The name of this dazzling place is translated to “suspended in the air” and after you explore this place and learn more about it, you’ll be fascinated how that came to be. It is home to 6 still-active monasteries and nunneries perched delicately atop giant pillars of rocks. The place has a very mystic feel to it. Even though it can get a bit pricey but I still try to get cheaper tickets, especially from DWT discounted flights.
Before you leave
Honestly? Just book everything in advance. Accommodation, tours and even a flight ticket. Tourism in Greece seems to be on the rise so it’s not wise to depend on last-minute booking because if everything is already full, your trip may go to waste.
Check the schedule
The biggest attraction in Meteora is the mysterious monasteries and you can totally visit them. However, check their schedule and if they are open to people when you’re planning to visit. Also, Greece is seeing some positive development since the recent years so you should also consider the train schedule from Athens to Meteora and make sure you’ll be able to do everything properly.
Get a tour guide
The land is backed up by a rich history and to truly make your trip worth it, hire an educated guide who can tell you about the fascinating history behind the area. Since it has become a World Heritage site, it also holds a lot of cultural significance. Another advantage of having a tour guide is that they’ll know the best timings to visit the attractions there and will help you view everything efficiently.
What to pack
Make sure you bring cash as you’ll have to pay a small entry fee to enter the monasteries. Since it’s a sunny place, bring along sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. As for what to wear over there, keep in mind that you’ll be walking a lot so bring comfy walking shoes. Monasteries are a place of worship so it’s wise to stay modes. Besides, the monasteries have a very strict dress code. For women, they should cover their shoulders and wear a long skirt and as for men, they should wear pants. Basically, you’re not allowed to show your knees so be mindful of that. For women, there are wrap skirts that you can borrow outside the monasteries but I say it’s best to pack appropriately.
Last but not least, bring a camera that can take pictures in dim light because the sunsets over there are absolutely gorgeous.
When you get there
Whether you go there by the train going from Athens or take a car, make sure everything is in order. And if you wish to get around in Meteora on foot then make sure you have ample time to stay there. With everything already booked in advance, you simply need to get to your lodgings and get a better idea of your bearings. Make sure to keep something to eat in airtight boxes placed in your car. If you’re not short on time then you can visit these monasteries at your own pace.
Start with visiting Great Meteoron monastery and Varlaam
Start early morning to save time for other sights too. The hike up to see these wonders will take around 45 minutes and the path is mostly shaded. However, it is uneven at times and very steep. Once you reach a fork in the road, head left to reach Great Meteoron monastery. Take your time here then move on to the neighboring monastery of Varlaam. Take your time in both of them and explore the cellars, chapels and ancient architecture. If you have a guide along then learn about the interesting history behind them. Don’t forget to take in the beautiful panoramic view from up so high.
Next visit Roussanou and Holy Trinity
The fastest way here from Varlaam is to drive here. Roussanou covers the whole surface of the rock and houses a church, reception halls, guest quarters and a lookout spot from outside the building from where you snap great photos. Holy Trinity can be a bit tricky to get to because it resides way high up on the cliff. Not many buses stop there either but that makes it more of a peaceful place here to visit. Back in the day, it depended on pulleys and baskets to get the necessary supplies but now a funicular is used for that purpose.
Visit St. Nikolaos on your way back
Since this one closes before the others, you should visit it on your way back. It’s not as big as the others so there is relatively less to see. Due to less space, the floors of the monastery have been built on top of each other. Some of the places here are restricted to outsiders so once you’re done exploring here, stop for lunch.
Lastly, visit St. Stephen’s
Getting to this one is the easiest as you just need to cross a bridge. Sadly, it took a lot of damage in WWII so there is a tragic history behind it as well but it was restored after 1960 and used as a nunnery.
Other things to keep in mind
There are many cool lookout spots so just park safely and feel free to snap a picture. Also, I suggest you keep an open mind. A place with such air of mysticism is sure to have its own urban legends and conspiracies. Who knows maybe you’ll encounter something otherworldly as well?