I guess to replace bar hopping by monasteries hopping in Meteora is just another proof that I’m not 20 anymore… My friend Catherine from The Go Fever, suggested to create a hashtag so it sounds cooler. So here is it: #monasterieshopping. Feel free to use it on Instagram.
When I created my itinerary from Athens, I planned to stay 2 nights in the region so I can trek in Meteora and visit the famous monasteries. That was just perfect to visit Trikala on the first day, and to explore the famous monasteries on the second day.
Here’s what you need to know to visit Meteora.
Where I Stayed in Meteora
The small village of Trikala is located about 30 minutes in bus from the monasteries, but I never regretted to have rent my accommodation there.
First, a large part of the city is pedestrian. Second, you can walk to all historical sites from downtown.
The food scene is great and you can easily find a lot of restaurants with a sunny terrace.
Visit the Village of Trikala
The city is located around 30 minutes of bus from the monasteries, but we didn’t regret our choice. First, a whole area is for pedestrians only and all historical sites are easily walkable from the main square. It is also the paradise for terraces and it was perfect to enjoy Greek food.
You should definitely try the restaurant with pastel chairs, on the corner of the florist. The food is amazing, and the service is great!
We walked in the traditional neighbourhood of Varoussi.
Narrow paths through colorful buildings lead to the clock tower, the emblem of the city. No need to follow a map, you’ll see the tower from pretty much anywhere in town.
I won’t lie to you, there’s not much to do in Trikala. But, if you’re like me and love to just walk around and take pictures, you’ll truly enjoy venturing in Varoussi. It’s what pastel Instagram pictures paradise is made of.
Monasteries of Meteora
How to Get to the Monasteries
Once you reach Kalambaka by bus, you have two choices: walk to the monasteries or reach them by bus or taxi. My boyfriend still had a lot of trouble with jet lag and didn’t sleep well, so we chose the lazy way and reached the first monastery by taxi.
A lot of taxi driver will try to charge you around 20€, but we negotiated it for 10€. Don’t be shy to give it a shot! Ahah!
Great Meteoro and the Other Monasteries
The biggest and oldest of the monasteries is the Great Meteoro. It is also the most popular, so expect tourist buses and stands of trinkets.
Fortunately, the crowd doesn’t harm the beauty of the place.
I can’t believe people built monasteries at the edge of cliffs like that. You really need to believe in God to do such a thing. Oh wait…
My boyfriend thought it was super romantic to stand there, looking at the infinite landscape, and I was like “Hey! Did you know that Meteora is where Tyrion is held prisoner in a skycell? That’s awesome!” So I kinda killed the moment, but I think Games of Throne references are mandatory.
Of course, the inside of the monastery doesn’t look like a skycell (unfortunately). Personally, I could have skipped this visit without any regrets, but if you are into “Jesus’ stuff”, you might want to take a look. It only costs around 3€ per monastery to go inside.
Important fact for women: you need to cover your shoulders and wear a skirt. No pants allowed for women. Don’t worry, since hiking in skirt isn’t really practical, there’s wrap around skirts that you can borrow for free.
Complete List of All the Monasteries to Visit
Amoungst the 20+ monasteries in the region, only six still have an active community.
- Agios Nikolaos
- Agios Stefanos
- Aghia Triada
- Grand Météore
You’ll be able to visit 2 to 3 monasteries per day, depending on the time you spend in each. If you wish to go faster, the best is to join a tour.
The Best Part: Hiking in Meteora!
Despite our laziness to go up, we decided to go down by foot.
It is a chance we met Belgians hikers who explained to us where to find the path, because it is far from well indicated! My advice would be to ask instead of trying to find it with the touristic map that focus more on restaurants than on useful trekking information.
Count around 3 hours (including a lot of breaks to take pictures) from Great Meteoro to Kalambaka, but it’s an easy walk since you are going down.
Far from the buses, the path is completely quiet. You’ll pass through forests of twisted trees and mushrooms to reach one of the most beautiful views I’ve seen.
And the view from the bottom is not less impressive…
After two hours of walking, we ended up on a paved road and really wonder which way we had to take to go back to Kalambaka. Fortunately, a car passed by the road and people could show us the right way. Really, some investments should be made to improve the indications for walkers.
The path end in the small village of Kastraki, just at the bottom of the rock formations. It is the best place to stay if you want to have a view from your hotel room.
Personally, I think any visits to Greece would be incomplete without a stop to explore the wild beauty of Meteora. For practical info, take a look at Visit Meteora.
There are three main villages with you can spend the night in Meteora:
- Kastraki – Directly at the bottom of the rock formations.
- Kalambaka – The biggest village in Meteora
- Trikala – A good compromise between both
Personnally, I stayed at l’Hostel Meteora, where a private room start at 50$. For a mysterious reason, the rooms are decorated in a London theme.
Transport From Athens
From Athens, take a bus to Trikala or Kalambaka. That’s a 5-6 hours journey. You’ll find the schedule on KTEL of Trikala. You can also take a train from Athens to Kalambaka, but last time I checked, there was only one trip per day.
When to Visit Meteora
What’s the best season to visit Meteora?
You need to know that the monasteries are one of the most visited places in Greece. Avoid summer if you want to avoid the crowds.
In spring, temperatures are still pleasant and the site is not too crowded. In fall, you’ll have pretty colors in the trees. April, May, June, September and October are the best months.
In January and February, there might be a lot of rain and subzero temperature. If you’re lucky, you could even get snow.
Price and Schedule
You need to buy a ticket for 3€ at each of the monasteries. Tickets are sold on site.
Schedule are a bit of a puzzle.
- Agios Nikolaos: 9h to 16h – Closed on Fridays
- Roussanou: 9h to 17h – Closed on Wednesdays
- Agios Stefanos: 9h to 13h30, 15h30 to 17h30 – Closed on Mondays
- Aghia Triada: 9h to 17h – Closed on Thursdays
- Varlaam: 9h to 16h – Closed on Fridays
- Grand Meteoro: 9h to 17h – Closed on Tuesdays
- Agios Nikolaos: 9h to 16h – Closed on Fridays
- Roussanou: 9h to 14h – Closed on Wednesdays
- Agios Stefanos: 9h to 13h, 15h to 17h- Closed on Mondays
- Aghia Triada: 10h to 16h – Closed on Thursdays
- Varlaam: 9h to 15h – Closed on Thursdays and Fridays
- Grand Météore: 9h to 15h – Closed on Tuesdays
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Did you visit Meteora or are you planning to do so? I hope I inspired you to add it to your itinerary!
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