But we couldn’t decide – is Meteora worth visiting? It was pretty far from Athens, we didn’t have a car, and were both on shoestring budgets. After deliberating for a while, we decided we wanted to take the chance and took a taxi to the bus station (pro tip: tell the driver to take you to Liossion Station).
It was already pretty late in the day, but we didn’t have much time before we’d planned to go to Paros afterwards, and needed to be back in Athens to take the ferry. So, we took a bus that left in the evening and deposited us in Trikala later that night.For bus/train timetables and info from Athens to Meteora, go here. P1urchase your ticket online, as it’s cheaper, and don’t forget to use that student discount if you have a valid ID!
We got an early start the next day and took the bus to Kalambaka (our hostel told us which stop to get off on), and walked from the stop to monasteries because we were too cheap to get a cab. It took us about 45 minutes walking from the city center to reach the first monastery, the Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas. It will take you another hour of walking to get to the Great Meteoron Monastery, the highest monastery of the 6 that people can visit.
Expect to do a LOT of walking if you do this. It may be a better idea to take a cab to the base of the hill, or even the first monastery if they’ll do it. We were exhausted later, but it was well worth it!
METEORA HISTORYThe word Meteora translates to “hovering in air” and this is pretty much what comes to mind when I look at the monasteries perched on rocks. It brings to mind the Air Temples from the Avatar TV series!
During the 14th century, a monk brought his followers to Meteora where a group of hermits were living. The monks ended up employing the hermits to teach them to climb the gigantic mountains, and built the Great Meteoran Monastery.
Later, more monks escaped persecution by fleeing to Meteora, and erected more monasteries to reside in. They built over 24, but today only 6 remain active today.
But isn’t it wild to think about people just CLIMBING these giant rocks? I would be terrified out of my mind.
For more information on each individual monastery, go here.
HOW MUCH DO THE MONASTERIES COST?The monasteries cost €3 each to enter
IS THERE A DRESS CODE IN THE MONASTERIES?
YES! Men and women need to wear long pants/skirts and cover their shoulders. If you don’t have the right clothing, the monasteries will provide women a shawl and skirt free of charge. They apparently don’t do so for men (although they did give my friend Andrew a skirt to wear, so maybe it just depends on the worker). So men – have long pants or you will be denied access.
WHEN ARE THE MONASTERIES OPEN?
Each monastery is usually closed at least one day of the week in the summer, and sometimes more in the winter. I didn’t realize this and The Monastery of Great Meteoron happened to be closed on the day that we went, which I was kinda bummed about since it’s the largest one. Be sure to check their hours of operation beforehand here!
HOW MANY MONASTERIES ARE THERE?
There are 6 different monasteries that you can visit: the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Monastery of Rousanou, Monastery of Varlaam, Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas, The Monastery of Great Meteoron, and Monastery of St. Stephen.
MONASTERY OF ST. NICHOLAS ANAPAUSASAt first, my friend Andrew wasn’t too impressed and I was worried I’d made the wrong decision (especially because we’d only met 2 days ago).
BUT THEN. We saw the first monastery, the Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas, and it was like, OMG. So freaking beautiful and awe inspiring and amazing and just holy moly mackerel.
We decided to go inside this one. Neither of us were dressed properly, and were both given skirts to put over our shorts. Our shoulders were covered (I always bring a cardigan with me!) so we were good there.
We paid €3, went inside, and looked around at the different displays.
MONASTERY OF ROUSANOUThen we came to the Monastery of Rousanou. We decided not to go in this one, but enjoyed staring at its beauty from afar! It’s actually a convent now, and more than 15 nuns currently live there.
MONASTERY OF VARLAAMWe did go in this one! The Monastery of Varlaam is the second largest monastery in Meteora, so we figured what the heck and went inside.
MONASTERY OF ST. STEPHEN
We didn’t end up stopping at this one, either. However, this is the most accessible monastery since it doesn’t have steps. The other monasteries require you to ascend or descend a set up stairs to get to them, but not St. Stephen! So, if you have mobility issues, you may want to visit this monastery.
MONASTERY OF GREAT METEORONAs I mentioned previously, this is the largest and oldest monastery. It was closed so we couldn’t go in, but I suppose that’s just another reason to visit again!
MONASTERY OF HOLY TRINITY
We skipped this one as we ran out of time, and it was a little out of the way. I’d love to go back again and see it, though!
We definitely did A LOT of walking, and were both exhausted when the day was over. We’d originally planned to stay for sunset, but then the weather started to turn (yes, there are thunderstorms in the summer in this part of Greece), and we were both pretty tired. So I think we headed back around 4 or so. We grabbed dinner in a little restaurant in Kalambaka just as it started to pour (we literally got so lucky!) and then took the bus back to Trikala.
WHAT IS A CHEAP HOSTEL IN METEORA?We stayed in Nomads Meteora for only about $15 a night in a mixed dorm, and I thought it was really nice. The hostel is located in Trikala instead of Kalamabaka. We preferred this as it’s a lot more touristy and expensive to stay in Kalambaka. Trikala is more local, and only a cheap 15 minute bus ride away to Kalambaka village!
IN CONCLUSION – IS METEORA WORTH VISITING?
YES. I give a resounding YES! If I had the chance, I’d do it all over again. So worth going, even if just for one day! Even if you’re on a super budget, it’s totally affordable if you just take public transportation and walk everywhere.