Anyone have good info on cycling in Northern Greece? I don't see much out there, most of it seems to be on the southern part. We are getting a ferry into Igoumenitsa and biking across the north to Istanbul.
Here are a few sites, but maybe you've seen them already. http://www.avoidingeurope.blogspot.com/ http://www.tour.tk/index.htm http://www.mark-ju.net/
I got a few sites on cycling that part of Greece by searching on yahoo "cycling katara pass greece"
I have read a couple journals (some time ago) from people that traveled from Igoumenitsa to Salonica (Thesaloniki) than on to Istambul, and the only things I remember them saying is that the roads are prety good, Katara pass is a bit difficult, and you need to watch out for dogs around the Katara pass area. All in all its a great ride.
As for safety I can say that cycling from Igoumenitsa south it's very safe and all drivers give you more than enough space, many wait for a safe chance to pass you. I'm sure it's the same heading east.
I would take some precautions with my valuables while sleeping, after what happened to us this spring. But I think we were just unlucky there.
Hope that helps a bit.
We will be following your travels and wish you a safe journey.
I got off the ferry in Igoumenitsa and cycled all the way over to Alexandroupoli, then went north (in Greece) and crossed the border into Turkey right at the top.
Igoumenitsa to Ioannina is a tough first stage, if you do it in one - lots of ups and downs (I think I hit 1000m from sea level at least twice) but beautiful and a reasonable amount of cafes and stops on the way. Probably not so bad when it's not 40 degrees!
The Katara pass is ok, most of the work is done on the way to Metsovo, which I'd recommend stopping at - a really nice little mountain town, women still in traditional dress (although how much that's for 'the tourists' I don't know). Good cheap accommodation can be found right in the town centre, if you want it. There are a few 'wild' dogs who make a bit of a fuss when you pass them, but I think they're mostly just 'warning you off' their land. I was never actually chased by them, despite them not being chained up. They are quite scary, but then I don't really like dogs in general, espacially after being chased by them in Portugal!
You have a choice then which way to go - North or South route. I went 'south' and through Meteora - monastries on rocks. Beautiful place but very touristified.
Everone told me I would be fine on the 'motorways' and working my way to Thessaloniki I was, really. They're pretty good with cyclists, the drivers. Don't always trust the service roads though, if you do take them. I had a couple run out on me. Thess is ok for a few days - bit of life, nice restaurants. From then on East it gets pretty quiet, flat riding. Xanthi is quite a nice town, as is Kavala. Not a lot goes on there really, though. That's probably why Turkey was such a shock!
Anything more or specific just give me a shout.
p.s. If you do stop in Ioannina and happen to go to the 'Jazz Bar', tell Kostas I said hi!! I chatted to him when I was there, then, a week later in Thessaloniki, about 1am in a busy bar a guy comes up to me and says 'What's your name? Are you on a bike?' - it was him! I just sent him a postcard from Bulgaria.
Just to update this, we are more or less following Percy's route so far and finding Greece beautiful but also very hard work! If you come here, be prepared to climb, at least until you reach the coast and Thessaloniki, where our map indicates a bit of a break for the weary legs. Everyone is very friendly though, all drivers including the big lorries give us heaps of space and slow down for us and we have found a few choice wild camping spots. Will try and add more at a later date but if anyone is planning a trip to Northern Greece just drop us a line. Happy to elaborate.
Beautiful and hard work - yep, sounds about right! The coast will provide a bit of a break but if you get to Larisa you will see two route choices - to the coast and then up, mostly on big roads, or inland a bit to Elassona and then Katerini. I went inland to avoid the big road - it was longer (I think) and there is climbing again, but the views of Mt Olympus (you pass over one of its shoulders) were magnificent - recommended!
We got over Mount Olympus today.... via Elassona and then along to the north of Olympus, which was great because there was really only about 5km of serious climbing and then all downhill to the coast. Woooohooo! Then we tried to catch a train to Thessaloniki (motorway cycling not really being a great dream of ours) but discovered the Greeks are horrified at the idea of bikes on public transport. The motorway was surprisingly okayish cycling, not pretty but safe and fast.