Meteora, also known as “middle of the sky,” “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above” (just the name alone makes you want to visit!) is considered one of the great gems of Greece.
When you think of Greece, you tend to think of ancient ruins or an island getaway, which makes Meteora even more unique as it is actually 24 monasteries perched on top of a number of rock pinnacles! In fact, it’s sometimes referred to as a “stone forest.”
The first time I heard of the place was actually on one of those “Places to You Visit” type lists that came up on my newsfeed (you know those ones you bookmark to read later on and then forget about it just a few days afterwards). So I was definitely pretty stoked that I actually got to visit!
After Thessaloniki, we took a train to Kalampaka (for those looking to travel around Greece, the train is an amazing option! it’s pleasant and so cheap too! I think our trip was only about 15 euros one way!).
There are no train connections to Meteora, but Kalampaka is pretty much as close as you get. You can see the rock pillars from the village and even walking is an option to get there.
Although we arrived at Kalampaka at night so it was pretty dark already, you could see these massive rock pillars that lined a part of the village…it felt so surreal!
We were actually pleasantly surprised by Kalampaka as well. We thought it would be a tiny village with not too much happening, but it actually had tons of cute restaurants, shops and cafes.
We stayed at a hotel called Aeolic Star and it was such a cute little place. We were bummed that we were only there for one night, because it really was the coziest place we ever stayed at. We even had a really pretty view from our little balcony!
Anyway, back to Meteora! While you can hike from Kalampaka to Meteora (about an hour), we decided to take a taxi, which is one of the most popular ways to get up there, and they take you right to the foot of the pillars.
I think we only paid 10 euros for the trip, although I’m not sure if during peak season, the price increases.
Going up to the monasteries looks like a strenuous climb when you look at photos of Meteora (it looks quite intimidating actually!), but was actually super easy! It’s mostly going up a paved path, and you don’t even realize it after a while because you’re surrounding by such break taking views.
An author once said:
“the slow pace of the walker gives him the chance to experience the surrounding world, where a flower, a rock or a monk standing on a high balcony are perceived quite differently. Only by following the footsteps of holy men as far in the past as the 11th century – well away from the milling crowds of tourists – is one able to experience a different aspect of Meteora”.
There are six monasteries that are open to the public, and some very determined people actually visit all of them! There are even tours that offer to take you to all of them in one day for those opting for an easier option.
For us, We did some research prior and found that most people thought the monasteries are all quite similar so we decided to go into two instead and take our time rather than feeling rushed because we wanted to see all six. The entrance fee for each one is 3 euros.
Some of these have a little museum inside too with lots of fascinating things to look at. If you only have time for one, I would definitely recommend the Great Meteoron Monastery, which is the biggest and oldest of them all, dating back to the 14th century!
Sometimes you stumble across something funny…
On the way home, this one dog followed us for an hour. Despite trying to escape, he would obediently continue to follow us to the point where We thought we would have to adopt him, but he eventually ran off.
Although it was a bit sad, that worked out nicely for us since we were stuck on deciding how we would bring him along our Ryanair flight without acquiring hefty dog fees.
Overall this trip was out of this world. Meteora was definitely one of the coolest places I’ve visited.
If you guys ever go to Greece it’s a huuuuuge MUST!
A Few Tips!
- Bring lots of water, especially if you’re going during the warmer season.
- Wear comfortable running or hiking shoes since you’ll be walking a lot
- For visitors inside the monasteries, shoulders must be covered and long pants or skirts is a must
- Make sure you learn how to take panorama photos on your phone or camera because you’re going to be doing a lot of those here!
- If you bring food and start eating it, 20 stray cats will surround you
Did you know?
- The monasteries weren’t originally built for tourism, but tourism is also essential for their survival, which has also ruined the contemplative atmosphere they were meant for!
- it’s the second largest monastic and pilgrimage area in Greece after Mount Athos
- The first monks took refuge on these cliffs as they were fleeing from an invading Turkish army in the 11th century
- Until 1920, the only way to get building materials up was to pull them by with baskets
- Even the monks themselves used long ladders or large nets to haul themselves up!
- For the adventurous, you can even climb! (It’s one of the most popular rock climbing sites in the world!)
- in 1988 Meteora was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site
- The site was featured in the James Bond movie, For Your Eyes Only
- The rock pillars were formed around 60 million years ago by earthquakes and weathering
Have you guys been to Meteora?