On a family trip last winter, we visited Trikala, Kalambaka and of course Meteora with its monasteries build on the steep rocks. In addition to Trikala where the Elves’ Mill (the famous Greek Christmas Park) offered us a three-day festive mood, we visited Kalambaka where we also headed to the Meteora Museum of Natural History and Mushroom Museum and the Digital Media Center. The beginning of our Meteora tour was made with the experts of Meteora Thrones! Our experience was unforgettable, especially for children who wished to visit Meteora a long time ago as they had learned about this wonder in Geography.
Center for Digital Viewing of Meteora History and Culture
Whether you choose to take a guided tour of Meteora, or visit it yourself, you should definitely first visit the Digital Meteora History and Culture Center in Kalambaka. It’s a new, state-of-the-art center with 105 seats which opened in 2017. The 3D showings are completely free and the work they have done and what they present to the visitors is amazing! We watched three films about the history of Meteora and how they were created. The viewing is half an hour and you have to wear 3D glasses. We saw how the area was years ago and how the rocks that dominated the area were created over the years.
Did you really know that 25-30 million years ago there was a lake in the area of Meteora?
We didn’t want it to finish! It was so impressive to see the eagle flying “beside” you and lead you to the highest peak of the rocks and to the monasteries built on them!
It is really worth visiting before visiting Meteora and not only if you have children!
It is advisable to book an appointment before your visit so that you can organize your trip better without wasting time and secondly make sure that your chosen viewing time will be shown in English. (there is also a viewing in Greek).
- You can call +30 24320 77997 to book your appointment asking for the language you want.
- Opening Hours: Monday – Sunday: 09:00 – 17:00
- Viewings are every hour from 09:00 – 16:00
- Address: P. Dimitriou & N. Plastira, Kalampaka (map)
- More info here.
Visit to the monasteries of Meteora
Wanting a more restful itinerary for Meteora because George, my husband, does a lot of miles by car every day and of course wishing for a more specialized tour, I surprised my family and booked a Sunday morning tour with the Meteora Thrones team.
Meteora Thrones offers tours to Meteora in a luxurious van for small groups. It also organizes day trips to Meteora from Athens and Thessaloniki by bus or train. For those who are more demaning though there is always the choice of private and VIP tours.
- Private Meteora Tour from Athens
- Meteora: 2-Day and 1-Night Tour by Train from Athens
- From Athens: Full-Day Meteora Trip by Train
- Two Day Train Journey from Thessaloniki to Meteora
- Meteora: Full Day Trip by Train from Thessaloniki
- Private Half-Day Meteora Tour
- From Kalabaka: Half-Day Authentic Meteora Hiking Tour
- Majestic Sunset on Meteora Rocks Tour from Kalampaka
- Panoramic Meteora and Monasteries Tour from Kalampaka
The day we chose to visit Meteora, although it was early December, was very good and it made us even happier. The tour would last 4 hours (approx. 9: 00-13: 00), we would visit the 6 monasteries which are open to the public but we would see 3 of them from the inside.
In order to visit Meteora, you first go past the village of Kastraki (which means “small castle”). The small village, as well as the entire Meteora area, has been declared a UNESCO Monument of Nature and World Heritage Site. Although we did not stop there, I think its nice to tell you that the village got its name from a castle whose ruins are preserved today. It has very few permanent residents but there are plenty of options in taverns, folk art shops and religious painting studios and airbnb accommodation.
Ascent to Meteora
All along the way our guide showed us and talked about the area and everything we would see. I think our choice to do this tour proved to be very very wise. We didn’t have to think and make plans about which monastery we would enter, where to park and not even how much time we would spend on each of them. Everything was planned by them and we just enjoyed it!
Meteora is the second largest group of Orthodox monasteries in Greece after Mount Athos. The area was chosen as the point where people believed would be closer to God because of the location. In the beginning, ascetics stayed in the caverns of the Meteora rocks but over the years the first monasteries were built which naturally grew and evolved. For me, watching the monasteries from both far away and from up close made me wonder how they managed to build these monasteries so many years ago! The monks dug holes, put beams (scaffolds) and eventually reached the tops of the cliffs where only the eagles could reach!
Admission to the monasteries is free for Greeks but for tourists is 3 euros. It goes without saying that, as in most monasteries, the visitor’s clothing must be modest, so there are skirts for women to wear over their trousers, while men should wear long pants.
The Great Meteorο is the best known name for the male’s monastery of the Transfiguration of the Savior, the largest of the six ones which operate today and whose construction started by Saint Athanasios Meteorite.
In the past, the entrance to the Monastery was made through both air ladders and a net from the tower but luckily (or unfortunately for my son who asked whether we are going to ascent Meteora in a net or by hiking) nowadays it is much easier to reach it thought stone steps. The monks also use a cable car to transport materials to the monastery from the opposite hill where the car park is located.
In the monastery you will also find an spacious room transformed into a museum, which in the past was a carpentry shop, a cellar, a kitchen and a dining room. There are also books, pictures, vestments, rare manuscripts and other valuable relics in the library.
- In the summer 9-5 pm (Tuesdays closed)
- In the winter 9-4 pm (Tuesday and Wednesday closed)
Monastery of Varlaam
At the top of a rock of the Meteora, the monastery of Saints or the Monastery of Varlaam was built. It got its name from the ascetic monk Varlaam, who was the first to stay there. The beautiful landscaped gardens with trees and flowers, the space with its net and mechanism, the huge barrel of wine, the beautiful frescoes of the temple and the view are just a few of the things that impressed us and made us once again to admire these people who, with God’s help, built all these on the huge rocks.
In the past, the monastery was accessed by scaffolds and the net is still used today to transport food and materials for the maintenance of the monastery. Today, a bridge connects the parking lot with the steps leading to the monastery. However, be prepared as the ascending is quite steep and need time.
- Summer: 9-5pm (Fridays closed)
- Winter 9-3 Winter Hours (Thursday and Friday closed)
After crossing the rocks which resemble a woman, we reached the best spot of meteora from where you can see many of the Meteora monasteries! I preferred not to climb on the rocks as I didn’t wear appropriate boots and the bags on my shoulders plus the camera on my neck didn’t allow me to. But the others dared it! And the magnificent view was worth it!
We didn’t reach the Rousanou Monastery through the expected road. Our tour guide surprised us! Some metres away the cliffside there was a path that led to the Roussanou Monastery.
So, since the weather allowed it, instead of parking in the parking lot and ascending all the steps that lead to the entrance of the monastery, we followed the path, paved with yellow-orange leaves, into the forest.
A large balcony with the blue-white greek flag and the Byzantine flag was all that we needed for a few more photos. A few more steps and we entered the monastery.
- Summer: 9: 00-18: 00 Every Wednesday closed
- Winter: 9: 00-14: 00 Every Wednesday closed
Our visit to Meteora hadn’t finished yet. We stopped in a spot where we could take stunning photos. One of these spots is where they got the images for the Game of Thrones series. The series Department of Photography had asked for some shootings in Meteora, but they did not finally get permission. So the shootings were done elsewhere but they were allowed to shoot some shots from the area to look like they were shot there.
In the past, there were 24 monasteries in Meteora. Today only six of them are open. So, apart from the three monasteries I mentioned before you can also visit the Holy Monastery of Agios Stefanos, the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity and the Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapaisa. Is there anything more left for your next visit to Meteora?
As a four member family we prefer to rent appartements. See here our choise in Kalampaka. We loved the decoration. It was fully equipped, with comfortable spaces, easy to park and its owners were very helpful and hospitable.
I would like to thank Meteora Thrones for this wonderful cooperation. Our trip to Meteora will remain unforgetable.