Visit the Monasteries of Meteora: complete guide

Visiter les Monastères des Météores en Grèce : guide complet

Planning a trip to Greece? Then check out our 5 ideas for visiting the Monasteries of Meteora!

Located in the heart of mainland Greece, Meteora is one of the country’s most impressive sites. They are located in the north of the country, in the valley of the River Penea. As their names suggest, these cliffs and peaks were seen as heaven-sent. Emerging from the ground, as if they had fallen suddenly from the sky, they are in reality grey rocks left behind by a river flowing into the Thessalian Sea during the Tertiary era. Erosion gradually carved them into their surprising shape. However, the main attraction of this airy place is its Orthodox Christian monasteries, or « sky-hanging monasteries », perched atop the cliffs.

Listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, it’s simply breathtaking. Would you like to visit the Monasteries of Meteora in Greece? Here are some ideas on how to get there!

The Meteora Monasteries in brief

Vue panoramique sur un des monastères des Météores, Grèce

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Sergey Berestetsky

The first hermits occupied caves in these rocky peaks from 985 onwards. But it wasn’t until the 14th century that the first buildings appeared. The first monastery, called Megalo Meteoro, was founded in 1382. Twenty-two other monasteries were built between the 14th and 16th centuries. At the time, they were difficult to reach using ropes, ladders and ingenious net systems with pulleys. Unfortunately, by the 17th century, most of the monasteries had fallen into ruin. Some were gradually abandoned, while others were destroyed or damaged in wars.

Only seven monasteries remain active in Meteora: Megalo Meteoro, the largest; Varlaam, one of the most spectacular; Agios Nikolaos, the most authentic; the Roussano convent; Aghia Triada and Agios Stefanos. During your visit, you can also admire the ruins of ancient monasteries, such as that of Saint Anthony.

Discover trips to Meteora

1. Tours by bus or minibus

Bus sur la route des Monastères des Météores, vue panoramique, Grèce

Photo credit: Shutterstock – FASD Photography

Would you like to visit the Monasteries of Meteora quickly and without having to walk between each location? Then you can opt for a one-day bus tour. Of course, most guided tours depart from the town closest to the site: Kalampaka.

Excursions generally last half a day or even a full day. You’ll discover the 6 monasteries still used by a small community of monks and nuns, all of whom live in Meteora. Please note, however, that some tours allow you to visit only 3 or 4 of these monasteries, rather than all of them. You’ll still be able to see them all on your tour. Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take souvenir photos of the magnificent rocks of Meteora. Fabulous landscapes dot the route between the various monasteries. During your visit, you’ll also have the chance to take several short walks to appreciate this beautiful, mystical wilderness.

Visit terms and rates

  • With this type of minibus or bus tour, you’ll usually be picked up at your hotel on the outward and return journeys. Most offer to pick you up in Kalabaka or Kastraki. A professional English-speaking guide will accompany you throughout the tour.
  • As for prices, you should expect to pay between €25 and €35 for a tour of the Meteora monasteries by bus or minibus. Guided tours are also available at sunset. Of course, this is the perfect time to take photos, as the landscape blazes with a thousand celestial lights!
  • Most guided tours do not include admission to the monasteries, which normally cost €3 per site.

2. Hiking in Meteora

Homme prenant une photo des Monastères des Météores, classés au patrimoine mondial de l'UNESCO, Grèce

Crédit photo : Shutterstock – Ruslan Kalnitsky

One of the best ways to visit the Monasteries of Meteora is, of course, by hiking! Not only is it the perfect way to discover these monuments, it’s also a great way to enjoy the region’s superb scenery. After all, the unique beauty of Meteora and its geological formations can best be observed on foot. Walking is one of the only ways to truly admire the strange shapes of these rocks.

You can choose to follow your own itinerary and visit on your own. Or you can opt for a half-day or full-day guided tour.

In the first case, we recommend you bring a map of the Meteora site. Contact your hotel or the Kalabaka Tourist Office. The paths are then clearly indicated. All you have to do is put on your shoes and rucksack and visit the Meteora Monasteries at your leisure! In the second case, you can discover and admire the most beautiful of the six Western Orthodox monasteries carved out of sandstone, accompanied by a local English-speaking guide. He’ll take you to some incredible viewpoints of this UNESCO World Heritage site.

How to book a guided tour and prices

  • Guided hikes generally last five hours and start in the morning. Even in winter, the sun can be quite strong. So it’s best to set off in the morning to avoid exhaustion!
  • As with a minibus tour, you will usually be picked up at your hotel. The price of the monasteries is not included in the tour, unless otherwise specified. You won’t necessarily visit all the monasteries, but probably only one or two.
  • Food and beverages are generally not included.
  • Prices for this type of tour are at least €35 per person.

3. Guided tours and bike rides

Route menant au Holy Trinity, monastères des Météores, Grèce

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Curtis Watson

As with hiking, cycling is an excellent way to visit the Monasteries of Meteora. You can also choose to discover them on your own. Before setting off on your adventure, be sure to take along a map of the site, to help you spot the marked paths and different itineraries.

But you can also opt for a guided bike tour. Many organizations offer electric bike tours. Accompanied by a guide, you’ll enjoy a wonderful electric bike tour through the rocks and monasteries of Meteora. Tours generally depart from the center of Kalambaka. Most take place at sunset, to take advantage of the cool light. This means of transport is also ideal for enjoying the views without getting too tired!

Please note, however, that these tours don’t usually allow you to enter and visit the Meteora Monasteries. You can only see them from the outside.

Terms and rates for a bike tour

  • Lasting an average of 3 hours, bike tours cost between €30 and €40 per person.

Discover trips to Meteora

4. Excursions from Athens or elsewhere in Greece

Excursions aux monastères des Météores depuis Athènes ou Thessalonique

Photo credit: Shutterstock – silky

You don’t want to stay in Kalampaka or the surrounding area? Getting to this part of Greece can be complicated and uninteresting, especially if you only want to visit the Meteora Monasteries. Fortunately, there are many excursions from Athens and Thessaloniki.

Excursion terms and rates

  • From Athens, excursions are usually by train. The train journey takes around 4 hours, and you’ll need to bring your own food and drink. On arrival in Kalambaka, your English-speaking guide will take you on a guided tour of the Meteora Monasteries. This guided tour usually lasts 5 hours.
  • Your return train ticket from Athens to Kalambaka will be booked and paid for by the organization. You’ll travel between the different sites in an air-conditioned minibus. The organization is the same as for a guided bus tour from Kalambaka. Expect to pay between €90 and €100 for this type of tour.
  • From Thessaloniki, the journey is usually made by bus, with pick-up at your hotel or a meeting point. On site, the same arrangements apply as for other guided tours. An excursion from Thessaloniki usually costs €55 per person.
  • Note that some guided tours include a stop at Delphi, another of Greece’s must-see sites.

5. Climbing routes in Meteora

Homme assis et méditant au sommet d'une montagne. Grèce Meteora, Monastères des Météores

Photo credit: Shutterstock – paulmarinis

Would you like to discover Meteora from a different angle? Whether you’re a rock-climbing enthusiast or a complete amateur, don’t miss the chance to try out this sport in this unique part of the world! If you’re already an expert, you can pick up a map of the region’s climbing spots at the Kalambaka Tourist Office. You’ll then be able to set off with your own equipment for the Meteora spots.

However, if you’re a complete beginner, we recommend a guided climbing experience. Accompanied by your instructor/guide, you’ll discover the secret paths leading to the top of the rocks. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views over the region and the Meteora site. Naturally, this type of excursion includes both short and long climbs of the iconic rocks. Your guide will provide you with all the climbing equipment you need.

Climbing course terms and prices

  • An introductory tour usually costs around 50 euros, including equipment, instructor, climbing and cliff hike.
  • You can also contact local climbing clubs directly to find out about the outdoor activities they offer. Once again, your local tourist office will be your best ally in this quest!