Guys, you MUST visit Meteora, Greece! In fact I cant believe it’s taken me this long to write this post. Since we’ve visited, I’ve waxed lyrical about its amazingness to anyone and everyone. Truth be told, we loved Meteora so much we actually considered having our wedding here. We did in fact get married in Cinque Terre, Italy Anyways, Meteora, Greece is one of the most unique and memorable places we’ve visited. Out of the 50 countries we’ve been to, Meteora is in our top 5.
We hope this short piece will inspire you to go off-the-beaten-track a little and visit Meteora, Greece before it becomes the next big thing in travel. It sure is pretty enough to be at the top of everyone’s bucket list!
Why is Meteora so unique?
Meteora and its surrounding areas was originally settled by monks who lived in little caves in the rocks way back in the 11th century. As an invasion from the Turkish army looked imminent, these monks climbed higher up the rock face. Until they reached the inaccessible peak at the top. Here, through no easy feat they managed to build the first monasteries. They actually brought all the building material up using ladders, and ropes with baskets at the end.
When the turkish did finally invade, the Meteora monasteries remained unscathed. During this time the monasteries became the academic and artistic centres for locals.
Best time of year to visit Meteora
Our visit to Meteora was in mid-June, which worked well for us. Temperature-wise it was hot but not unbearably so. It can get very hot in July and August. Mid-June is also a little quieter than other Summer months as it is not quite school holidays in Europe yet. A lot of the tourism to Meteora is from Europe, so I would avoid the school holiday period (mid-July to the end of August) if at all possible.
A friend of ours visited in late October. We saw his photos and the beautiful fall colours made a stunning backdrop to the monasteries. It is a lot quieter in October and you can find some great hotel deals at this time.
How to get to Meteora, Greece
The most common way for tourists to get to Meteora is to get the direct train from Athens to Kalambaka. This takes 5 hours and can cost up to € 30. This was how we departed Meteora and we found the train itself to be clean and uncrowded. But bear in mind the trains are typically late coming into the station. You can book a guided day tour to Meteora from Athens (that also includes the train fare) if you’re short on time.
Because we were on a 6-week backpacking trip through Greece (including the tiny island of Syros and super-famous Santorini) we found our way to Meteora the less-popular way. We got the ferry from Corfu to Igoumenitsa, which takes approximately an hour and a half. From Igoumenitsa, we hopped on a KTEL bus to Ioannina. This took about an hour and 15 minutes. We actually decided to spend a few hours in Ioannina as we heard it was a cool university town. Ioannina had a really cool vibe and it was cheaper than most of our other stops. In fact, we regretted not spending the night here.
From Ioannina we got the bus to Kalampaka, which is the closest large town to Meteora. We did have to change buses in Trikala. All in all the journey took 3 hours 15 minutes. For all those buses the total cost was approximately € 20. A very cheap way of getting to Meteora!
For planning your routes to and from Meteora, we highly recommend Rome to Rio
Where to stay in Meteora?
We stayed at the gorgeous Hotel Meteora in Kastraki and it was honestly the nicest accommodation we stayed at in Greece. It has 63 rooms, a pool and the most epic view of the Meteora rocks. We didn’t want to leave.
It was a short walk from the hotel into the town of Kastraki, but be sure to bring a torch as the path is unlit. However, most evenings there are fireflies to light your path home – magical! Our room at Hotel Meteora included breakfast and we sat by the pool every morning watching the first light hit the Meteora rocks.
Best places to eat near the Meteora monasteries
Thankfully, there are lots of authentic Greek restaurants within a short walk of the Hotel Meteora. A short drive away in the larger town of Kalambaka some of our favourite restaurants included Elias Garden & Restaurant Meteora. Whilst in Kastraki (where our hotel was located), we loved Stefanos Meteora Tavern and Restaurant Batalogianni.
Should you pay for a tour of the Meteora monasteries?
We booked a sunset tour of the monasteries and we highly highly recommend it. Not only do they bring you to all six famous monasteries, two of which you can go inside and explore. The monasteries they bring you to depend on the day, as some monasteries are closed on certain days. You can see the opening hours of the monasteries here
You will also get to see the Byzantine Church of Virgin Mary. The tour is topped off by watching the sunset at the best spot in Meteora (we did so with a beer in hand). The guides at Meteora Thrones are so knowledgeable with many having grown up in the area.
The next day we decided to climb up to the monasteries ourselves. There is a hiking trail but it is very steep in parts. Thus, we recommend being of reasonable fitness.
You can book a full-day guided tour of all the monasteries in a luxury vehicle, departure is from Kalabaka. If you don’t plan on staying in Meteora (I highly recommend staying here) you can book a guided tour from Athens or from Thessaloniki.
Which Meteora monasteries should you visit
There are six active monasteries in Meteora today, all are connected by road or pathways. So, provided you start your day early enough you can see them all in one day. But, be mindful of their opening hours as they are all different (I have listed all the opening hours below).
Holy Trinity (Agia Triada)
Holy Trinity is perhaps the most-famous and most-visited monastery in Meteora. This is because it was featured in the James Bond movie ‘For your eyes only’. To get to the Holy Trinity you must walk up 140 steps, this can be slow-moving on a busy day.
OPENING HOURS | Holy Trinity is only open between 9am – 1pm every day except Thursday.
Varlaam is the second-largest monastery in Meteora and was founded in 1517. It has lots of hidden nooks and crannies to explore, which means you can easily escape the crowds here. Varlaam also features a small but interesting museum , here you can learn all about the history of Meteora.
OPENING HOURS | Varlaam is open between 9am-1pm and again between 3:30-6pm. It is closed every Friday.
Founded way back in 1545, in 1988 it was converted to a convent. This convent is now home to 13 nuns. Roussanou is in fact, the least-visited of all the monasteries in Meteora.
OPENING HOURS | it is open between 9am-1pm and again from 3:30-6pm. It is closed on Wednesdays.
Megalo Meteoro (Great Meteoron)
Also known as Metamorphosis, it is the highest and most-visited monastery in Meteora. Interestingly a Serbian Emperor named Uros became a monk and gave this monastery all his wealth. This resulted in Megalo Meteoro becoming the wealthiest monastery at the time. It holds the most beautiful and precious art of all the monasteries.
OPENING HOURS | Megalo Meteoro is open from 9am-1pm and again from 3-6pm. It is closed on both Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas
One of the smaller monasteries in Meteora, Agios Nikalaos was built in the 16th century. We found that a lot of the tour buses seem to skip here, so, we had a pretty much to ourselves.
OPENING HOURS | open daily from 9am-6pm.
Agios Stefanos (St Stephens Nunnery)
Agios Stefanos s a convent with one of the best views of the Meteora valley below. There is uncertainty on when Agios Stefanos was built, but it is estimated around 1798. It is easily accessible (not many steps leading up to it like other monasteries) and as a result the tour buses seem to love it.
OPENING HOURS | open every day from 9am-1pm and again from 3-5pm.
And there you have it, a short snippet into our time in Meteora, Greece. We spent 3 nights here at Hotel Meteora (one if the nicest hotels we’ve ever stayed in and honestly if we had more time in Greece we could have easily spent a week or two in Meteora. It trully is somewhere you should add to your bucket list.
Tell me – have I convinced you to that there are loads of great things to do here. I’d love to hear your answer and why in the comment section below!
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