Spileo Grevena – Portitsa Gorge

Spileo is a beautiful small village west of the city of Grevena and is built below the peak of Mount Orliakas at an altitude of 980m. Its wild beauty can be seen even from the public road since the last kilometers to the village are narrow (in some places there is no room for two cars) covered on the right with the huge vertical volumes of the mountain and on the left there is the chaos of the vertical cliffs.

There, in the south of the village is one of the most beautiful gorges in Greece, the gorge of Portitsa with the homonymous bridge at its entrance. Although for convenience we say that the river that flows through the gorge is Venetikos River, in order to be geographically correct the river that is responsible for this miracle of nature is Perivoliotikos River which, after the gorge, is connected with Smixiotikos or Velonias River, forming Venetikos River, the largest tributary of Aliakmonas River. This place is our destination.


Distance from Thessaloniki: 191 km

Toll: 4,10 €

Place to eat: Perdika Tavern 17 € per person

European Emergency Number:  112

Fire Brigade Dept: 199

Medical Emergency:  166 

Grevena Forestry Dept: 24620 22419

Spileo – Portitsa – Ag. Paraskevi – Spileo

Route Information

Route Description: Hiking, Trekking (round route)

Difficulty: Easy (demanding only at river crossing)

Route Length: 8,9 km

Water in route: Only at the village (and in the river too)

Duration: 3,5 h (without stops)

The route took place at NOV 2021

Team members: 6 adults and a dog

From the village’s square we descend to the church. As soon as we see the church we turn left. We are still in the village and we are descending, heading south, having the church in our right hand. At this point we met Bruno (later we learned about his name) a clever Labrador dog who became the seventh hiker in the group and followed us all the way. So we walk about 50 meters more and at the edge of the village we see the sign with the starting point of the path.

The path is stone – paved and easy. It generally has south direction and good signage. It moves among low vegetation and has a wonderful view to the riverbed, at the end of which there is the gorge’s entrance. It is therefore impossible to get lost since there is almost permanent visual contact with the destination.

We gently descend to the river more like walking than hike. The landscape is fascinating and that is why the frequent stops for photos are imperative. Approaching the end of the route, the landscape becomes wilder and more imposing as we walk sideways and very near to the towering outer slopes of the gorge. After two more turns of the path, an image of untold beauty appears in front of us. Vertical rocks over 200m high with only a few meters distance between them form a narrow passage for the flowing water while the two-arched stone bridge stands like a huge castle door in front of the gorge.

It took us 50 min to cover the 1800m of the route due to the frequent stops for photos and another 30 min for exploration and photos on the bridge and in the gorge.

The original plan was to go down, up to the gorge’s entrance, drink our coffee and return to the village. But the unknown and the wild of the landscape as well as the short duration of the route made us to want to continue a little bit longer. We cross the bridge following the path that connects the village of Spileo with the village of Trikomo.

Bruno is leading as we are ascending the south bank of the river to get to the ridge. The forest is dense, full of beeches and oaks, but the route is clean with relatively good signage. It intersects in a while (15 minutes) with a forest road. There we learned the name of Bruno from a hunter who informed us that our friend is a “star” in the area and likes to follow groups of hikers and climbers. He also suggested that instead of going to Trikomo, we can go to the chapel of Agia Paraskevi, a closer and much nicer route. The weather is wonderful and we walk loosely on the forest road for 1.5km and another 30 min, when on our left we see in the background our destination that stands out in a mountain meadow. So we turn to the north, descending freely the approximately 450 meters that separate us from the small church and in 10 minutes we are in its courtyard, which is a great place for a little rest.

Photos, coffee and a small meeting on what the return route will be. We had two options, to turn back from the same road or to go down to the river , cross to the other side and return to the village of Spileo from the dirt road that starts at the meeting point of Perivoliotikos and Smixiotikos rivers. And of course we decided on the second one.

We start hiking to the river through the dense forest. There is no path and where a shred of a path is visible it is unclear and disappears quickly. So we are descending freely, with Bruno always at the lead, in a relatively demanding field and we reach the river bank in about 15 minutes. However, we are far below the meeting point of the rivers so we turn backwards, opposite to the flow of the water, heading to the West. The terrain is now difficult as we are hiking and sometimes climbing, between the sharp rocks of the bank. Bruno, however, always finds an alternative way to bypass the problems and we almost always find him in front of us. The landscape is wild, imposing and riveting. The river flows quietly next to us, the forest covers almost everything and the rocks like primitive statues along with large river boulders are planted everywhere. Our demanding river side route is completed when we see in the background the eastern end of Portitsa gorge and in front of us the junction of the two rivers. And now comes the hard part and the most amusing. How and where can we go across the river without getting wet?

And the answer is, there is no way. We are looking for a passage jumping from rock to rock but the distance between them does not allow heroic moves and there is the risk of falling. On the other hand the width of the riverbed is large and quite deep. But after some time of research we finally find the best passage. It is the point with the smallest width, just below the meeting point of the rivers, about 20m, deep up to the knee and with a calm water flow. We take off our shoes, lift up the trousers and we get into the cold. The water was icy and the stones were slippery so we were very careful with our steps.

And after the crossing of Perivoliotikos River we now have to cross Smixiotikos River too. The passage here is a little above the river’s mouth, it is narrower, around 10m, with a depth up to the ankles. However, Bruno was the happiest of all. He came in and out of the water, accompanied us across the river and again back, to accompany the last ones. We reach the shore which is the beginning of the forest road that will bring us to the village. Refreshed from the cold foot bath, we are resting for or a while and we start the light ascent to the village. The route is easy since we are hiking on an earth road with mild inclination. It circles the eastern side of the mountain rocks ,on top of which Spileo is built, offers a wonderful view of the valley of Venetikos and Orliakas and takes us to the public road about 1.5 km outside the village.

As always everything ends with a good meal. And the meal was very very good in a Taverna named Perdika, located just below the square of the village on the way to the church. It cost us a little more than usual but that was expected since we tried all the dishes of the menu. Of course, our new friend and our guide, Bruno, had a special place and extra portion at the table. Late in the afternoon, we leave the Greek Highlands with the best memories of the places we visited and all the well-hidden beauties we saw, hiking in the nature of Grevena.