Five places to visit when riding in Greece

Greece is the southeastern European marvel which we all know and adore for its impressive historical value, sunsoaked holidays and late night Ouzo shots -  but even more so, it’s a perfect destination for a mindblowing motorcycling trip.

The country offers glorious twisties galore, endless mountain roads that will have your heart racing in no time, and nifty off-roading possibilities, all spiced up with bright blue skies, an ocean spotted with islands and stretches of nature as far as the eye reaches.

Instead of guiding you along the local MD-roads, we’ve opted to pick five POI’s - ‘points of interest’ - which might just lure you towards the Hellenic Republic. πάμε*!

(*: let’s go!)  

 

The Vikos Gorge


 

If you’re entering Greece via the northwestern border, chances are you’ll ride through the Epirus province - a fiercely fought over stretch of land, which divided Albania and Greece for a long time.

So far for the historical part though, as the Zagorochoria region has more to offer, not in the least represented by the Vikos Gorge. Apart from its truly spectacular sights, the Vikos Gorge is bookmarked as the world’s deepest canyon in the Guinness book of records.

If you’re not easily amazed by the theoretics, you might just be baffled by the truly spectacular sights from several vantage points, including the gravity-defying cliff-face monastery of Agia Paraskevi at its southern end and the ridge-top village of Vikos at the other.

The twenty-something kilometer long gorge will surprise you with its abrupt changes in altitude, which have been carved out for over millions of years by the Voidomatis River, a tributary of the Aoös.

The flow of this majestic stream is mostly seasonal though, with year-round current occurring only in the lower part of the gorge. But beware: due to its nature, the area of the gorge is impassable most of the year.

As you’re in the neighborhood anyway, you might as well try some of the Motorcycle Diaries roads in the surroundings. Well, the first one in line, you’ll have to take, as it is the only way leading from the ‘civilised world’ towards the Vikos Gorge: the road from Monodendri will have you twist and turn for 7 kilometers before reaching the last part - which can only be completed by walking.

A few kilometers up the road, you can try the winding road from Aristi towards Papigno, the latter being named as one of the 'most beautiful' villages of Greece, so a bit of a must see in the area.

Although we actually enjoyed the road and the views more than the village itself, to be honest.

When leaving Aristi, you’ll have two equally tempting options: you could cross the little river and take a rest on its wonderful little beach, or you could set sail for another magnificent 7 kilometers towards the village of Kato Pedina. The choice is yours!

 

Sunset at Meteora


 

I know, we’ve mentioned this before, but if ever there’s a sunset you need to witness at least once in your life, it has to be the one glaring over the majestic Meteora mountain range.

Meteora literally means "suspended in the air", and that is exactly what the remarkable monasteries built on top of those mountain tops do.

Of the 24 original mountain top monasteries, there are currently six that still serve as a place of prayer for the Eastern Orthodox Church - and which, with a modest contribution, can be visited. This is a part of Greece you must have seen once, no excuses possible.

While you’re at it, you might want to ride the Meteora Road, which runs between rocks eroded into pillars, is barely four kilometers long, but you are happy to take that reel dozens of times: if not for its wonderful winding asphalt, then certainly because of the almost surreal landscape.

Anyone who has ever seen 'For your eyes only', the Bond film from 1981 with Roger Moore, knows exactly what we are talking about: sandstone rock formations piercing the valley and reaching for the clouds, on which a Bondworthy cliffhanger - what's in a name - was filmed.

A bit further down the road, the provincial road towards Neraidochoriou passes 40-something kilometers through the mountains, while devouring beautiful villages and old churches before leading towards the Pertouli ski center.

The road surface leaves a lot to wish for and has a few meters of gravel in store for you, but the rewarding views from the cliffs make up for it. Bigtime.

 

Agios Ioannis Beach


 

With a coastline of 13.676 kilometers, you won’t be searching for a great spot along the Ionic, Mediterranean or Aegean Sea for a long time. Well, let us help you anyway, as choice overload might get you stressed out when looking for something which should relax you.

We’d suggest you to try the Agios Ioannis beach, which is looked upon as one of the most beautiful beaches of the Pelion region, with soft white sand and crystalline blue waters - yet it hasn’t been discovered by hords of tourists.

A great place to take a riding break and get away from it all for a bit.

A bit further on the road, you’ll be happy to find Mount Pelion - after which the region was named. We found the northern part of the mountain an absolute gem to ride. It is one of the two main scenic roads of the mountain - but hands down the best way to ride it, as it loops all the way around the mountain.

The road spoils you with dense forests, apple tree fields and small villages, but will also require you to stay focussed all of the time.

Along the 43 kilometer long ride, the road tends to be very narrow, which will cause you quite a few problems when encountering tour buses or other large vehicles.

Zigzagging up the mountainside through a series of stunning ridges, the main road climbs up to Hania, which has grown to be a well known winter sports resort during these last couple of years.

After that, the road weaves in and out through forests of oak and chestnut trees while descending, amazing you with stunning views of the Aegean Sea.

The road continues to the northern end of Pelion Mountain, while the riding gets exciting with hairpin turns and twists all the way down to the east coast, either to Zagora or to Tsagarada - we’d suggest the latter.

 

Panta Vrechei


 

We're risking to lose half of our readership with our next destination, but here goes nothing: Panta Vrechei literally translates to ‘it always rains’. Sounds awful, but it is in fact great. Allow us to explain.

The Panta Vrechei Gorge is one of the most impressive and beautiful areas in Evritania, as the ice water that comes from the steep mountain of Kaliakouda, in its attempt to join the Krikeliotis River, finds a way out of springs at the tops of the gorge creating amazing waterfalls.

Cascades, but not as you know them: the flow isn’t as continuous, and due to the height of the gorge, it looks more like a watery curtain or a continuous rainfall.

Park your bike for a while and continue on foot towards Krikeliotis' hanging bridge, from which you’ll get to admire the first small waterfalls and springs, creating the well-known rain and small rainbows of Panta Vrechei.

At the base of the waterfalls, you can feast your eyes and feet on the many natural swimming pools, which are bordered by crystal clear ice. Ice? Yep, thes pools are only suitable for daredevils and - eh - polar bears...

Whatever you do, don’t forget to take your camera, though. Just make sure not to slip.

After this rather refreshing detour, make sure to ride the two Motorcycle Diaries Roads in the area. First up is the wonderful route which leads you from the river Karpenisiotis towards the splendid Monastery of Proysos, towering over the valley surrounding the village.

During the ride you can consider stopping for lunch in the villages Megalo, Mikro Chorio or Gauros. Just make sure to leave a bit of space to devour the blood-curdlingly beautiful road from Lamia towards Agrinio.  

 

Baros Pass


 

Due to all kinds of financial horror stories about Greece, one would tend to forget that a few years ago, the infamous Baros Pass was paved. Wow, great news! But - eh - what’s the big deal?

Well, quite frankly, the Baros or ‘Mparos’ Pass is the highest mountain pass in all of the country, and it might just be the most brilliant one in southeast Europe - so we’re rather fired up on this one!

Up until 1912, the Greek-Turkish border ran right across this pass, and as a result, the mountain crossing of Baros was known for many centuries as a gateway for transport carrying people and merchandise.

Moreover, it was a strategic point and its occupation was necessary for the movement of the army from Epirus to Thessaly and vice versa. Later, the Civil War and the new living conditions led to the desertion of the area and the mountainous passage of Baros to become obsolete and forgotten.

Up until a few years ago, at least.

The Greek government has been drilling and doing asphalting works on the road and in 2013 the last piece of asphalt was delivered. Time to ride!

As the crow flies, the road is located only 40 kilometers away from the Meteora monasteries we’ve already mentioned, and still it’s half a planet away from any tourist.

You’ll specifically find it in the southern Pindos Mountains, right between Epirus and Thessaly. Just choose one of three options to reach it: two of them are coming from the hinterland of Ioannina, the third climbs its way up on the Thessalian side, emerging from the gorge of the Aspropotamos.

Yet to find it, you must either try to find your way via Kalambaka - on country roads - or by an anonymous pass topping at 1.650 meters and coming from Metsovo.

Quite the mouthful, but these 54 kilometers are totally worth your while.

 

Where next?

Explore the best roads & POI's around and plan your next trip based on those roads.

 


 

 

 

 

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