If you're visiting Athens and you want to venture out on a day-trip that will take you away from the Greek capital and help you explore the country a little bit better, a day trip to Meteora is what you're after! Here is everything you need to know about how to spend one day in Meteora and avoid any mishaps so you can enjoy your time in Greece as much as possible!
Meteora, the place between heaven and earth, is located in central Greece, close to the city of Kalambaka. Found at the foothills of the Pindus mountain range, the area is surrounded by dense pine forests, fast-flowing rivers and a striking landscape that will captivate you. The landmark that will make you stand in awe, are the pillars of Meteora, a unique natural landmark that carve their way into the sky as if they are trying to support the celestial dome. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is certain that your visit there is going to be an unforgettable experience since you are going to witness a natural wonder combined with the humbling spirituality of one of the most important monastic centers of the Christian-Orthodox Church.
Some 365 km away from the city of Athens, there are various ways to choose from in regard to reaching Meteora for a day-trip. If you decide to rent a car, or have a private transfer to Meteora, keep in mind that the drive is going to take an average of 4 hours, therefore, starting early is something that you should not overlook.
In case though, you are heading to Meteora with public transport, here are some things you should know in advance:
Coaches to Meteora
Starting from Athens, you can always reach the monasteries of Meteora by coach. To do that, you have to start early, at 7.00 am, from the Liosion KTEL Station -Liosion Coach Station- of Athens having as destination the city of Kalambaka, and the magnificent monasteries of Meteora. For more information on the schedules, tickets and online reservations click the following link.
Train routes to Meteora
Meteora view - credits: EGUCHI NAOHIRO/Shutterstock.com
Your other option is to use the Greek Railway System to Kalambaka. Starting from Athens, you should head to the Athens Railway Station which is easily accessible through the metro line -metro station: Larissis station - red line. Start from Larissis station at 08.20 am and enjoy the historical route full of spectacular images of natural beauty as you will pass through national parks, and stone arched bridges. Let the landscapes follow one another until you reach Meteora.
Arriving at Meteora
Meteora monastery - credits: varlaam Alberto Loyo/Shutterstock.com
Once you reach the magical destination of Meteora, start your exploration by following one of the organized trails leading you to the walls of the Meteora rocks. On your way, enjoy your walk through the forest that surrounds the rocks, and discover medieval ruins that vividly reflect how life used to be during the past. One of those spots is the abandoned but restored monastery of Ypapanti. This small monastery belongs to the monastery of the Grand Meteoron and it was founded during the 14th century. The monks built directly onto the walls of the high pillars, exploiting every little gap and small cave they could to form a fully functional monastery able to host dozens of monks. During its lifetime, the monastery flourished and got renovated in the 18th century after the decision of a pious local named Athanasios Vlahavas. Unfortunately, some years later, the forces of the Ali Pasha of Ioannina destroyed the monastery which led to its final abandonment. Today, the visitor has the chance to wander around the well-preserved ruins of the monastic cells and the restored church of the monastery, all in a pristine, spectacular natural environment.
Continue your walk to the closeby monastery of Rousanou. This nunnery was built during the 16th century and it is one of the six still operating monasteries of Meteora. The building complex occupies the whole plateau of the rock making it an impenetrable fort. During past years, the entrance to the monastery was allowed through the crossing of a retractable wooden bridge and a staircase carved into the natural bedrock. The monastery is dedicated to St. Barbara and it is open all week except for Wednesdays. For more information click here.
Your last stop should be the most impressive monastery of them all, the Grand Meteoron. Located at the highest point of this unique landmark, this monastery has a history of several centuries. Initially founded in the 14th century, this monastic complex faced numerous phases of expansion and wealth. The access to the monastery was literally impossible because of the high vertical walls of the geological formation. Therefore, the monks came up with another idea and they built a tower that hosted a winch-mechanism designed to carry people and supplies into the complex. Today, a staircase is carved on the walls of the rock making it easier for both monks and visitors to enter the monastery. Some of the things you should not miss while being there, is the Ossuary where the bones of generations of monks were put to rest, the old kitchen, the medieval cellar and of course, the church of the Transfiguration of Jesus Christ and the chapel of St. Constantine and St. Helen.
Meteora is a place of spectacular wonder that attracts the visitor to venture in its vast history and natural beauty. Spending more days in the region of Meteora will give you the chance to explore the countryside, visit more monasteries with intriguing history or even participate in a hiking adventure. It is certain that just a day is not enough for you to fully experience the sanctity and energy of the region but sticking to the plan will properly introduce you to the area and feed your wanderlust. Waste no more time, plan your own trip to Meteora or check out one of our Greece tours.