View of Meteora with Agias Varvaras Rousanou monastery in the foreground

Meteora (Greek: Metéora) is one of the gems of Greece. Located near the town of Kalampaka (Population: 21,991 (2011)) in northwestern Thessaly it consists of a number of rock pinnacles topped with a total of 24 monasteries, 6 of which are still in use and open to visitors, while the others are abandoned.



Emerging about 25 million years ago as the elevated seabed material that was the outcome of strong tectonic movements, the Meteora rocks became a shelter of humankind. The first hermits arrived in this area to seek spiritual isolation and inhabited the caves of the rocks, with the sole aid of ropes and ladders.

Common existential needs and strong religious faith compelled them to live united in the first monastic communities, their common drive of faith guiding them towards the unrepeated construction of monasteries of highest architectural and artistic value.

The 24 monasteries emerged on the countless summits of the rocks from the 14th until the 16th century, 6 of them remaining to be explored and admired by all. These monasteries became the centers of the Orthodox creed in the Byzantine era, having produced some of the best pieces of religious art and craft and still possessing a collection of precious manuscripts, which today are on display in their museums.

Modern Day Meteora

The Meteora monasteries have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List and the Meteora-Antichassia region has been officially declared a Natura 2000 Ecological Zone by the Greek Ministry of Environment, for the protection of rare species of birds and flowers.


The mountain range to the east and north of the site experiences a wide climatic variation from baking heat in summer to severe cold in winter with heavy snowfalls. Summer is the driest time, storms occurring all year round especially at higher altitudes.

Information Office

Get in

By train

From Athens you can take either a train or a bus up to Meteora. The trains servicing the northern part of Greece leave from the "Larissa station" in Athens, while the buses serving that part of the country leave from Terminal B, at Liossion Street. Train schedules can be obtained from OSC website and buses usually leave once every two hours. Both rides are long (about 4.5 to 5 hours) so make sure to bring a good book. There are also train connections from Thessaloniki (about 3 hours), Volos (about 2 to 3.5 hours) and from Larissa (about 1 to 3 hours). Usually you change trains at Paleofarsalos station.

By bus

There are daily bus connections (you can see them all in English and Greek ) to/from Kalampaka from/to Trikala and Larissa. From Athens, Thessaloniki and Volos you can take the bus to either Trikala or Larissa and then take a bus to Kalampaka.

By car

The monasteries are well served by good roads and are well sign posted. There are various lay-bys and free parking spaces around the area and near monasteries.

By plane

You can fly from Central Europe to Volos, Central Greece airport which is in Nea Anchialos and then travel by car for approximately two hours to Meteora. You can also take the train or bus from Volos to Kalampaka, but it will take much longer.

Get around

In 2005, you could hire a taxi right at the train station to take you to all the monasteries for about €30-40 . However, reaching the spires by foot gives visitors a much more tangible feeling of the Meteora's majesty. It is a difficult hike, but experiencing the sanctuaries like the monks did a few hundred years ago only increases its wonder. In the summer, be prepared for the Greek heat, and as the hike takes a whole day, bring a few litres of water.

Megalou Meteorou monastery


The following monasteries can be visited and are located nearby the road circuiting Meteora. Clockwise you'll find:

Inexpensive, mass produced icons may be purchased in the monasteries for as little as € 1. They do not have the variety of the factories, however.

In the high season, the monasteries can become incredibly crowded with large groups virtually filling the chapels and other areas within the monasteries. If possible, visit early in the day! The monasteries were not originally built for tourism. Tourism, though essential to the monasteries' survival, has also destroyed their character. They are no longer contemplative.

Town of Kalambaka view from top of Meteora



Kastraki has a number of restaurants, but if you are looking for a light meal, the ouzeri on the main road slightly downhill (towards Kalambaka) was excellent and cheap. Live music when the owner's friends come along at night.


The nearby towns of Kalampaka and Kastraki both offer different kinds of accommodation. Choose Kastraki if you want to stay close to the rocks, and also for the village atmosphere.


While visiting the monasteries, women are required to wear skirts covering the knees and have their shoulders covered, too. Most of the monasteries do provide wraps for women who come unprepared, but if you bring your own, especially one with bright colors, you'll get a smile from the monk or nun at the entrance.

Along the same line, men are required to wear trousers covering the knees. This too can be borrowed from the stock at the entrance but that clothing isn't washed after every user so you may not feel comfortable wearing these skirts. One size fits all for men!

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Friday, January 29, 2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.