The magnificent rock formations of Meteora and monasteries have been one of the highlights of my trip to Greece. Before traveling to Greece I had researched the best way to visit Meteora, and so happy I decided to spend 2 days in Meteora, including staying in Kalambaka and hiking Meteora the following morning.
Getting To Meteora From Athens
The sight of the rock formations touching the sky is the first thing you see when you step out of the train station in Kalambaka, the village at the foot of Meteora. While you can drive to Meteora from Athens and visit Meteora in 1 day, I decided to take my time. I took the morning train from Athens, spent the night in a hostel, and returned to Athens on the evening train the next day. The train ride from Athens to Kalambaka is about 5 hours, and I arrived in Kalambaka around 1 PM. So, squeezing a tour to Meteora on the same day, felt a bit too stressful to me.
I booked the tickets through the Greek train website here. You can either book a one-way train ticket or return, I booked a return ticket. The Greek train is clean, punctual, and comfortable, and you can purchase snacks, and drinks onboard. Moreover, you can charge your phone, and enjoy nice views of the countryside from your train window. Overall the train journey from Athens to Kalambaka was great.
Important: in Athens, the metro station is right next to Larissa train station, from which the train to Kalambaka departs.
Hiking To Meteora Monasteries
Kalambaka offers a wide selection of ways to explore Meteora: hiking, cycling, biking, solo, or with an organized tour. Since I don’t drive, and love hiking I booked a 5 hours hiking tour in Meteora, on the GetYourGuide website. The tour included pickup from The Holy Rock hostel, and at 8.30 AM I was picked up for hiking. Hiking in Meteora is quite easy, with MTR signs guiding you along the paths to the beautiful monasteries.
Well-preserved, the 13-14th century Orthodox monasteries are situated on the hill-like rock formations scattered in Meteora. Interesting fact: “Meteora” means “reaching the sky” – the perfect name for the rocky pillars. Booking the hike was a great idea because our guide Chris was very knowledgeable, and the area is breathtaking in green vegetation and forests. The hike was one of the highlights of my trip to Greece. The hike also included entrance to Meteoron monastery, one of the biggest and still active monasteries.
The hike to Meteora was not a private hike, so I also got the chance to meet people from other countries. So, sometimes booking activities with a guide can be a great addition to your solo trip. I visited Meteora at the end of September – the end of the season, so there were fewer tourists, which was perfect to enter the monastery and walk around. In addition, the weather during this time is less humid – perfect for hiking.
Things To Do In Kalambaka
Kalambaka is a cute little town that lives out of the tourism in Meteora. The train station is 10 minutes from the town center, so you can simply walk everywhere. There are plenty of restaurants, cafes, and even a great bar in the evening. Moreover, the village of Monastiraki is just up the road from Kalambaka.
So, when you travel to Meteora, you can choose to stay in Kalambaka or Monastiraki. Both have great accommodation options, including hotels and hostels. I stayed in the Holy Rock hostel, which was a clean, spacious room, equipped with a great kitchen and lounge area. In addition, you can go hiking in Meteora independently from either Kalabaka or Monastiraki. I haven’t done that, but it is an option.
After checking in to the hostel, I left to explore the town. The center is pretty small, but as you start going up you get great views of the vicinity, townhouses, and impressive church. The Virgin Mary Byzantian church in Kalambaka is lovely, with stone walls encompassing the church and tower. The church dates back to the 4-5th centuries and remarkably is still well-preserved with views of Meteora.
Dine & Wine In Kalambaka
In the heart of Kalambaka, you will find a lovely family restaurant. The service is fantastic, and the food is amazing. Kinoa salad and a dish of lamb cooked in wine sauce are delicious, and maybe the best I have tried since Patagonia when I was traveling in Argentina.
Open only in the evenings, Pub 38 has a wide selection of beers. If you prefer beer over wine, to celebrate a great hike in Meteora, then you will love Pub 38. You might feel lost at a large number of beers, but the owner will be happy to recommend the perfect drink for you, depending on your preferences.
Octo Cafe & Breakfast
For delicious Espresso Freddo. Octo cafe is great for an afternoon drink, people-watching, and breakfast. The place has sitting indoors and outdoors if it rains.
In conclusion, Meteora World Heritage Site is one of the marvelous wonders in Greece. I had planned to visit the area for a long time, and so happy I got the chance to hike around and see a monastery from within. Kalambaka is super safe, and I highly recommend spending the night in town, and not rushing through Meteora. Since the trip is one of the longest routes in Greece, take the time to enjoy it.