Centuries before the Turkish occupation of Greece, back in the 11th-century AD, the little known terrain of Meteora was occupied by monks. The intoxicating combination of rugged cliffs— equal parts history and geological marvels—made it the country’s most dynamic stretch of land.
Where else can you saunter through eminent Buddhist monasteries, venture into south-facing slopes of the Andikhasia, hunt truffles with historians, and rock climb through steep stones to take in a panoramic view of the UNESCO-heritage destination?
So bring your curiosity for history, suit up your walking gear, and get ready to explore a region of raw and untamed beauty. Here’s our Top 10 guide to some of the very best experiences you can enjoy in Meteora.
Hike (or bike) through abandoned monasteries
If you’re taking a trip to the “stone forest” of Meteora, look out for the Greek orthodox monasteries perched on top of steep rock formations. Located a few kilometres from the northwestern town of Kalabaka, there are six active institutions that host a small number of nuns and monks residing in and around Meteora. Begin your journey at the foothills of the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron, which is the oldest and largest of them all, and travel all the way to Holy Trinity, which was one of the filming locations for the James Bond movie “For your eyes only”. The terrain can be steep, and you can walk on foot or take one of the scenic, winding paths by bike.
Go truffle hunting in Kalambaka
At The Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum, you can enjoy their very own truffle hunting expedition with expert explorers in the Greek woodland.
As a part of the tour, you will learn about the different varieties of truffles, their seasonal allure, and how trained truffle dogs help locals find this expensive gourmet fungus. At the end of the tour, you will be treated to a local pasta dish using all the ingredients you picked during your hunt.
Pair wine with history on a tour of the Theopetra vineyard
There’s a growing appreciation for Meteora wines, and the vineyards here enjoy special privileges under the Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) tag. Loudas, one of the finest and most recommended regional blends, can be found in most restaurants and taverns to pair with your food or take it back with you as a souvenir. If you are moving towards the east of Meteora, the Theopetra vineyard offers tours and tasting experiences for visitors who want to learn about the winemaking process and spend a day in the foothills exploring the prehistoric caves that surround the farm.
Take the Via Cordata to the Great Saint
Just around the corner of Kastraki, just a few blocks away from the Great Saint tower area, is a route that takes you to the highest point in Meteora. The trail is only accessible by the “Via Cordata”, which involves vertical and horizontal climbing secured by a rope around your waist. This particular technique is how you can get on top of the tallest rock for panoramic views of Meteora and Kalampaka, almost 400 meters above the ground. Your guide will bring tea and snacks to enjoy with the view followed by a picnic lunch to savour after the climb.
Scoff down a pork gyro on the go in Trikala
Experience the exciting flavours of Greek cuisine, with a hint of Meteroa’s organic produce, at one of the curbside gyro shacks dotting the town square of Trikala.
Typically available wrapped in pita or flatbread (also known as Greek pocketless pitas), you can choose from a selection of chicken, pork, or lamb cooked rotisserie-style and marinated with fresh herbs and dressing. Just a 20-minute drive from central Meteora, Trikala is an underrated gastronomic destination perfect for a drive-through and binging classic gyros as you roam around town.
Dust off your boots for a spot of horse riding
Near the country roads of Kalambaka, in the tiny hamlet of Kastania, Casa di Calo is an equestrian centre dotted with camp stays—some nestled in the middle of forestland – all decked out in classic ranch-style decor. Outdoor activities dominate the itinerary, including mountaineering, hiking, mountain biking and most popular, horse-riding trips around the valley. There are a dozen horses on-site. Children and young adults are often accompanied by a trainer on hour-long trips from the camp while experienced riders can hop on neighbouring trails by themselves for exploration. The unique allure of this experience is the scenic backwoods offering uncompromising views of Meteora’s cliffs and monasteries.
Visit ancient monk prisons in Aghio Pneumea
Meteora was home to a bustling ascetic community in the 12th-century, but monks lived atop the sandstone pillars as early as the 9th-century, finding their home in the narrow creeks and caves of the rock formation. Among the many architectural structures, they left behind were monk “prisons”—hollowed out caves built on different levels on a pillar—a place where those who disobeyed orders were exiled to.
Discover Meteora through rock climbing
Meteora is regarded as one of the best rock climbing playgrounds in Greece. The crags leading up to the top are a mix of bolted (fixed anchors built into the rockface every few metres) and traditional routes (the climbers place the anchors themselves) which you can choose depending on your climbing ability. Amidst the impressive rock towers, there are approximately 50 routes spread out in beautiful forest terrain, making Meteora a perfect climbing destination for adventure enthusiasts.
Travel back in time at the Natural History Museum
With its ornate façade and comprehensive collection of mushroom varieties, the Natural History Museum in Kalabaka is the first of its kind in Greece. As well as hosting temporary shows and exhibitions, the museum, located in an old warehouse, showcases 300 exhibits, dioramas (miniature models) and educational drawings alongside alternative touristic activities such as truffle hunting.
Eat classic mushroom-based fare at Neromilos
Talking of mushrooms, you can experience an all-you-can-eat mushroom themed menu at Neromilos in Diava for a traditional feast to remember. The restaurant, which also has some cracking views of Meteora, gets very busy during late spring and throughout the summer season, so it is best to reserve well in advance. Some hiking tours also offer a dinner reservation there as a part of their package. The most popular option is the six-course sampler mushroom meal, wild mushroom starters, and cream soup. It also serves (some argue) the best authentic Greek salad in central Greece.
Tours of Meteora
There are several well executed tours to Meteora from a full monastry tour to to a Meteora sunset tour.
Check out the tours here
Getting to Meteora
Meteora is located in the middle of Greece. Getting there is easiest from Athens. You can catch a train The journey takes 5 hours. Or you can hire care. Alternatively, join an organised tour.
Organised Tour from Athens:
If you are based in Athens you can organise a 1-day train tour- take the train from Athens in the morning and be back that night. The train journey takes in the countryside on the way and once there see the UNESCO World Heritage-listed monasteries of Meteora. Drive by all six precariously-located monasteries in a minivan and spend time exploring three of them; marvel at their remarkable architecture and at the scenic views from atop Meteora.
Book your 1-day rail trip from Athens to Meteora and visit several UNESCO heritage sights.