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Meteora in Greece: the complete travel guide

Meteora is a very distinctive rock formation found in central Greece. In this guide, I explain how to plan your trip there and what to see.

come visitare le meteore in grecia

A quick guide to Meteora

Best time to visit: during Spring or Fall

How long: a couple of days is enough to visit the area and relax for a while

Why it is worth visiting: it’s a unique place. There’s no other places like it in the world

A quick tip: each monastery has a different closing day. If you are interested in a particular one, check its opening days.

Where to stay: you can find plenty of options on Booking.

Nothing is more strange and wonderful than this fantastic region, unlike anything I have ever seen. In . . . all the mountainous regions I have been to, there is nothing that compares to these extraordinary pillars.

Robert Curzon, English traveler, 1849

Curzon’s words summarize your feelings when observing these incredible rock formations for the first time in Thessaly, Greece.

Welcoming the tourists, there is an imposing stone “forest” composed of over twenty huge rocky pillars towering into the sky, hundreds of meters high. But the most incredible thing is the monasteries built on these rocks.

This is Meteora, a unique and extraordinary combination of rock formations and human labor. The name “Meteora” – from a Greek word meaning “things that stand on high” – refers to this group of isolated rocky pillars and the more than 30 monasteries built on them. The average height of these rocks is 300 meters, but some exceed 550 meters.

Geology: how were these rocks formed?

meteore grecia come arrivare

A shallow sea once covered the region of Meteora. Over time, the sea receded, exposing the area to the elements. The sandstone that makes up the pillars was formed from sediments deposited on the sea floor.

As the years passed, the forces of wind and water eroded the sandstone, slowly shaping it into the towering pillars we see today. The elements have further sculpted the pillars over time, creating the unique and striking landscape we see in Meteora.

In addition to the natural forces of erosion, the monasteries built on top of the pillars have also contributed to their formation. The monks who built the monasteries carved steps and pathways into the pillars, allowing people to reach the top and access the monasteries. This has helped to shape the landscape of Meteora and has made it possible for people to explore the area.

Top things to see

meteora in greece

Monks from the 11th century onwards built the monasteries of Meteora. These monks sought solitude and a place to practice their religious beliefs, and they saw the towering pillars of Meteora as the perfect location.

Building the monasteries was no easy task. The pillars were tall and steep, and there was no easy way to reach the top. The monks had to use a series of ladders and ropes to access the top of the pillars, and then they had to carve out steps and pathways to make it possible to move around and access the monasteries.

Once they reached the pillars’ top, the monks began building the monasteries. They used natural materials, such as stone and wood, and carefully crafted each monastery by hand. The result was a series of beautiful and unique structures that are now a major attraction in the region.

Despite the challenges, the monks persevered and built several monasteries in Meteora. Today, only six of these monasteries (two of which house nuns) are still in use, but they continue to be a significant draw for visitors to the area. The monasteries are a testament to the determination and skill of the monks who built them, and they remain an essential part of the history and culture of Meteora.

monasteri a meteora in grecia

Holy Trinity Monastery was built in 1475 and renovated several times in 1684, 1689, 1692, 1741.

The first hermits to climb Meteora were Barnabas, between 950 and 965 E.V., and Andronicus of Crete, in 1020. Other monks from all parts of the Byzantine world joined him, so the number of rock-top monasteries reached 33. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the communities reached the height of their importance, but from then on, their decline began.

meteora grecia

Nuns now occupy St. Stephen’s Monastery.

Today, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, the Meteora monasteries represent an invaluable cultural heritage. In recent times, the Greek government has been taking care to preserve Meteora’s cultural heritage, and partly because they have appeared in several films, Meteora is increasingly visited by tourists.

How to get there

meteora greece1
Rousanou Monastery

There are several ways to get to Meteora, but none are very fast. Here are a few options to consider:

  1. By car: Meteora is located in central Greece and easily accessible from nearby cities and towns. The region is well-served by highways and roads, and several car rental agencies are available if you need to rent a vehicle.
  2. By bus: if you are traveling by bus, there are several options for getting to Meteora. One of them is to take a bus to Trikala and change there for Kalambaka.
  3. By train: the nearest train station to Meteora is in the town of Kalambaka, which is at the base of the pillars. There are regular trains from Athens and other major cities in Greece and Kalambaka; you can take a local bus or taxi to reach Meteora.
  4. By plane: the nearest airport to Meteora is in Ioannina, about an hour’s drive from the region. You can rent a car or take a bus from Ioannina to reach Meteora.

If you want to visit Meteora, I recommend staying in Kastraki, a pretty village near Meteora. You can find some good deals on If you prefer, you will find some discounts here.

How to get around Meteora and opening times of the monasteries

kalambaka at sunset

Once you arrive in Meteora, there are several options for getting around the region and exploring the monasteries and other attractions. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. By car: if you have a car, this is the best option for exploring the area. The region has good roads and is easy to navigate; having your vehicle gives you more freedom.
  2. By bus: only from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, which stops at the various monasteries and then returns to the city
  3. By taxi: taxis are widely available in the area and can be a convenient way to get around. You can either hail a taxi on the street or call a local company to arrange a pick-up.
  4. On foot: Meteora is a great destination for hikers, and several trails offer beautiful views of the region. If you enjoy hiking, this is a great way to explore the area and see the sights. Keep in mind that it can be pretty hot in summer.
  5. With a Tour: Finally, you can consider booking a guided tour. It’s not very expensive, and you will learn a lot more than on a self-guided tour.

One important thing to keep in mind if you want to visit the monasteries are the opening hours; some are open only in the morning. These are the closing days instead:

  • Moni Agiou Stefanou: Monday
  • Moni Megalou Meteorou: Tuesday
  • Moni Varlaam: Wednesday
  • Moni Agias Varvaras Rousanou: Wednesday
  • Moni Agias Triados: Thursday
  • Moni Agiou Nikolaou Anapafsa: Friday

When I was there, admission to each monastery was about 2€.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, visiting Meteora in Greece is an unforgettable experience. The monasteries offer a glimpse into the history and culture of the area, and they are a must-see for anyone visiting Greece. Whether you’re interested in history, and culture, or simply enjoying the natural beauty of the area, there is plenty to see and do in Meteora for everyone.

You can find more photos taken in Meteora here and here you can read an article about Lake Kerkini also in Greece. If you want to visit North Macedonia, don’t miss this travel guide.

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