Igoumenitsa: Greece's gateway to Europe and its port
Written by Angelika Pallas
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Being the third biggest port in Greece, Igoumenitsa has been characterized as the country’s gate to Europe. The town, with a population of nearly 15,000 people, is located in the northwestern coastal area of the prefecture of Thesprotia. Geographically, Igoumenitsa is opposite to Corfu and Paxos islands, where visitors can go by frequent daily ship sevices. Occasionally there are ships to Kefalonia island as well. The port of Igoumenitsa is also the nearest mainland Greek port to Italy. There are daily ship schedules to and from all Adriatic Italian ports (Bari, Brindizi, Ancona, Venice), with even more frequent ship services during the summer months.
Due to its port, Igoumenitsa has been seen as the starting point of the two most modern highways constructed in Greece during the last decades. If you head north, you have immediate easy access to the Egnatia highway, which extends from this western port of the country, to the eastern Greek-Turkish border at Kipoi, covering a total distance of 670 Km. En route, you can see many different cities, like Ioannina, Metsovo, Veria,and of course Thessaloniki (4 hours away)the second biggest city in Greece. Heading south, you can join the Ionia motorway which has shortened the distance and the time needed to reach Athens.
The prefecture of Thesprotia also shares a border with Albania within half an hour’s drive from the town centre.
Holidays - Relaxation
The town of Igoumenitsa is surrounded by plenty of greenery with the nearby woods dominating the the area. Within the woods there are walking trails leading to the ruins of a Venetian Castle which was later conquered by the Ottomans. The natural harbor of Igoumenitsa was used by the Venetians as a cargo and merchandise station and the castle was built to protect the area. At the north entrance of the town there is a road to Tsimpouriki mountain from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the whole bay and even gaze at Corfu. There is also a long coastal pedestrian and bicycle lane which leads to the town’s nearest beach Drepano. Drepano is a long stretch of land between the sea and a lagoon. It is a sandy beach with shallow waters and water sports, making it ideal for families with children. At the lagoon, during some times of the year you can enjoy bird watching, flamingos and other exotic birds use it as a stopover.
During the summer Igoumenitsa is a lively town with lots of cafes, bars and traditional restaurants. Almost everything is within walking distance, which makes moving around the town very easy. From the town centre you can walk along the seafront to the northern part of the town where you can visit the archeological museum which exhibits findings from the Paleolithic age to the Byzantine period, excavated in the area. During your walk to the museum you will definitely enjoy the sea view and the amazing sunsets.
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Igoumenitsa is an ideal place for a leisure break. In the summer, visitors can enjoy the clear, calm and shallow waters in the Drepanos and Makrigiali beaches which are only five (5) minutes drive away. Within half an hour’s drive you should see Sivota with the area’s most popular beaches like Mega Ammos, Zavia, Agia Paraskevi and Bella Vraka. On your way to Sivota, you first meet the fish village of Plataria, with many traditional tavernas serving fresh fish caught by local fishermen. Leaving the cosmopolitan village of Sivota behind, you can take the coastal road to Perdika and visit the beach of Karavostasi with its crystal clear waters. Moving further south, you reach the picturesque village of Parga, which has also many beautiful beaches nearby (Lichnos, Loutsa, Sarakiniko, Ormos Odissea).
Another worth-doing day trip would be to visit the Acheron river, where you can either walk along the river, up to the place it springs, or choose to try an easy rafting and canoeing descent as the waters are shallow and very quite. There are also guided horse rides available. Acheron crosses the village of Gliki where you can find many cafes and tavernas, some of them along the river. Near Gliki there is the historical village of Souli where you can go trekking.
If you decide to move towards the northern part of the prefecture, you will meet another popular fish village Sagiada along, with its nearby beach Keramidi. Crossing Sagiada, you will see a road sign to Mavromati, where the customs office to Albania is.
If you visit the area during wintertime, there are two popular ski resorts at a close distance. Both Metsovo and Anilio are one and a half hour away. Additionally if you have the time to move further north. there is the ski resort of Vasilitsa, which will take about two hours drive to reach.
However if you are not keen on skiing, there are other places of interest to visit any time of year. Zagorochoria (about 2 hours drive from Igoumenitsa) is a group of picturesque villages in the prefecture of Ioannina which are worth visiting, to admire the natural mountainous beauty and walk in the cobbled allays lined with stone buildings, built in a traditional local architecture. There are also organized trekking/ hiking excursions to nearby mountain tops.
Another route you can follow by car, is to drive to the second adjacent to Thesprotia prefecture, Preveza. In your way to the city of Preveza, you can visit the ancient Necromanteio of Acheron river which in antiquity was considered as the place from where the souls of the dead entered the “Under World”.
For the religion lovers, there are monasteries and churches of unique architecture. You can visit the church of St Menas, in Kokkino Lithari, a small church built on top of a huge rock or the church of St George in Kamitsani. What you should definitely not miss for its tranquility and serene atmosphere is the monastery of Giromeri.
Besides the free parking space offered in front and at the back of our hotel, there are two main car parks within the city. The biggest one is next to the port and the second is just opposite the central church of the town. Both are free of charge. However you can still park your car anywhere around the town as there are no parking meters anywhere. Crime rate is very low in the area, so there is no particular worry for the safety of your vehicle.
International - Domestic Port of Igoumenitsa
In Igoumenitsa there are two adjacent ports. In the old one, which is closer to the city centre, you will see ships docked, ready to depart to Corfu and Paxos island. The newest one, is the port from where ships sail to the greatest Italian ports (Brindizi, Bari, Ankona, Venice, Trieste). This international port, whose entrance is just next to the Egnatia highway, consists of two terminals. The second terminal offers excellent traveler amenities, as there is a modern passengers lounge, taxi rank, and even luggage lockers at a price. In between the two ports there is the town’s bus station. There are banks just out of the old port.
FERRY BOAT ITINERARIES FROM IGOUMENITSA TO CORFU
Frequency: Every two (2) hours. Time taken to get to Corfu from Igoumenitsa: Almost two (2) hours. Ferry services start at about 05:00a.m. and the last one leaves at almost midnight(12:00a.m.). Ticket prices on average: 10,00€ / adult, 5,00€ / child (age 5-10 years old) and 40,00€ / car.
FERRY BOAT ITINERARIES FROM IGOUMENITSA TO PAXOS ISLAND
Frequency: Daily. Time taken to get to Paxos island from Igoumenitsa: Almost two (2) hours. The ferry boat leaves at about 11:00a.m. Ticket prices on average: 10,00€ / adult, 5,00€ / child (age 5-10 years old) and 42,00€ / car.
FERRY BOAT ITINERARIES FROM IGOUMENITSA TO ITALY (ADRIATIC PORTS)
To Brindisi, Bari and Ancona, there are daily ferry boat services from 08.00a.m. till 01:00a.m. To Venice, twice per week, usually on Monday and Wednesday(time of departure: 06:00a.m.). The journey to Brindisi lasts about 9 hours, to Bari 12 hours, to Anconda 17 hours and to Venice 24 hours respectively. Prices vary due to the season you are about to travel and the class that you choose to travel.
If you are looking for further information about ship tickets via the port of Igoumenitsa please contact us.