A visit to the Meteora Monasteries, this incredible UNESCO World Heritage site has been occupying my mind for quite a while now. Finally, I have been able to fullfil this desire and I am excited to share my experience with you.
As it is the beginning of July the weather is little bit hotter than let's say if you choose to visit during spring time. At least the summer days are long and we had more time to explore the marvels and secrets of the Meteora Monasteries.
We started our trip on Saturday morning around 7 a.m. and embarked on a 5hour drive from my hometown of Blagoevgrad (including a refreshment stop) before reaching the site.
*You can also travel by plane and land in Thessaloniki. The drive from there is about 225 kilometers. Another options would be to fly to Ioanina and drive for about 100 kilometers.
If you are planning to explore the Meteora Monasteries for more than one day, then you can choose between a number of accommodation options. For our stay, we chose Kalabaka, it’s the biggest the city and close to the Meteora UNESCO site. Other options include several small villages located in close proximity, but we also wanted to go out on Saturday night and that’s why we picked Kalabaka. Our stay there was really pleasant and reasonably priced. We payed only 45 euro for a 1 night stay in a 3 star hotel. The best part was the hotel view to the mountains and the monasteries eleveted in the middle of the sky- a truly heavenly sight!
Kalabaka has a certain charm attached to it. The atmosphere on Saturday night was fantastic! We chose a tavern in the center of the city and enjoyed ourselves. The tavern hosts a fountain among the tables and of course a view to the nearby mountains. As usual the food was great and the Greeks have one of the best cuisines in the world (my personal opinion). A couple of glasses of cold ouzo is a must when in Greece! Ouzo is a great dinner compantion and also has a refreshing effect on a hot summer evening. One of the things that I like about Greece, is that once you finish your dinner there’s a desert on the house- so do tip if service is not included!
All monasteries have their own parking facilities and a few minute walk after parking will take you the entrance. Here is a list of how our tour went and some photos to accompany our story.
Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas (St. Nikolaos Anapafsas Monastery)
Roussanou (Roussanou Monastery)
Varlaam (Varlaam Monastery)
Megalo Meteoro (Great Meteoro)
Agia Trias (Monastery of the Holy Trinity)
Agios Stefanos (St. Stephen's Monastery)
Each of the Meteora Monasteries is unique and I recommend that you visit them all. Once inside you will be able to see some really well maintained and beautiful gardens and museums. The entrance fees are 3 euro per person for each monastery.
We spent our whole day exploring all six monasteries. The time we spent in each one of them was rangin from 30 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on a number of factors.
For example, reacing Agia Trias monastery after we parked took a 15 minute walk. The walk itself was amazing, the stairs through tunnels in the mountain and we saw some really amazing landscapes as you can see from the photos above.
Most of the Meteora Monasteries are open from 9:00 - 17:00, but have in mind that some close their doors at noon and open back in the afternoon. Varlaam is open until 16:00, so plan your time well so you don't miss any.
Meteora is the most important monastic community in Greece after Mount Athos in Halkidiki and it’s something that everyone should see. Even if you’re not into religion, just the fact that the site is part of the UNESCO heritage list is a good enough reason. Not to mention that you can have an amazing romantic weekend escape like we did.