Meteora is one of the most stunning places to visit in mainland Greece! Whether you’re a history buff or nature lover, the rocks and monasteries are sure to captivate your imagination. Here’s how to get from Athens to Meteora, the best tours from Kalabaka, and everything we did in our two days.
How to Get From Athens to Meteora Greece
First of all, you should know Meteora is quite far from other popular destinations in Greece. With its location in north region of Thessaly, you’re going to really have to want to get here!
However, once you see photos of the Meteora Monasteries sitting high atop the cliffs, it will be an easy decision to go. We included it on our recent road trip of mainland Greece and it was definitely a highlight of our month in the country.
From Athens to Meteora, you’re looking at a pretty good 357 km (222 mi) journey. If you plan to rent a car make sure to book as soon as you know your dates. We always use Discover Cars while traveling to compare different companies and get the best deal.
On our trip from Athens to Meteora started with an overnight stop in the seaside town of Kamena Vourla to split up the 4.5 hour drive. Keep in mind there are tolls along the way, but they do take credit cards if you’re short on Euros.
Another popular way to get to Meteora in Greece is by train. There is a direct route that takes just over 4 hours from Athens to Meteora. This could be a good option if you’re just going there and back, and not continuing on to other parts of the country.
Although the bus can be a decent way to travel in Greece, we wouldn’t actually recommend it to get from Athens to Meteora. It will take substantially longer than the train or car as it makes multiple stops and switches.
Can You Make a Day Trip From Athens to Meteora?
Yes! Surprisingly to us, many people actually take day trips from Athens to Meteora Greece. If you don’t have time we totally understand. However, the best way to truly soak in the magic of this special place is by spending 2 or 3 nights.
There are so many different Meteora tours and sights to see. So if you’re going 4+ hours both ways that’s going to give you very limited time.
The best way to experience Meteora is by including it in a larger road trip of Greece. Be sure to spend at least 2 nights here if you have the chance!
If you’re only option is for a day trip then we recommend plan it with a Meteora tour company. The most popular is done by Visit Meteora. They offer a full day adventure which includes your train tickets and transfer from Kalabaka.
That why you can maximize your time in Meteora and you’ll be able to see as much as possible in a short amount of time. Visit Meteora even offers a two day trip if you want the extra time with everything arranged!
Where to Stay in Meteora Greece
Kalabaka and Kastraki are the two main towns to stay in on your visit to Meteora. Kalabaka seemed to be a bit more lively in the way of nightlife and restaurants. Yet, both here and Kastraki are nice and central villages to stay in.
On our visit we stayed at Oikia Guesthouse Meteora. From the moment we checked in, we felt so welcomed and comfortable. The owners explained all the best spots to see as well as some secret viewpoints we hadn’t heard about.
It honestly felt more like bed and breakfast, but with all the modern amenities we love. Its location is also ideal being just few minutes walk down the hill into the center of Kalabaka.
Speaking of breakfast… It’s so delicious at Oikia Guesthouse! The night before you’ll get to pick out what you want to eat and the exact time of your morning meal.
Everything is made fresh to order and it was the perfect start to our days in Meteora. Some of our favorite items were the cheese omelette, spinach pastry, fresh orange juice, feta cheese, and olives.
On the second floor there is a large roof deck with glorious views of the Pindus Mountains. We found ourselves hanging out here whenever we had down time. It was especially relaxing after a long day of exploring when we wanted to enjoy a nice glass of local wine.
5 Quick Tips For Meteora Greece
Dress Code: The first thing to know as that these are active monasteries in Meteora. Try and be respectful as you would at any other place of worship or world heritage site. It is advised to wear long pants or something below the knees for both men and women. Still, if you don’t there are wraps available to cover up as you walk in.
Tickets: Have some change or a credit card on you to get into the Monasteries. Most we visited were 3 euros and totally worth the price of admission.
The Name Meteora: The word Meteora literally translates to “suspended in air.” It comes from the Greek word meteoros which means hanging or raised up from the ground. Once you see the shape of the sandstone rocks shooting up to the sky you will understand why! This one of a kind rock formation was created over 60 million years ago when the water was drained from the Middle Greek Basin.
Rock Climbing: Did you know Meteora is a world-famous rock climbing destination? Even if you opt not to take a beginner course as a Meteora tour, you may witness some professionals climbing up the imposing rock walls on your trip.
Six Monasteries of Meteora: Today there are only 6 remaining of the original 24 Byzantine monasteries. They consist of the Great Meteoron, Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Saint Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery, Roussanou Monastery, Varlaam, and the Saint Stephen Monastery.
Jumping Right Into Our Meteora Tour For Sunset
With so much to see in Meteora, we had no time to waste! That’s why even after arriving in the early afternoon we scheduled a Meteora sunset tour. The Visit Meteora team picked us up from our hotel at 4:30pm in a nice Mercedes sprinter van and we were off into the mountains.
The guide explained all about the history and our tour was the perfect introduction to Meteora Greece. Along with iconic Meteora views, we were taken to several epic spots we hadn’t read about prior to our visit.
Even though we had our own car to see some of these places ourselves, it was so much better to experience it first with a guide. This is always important to us when traveling in a place with so much incredible history!
We especially enjoyed the stop at the famous Byzantine Church of Virgin Mary. The centuries-old murals inside were mesmerizing and gave us a look into the past.
There is also the obvious benefit of not having to park yourself. In the crowded summer months, you may find it difficult to stop at the best viewpoints with a car.
If you’re interested in taking one of these Meteora tours we highly recommend the sunset option. Another one to check out is the Meteora day tour which starts early in the morning.
Magical Meteora Sunset
The final stop of our day was what everyone had been waiting for… The Meteora sunset! While we really enjoyed the 4+ hour tour, the sunset was definitely the highlight.
Know that rain and cloudy weather is common in the area. However, if you are lucky enough to get a sunset like we did it will be something to remember. Watching the sunset in Meteora is one of the most popular things to do so don’t be surprised by how many people show up.
Nevertheless, we still found plenty of room to sit on the rocky cliff. Watching as the colors changed over the mountains and historic Monasteries was such a great start to our visit in Meteora Greece!
Dinner at Archontariki Restaurant
To cap off the evening, we went to dinner at a cute local restaurant in town. Archontariki is located in the center of Kalabaka and offers a mix of traditional Greek food.
Our waitress recommended we start off with the local soup, before suggesting a number of other Meteora specialties. After that we got to taste their Saganaki which is one of our favorite Greek appetizers. At Archontariki they bake their Saganaki with feta instead of the typical yellow cheese. This is one of the best versions we’ve ever had of this dish so make sure to try it if you go!
Next we got the house salad and taramasalata dip, and followed it up with Lamb cooked in a lemon sauce and local sausage. We ended our night on the beautiful outdoor deck, sipping wine and realizing how happy we were that we made the trip to Meteora.
Morning Hike to the Meteora Monasteries
The next morning we planned to see the Monasteries and rock formations in a completely different way than the day before. We love hiking so it’s only natural that we chose this as our next Meteora tour!
We started bright and early at 8:30 am. After a delicious breakfast at our hotel we were picked up by another Visit Meteora van and off to the start our outdoor adventure.
It would take us up and over the mountains, through the stone forest, and to several different viewpoints. It was very interesting learning about the early hermit monks from the 11th century who lived in caves on the cliff sides.
The best part was at the very end of our Meteora tour. We came up over a ridge to get a one of a kind view of the most important monastery.
After that, we would climb the 200+ steps to the top of the Great Meteoron and go inside. Hiking is such a unique way to experience Meteora in Greece!
It wasn’t the most difficult hike we’ve ever done, but it wasn’t a walk in the park either. You’ll need a decent level of fitness and hiking shoes if you plan to do this.
Not up for a group Meteora tour? Don’t worry! You can certainly take one of the numerous hiking trails yourself. We mostly hike on our own, but really appreciated having such a nice and informative guide here.
Lunch at Taverna Efrosino
After an amazing morning hiking our way around Meteora it was time for lunch! We ended up going to Taverna Efrosino in the village of Kastraki.
Although it was located outside of Kalabaka, it was actually just a 5 minute drive from our hotel. This was great after a long day outside around the monasteries of Meteora.
We started with the house salad and a spicy baked feta cheese called Bouyiourdi. For our mains we got the pasta dish pastitsio and grilled lamb.
This ended up being one of our favorite lunches in Greece and is somewhere to make a priority on your trip to Meteora.
Exploring More of Meteora
Don’t get us wrong. The Meteora tours were an amazing way to see this destination. Not having to deal with parking along the cliffs was worth it alone!
However, make sure you leave some time to see Meteora on your own. Some of our favorite moments were finding unique and scenic lookouts in our car.
We spent the late afternoon taking more photos, returning to the best viewpoints, and seeing more of the area.
That night we were still pretty full from lunch so opted for a quick dinner in Kalabaka. A spot called My Gyros caught our eye as they had the elusive lamb gyros spinning in their window.
This type of gyro is not seen as often as chicken and pork so we couldn’t resist. With how much delicious lamb we ate in Meteora Greece, it’s no wonder they are known for it!
The morning before leaving town happened to be the Friday Market in Kalabaka. We took a stroll through and picked up some fresh strawberries for our car ride later in the day.
Our Trip to Meteora in Greece
Honestly, we had a hard time leaving Meteora. We’ve made numerous visits to the country before, but have spent most of the time in the beautiful islands.
This year we wanted to make a point to see more of mainland Greece and we couldn’t have had a better start to our road trip. Its natural beauty combined with the ancient monasteries atop the cliffs feels like something out of a dream.
It’s a place that’s seriously hard to describe until you see it for yourself. Hopefully, this guide provided some tips and inspiration for your own visit!
Have any questions on this article or want to share your own tips for Meteora in Greece? Leave us a comment below.
Brigitte & Jake
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Greece Travel Planning
For island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies. The fast ferries like Sea Jets will cost more but often takes half the time of slower ferries like Blue Star.
Rental Car: You can book a rental car for as little as $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.
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