’ tried to build a bridge, yet its the foundations would collapse the next morning. Finally, a bird with a human voice informed the Master Builder that he must ‘built’ his wife alive in the foundations if the bridge was to remain standing. So legend has it that the poor woman was sacrificed this way and that sometimes her moans can still be heard as she weeps for her tragic fate.
The Preveza prefecture boasts a coastline with countless wonderful beaches like the 8 km long golden Mytikas beach and Monolithic beach, as well as a number of splendid attractions, such as the romantic castle-town of Parga with its idyllic little bays and stunning views to the Ionian Sea. The archaeological site of Nicopolis lies in the middle of an expanded lush landscape 8 km North of Preveza. The ancient city was founded 31 BC by Octavian in memory of his naval victory over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. Another archaeological site of great interest is the ancient Nekromanteion (Oracle of the Dead), located on a cliff near the shores of the lake Acherousia, at the junction of the rivers Kokytos and Acheron. According to the ancient Greek mythology, the Acheron river (‘river of woe’) was a branch of the underworld river Styx over which Charon ferried the newly dead souls across into Hades. So it is here, at the Nekromanteion, that the ancients believed were the Gates to the Dead.
The ancient history of the region is related to the history of the ancient oracle of Dodoni, an important religious center, where first the goddess Earth was worshipped and later the god Zeus. In different historical times, it was destroyed and re-constructed. King Pirros, in 297 BC, tried to give a new splendor to the place and built some monuments there, among them a theater, which is today one of the biggest and best-preserved theaters of ancient Greece. In Roman times, the emperors asked for advice from the gods there. In 301 A.D., the long history of the oracle came to an end with its destruction and abandonment, the glory of the region. Later in its history, long domination by the Turks did not prevent Ioannina from becoming a very important city. The region was the commercial center of the Balkans, under the dominance of Ali Pascia, a fierce warrior who extended the Turkish possessions to the Peloponnese, from 1779 to 1822.
Skiing, snowboarding, hiking, rafting, horseback riding. Maybe you prefer watersports – like windsurfing, waterskiing and diving? Or just relax on one of the many beautiful beaches. The choice is yours. You can enjoy all this and much more almost all year round on your holidays in the region of Epirus.
Arta, Ioannina, Igoumenitsa, Parga and Preveza are the most popular destinations in the Epirus (Western Greece) region. There is an abundance of nightlife, including many cafeterias and restaurants.
Visiting the smaller villages along the coast – Plataria, Sivota, Ammoudia, Loutsa, Ligia, Kastrosikia, Kanali and Menidi – you will find traditional Greek fish tavernas and ouzeries.
Even during the high season, of July and August, one can always find a secluded spot on one of the beautiful beaches of Epirus
Western Greece boasts many cultural and historical sights:
Springs of Acheron (Acherondas) in Gliki
Bridge of Arta
Caves of Perama
The ancient oracle at Dodoni
Nekromandeio- The oracle of the dead
The ancient city of Nikopolis
Road & Railway axis, Port & Airport Transport
The Region of Western Greece is a modern transit hub connecting Greece with the rest of Europe. The port of Patras is Greece’s main gateway to Western Europe, with daily connections to the chief Italian ports of Bari, Brindisi, Ancona, Venice, and Trieste in the Adriatic. Communications with the Capital are served by the Patras – Corinth – Athens National Road, which is part of the European network of high-speed Motorways. Connections with Eastern Europe and Asia are via the Patras – Athens – Thessalonica motorway axis.
More than half the visitors who come to Greece by the sea do so through the port of Patras. The existing facilities of the port are sufficient to handle forty vehicle-ferries daily, while the goods transported through the port of Patras account for 6% of the total exports of Greece. In addition, Patras provides services to pleasure craft, at the marina next to the harbor zone. Other ports in the region include those of Aigio, Kyllini, Katakolo, Messolonghi, and Astako.
The Region’s air communications are served by the Airport of Araxos, at a distance of 25 km from the center of Patras on the Patras – Pyrgos – Olympia road axis. Other airports are those of Anavrida in the Prefecture of Ilia, and Aktio in the northwestern tip of Aitoloakarnania.
Araxos Airport chiefly covers the needs of charter flights, serving 30.000 passengers annually, with an increasing number of incoming flights.
The inland road network is served by the Athens – Patras – Pyrgos – Olympia National Road and the Antirio – Ioannina National Road.
Railway communications in the Region consist of the railway axis between Athens – Patras – Pyrgos – Kalamata. In addition, there is the unique funicular railway connecting Eastern Achaia (Aigialeia) with the mountain region of Kalavrita.
A series of significant development projects, funded chiefly by the European Union, is set to further upgrade the role of the Region in the Southeastern tip of Europe. Specifically, the projects under construction include:
· new road axis between Patras – Athens – Thessalonica – Efzonon (ΠΑΘΕ)
· the Rio – Antirio Bridge, which will provide a road connection between Achaia and Aitoloakarnania
· the construction of new docks at Patras, Aigio, and Kyllini
· the construction of a new railway line between Athens – Kiato & Kiato – Patras
How to get there
By plane: from the Athens airport where all European flights arrive, you can rent a car and drive along the Corinthian and Patras gulf to Western Greece.
By ship: you can get to Patras with ferries, also daily, which connect the Italian ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi, Trieste and Venice and the Greek ports of Zakynthos, Kefalonia and Corfu.
Geography of the Region of Western Greece
The Region of Western Greece stretches from the northwest part of the Peloponnese to the western tip of the Greek mainland, and consists of the prefectures of Aitoloakarnania, Achaia, and Ilia.
The Prefecture of Aitoloakarnania, which is the largest in Greece (5448 km²), combines tall mountain ranges with many natural and artificial lakes. The Acheloos and Evinos river plains complete the geo-morphology of the prefecture and form the basic source of its economic livelihood.
The Prefecture of Achaia, with an area of 3274 km², is also characterized by wide contrasts in its terrain. The greater part (around 60%) consists of mountains, with relatively small rivers (Vouraikos, Glavkos, Selinountas, Peiros) running between them down to the Gulfs of Patras and of Corinth. The economic life of the prefecture and the Region as a whole is centered in the port city of Patras.
The Prefecture of Ilia covers an area of 2621 km² and consists mostly of plains (60%), through which flow the rivers Alfeios, Pineios, Erymanthos and their tributaries. The plain of Ilia is the largest in the Peloponnese, but the Prefecture is better known for the coastal wetlands of Kotichi and Kaiafa, a terrain of exceptional natural beauty and ecological wealth.
Boat excursions to Corfu and Paxos are starting at the port of Sivota. There you can also rent a license-free motor-boat and explore the little islands and beautiful beaches around Sivota.
Every year sailing boats from all over the world are having a stop in Syvota during their turn in the Ionian Sea.
Strolling around the port you will find many different fish taverns and restaurants. In one of the cafeterias
You can enjoy the Greek sun and the Mediterranean lifestyle.
Rooms, apartments, and hotels of all categories can be found in Sivota.
Igoumenitsa is a nice coastal town and the main town of the Prefecture of Thesprotia as well. It numbers 7.000 inhabitants and is 480 km from Athens and 470 km from Salonika. Its huge harbor is well protected and is a communication hub between the ports of Greece and the ports in Adriatica.
Igoumenitsa is an entrepot constantly expanding. Via Egnatia, a modern highway on the tracks of the Roman Via Egnatia, will boost the development of the region even more. Until 1936, when it was set the main town of the Prefecture, Igoumenitsa was a small coastal village.
In 1944 the town was destroyed to the ground by the retreating German troops and was built again. The port was constructed in the 60s and the coastal link with Italy was established. This was the driving force for the development of the town.
The beauty of the town, the combination of mountain and sea bewitch the visitor. The long beaches of Drepanos and Makrigialos of 7 km total length rest the locals and the travelers in their clean waters.
Blue flag Beaches
Monuments in the Region of Western Greece
Archaeological Site of Olympia includes the sanctuary of Zeus and buildings built around it, such as sports facilities, auxiliary buildings, secular buildings. In the sacred grove of Altea there is the core of the sanctuary, with the temples, the treasures and the most important buildings. In the same place, there is also a part of one of the biggest mosaic collections in Greece.
Archaeological Museum of Patras
It houses collections about the history of Patras and the surrounding area from prehistory to the end of Roman times. The first and bigger section, exhibits items of everyday life, working tools, cosmetics and jewellery from Mycenaean, Ancient, Hellenistic and Roman Greece, with the oldest being of 17th century BC. Apart from these items, this section includes partly reconstructed Roman residences, in natural size by the original materials.
Mountainous Nafpaktia stands above the beautiful coastal landscapes. It rises within a diverse topography, where mountain bulges, gorges and water dominate. Characteristic elements of Nafpaktia Mountains are the sculptured slopes, the livestock roads and the pastures on mantels that reveal the titanic struggle of generations for survival.