In the previous articles in this series about the Epirus district, we dealt with the question of what to see there. Assuming that the answer is clear by now, and we already have a desire to travel to Epirus, there are logistical questions about how to get there, and where should we sleep there?
Well, the easiest and most convenient way to get there is on a flight from Israel to Ioannina, the capital of Epirus province. A new route has recently been opened by TUS AIR to 'King Pirus' airport twice a week on Monday and Friday. The flight leaves Israel in the morning, lands for a brief stop connection in Larnaca, and less than an hour later takes off to Ioannina.
I was privilege to experience this new flight, and enjoyed the way and the service. The flight departed from Terminal 1 at Ben-Gurion Airport, which is less convenient than Terminal 3. The flight lasted about 3 hours and a half with a stop in Cyprus. The Fokker70 airplane is smaller than normal, and the number of seats is about half that of regular passenger planes. The seats are very comfortable because of the large space between the lines, which allows comfort and a relatively large foot space. On the other hand, the seat backrest is fixed and cannot be laid down for sleep. But who wants to sleep when the flight is just about 50 minutes…
When we get off the plane steps in Larnaca, a TUS representative is waiting to escort us to the bus that leads to the terminal. When the rest of the passengers go to the passport control posts and to baggage claim, the TUS representative leads us through the terminal shortcut directly to the departure gate for the connecting flight to Ioannina. Less than five minutes' walk from the bus to the bus exit to the connecting flight.
Shortly later we took off from Larnaca and landed at the airport of Ioannina (IOA). It is reminiscent of the Eilat airport.
The terminal is smaller than what we expected to see in an international Airport. Arrival and departure passengers are sharing the same hall.
It turned out that the airport was not international until TUS began landing there recently. Local workers told me that the airport of Ioannina has been used only for domestic flights so far, and only activated for routes to Athens and Thessaloniki. A few private aircrafts and charter flights landed there from time to time. A new terminal is built next to the existing one. The structure of the new terminal looks large and impressive outside. During this summer, new flights will also be operated to Rome, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen and Stockholm.
The location of the airport is about 5-minute drive from the city center. In addition, the airport is very close to the two main highways of Greece, where you can continue to travel far and wide. One of them is Egnatia, the highway that crosses Greece from east to west, and the second is Ionia, from Athens in southern.
Before TUS inaugurated the line to Ioannina, Israeli tourists would get in the Epirus region in another way. They would fly to Athens, and from there they would travel about 500 kilometers by car or by public transport. Not so many bothered to come to Epirus, but most likely it'll be change now thanks to TUS AIR.