Gistova Lake | Gramos | A Haven for Hiking, Fishing and Relaxation Made with Dragon Tears
Updated: Sep 24
George Papadellis | SG Head
with some help from AI
Nestled in the heart of the Pindus Mountains in northern Greece, Gistova Lake is a hidden gem that is often overlooked by travelers. It is a natural lake that was formed by the melting of glaciers during the last Ice Age, over 10,000 years ago. The lake is surrounded by lush green forests and steep mountains, which provide a stunning backdrop for its crystal-clear waters.
For centuries, the area around Gistova Lake has been a popular destination for shepherds, who use the highlands as grazing grounds for their flocks, and it's home to several small villages, including Gistova, named after the lake. These villages have a rich history, and visitors can explore the traditional architecture and culture of the local people. The lake and the surrounding landscape offer breathtaking natural beauty and a peaceful retreat for nature lovers and adventurers alike.
Gistova Lake & How to Reach
Gistova is Greece's largest alpine lake, at the highest (of all 12 alpine lakes of the country) altitude of 2,350 meters, on the meadows of Gramos mountain, exactly on the border with Albania, hidden in a small alcove between peaks. Locals say that a good dragon created the lake with his tears, following his persecution from the nearby village Grammos. The existence of a permanent natural lake at such a high altitude in Greece is a unique phenomenon. The lake maintains its waters all year round and is a rare type of habitat (in terms of Greek standards), which also hosts an aquatic species of Alpine Triton (which the locals call "fish with legs"). Near Gistova are the primary sources of the Aliakmonas River, before it descends to the plain through small streams and rivulets that merge into ever wider streams, evolving into the largest river in Greece.
The ideal starting point to reach the lake is the settlement of Gramos, the old Grammousta, with the ruined majestic church of Panagia. To approach the lake, the car (preferably a 4X4) reaches up to 2,000 meters. Then begins the hike without markings or path. Orientation point is the top of Gramos, behind which the lake is hidden. At 2,200 meters the weather changes quite a bit and creates feelings of insecurity, but at this point the lake is close and everyone continues. At 2,400 meters, after about 1 hour of climbing, the lake appears, lonely, a little eerie, and very impressive, and the scenery compensates the visitors.
The area of Gistova Lake is offered for hiking and trekking. The surrounding mountains of the Gramos range offer a variety of routes, ranging from easy walks to more challenging climbs, with several peaks reaching over 2,500 meters in height. These mountains provide a perfect backdrop for outdoor activities and offer some of the best views of the surrounding landscape. In addition to outdoor activities, visitors can also explore the local villages and learn about the history and culture of the area.
Many of these villages have traditional architecture, including stone houses and cobblestone streets, which provide a glimpse into the past. Visitors can also try local cuisine, including dishes made from fresh local ingredients such as goat cheese and wild mushrooms.
Grab your Boots!
Gistova Lake is a hidden gem in the heart of the Pindus Mountains, offering visitors a unique opportunity to explore the natural beauty and rich culture of northern Greece. From its crystal-clear waters and lush forests to its steep mountains and traditional villages, there is something for everyone at Gistova Lake. Whether you are an outdoor enthusiast or a culture seeker, this destination should be at the top of your travel list. So pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and head to Gistova Lake Grammos for an unforgettable adventure!