Meteora is one of the most impressive and unique natural and cultural monuments of Greece and the whole world. It is a cluster of dark-colored sandstone rocks, which rise outside Kalambaka, in the prefecture of Trikala in Thessaly, near the first heights of Pindos and Hasia.
On the peaks and in the caves of the rocks, from the 11th century, 20 monasteries were built, of which only 6 operate today. The monasteries of Meteora are today the second most important monastic complex in Greece, after Mount Athos, and are a source of faith, prayer and reverence for thousands of pilgrims and visitors.
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of natural beauty, cultural heritage and spiritual significance.
Where to stay in Meteora
As in most of the areas, in Meteora we chose to book an Aibnb place, as it seemed the most ideal and the most economical option for three people in that time period. However, if you are looking for accommodation, then I suggest you also check the available options on Booking.com.
In addition to staying in a hotel, lodge or homestay, there are also options for those interested in camping. A camping option is available in Kastraki Trikala just 1km from Kalambaka and the Railway Station. Although there are hotels available that you can visit immediately after you arrive to reserve a room, it is recommended that you do so in advance and online to make sure there is room available.
The main reason we chose to book our stay through Airbnb and not a hotel was undoubtedly because we had our own detached house with a courtyard that had tables and chairs. It was also big enough to fit our bikes in with ease, while in the evenings we enjoyed the cool breeze and the incredible view of Meteora.
However, our stay was not in Meteora but in Trikala. It was more convenient for us to go back and forth as we enjoyed the city at the same time, especially in the evenings before going to our Airbnb. Looking back though, we should have booked our stay in Meteora, as the places to stay there also come with a correspondingly beautiful natural view, which we were not lucky enough to enjoy.
1. Explore the monasteries
Meteora is currently home to six active monasteries, each perched precariously on sandstone pillars that rise dramatically from the valley floor. For many who see them for the first time, it seems as if these monasteries have found a unique way to defy gravity.
The experience begins with an unforgettable exploration of these spiritual sanctuaries, which offer a better glimpse into monastic life while adorned with stunning frescoes, ancient relics and peaceful courtyards. The largest and oldest monastery however is the Holy Monastery of Megalo Meteoro, which comes with a unique architecture and rich history dating back to< a i=3> 14th century.
Visit the Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapavsa
It is a small church of Agios Nikolaos Anapavsa, placed in a “dramatic” way on a high rock. Its frescoes and peaceful atmosphere make it a hidden gem worth exploring if you’re in Meteora.
The Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapavsa is one of the six active monasteries in the Meteora area of Greece. It is perched on a solitary rock formation, making it one of the most impressive and visually captivating monasteries of Meteora.
The exact founding date of the monastery remains uncertain, but it is believed to have been established in the 14th century. The name “Rest” comes from the Greek word “Rest”. The name of the monastery is believed to be associated with the ancient hermitages and resting places that existed in the area before the actual construction of the monastery.
The monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapavsa is located on a high and isolated rock, which stands out from the main cluster of rocks of Meteora. Its remoteness and strategic location made it an ideal location for spiritual contemplation and solitude. To gain access to the monastery, visitors must climb a series of steps carved into the rock face, offering an exciting and rewarding experience.
The chapel of Agios Nikolaos Anapausas is relatively small and has a simple but elegant architectural style. The interior of the chapel is decorated with beautiful frescoes dating from the 16th century, depicting scenes from the life of Jesus Christ and various saints. These exquisite frescoes are proof of the outstanding artistic heritage of the Byzantine era.
While the Monastery of Agios Nikolaos Anapavsa is not as well known as some of the larger monasteries of Meteora, it is open to the public for visits at certain times. As with all monasteries in the area, visitors are expected to dress modestly and respectfully.
Visit the Monastery of Agia Triada
The Monastery of Agia Triada is one of the most emblematic and impressive monasteries in the area of Meteora. Perched atop a sheer cliff, it has gained international fame and recognition, in part due to its appearance in the 1981 James Bond film, “For Your Eyes Only“.
The exact date of establishment of the Holy Trinity Monastery is not well documented, but it is believed to have been founded in the 15th century during the Byzantine era. The monastery has undergone significant renovations and expansions over the centuries, resulting in the imposing structure seen today.
The Monastery of the Holy Trinity is a masterpiece of architectural ingenuity, built on a narrow and jagged and rocky stele that rises high above the floor of the Meteora Valley. Its location, at an altitude of about 400 meters (1312 feet), offers a stunning panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes and other monasteries in the area.
To access the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, visitors must climb a series of steps carved directly into the rock. This steep climb, consisting of approximately 140 steps, provides a sense of adventure and awe as visitors approach the monastery.
The main part of the monastery consists of the central courtyard, the chapel, the monks’ living quarters and other basic facilities. The chapel is adorned with well-preserved frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Christ and various saints and biblical narratives that represent the outstanding artistic heritage of the Byzantine era.
2. Go for a hike
You can say that the hiking trails in Meteora create a network of well-marked hiking trails that cover various levels of fitness and personal preference. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for more challenging climbs, or a casual walker constantly looking for scenic views, you’re sure to find a trail you’ll love.
The trails in Meteora vary in length and difficulty, with some ranging from easy strolls to more strenuous hikes that take you to the top of some of the tallest rock formations. So make sure you have your most comfortable shoes and get ready to cross one of the most beautiful rocky landscapes on our planet.
Hiking in Meteora gives you access to some of the area’s hidden gems that are not easily accessible by other means of transportation. From your hike you will see isolated chapels, caves and small monasteries hidden in the rocks, each with its own unique history and charm. These hidden treasures add an element of mystery and adventure to anyone’s hike.
3. Go climbing
For daring souls, climbing Meteora is an exciting and unique experience that attracts climbers from all over the world. The area’s dramatic rock formations, combined with its spiritual and historical significance, make it a climbing destination like no other.
Meteora is famous for its stunning sandstone cliffs that rise dramatically from the valley floor. It took millions of years for the natural forces of our planet to shape this demanding, diverse and fully climbing environment. The crags offer a variety of climbing routes, including vertical faces, ledges and cracks that cater to climbers of all levels.
The climbing routes in Meteora range from beginner-friendly routes with lower degrees of difficulty to more advanced and technical climbs for experienced climbers. The area boasts more than 700 climbing routes, making it a climbing paradise with endless possibilities for exploration and challenge.
While Meteora is a destination you can visit at any time of the year, the best time to hike is in spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November). The weather is milder during those times and the landscapes are adorned with blooming flowers or autumn foliage everywhere, adding even more beauty to the whole landscape.
For those new to climbing or unfamiliar with the Meteora area, hiring a local climbing guide is recommended. Experienced climbing guides can provide valuable information on the best routes, ensure safety practices, and share stories about the geological and historical significance of the area.
Climbing tours cater for different skill levels and can be tailored to suit everyone’s individual preferences and abilities.
4. Bike the beautiful trails
Of course, as a cyclist I couldn’t help but refer to the beautiful paths we had the pleasure of running on our bikes. If you are a cyclist and you are thinking of loading the bike in the car for an extreme but beautiful experience, then there are several paths that you can visit.
For reference, we were three people with three different bikes. More specifically, we had a downhill and two hard-trails with us, one of which had a front suspension with 100m travel, which means that with a little more experience you can go down all the trails with relative comfort.
In order to still enjoy the whole experience, we first contacted the store Meteora e-Bike, who undertook to they go up in a special jeep, showing us each of the trails available and taking us up again and again. Their hospitality was unique, suggesting us places to visit and where we could try the local cuisine. Dear Jenny welcomed us upon our arrival at the store, while dear Vassilis was our guide for the day.
Just 7-10 minutes outside of Kalambaka, there is also a trail called “D-Trails”, which includes some excellent flights to pass your time pleasantly. Since all the flights are at a certain point, you can park the car just a few steps away, enjoying an extreme rest of the day.
5. Try the local cuisine
Whichever region you visit, indulging in the delicious and local cuisine should undoubtedly be one of the must-do’s on your travel to-do list. There are several taverns where you will have the opportunity to try Greek dishes and enjoy the warm hospitality of the local people.
The local cuisine in Meteora reflects the traditional flavors of Greek gastronomy, with an emphasis on fresh and local ingredients. Exploring the charming towns surrounding the monasteries, visitors will find a range of taverns and restaurants offering delicious dishes that highlight the region’s culinary heritage.
Ask them to prepare anything you haven’t tried before and anything considered local, thus allowing your stomach to live the full Meteora experience. For foreign tourists, local foods tend to be moussaka, pastitsio, souvlaki, Greek salad, baklava, saganaki and kleftiko.