Meteora has been on my ultimate bucket list since I first saw pictures of it 2-3 years ago. I was so stoked that I finally got to go there! It is one of those breathtakingly beautiful places which no words could truly describe. Everything you will or have heard about its beauty is by no means an exaggeration, trust me.
In this article you’ll find everything you need to know about Meteora and going there. There are some things to be considered and sometimes it’s too annoying to search for hours, so I’ve got you covered.
What is Meteora
It’s a rock formation in the region of Thessaly, Greece with rock pillars as high as 550 m. What is best known for, however, is the complex of Orthodox monasteries built on top of the rocks. Meteora is actually the second most important complex of its kind after Mount Athos.
Although the region was inhabited long long ago, as far as the Neolithic age, the first monks settled here around 9 century A.D. and lived in solitude and worship. Later on, in the 14th century, the first monasteries were built as a place where monks sought protection from the many Turkish attacks. The monasteries were around 20 and were hardly accessible. Nowadays, only 6 of them can be seen. The whole complex is a perfect example of Byzantine culture and architecture.
Today the monasteries are easily accessed by car or motorbike. You have to climb stairs, though, but I promise you every effort is worth it. We visited 3 out of 6, Varlaam, Great Meteoron and Holy Trinity, and in my opinion these are the most beautiful ones. The entrance fee is 3 euros per monastery. Women in pants and short skirts/dresses are not allowed, but skirts are provided at each of the monasteries.
The monastery of Great Meteoron is the biggest and oldest one. It offers a splendid view to the valley and the Varlaam monastery. It’s a bit harder to go because of the many stairs, but to my surprise it was full of tourists. If you go pay a visit to the museum – historical artifacts from WW2 are stored there.
Holy Trinity is the hardest to access, again with many stairs. What I liked the most about it was how high it was – you get a fascinating view to the other monasteries and also the town of Kalambaka below.
The monastery of Varlaam is the second biggest one and my personal favorite. Once you’re there you really don’t feel that you are on the top of an actual rock!
Roussanou was built in the 16th century and is actually a nun monastery. It is probably the most photographed monastery.
St Nikolaos Anapafsas is the first one you approach (coming from Kastraki) and was built on a vertical rock.
St Stephan monastery is the most easily accessed one because you don’t climb any stairs, just go over a bridge. It is also a nun monastery.
What you need to know
Keep in mind that each day of the week one monastery is closed, you can get the information here.
One thing that bothered me was how much time we would need, because we only had 2 days but we didn’t want to rush things. Since you can get to every monastery by car/motorbike you don’t really have to worry about the time for getting around. However, it would be best to spend at least 2 days, because there is so much more to see apart from the monasteries. There are also caves that used to be inhabited and old ruined monasteries. It is the perfect place for adventurous rock climbers and anyone who loves a good hike. One can also pay a visit to the Theopetra cave, in which signs of human presence from at least 50 000 years ago were found.
It’s needless to say that the whole place is out of a fairy-tail. But there are some spots where you get the best views to the monasteries and the valley. You will see most of them because they are flocked with people but I think every rock you can get to is a pretty good match. One of the most popular spots, however, is located near the Roussanou, next to its parking lot. Another well-known spot is the viewpoint next to Varlaam, also the one right before the Great Meteoron where you get the best view to Varlaam. These are some of the best places to take photos.
A must-do in Meteora is watching the sunset (or sunrise if you are an early bird). For this I suggest going to Psaropetra viewpoint, a bit farther from the Roussanou parking lot. There are always people there, so you won’t miss it!
The valley just before sunset and after rain, Psaropetra viewpoint
Meteora is hands down one of the most beautiful places on Earth and I highly recommend seeing it! The boulders which are “suspended in air” are surrounded by this divine, mystical and magical atmosphere. Once you are there you feel completely serene and ready to get lost.