The Greek summer is strongly and most commonly assimilated with the islands and the sea, but the mountainous beauty of the country offers an alternative, a challenging and different proposal for attractive holidays spent in the so-called “beaches” of the mountains, near the shady trees and rocky landscape. To help you make up your mind more easily on where to spend this year’s summer holidays, in the mountain or by the sea, we present here some of the prettiest regions across Epirus, including mountains, rivers and lakes, that make the idea of mountain swimming particularly appealing and original.
Swimming at an altitude of 2,000 meters has been described as a most exiting experience. The Drakolimni (Dragon lake) of Tymfi is best known among mountain swimming enthusiasts, but the hiking trail may be a bit tricky and tiring for those not particularly fit to hike and walk. To reach the lake, you follow for about four hours the absolutely stunning pathway of the the Little Papigo to the Gamila peak, where the famous Drakolimni lies. This may require some willpower and physical strength or well-being, but swimming amidst the peaks of Astraka, Ploskos and Gamila is totally worth the effort. There, in the cool waters of the lake, the visitor will be able to swim close to alpine newts, small size amphibians that are locally referred to as “drakakia” (small dragons), which are associated with local folktales of dragons and dragon battles.
For the less daring or unfamiliar with trekking and hiking, there are always the hospitable Kolimbithres to swim in, set almost beside the road that connects the Little and the Big Papigo. About halfway, there is a stone gate leading to a trail that descends right into the Rogovo stream and leads to the waterfalls that feed the fonts. These naturally formed “pools” offer cool and clear waters that are surrounded by smooth stone steps that have been created by the continuous flow of the water.
Another small paradise is hidden at an altitude of 900 meters in the village of Heliochori in the Zagoria area. The waterfalls of Bada Di Striga is a pure breath of freshness amidst the forest of oaks and pines. The three waterfalls form natural swimming pools that are hard to resist during the hot weather.
In the plain of Konitsa, at the local homonymous stone bridge, one can discover the shores of Aoos river with the fine sand, engraved rocks and crystal clear waters, where in addition to swimming, the visitor can try canoeing or kayaking.
In Preveza, the river Acheron, or the “river of the dead” according to ancient Greeks, which has its sources near the village Glyki, is a meeting point for locals and tourists too. The Acheron is one of the clearest across Europe and its flow varies. Wherever the waters run smoothly, small lakes and ponds are formed which are most suitable for swimming next to the rich wildlife.
In Grevena, the river Venetikos offers among others a naturally formed hot bath experience not to be missed. Follow the small road from the village Spileo leading to the exit of the Portitsa gorge, right where the old watermills of Dritselo are situated. There, in an idyllic landscape with lush greenery, the green waters of Venetikos force their way between rocks, thus creating a natural hot tub.
Be creative this summer and take the chance to explore the more mountainous regions of Greece. Chose among dozens of possibilities and locations and discover a different summer holiday by visiting rivers and mountain peaks, lakes and gorges until you find the ideal beach to enjoy your time.