Metsovo-Overnight Stay on The Way to The Ionian Coast
Metsovo is a small town in the region of Epirus. It is located between Ioannina in the north and the Meteora in the south.
Since 2006 Metsovo has been connected to Egnatia with two exclusions. From Egnatia to Metsovo it leads a 5-6km long road.
Metsovo is becoming more and more popular as a choice for overnight stays on the Ionian coast, but it is a place that is visited throughout the year, not just during the summer season. Winter tourism is probably even more developed than summer due to the famous ski centers in the area.
It may not be in an ideal position, because it is 830km away from Belgrade and it can be quite harsh, but the place is very interesting, so it’s worth to drive a little longer during the first day, and then the next day in the afternoon you reach your destination and you can use afternoon to swim.
The sign for direction to the Metsovo is about 500m before the turn, and the separation is between two tunnels, so you should be careful and drive slower. In return, the sign “motorway” should be followed, not Ioannina, so you will not go old way.
We all know about Metsovo that it is on the slopes of the mountain of Pindos, at 1200 meters above sea level, surrounded by fantastic nature, and the place is picturesque and much alike from some fairy tale. Metsovo for decades preserves its appearance: cobbled streets, houses and hotels of stone and wood, lanterns and dimmed lights in the evening, traditionally decorated markets and shops.
In the very place there is a large square, always full of people, tourists and locals, many restaurants and taverns with excellent food. On the square dominates a church dedicated to St. Parascheva of the Balkans, worth visiting.
In the vicinity of Metsovo there are three ski centers, so during the winter there are many skiers, and during the summer travelers to the Ionian coast and lovers of a beautiful nature. Metsovo is a place where you can spend your entire holiday, not just one day. Metsovo does not have to serve just for lodging as any by-pass hotel in Macedonia or Greece, Metsovo is an experience is for itself.
Metsovo is known as a hydro-graphic heart of Greece because in its vicinity there are the three largest Greek rivers, Pineios, Aos and Achelous. Artificial lake Aos is about 20km away from Metsovo and if you have enough time you can visit it. It is located at an altitude of 1343m and is reached by car, and you can surround it in a car.
It is an important hydro-biotope where a variety of birds have found their habitat. If you get to the lake from Metsovo, head north, opposite the clock point to drive a path that is closer to the lake. On the southeast side, the road is too far from the water, which can be seen on the map. There is unspoiled nature around the lake, and you can find wild horses and a large herds of cows and sheep.
Metsovo had a lot of climbs and falls through history, but its flourishing was experienced at the end of the last century that continues to this day. The rise of Metsovo and almost all the attractions in it are related to the name of Evangelos Averoff. He was a prominent Greek politician and philanthropist, originating from Metsovo, and after World War II he saw Metsovo experiencing its fall. Young people moved to big cities looking for work and a better life. Averoff, together with the rich baron Michahel Tositas in 1947, founded a foundation for the support and development of the region and led it for the next 40 years. From the funds collected through the foundation, a folklore museum, a primary school, a hospital, a wood processing plant, a ski center and a farm of cows with milk were made. Old buildings, churches and monasteries, cobbled paths were preserved, irrigation system was made, roads were arranged, three million trees were planted, 150 schools were opened throughout the region, accommodation for students from Epirus at the University of Athens was built.
Within this truly fascinating effort to help Metsovo and the region, a winery hotel was built in Metsovo to support the development of tourism. This was the first step in the development of wine tourism in Greece. Thanks to Averoff, a lot has been invested in turning the abandoned land around Metsovo into a quality vineyard. Katogi winery today also produces top quality and some of the most valuable and most awarded wines in Greece. If you visit Metsovo, be sure to visit the winery. In a half-hour tour, you will have the opportunity to find out more about the winery and the history of the city, try the wine and buy if you want. The award-winning and most famous wines are named Inima Negoska and Flogero, which are kept in oak barrels for 12 months.
The Folklore Museum is a former villa belonging to the Tositsa family. It consists of three levels and there you can see a detailed presentation of everyday life in Metsovo. There is a rich collection of items, including woven fabrics, wedding jewelry, costumes ..
Except for the folklore museum, you can also visit the Averoff Gallery featuring a huge collection of famous Greek painters and sculptors, many of whom were privately owned by the Averoff family.
After the death of Averoff, the last great and possibly the greatest benefactor of the town of Metsovo, his monument was erected on the square.
What is often mentioned less is that Metsovo is a paradise for fans of good cheese and wine.
In fact, cheeses from Metsovo are one of the most famous and priceless in Greece and are protected by a geographical indication. Good restaurants all over Greece, but also many abroad, contain at least some kind of cheese from Metsovo in their menu. And Averoff is responsible for this success of cheese. As part of his effort to help Metsovo, he sent dozens of young students to Italy to study the craft and secrets of quality cheese production, which they later successfully applied in the large dairy farm founded by Averoff and the Tosits family.
This is how the golden era of cheese from Metsovo started. Most of them taste like one of the famous Italian cheeses (Provolone, Parmigiano, but in French Gruyere), but in time they got their seal and flavour.
The dairy today produces 170 tons of cow, sheep and goat cheese per year, as well as 1,700 tons of milk. It is a limited production, because the purchase of milk is done only from the area of Metsovo and its surroundings.
The most famous is Metsovone. It is made from cow milk and some sheep or goats. The production of this cheese has a tradition longer than 40 years. A cheese of 3 months is exposed to the smoke of burnt medicinal plants, grasses and leaves, that gives it a specific and recognizable taste, for 12 days. After smoking, the cheese remains in the same place to hang for at least 5 months before it is ready for sale. This cheese can be grilled or eaten fresh.
In addition to smoked cheese, feta from Metsovo is also one of the best in Greece, but also other hard cheeses, Metsovela, Maisio, Gruyere …
We must also mention that prices of cheeses and wines are quite high. If you do not have the opportunity to buy these cheeses (sold at market stalls and all other grocery stores), you can try them at restaurants and taverns. Try the warm appetizer bougiourdi, for example, and you’ll be delighted.
In addition to cheese, Metsovo is also known for its lamb.
If you have time, come to Metsovorama café where you can enjoy the beautiful and probably the most beautiful view of the peaks of the Pindos Mountain while drinking your coffee or drinks. You’ll enjoy it.
Near Metsovo (an hour drive) are the Meteora, Parga, Igoumenitsa, Ioannina, Grevena, the town on lake Kastoria are also close…
Metsovo is 220km away from Thessaloniki, the closest airport is in Ioannina, about half an hour drive. From Athens across Ioannina it is 450km away, and Trikala and Meteora 370km. From major cities in Greece there is also a bus line to Metsovo.