Travel for me can never be far enough and long enough. Although I really love Europe, it always feels like the most amazing places are the further away. This spring I was on the lookout for my next destination. While I was at work I ran into this magical photograph of a landscape. I couldn’t believe it when this turned out to be Meteora in Greece. It was hard to believe that this gem was right around the corner! I called my friend and we booked our trip to the Meteora monasteries the same day.
What is Meteora?
Meteora is an incredible phenomenon. A landscape where the wonders of nature and man meet. Rock formations form this landscape and monasteries were build on top of them. The Meteora monasteries are like nothing you’ve ever seen before. Monks had to climb the rocks to reach them as there where no stairs then.
Must do in Meteora
- The Sunset Tour: Although I’m usually a do it yourself kind of girl, we decided to take a tour. Why? The area is pretty big and you won’t be at all the spots on time if you walk (We didn’t have a car). We went with Meteora Thrones. Our guide Dimitri knew just where to take us for the perfect shot. He was very talkative and absolutely hilarious. They also take you to see the caves where monks used to live. We probably would have never found that by ourselves. However if you’d like to return yourself, there’s a local bus that goes up to all the monasteries.
- Explore the monasteries: Once there where a whopping 24 monasteries sitting on top of these impressive rock formations. Only 6 of them are left standing, but they are well worth visiting. I would take 2 days to see them all instead of rushing to see everything in one. The entrance fee for every monastery is only 3 euro per person so there’s no reason not to go and see them all!
- Go hiking: Although most people only come here on a day tour this was one of the highlights for me. You can probably see Meteora in 2 days, but this place is worth 3 or 4 days. You can skip the bus and hike up to some of the monasteries, but the hike up the ‘Holy Spirit’ is absolutely stunning. At the hotel we where told it would take half an hour to hike up, but it took us at least a couple of hours. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if we are just out of shape or the hotel receptionist was wrong. (If you do the hike up the Holy Spirit you’ll reach a gate at some point, but you can just open it and continue your hike)
Where to Stay
There are two towns that are near Meteora. When booking it wasn’t completely clear which one was better, so I’ll explain the difference here. There is Kastraki and Kalampaka. Kalampaka is the bigger town (still small) and maybe a little bit livelier. In the end it doesn’t matter much in which town you stay, because a taxi will only cost a few euros. We stayed in Kastraki as it is right by the edge of Meteora. We could walk up to the monasteries from our hotel. Both towns are absolutely fine, but Kastraki is a tiny bit closer and Kalampaka has more going on. We stayed in Hotel Tsikeli, which I would recommend. The bus stops right outside, the staff is wonderful and the service is really good. Our favorite restaurant there: ‘Taverna Gardenia’ was really nearby which was also a plus. If you’re looking for local greek dishes, this is the place. If you stay here for too long you will gain 10 pounds in a week. We always got more than we could eat and a free dessert! The whole trip was like always done on a student budget.