The Ionian coast


Heading back to the sea, we return to port of Igoumenitsa to take the coast road. The shores of the Ionian, the west coast of the Greek mainland, have more to offer the visitor than pretty beaches and magnificent sunsets. Near Igoumenitsa is the nice beach of Plataria and the Syvota islands, a yachtsman's paradise. The excellent scenic road then lures you on to Parga, a picturesque village set near a succession of thickly wooded coves; the combination of emerald hills and scattered islets, sapphire waters and a ruined castle is a romantic's dream.

Stepping into the still more distant past, we take the road to Mesopotamo and the ruins of the Necromanteion of Ephyra. Here on the banks of the river Acheron and the shores of Lake Acherousia was a city dedicated to the dead, a sanctuary to Persephone and Hades, and one of the entrances to the Underworld.

Back on the highway south, we pass Kanali and its beaches, and just before reaching Preveza, we take a pause to visit the ruins of Nikolopolis (Victory City), founded by Augustue Ceaser after his defeat of the fleets of Antony and Cleopatra at Actium. Here you'll find a theatre, a stadium, a section of wall erected under Justinian and several basilicas, with fine mosaic floors.

Going on to Preveza, a peaceful little place, there is nothing particular to entice you to stay, though the waterfront is a favourite spot to enjoy the sunset. Here you may be faced with dilemma: to hop on the ferry for the short ride to Aktion, or to head inland for a glimpse of Arta and its famous bridge, and ancient and Byzantine monuments, and then round the shores of the Amvrakian Gulf with its lagoons and marshes, home to a large variety of waterfowl.

If you choose the latter, you'll pass Amfilochia perched on its hills on the southeast shore of the bay and then Vonitsa, with its castle, overlooking its entrance followed by the Avlaki tis Kleopatras (Cleopatra's Court), where her fleet was anchored before the battle of Actium.