When I travel I often feel restless and always I’m curious about the next hotel or guesthouse I am going to see. I lost that feeling the moment I arrived at Guesthouse Astra in Papigo in the Zagorohoria. I wanted to stay longer. I felt instantly at home, relaxed and totally at ease. Owners Kostas and Spyros Tsoumasis are brothers who have spent most of their lives in Papigo. Their father had a small restaurant, and when they took over, they opened a guesthouse too. They managed to get everything exactly right. Spacious rooms (three family maisonettes, one triple studio and two double rooms) are furnished with wood-built couches, a single fauteuil facing the open fireplace (with ample supplies of firewood), a little table with a few stools, and, in some rooms instead of a bed, a large and very comfy mattress laid on a sleeping platform. Wooden floors, walls painted in soft hues and beamed ceilings create a country feel. The look is clean, uncluttered and inviting. Cosy. Come in the winter to enjoy the snow and warm yourself by the fireplace, or during the summer season to go for walks in the mountains, swim in nearby rock pools, ride horses, or simply enjoy the staggering views of the mountains and the Astraka rocks from the terraces.
Everything feels ‘just right’ at Guesthouse Astra: the spacious, comfortable and very attractive rooms, the healthy and tasty meals, and the kindness of the owners. I felt very much at home.
There is no common sitting room. If it is too cold to sit out, the only spaces other than your room to sit out are the breakfast room and the restaurant.
2 double rooms
1 studio for up to 3 persons
1 maisonette for up to 3 persons
2 maisonettes for up to 4 persons
Prices for two persons from 60 Euro per night, breakfast and taxes included. For a full overview of room rates, please contact Kostas and Spyros.
En-suite bathroom (with a hydro massage bath in the maisonettes and a shower in the other rooms)
Refrigerator (with a few complimentary soft drinks)
Kitchen (maisonettes only), not for cooking but with facilities to make coffee, tea and cold snacks
Fireplace (except in one of the double rooms which has sauna instead!)
Breakfast room with a fireplace, a small library and some board games
The restaurant Guesthouse Astra’s is nothing overly fancy, but it is cute and nicely decorated, and, with the fireplace blazing most of the time, it has an inviting feel. And you eat really well! The food is home cooked, with very fresh, mostly their own, produce. Salads are fantastic. Breakfast, served between 9 and 11 am in a separate fire-warmed room, is a similar treat. Not over the top, but with bread and croissants still warm from the oven, a perfectly boiled egg (from local, happy chickens), homemade marmalades, and freshly squeezed juice, it’s simply right.
Children are very welcome at Guesthouse Astra, and the maisonettes are very comfortable for families with one or two children (or three if your youngest can sleep in a cot – available on request). The area around Papigo is really wonderful for active family holidays. Your children (as long as they are not too young) will enjoy walking through the gorge, swimming in the nearby rock pools, exploring the villages and rafting in the Voidomatis River. There’s a great place for horseback riding very close to Astra.
Walking and Hiking
Follow the cobbled mule tracks and paths connecting the Zagorohoria. You’ll find beautiful nature, rivers and mountain streams, gorges and the arched stone bridges the area is famous for. Walk from Mikro Papigo to some fantastic rock pools and if the weather is warm enough, take a dip. Get a guide to take you on a day trek through the Vikos Gorge or to hike up to the Drakolimni mountain lakes.
Pop over to Guesthouse Kalliopi for horseback riding. Daphne’s horses are well-cared for and happy animals that most of the time roam freely in nature. Rides through mountains and forests are organised for all age and experience levels.
Other outdoor activities and sports
If you are looking for a small (or big) adrenaline boost, the Zagorohoria are for you. There are quite a few companies that offer outdoor sports and action such as river kayaking, rock climbing and canyoning. Trekking Hellas organises rafting on the Voidamatos River as well as mountain biking.
Explore the Zagorohoria
Take at least a day to explore the other Zagorohoria – Ano Pedina, Dilofo, Koukouli, Kapesovo, Kipi, Monodendri and many many more.
Guesthouse Astra is just a few steps away from the ‘centre’ of Megalo Papingo, on the road to Mikro Papingo. The buildings are set in a terraced garden, overlooking fields, mountains and the Astraka Rocks.
From Ioannina, take the road in the direction of the airport and Konitsa. After 40 km, turn right towards Aristi and Papigo (lots of sharp turns during the last 11 km). Stay on the main road as you reach Megalo Papigo. The guesthouse is the last building on your right.
I have kept a wonderful memory of my stay at Astra Inn during Xmas. The bungalows are beautifully decorated, cosy and superbly located; the food is excellent; the Tsoumanis brothers are extremely good hosts, friendly, well mannered and efficient; what is more, pets are most welcome at their place! A chunk of paradise stashed high up in the mountains. What more could one wish for? Highly recommended year-round!