Would I find enough adjectives to describe this place? Hmmm, at least I can try it.
METEORA is a MUST SEE. If you ask anyone who has been to Greece which places they have visited they will probably mention Athens and the Greek islands but who would say Meteora? Unfortunately not many and that’s a pity because, believe me, Meteora is a great, maybe the greatest, „off the beaten path“ thing to do in Greece. It´s breath-taking, peaceful, full of history, full of emotions.
Thanks to the social media outlets, like Instagram and some blogs, people are becoming more aware of beautiful places to go around the world and Meteora is one of these places. That’s why I’m really excited to write this article to tell you and show you how amazing this place is and hopefully to inspire you to visit it. Pictures can not give it any justice. So please go there, take your own pictures and build your own memory of this place. I think Meteora doesn’t belong only to Greece but also to the entire world.
Meteora means something like „suspended in the air“. It is an incredible rock formation of 24 orthodox monasteries built on rock cliffs more than 500 meter high dated from the 14th-16th centuries. Only 6 are in use and open to the public, today. The rest are abandoned.
Access to the monasteries was originally difficult. They were accessed by rope ladders. Nowadays, the way to the monasteries is a lot simpler via steps that were carved into the rock during the 1920’s and the commodities arrive there via small cable cars.
I heard that Meteora was featured in Game of Thrones Season 2. They didn´t film there directly because this place is protected but they visited this area and used it as an inspiration; integrating it into the episodes.
The 6 monasteries open to the public are: (the order is based on their proximity to the Kastraki town, where I stayed):
1- Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas (The Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas) had only one monk residing. It´s open from 9 am till 2pm (in winter)/3:30 pm (in summer) and it´s closed on Fridays.
2- Megalo Meteoro (Great Meteoron) is the main and biggest one and it was one of my two favorites. It has an interesting museum inside worth visiting. It´s open from 9 am till 4pm (in winter)/5pm (in summer) and it´s closed on Tuesdays.
3- Monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest and had the largest number of monks (seven) of all the monasteries. It´s open from 9 am till 3pm (in winter)/4pm (in summer) and it´s closed on Fridays.
4- Roussanou (Monastery of St. Barbara) I unfortunately missed this one as it was already closed when I arrived there but I watched the sunset from here, exactly in front of this monastery…twice..and it´s simply astonishing. It´s open from 9 am till 3pm (in winter)/4pm (in summer) and it´s closed on Wednesdays.
5- Agia Triada (Monastery of the Holy Trinity) had few monks residing there. This monastery was featured in the 1981 James Bond film „For Your Eyes Only“. It´s open from 9 am till 4pm (in winter)/5pm (in summer) and it´s closed on Thursdays.
6- Agios Stefanos (Monastery St. Stephen) was given to nuns and inhabited by them. Together with the Holy Trinity, it is located separate from the main group. Both are further to the north, approx. 3 kms away from the rest. It was my other favorite of two monasteries. It´s open from 9 am till 1pm and 3pm to 5pm (in winter)/ 9am till 1:30 pm and 3:30 till 5:30pm (in summer) and it´s closed on Mondays.
On weekends all the monasteries are open.
To get to Meteora you can either take a tour excursion from the city you are in (for example Athens, Thessaloniki, etc) or take a train/bus for 3-5 hours. The best option is to rent a car and drive yourself. Once there, you can either book the tours offered by the companies around (for example hiking tours, sunset tours and half day tours for ca. 25-35€ per person) or you can visit the monasteries by yourself. But, you should take into consideration that you will be walking and hiking a lot if you don´t have a car.
The nearest towns are the Kastraki and Kalambaka villages.
I chosed Kastraki to be close to the rocks.
I stayed at the Doupiani house. There you can find double rooms for ca. 60€ per night with a beautiful view but there are plenty of hotels around. However, I recommend to book in advance.
Check this view from my balcony:
What else do you need to know about Meteora?:
Entrance fees: It costs 3€ per person to enter each monastery. Please take cash with you, they don´t accept credit cards.
Dress appropiately: While visiting the monasteries, women are required to wear skirts covering the knees and have their shoulders covered too. Please note that if you are wearing long trousers you still need to wear an skirt on the top, but don´t worry, they have plenty of skirts at the monasteries to provide for women who come unprepared.
Of course men are also required to dress properly. Please wear trousers covering the knees.
Hiking: Getting to every monastery will take you between 100 and 300 steps, so be prepared to do this. But this path is not a difficult one, you can do it even in flip flops. If you wanna go for a hiking tour or go hiking yourself, then I would recommend to take hiking shoes with you for the trip. There are plenty of rocks for some amazing climbing if you are into it and some are quite difficult.
Meteora is a peaceful place. It´s perfect for meditation, for relaxing, for escaping from our world and stressed lives. Don´t go there for only a few hours, spend at least 2 days and one night and you will feel the vibe of this place. You can listen to the rocks talking to you and you will be transported to another place. I guarantee you this.
I hope this article motivates you to visit this place. Visit Meteora!!!…. and let me know how is your experience there 🙂
Enjoy it and stay tuned!