It is difficult to find the right expression that perfectly describes Meteora: magnificent, spiritual, unique… Meteora appear to you from a distance. You can’t replace them with anything else…
Amateurs (we), the first time they see them, turn on their phones and take pictures through the dirty windshield, not knowing that much better breathtaking scenes and lookouts will await them.
The road to Meteora itself is like a fairy tale.
As you travel to the Meteora you must prepare yourself mentally.
Meteora is not only a tourist place but also an important center of Greek spirituality, so if you are already going there, it is important to know some things that will help you make the most of your time and plan your trip best.
How to get to Meteora?
Meteora are located 230 km from Thessaloniki and 350 km from Athens. They can be reached by car, train, bus, but you can’t fly to them. You can also walk from Kalabaka, but you will need to be in VERY good condition.
For wheelchair users, the only option is a car.
How many days does it take to tour Meteora?
You need at least two days to visit the monastery because the speed of your visit is dictated by the season you have chosen, then the working hours of the monastery, the size of the monastery, then non-working days and finally your condition. So do your homework carefully and plan everything nicely on the official site here.
It doesn’t matter what time of day you come, because if you want to make spectacular pictures, you have to estimate where the sun is at that time. The best times are early in the morning and late in the afternoon.
When is the best time to visit monasteries?
The best time to visit is early spring and late autumn. I can’t imagine doing this tour in the heat.
It is estimated that almost two million people a year want to visit Meteora and that number is constantly growing. most of that number merges into Meteora in the main season from April to October.
That is why the entrance to the monasteries is very crowded at that time, and there are often complete traffic jams, so you can stay stuck like in the busiest city center. Although there are beautiful viewpoints that are accessible in the rush hour, you may have to return another day for the monasteries. Therefore, it is recommended that you start the tour as early as possible, about 1 hour before the opening of the monastery and before the first buses, and that you carefully plan your visit.
While it is still quiet and peaceful, first visit the three most popular St. Stephen, Great Meteoron and Varlam and then the others. Only in this way will you be able to do everything you imagined in the middle of the season. Thanks to Kovid, there was no crowd at the time of my visit, we could easily get to all the main points, so I enjoyed it for all it was worth.
The best way to visit Meteora in a wheelchair
Useful information for the disabled. Since you can’t enter any monastery except for one, a day of easy driving will be enough for you to visit Meteora, there are no walks there because there are climbs that no strongman can overcome by pushing a wheelchair.
And why would they? The road is very well maintained, there are beautiful lookouts from where you can see an incredible views and most of them are accessible by wheelchair.
With an easy ride, you visit each view and you are carried away by the beauty. I am surrounded by tourists of dubious condition and without a medical permit, who climb hundreds of steps, and I, completely dry, enjoy the breeze and the view because I know that there is nothing I can do about it. I am as calm as if I were inside the monasteries.
Don’t even think about the toilet. Only if someone takes you along the mentioned zillion steps to the monastery.
How to prepare for Meteora?
If you come in the summer months, which most tourists do, bring enough water, a hat, a snack and good shoes. Great camera goes without saying.
Bring enough small money because the entrance to the monasteries costs 3 euros. Imagine, you have climbed 140 steps and a nun at the entrance tells you they don’t accept cards. Children under 12 do not pay the ticket and that is common to all monasteries.
Code of conduct or dress code
This place requires you to show your respect by choosing a wardrobe, and therefore, men can only enter with long pants and sleeveless shirts are prohibited. Long skirts or dresses are provided for women.
If you do not have adequate clothes, they will lend you scarves and skirts for women in the monastery, while similar facilities for men do not exist, so plan on time.
Decent behavior is implied, and taking pictures is also forbidden in Meteora monasteries. You can take pictures of the surroundings indefinitely and you need a special permit for a drone.
What does Meteora mean?
Meteora means floating in Greek. This term was first used by Athanasios, the founder of the Grand Meteor, the leader of the first group of monks to describe the rocks they saw long ago in the 14th century.
It is assumed that the rocks were sheltered by clouds when the first monks encountered this strange geological phenomenon. It is not my place to comment, but something so magnificent follows such an unusual name.
During the Ottoman Empire, monasteries, being difficult to access, were important for the survival of Hellenistic culture. But World War II was disastrous for some of them. There used to be 24 of them, today only 6 remain, 4 male and two female monasteries are active. There are about 10 monks or nuns living in each, so we can say that Meteora is inhabited by only about 60 permanent inhabitants.
What to visit
The oldest, largest and tallest, 615 m above the valley, looks more like a fortress or a fortified village, built in the 14th century, 300 steps. 1920 Romanian Queen Maria was the first woman ever in the Great Meteoron
The second largest, until the 20th century, the only way to climb was in a basket, for 22 years they brought material for construction. They still use similar methods today.
It was built in the 16th century. It has 195 steps.
The most photographed, nunnery, lower than the others, was severely damaged in the Second World War.
4.St. Nicholas Anapafsas
It is known for the icons painted by Theophanes. Small, 16th century, 150 degrees.
Isolated and very difficult to approach, an experience not to be forgotten, the James Bond movie ‘for your eyes only’ was made here. 300 steps
6.Monastery of St. Stephen
The only one that has no stairs at all but a stone bridge.
A sign for the disabled, someone thought of me.
The only one visible from Kalampaka, severely damaged by World War II, abandoned until 1961 and since then, a nunnery, the most popular. If you only need to choose one, then it is Agios Stefanos, the most affordable.
Thanks to Kovid, I couldn’t get in here either.
And so passed my visit to this unusual place. I think that everyone must visit Meteora at least once because they are 100 times more beautiful live than in a picture.
They are not intended for people in wheelchairs, but when you think about the times in which they were built, it is no wonder….
However, I felt welcome because not everything is about the monasteries themselves, but also in what you carry in your heart.
Have you been to Meteora?
Did I miss something?
Traveled and enjoyed,