Meteora monasteries – tips for your perfect day

Hiking to all Meteora monastries in one day? No problem if you stay in Kalambaka! Have you ever heard of Kalambaka? No? Admittedly, neither had I before. But behind the at first inconspicuous city on the way through northern Greece to Athens you will experience a breathtaking landscape and unique buildings that are part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Meteora has many sights to offer – where the monasteries touch the sky!

What do you learn in this article?

BIG5 Meteora Monasteries

You don’t want to miss the sights? Find all tips and your checklist for the city trip to Meteora / Kalambaka here:

BIG5 Meteora – Speed Date

Outstanding:

Admire the spectacular landscape with the monasteries on your own and at your own pace

Sucks:

Through the well-developed road directly past the monasteries, the doors are open for the absolute mass tourism – with high heels on the rocks for the photo included

DO:

Discover the monasteries on foot during a half-day hike – it gives a completely different feeling to the place than just driving / being driven from car park to car park. Above all, you will see the monasteries from all possible perspectives that do not fit from the bus or car

DO NOT:

When hiking, do not wear sunscreen or, in case of announced rain, do not use the appropriate clothing or umbrellas: There is very little shelter along the way

Don’t tell your mother:

Don’t shout too loudly about the bus tourists, maybe your mother would prefer this kind of sightseeing…

BIG5 Meteora – Rapid Fire Q&A

  • We don’t have a rental car, how do we get from Kalambaka to the monasteries? – No problem, different tours are offered locally. But you can also take a half day walk on a round trip to all monasteries – highly recommended!
  • How many monasteries are there in Meteora? – Currently there are 6 monasteries (4 for monks, 2 for nuns). Originally there were 24, some adventurously situated ruins clearly show their location
  • How many days should I plan to spend in Meteora? – A full day is enough if you only want to hike to the monasteries. It’s best to arrive the day before, so you can start early in the morning. If you want to visit all the monasteries, you should plan at least two days – because of the alternating rest days.
  • Are the monasteries still in use today? – Yes, the monasteries are still inhabited today and the monks live a life in harmony with God. They pray, carry out repairs and do various activities
  • Is there more to do in Meteora than visit the monasteries? – Meteora is a paradise for outdoor activities: Hiking, rafting, (rock) climbing, cycling, … whatever you like!

BIG5 Meteora – Orga

Beste Reisezeit

The best months to travel are from May to October. It is pleasantly warm (in midsummer rather too hot) and there is little precipitation.

Arrival & Departure

Visa: Check here if you need a visa for Greece with your passport

  • Athens: Train from Larissa Station (several times a day, ~ 4 hours, ~ 20 Euro)
  • Athens: Bus (several times a day, ~ 5 hours, 30-40 Euro)
  • Thessaloniki: Train (several times a day, ~ 3:40 hours, ~ 20 Euro)
  • Thessaloniki: Bus (several times a day, ~ 3 hours, 30-40 Euro)
  • Gjirokaster / Albania: Bus (once a day, ~ 5 hours, ~ 20 Euro)
  • Saranda / Albania: Bus 1x daily in the morning until Ioannina, then change buses until Kalambaka (~5 hours, ~ 20 Euro)

The next stop is… Athens or Thessaloniki / both Greece or Saranda or Gjirokaster / both Albania

Accommodation

Suggested location: Kalambaka and the neighbouring town of Kastraki are not too big and ideally located for a hike to visit the Meteora monasteries. You have almost free choice here.

  • Budget: Holy Rock Hostel (Patriarchou Dimitriou 24, Kalambaka, 42200; 15€ dormitory), My personal recommendation: Cheap, good food and on the day of departure the use of showers was possible after the hike to the monasteries
  • Medium: Spartacus House (Kastraki, Kalambaka, 42200; ~30€ double room), fantastic location with view of the rock formations
  • Medium: Olive Grove Rooms (Kastraki, Kalambaka, 42200; ~40€ double room), comfortable, very well furnished apartment with great views and quiet garden full of olive trees
  • Noble: Alsos House (Canari 5, Kalambaka, 42200; ~100€ double room), 4* guesthouse in great location at the start of the hike
  • Noble: Katogi Averoff Hotel & Winery (Metsovo, Metsovo, 44200; ~100€ double room), some luxury away from the tourist hustle and bustle of Kalambaka? In the picturesque mountain village of Metsovo you will find this great hotel with attached wine tavern

Price level

Withdraw money: No problem, there are ATMs all over Kalambaka. But beware: Often unfortunately with additional fee

Beer indicator: A cheap beer is available in the restaurants from 2.50 – 3.00 Euro

Costs for a taxi: Take a taxi to all monasteries ~ 40-50 Euro

Restaurants

  • Archontariki Taberna (Trikalon 13, Kalampaka 422 00; cheap), traditional Greek tavern with delicious local food
  • Taverna Gardenia (near the church Kastraki, cheap-medium), typical Greek food and drinks in a great atmosphere
  • Meteoron Panorama (Patriarchou Dimitriou 54, Kalambaka 422 00, Greece; medium price segment), very good grilled dishes with great view

BIG5 Meteora – Activities

  • Hike to the six Meteora monasteries
  • Visit at least one monastery from the inside to get an impression of the life of the monks / nuns
  • Admire the sunset in the picturesque landscape
  • Enjoy the local culinary delicacies – on your own or as a guided tour
  • Visit the impressive caves of Meteora

BIG5 Meteora – Photo spots

  • Large viewpoint between the monasteries of Agia Triada and Rousanou – incredible landscape panorama
  • Famous Meteora photo motif: The monastery of Agia Triada, taken from the road between the Agia Triada car park and the first crossroads on the right
  • Rocky cliff between the monasteries Varlaam and Grand Meteora – take a picture from far above – with the monasteries in the background
  • Free standing rock column seen from the village square in Kastraki
  • Choose your favourite monastery and try to see it from different angles

 

BIG5 Meteora – Sights off the beaten track

  • Make an excursion to the picturesque Pindos Mountains, the largest mountain range in Greece with the highlights
  • Guided climbing tour with Via Cordata – great views away from the tourist masses
  • Not in the mood for hiking, but being active would be great? How about an e-bike tour to the monasteries?
  • Master the Acheloos River with the rafting boat
  • Take a trip to Olympus, the famous highest mountain in Greece

BIG5 Meteora – Culinary Journey

  • Soutzouki – typical Greek minced meat sausages
  • Local yoghurt or cheese – often from goats
  • Local fruits, especially nuts
  • Spatoula – regional pudding
  • Halva – sweet dessert in different variations

BIG5 Meteora – Communication

  • thank you – efcharistó (ευχαριστώ)
  • Yes – nai (ναι)
  • No- óchi (όχι, mit dem Kopf nicken)
  • Hello – geia (γεια) / kalí méra (καλή μέρα)
  • Bye / Good bye – antío (αντίο)

BIG5 Meteora- Helpful Websites / Links

BIG5 Meteora- Overview Map with all sights

Meteora monasteries city trip tips: Panoramic view from the large viewpoint

A perfect hiking day in Meteora 🇬🇷 – here is your overview:

Best suited for screenshots 📷📝

Hiking route for all Meteora monasteries in one day

  • Start: Kalambaka
  • Agia Triada Monastery
  • Agios Stephanos nunnery
  • Rousánou nunnery
  • Varlaam monastery
  • Metamórphosis Monastery / Megalou Meteoron
  • Agios St. Nicholaos Anapafsas Monastery
  • Destination: Kastraki / Kalambaka

In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the hiking route for all Meteora monasteries with important landmarks in an overview map:

Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!

Your perfect day of Meteora sights – the monasteries

First the good news for all backpackers travelling to Kalambaka / Meteora by bus or train: You don’t need a rental car to reach the famous monasteries. From Kalambaka there is a great round trip over hill and dale, perfect for a discovery tour on your own.

What should one absolutely consider when visiting the Meteora monasteries?

Note the opening hours of the monasteries!

The monasteries have opening hours for visitors, and each monastery is closed for visitors one day a week. Find out in advance to plan your visits. Especially if you want to spend several days in the area.

Do not forget your sun cream and umbrella!

Once out of the forest on the mountain slopes, one walks mostly along the road, without any significant protection from sun and rain. Without the appropriate equipment, this will definitely not be a fun event.

For the same reason: pack enough to drink!

Self-explanatory!

Get a bus schedule!

If the way becomes too long or too strenuous, there is a public bus that runs regularly. Find out about your accommodation about possible bus stops and departure times.

Start early!

As in the cities with a port for cruise ships, the same applies in Kalambaka: it is best to be on the spot when the monasteries and viewpoints are not yet overcrowded: That means to start early and enjoy the devotional silence of the monasteries and view points without tourists with high heels in the background.

But in some monasteries, this is unfortunately only partly possible, as the idea of the early bird is only partly realized by one or the other person besides you…

Observe the dress code of the monasteries!

Men must wear shorts that rise above the knees.

Women have to cover their shoulders and are not allowed in trousers – skirts are the order of the day (over the knees, of course).

Those who are not dressed appropriately will be handed out appropriate scarves at the monastery entrance.

 

Sightseeing of the Meteora monasteries by hiking trail

One more thing in advance: You don’t need a guide or any other guided tour for this hike.

The trail to the monasteries starts in the centre of Kalambaka: The trail to the monasteries starts behind the accommodation “Hormel Rocks“, easy to reach from the main roundabout (at the tourist info) via the roads Vlachava and Sopotou. In the small bakery at the Vlachava river you can take some tasty snacks for the way.

The path leads steeply up through the forest, but already on the way you will be rewarded with a view of the spectacular rock faces that rise up left and right.

Start the visit of the Meteora monasteries in Agia Triada

With the steep path you quickly gain height and after about 40 minutes you reach the monastery Agia Triada (Holy Trinity), the Greek flag in the courtyard is already visible from further down. Already up the stairs and through a door in the rock are a highlight!

The monastery became famous through the James Bond movie “In Deadly Mission”, where it served as a shooting location.

The entrance fee for each monastery is about 3,00 Euro per person. Agia Triada offers a great view of Kalambaka and the whole region. Especially interesting is the wooden construction of the old elevator for goods – and people. Today a cable car supplies the monastery. The stairs carved into the rock are still quite young, in former times access to the monasteries was only possible by daring climbing or by a cable car.

The Agia Triada monastery is not quite as crowded as other monasteries. Maybe this is due to the fact that from the parking place, there is a short walking distance of 10-15 minutes to cover. Probably too much for some tourists.

  • Opening hours: 9.00 AM – 5.00 PM
  • Closed on Thursdays
  • Entrance fee: 3 Euro

The nunnery of Agios Stephanos

From Agia Triada we continue to the monastery of Aghios Stephanos. The clear path leads along the main road, if you like it a little more adventurous, look for the paths below. The best view of the monastery is from the cliff opposite, which is on the way and cannot be missed. The monastery built into the cliffs at airy heights, in the background the green plains of northern Greece – fantastic! One reaches the interior over a narrow stone bridge.

In the monastery itself you can admire a beautiful garden. Even today the nuns take in orphan girls and teach them in the convent school.

  • Opening hours: 9.30 AM – 1.00 PM & 3.00 – 5.00 PM
  • Montags geschlossen
  • Eintritt: 3 Euro

 

Now the name “circular route” does not quite deserve its name, it goes back along the main road, again past the monastery Agia Triada. One continues to follow the main road, unfortunately there is no separate path for hikers up on the plateau. The traffic gets heavier and heavier during the day, many tourists come by car or coach, driving only from car park to car park of the view points and monasteries.

On the way turn around every now and then, especially the view from the road to the Agia Triada that is getting smaller and smaller is one of the most famous photo motives of Meteora.

On the way further to the monastery Rousánou there are more great view points. Take some time to enjoy the great view of several monasteries from different perspectives – and don’t let the tour bus tourists disturb you, some of them are stumbling over the rocks of Northern Greece wearing catwalk-compatible outfits for the next Instagram photo.

 

The nunnery of Rousánou

The Rousánou monastery, in a remarkably exposed location, can be reached either from the upper road or from a car park below.

Although the monastery itself is quite small, the catholic church (the main church) on the ground floor and great frescoes on the walls make it interesting to visit.

For a long time it was only accessible via dangerous rope ladders, the stable wooden bridges and concrete steps only date from the middle of the 19th century.

  • Opening hours: 9.00 AM – 2.00 PM
  • Closed on Wednesdays
  • Entrance fee: 3 Euro

 

The Varlaam Monastery

To reach the Varlaam monastery, you first cross a massive wooden bridge, whereupon – surprise! – follow the steps upwards, typical for all monasteries. Here there are over 100 of them!

If you are lucky, you can watch a transport of goods by cable car. In the past only large transport nets were used here – for material, food and even people.

Especially impressive in Varlaam Monastery are the free-standing bell tower and the large collection of manuscripts.

  • Opening hours: 9.00 AM – 4.00 PM
  • Closed on Fridays
  • Entrance fee: 3 Euro

 

The largest of the Meteora monasteries: Metamórphosis / Megalou Meteoron

The largest monastery in Meteora is also considered the oldest – it was built on the challenging rocks as early as the middle of the 14th century.

There is especially much to discover here: an old kitchen and a wine cellar with many old utensils. A large catholic church (main church), countless frescoes and even an ossuary with many stacked skulls. The former hospital is now used as a small museum and exhibition room.

But it is accordingly overcrowded, the monastery is very easy to reach from the parking lot.

  • Opening hours: 9.00 AM – 5.00 PM
  • Closed on Tuesdays
  • Entrance fee: 3 Euro

 

Now one follows the main road back into the valley, passing Varlaam monastery and the lower access of Rousanou. Looking up to the right into the steep rocky cliffs, one can also make out one or two monastery ruins, which like their still active relatives were built in adventurous places in the rock.

Insider tip for visiting the Meteora monasteries: Agios St. Nicholaos Anapafsas

A spectacular monastery that practically merges directly into the rock and that had to be built further and further skywards due to the lack of space. The origins go back to the 14th century.

Already at the entrance the small chapel of St. Antonius is waiting for the visitors. In the past, the monks usually entered from above – it is a crypt. Today valuable old manuscripts are still kept here.

  • Opening hours: 9.00 AM – 4.00 PM
  • Closed on Fridays
  • Entrance fee: 3 Euro

Meteora monasteries city trip tips: Agios St. Nicholaos Anapafsas in the landscape panorama

Overgrown paths back to Kastraki

From the main road, before and shortly after the entrance to the monastery of St. Nicholaos Anapafsas, some paths lead off to the left into the valley. So if you are looking for a more beautiful way than the road populated by buses – this is the opportunity!

The paths end in the village Kastraki. With its many accommodations and correspondingly many restaurants and cafés a nice place to reward yourself with a cool drink and review the day.

Don’t miss the small village square of Kastraki and the view of the freestanding rock column.

Meteora monasteries city trip tips: Panorama from the village square of Kastraki

Your evening after visiting the Meteora monasteries

Either you stay in Kastraki or continue on the main road on a direct route – or with detours through nature, if you haven’t walked enough – to Kalambaka. Here you can end the evening in one of the many restaurants or freshen up for the journey to Athens.

Alternatively, you can wait with your home away and watch the sunset from the viewpoints before the spectacular landscape.

You don’t want to stay on top until then? We also offer guided tours for the sunset, comfortably by minibus.

Meteora Monasteries City Trip Tips: Sunset over Rousanou Monastery

 

Did this article make you want to see Meteora? I hope so! Now you know the hiking route with which you can reach all the major Meteora monasteries in one day and what you have to consider. If you still want to know something, please write to me!

 

Are you interested in a Balkan road trip? Have a look here: Balkans Road trip – Incredibly versatile adventure

Are you going to Athens from Meteora? The article Things to do in Athens – A perfect day itinerary will help you out.

 

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How to hike to all Meteora Monasteries in one day - itinerary & tips to enjoy without a car

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