Sunset Meteora Tour

Sunset Meteora Tour

The Sunset Meteora Tour was perfectly timed to unfold a natural, historic and spiritual wonder of Greece: monasteries built on the sky-high peaks of incredible rock formations.

Take a Meteora Tour

Meteora is truly one of the Greece’s miraculous landscapes.  Above the small city of Kalambaka, the almost inaccessible limestone columns rise high — a geological wonder.

Across 24 of them, at the very top, the holiest of places exist in an effort to be closer to God. Some rock formations reach 400 meters into the sky.  In fact, the word meteora comes from the words meaning suspended in the air.

Many of these Greek Orthodox monasteries were built from the 11th century onward. To imagine what it took to create and construct them back then is simply mind boggling. Out of the two dozen, six of them are still in use.

Tour with Meteora Thrones

Whether you consider yourself spiritual or not, there are many reasons to take a Meteora tour. The experience is historic, the region is lush with natural beauty and the views are like no other place on the planet.

The monasteries themselves, besides their incredible vistas, are full of religious treasures and intricate wall paintings.

One tour I recommend is the Sunset Meteora Tour by Meteora Thrones. The local guides know Meteora like the backs of their hands.  Plus, who doesn’t love a great sunset view?

We headed to several different sites and ended up at just the right spot around sunset.  Here are the highlights:

The Holy Monastery of St. Stephen

Our bus parked right next to St. Stephen or Agios Stefanos, a convent for nuns.  It turned out to be the easiest monastery to access since there weren’t any steps to climb up or down.

I loved the garden view, a sweeping vista of the Thessaly plains and the Pinios River.

Agios Stefanos Monastery

Holy Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary

Next, we headed to the Assumption of Virgin Mary in Kalambaka’s old town. It wasn’t a monastery, but rather a historic church located under (rather than on top of) an imposing limestone rock called Aea.

The three-aisle basilica dated back to the 11th century. The interior walls were richly decorated with intricate frescoes.  No photography was allowed inside but take my word for it, it was very interesting to take learn about the religious art of that period.

The church survived even after the Nazis tried to burn it down during World War II.  The burned part of the interior wall can be seen upon entering.  On the exterior walls, our guide pointed out the remains of an ancient Greek temple.

When we left the church, our guides stopped at a fantastic viewing spot that overlooked Kalambaka and the peaks of Meteora.

Fantastic view of Kalambaka.

Hermit Caves of Meteora

We drove to another part of the town and took a walk through a lush path to take a closer look up at the hermit caves. Monks inhabited the natural caves around the 10th century and had cut the ladders so they wouldn’t be able to get back down. They spent their days in isolation, surviving on local donations of food and water pulled up by ropes.

Time for a Meteora Sunset

The sun wasn’t out all day, so I was anticipating that sunset wouldn’t be so impressive.  However, the view was hardly anything I could complain about.

I was convinced the scenery of Meteora could never be anything but breathtaking.

Tips for Visiting Meteora

  • There is a €3 entrance fee at the monasteries.  Entrance is free for Greek citizens.
  • Proper attire is required. Women must wear skirts below the knees. The monasteries provide wrap around skirts for women wearing shorts or pants. Arms must be covered.
  • Men must wear long pants and arms must be covered.
  • Be respectful. Don’t talk loudly or on your cell phone.
  • Some monasteries would not be ideal for those with a fear of heights.
  • Each monastery has certain visitor hours.  Local guides know the seasonal hours of operation.
  • Be prepared to walk or hike. St. Stephen is the exception.  For those not used to walking, it may be difficult. There are no elevators or cable cars for tourists.
  • No photography or video is allowed in certain rooms of the monasteries.
  • For those who get carsick (like me), the roads getting to/from Meteora and around the area are curvy.
  • It is best to get around from monastery to monastery by car. Even better, hire a local guide for a Meteora tour to really get the most out of this fantastic destination.
  • We stopped along the way to take photos at really prime spots. Our tour guides were locals, so they knew exactly where to park.

Meteora Thrones Sunset Tour

    • This Meteora tour takes place every day starting at 4:00 pm, 4 hours.
    • Check the website for more details, from €25 per person.

How to Get to Meteora

Fly

There is no airport in Meteora. The National Airport of Nea Achialos, located close to Volos, is the closest but there are limited summer flights. Otherwise the closest international airport is Athens.I recommend finding the best flight deals to Athens on Travelocity.

From Athens, you can get to Meteora in the following ways listed below.

Drive

If you are staying in Athens or Thessaloniki, I recommend renting a car with Avis Europe.

Train

Check updated times on the OSE Greek Rail website.
From Athens: Take a train from Athens (Larissa Station) to Kalambaka.  Some lines stop in Paleofarsalos. 5 hours. €30 (one-way) or €40-50 (round-trip)
From Thessaloniki: Take a train to Kalambaka. Some lines stop in Paleofarsalos.  Journey 3 hours.
There are also trains from Litochoro and Volos to Kalambaka.

Bus

Check updated times on the KTEL website.
From Athens:  Liossion Station (near the Kato Patissia station on the green Athens metro line) to Trikala. From Trikala, take a bus to Kalambaka. Athens to Kalambaka costs about €30.  A roundtrip ticket costs about €50.
You can also book a private bus with Meteora Thrones.

Where to Stay in Meteora

I recommend the three-star Famissi Hotel in the center of Kalambaka. It was centrally located near eateries and cafes. It had a strong hot shower and a good mattress.

Where to Eat in Meteora

Meteora has excellent Greek food.  Stay tuned for a post detailing the following best restaurants of Meteora:

I highly recommend the excellent slow-cooked traditional dishes at Restaurant Meteora.  Nice outdoor dining in the center of town.

Palazzo has very nice Greek dishes as well and a view of the Meteora rocks.

For a low-key taverna with delicious Greek food, visit Plakias Taverna Gardenia in Kastraki.

Have you ever been to Meteora? If so, have you ever taken a Meteora tour? Tell me about it in the reply box below.

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I'm a travel writer and journalist from New York. Join me on my travels as I explore Greece, Europe and beyond.

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Comments

  1. What a beautiful, magnificent place! Those rock formations do, indeed, look suspended in the air and one is left wondering how it’s possible to build the monasteries on top of them.

  2. Such a great article about Meteora Marissa ! Thank you for mention Meteora Thrones !

  3. Wow. What a beautiful place to visit! 🙂 Fascinating.

  4. Hi Marissa, an excellent article and idea. Thanks for adding me to your posts etc it is nice to see Meteora inbetween the times I am not there. There is an excellent resource page on Wikipedia giving a lot of facts about each monastary and how and why they were built in the first place. Not only is it a stunning place to visit and see but the history of it is just as fascinating. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meteora. For sure I have to go back again this year, for an extended stay this time as I really want to get into the nitty gritty of the place and find out so much more. well done on the articles, wish I had time to write some but no need now, you are doing an excellent job so again thank you… My regards to you and keep up the great work. 🙂 Rik. 🙂

  5. You capture it in every word- beautiful (photos too)!

  6. Love your write up of the weekend! It must have taken you ages to go through all those photos!

  7. Beautiful photos! I’d love to visit those monasteries! Are people actually still living in those cave dwellings in the right-hand picture?

    • Thanks, Rachel! Yes, it is a unique travel experience. To answer your question, no one is living in the cave dwellings any longer. They just keep the ladders there to help people trigger their imagination about what it was like to climb up there and all…

  8. Lovely photos Marisa! it looks like you had a great time! 🙂

  9. Awesome!

  10. Hi
    Nice write up on Meteora. Can you tell me if there’s a difference between Meteora Thrones and Visit Meteora? The tours sound identical.

    Thanks

    • Hi Jeff, Thanks for the comment. I haven’t toured with Visit Meteora. I do know there are several tour companies in town and they offer very similar tour products. Meteora Thrones is its own private entity. I highly recommend going with them! The tour guides are hospitable and knowledgeable locals. Hope you go!

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