Day 1 in Kalambaka (The Meteora)

Welcome to the small town of Kalambaka, situated at the foot of the Meteora rocks. Upon arrival, make your transfer to your destination, arrive at your hotel, check in and do not give in to jet lag! There is so much for you to see and do.

The best starting point to explore is the old town of Kalambaka, where you`ll find a maze of narrow cobble-stoned streets and traditional houses, some built right next to the rocks. Known as Stagi in Medieval times, Kalmbaka was an important settlement during the Byzantine Empire and there are two churches from that time, St John the Baptist and The Church of the Assumption of Virgin Mary. We highly recommend a walking tour of the old town to gather some insight of the unique beauty and history.

As you wander, you`ll discover a number of restaurants that offer a bit of everything. Enjoy a relaxing lunch while taking in the ambiance. Stop in a few of the charming shops to check out the hand painted religious icons, embroidered fabrics, and leather sandals. Another great way to soak in the local culture is to visit the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum.

An excellent way to take in the evening from Kalambaka is to enjoy sunset over Meteora. Grab a map of the city for directions to the panoramic platform, the incline takes only about a half an hour, but be prepared to climb a bit. At the top, however, you will be rewarded with breathtaking views over the wide plain over the steep cliffs and isolated Meteora monasteries, just stunning! Seeing the landscape turn a fiery orange will give you an idea why the monks chose Meteora as the ultimate place for serenity and reflection.

Day 2 in Kalambaka (The Meteora)

Wake up early today to visit the Meteora monasteries themselves. Constructed from 1356 onwards, there were once 24 monasteries, but that number has dwindled over the centuries, and today there are just six monasteries that are still occupied.

One of the best ways to explore these sacred sites, which have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is on foot, hiking between them. This allows you to really immerse yourself in the scenery and experience. The 6 monasteries still inhabited (Megálo Metéora, Varlaám, Rousánou, Agia Triáda, Agios Stéfanos, Agios Nikólaos Anapavsás) can be visited. The rest are too difficult to access or have collapsed.

The biggest, most impressive, and most popular of the remaining monasteries is the Great Meteoron, founded by Anthanasios in 1356. The monastery was constructed on top of the biggest rock named accordingly `Platis Lithos` or `Wide Rock`, having a total area of more than 50 acres and height reaching more than 2,011 ft above sea level. The tombs of both Athanasios and loasaph are in the frescoed church here. There is also an on-site museum, which besides displaying religious icons and books, highlights the role of the Orthodox church in Greece`s struggle for freedom from the Turks. By joining a small group excursion, you`ll be able to learn the back-story behind what you are seeing from a local guide.

Continuing on, the Varlaam is the second largest monastery, located just opposite of the Great Meteoro Monastery. Founded in 1517 on the site of the old hermitage of the hermit Varlaam (where this monastery gets its name), it is perched 1,223 ft high. Inside, you can visit the serene 16th-century church complete with frescoes, and the old refectory, which houses a small museum.

Next up, head over to the well preserved Monastery of Avia Triada (Holy Trinity), the most visually dramatic monastery. Founded in 1438, its main church is much newer, dating from 1798. You enter by walking up the impressive stairs and into the courtyard. From the open space behind the church, on the edge of the crag, there are stunning views over the Plain of Thessaly. There is a museum with old icons, books, priest clothes, church inventory and old coins. When you exit, remember to visit the big museum downstairs, they show lots of old tools and other things, as well as offer wine and tastings of olive oil and balsamic they make here.

Continue on to the Monastery of Áyios Nikólaos Anapafsás (St. Nicholas), founded in 1368, it is approached by climbing a steep hill, followed by a flight of steps. The limited surface of the rock forced the building of monastery to be built vertically on floors, one level on top of the other. It is well-known for its tiny, but impressive church, decorated with incredible frescoes painted by the Cretan artist Theophanes in 1527, the most impressive depicting `Adam naming the Animals.`

The Monastery of Rousanoú stands boldly perched upon a slender pinnacle of rock. It is one of the easiest to access, due to it being lower in elevation, and a newly restored bridge that make the trek over the sheer cliff walls considerably less frightening too. Dedicated to the `Transfiguration` but honored to Saint Barbara, Rousanou was built around 1288 and renovated as a monastery in 1545. It became a nunnery in 1988, and is inhabited by nuns who tend its beautiful courtyard gardens.

End your day at the Holy Monastery of St. Stephen, the only monastery in Meteora visible from Kalambaka. St. Stephen has been a place of pilgrimage since the 14th century when Byzatine emperor Andronicus Paleologos visited and subsequently funded the original church. Built in the 1500s, the present church features the skull of St. Charalambos, which is believed to have extraordinary healing powers. Due to the damage this monastery suffered when it was bombed in WWII by the Germans, it was virtually abandoned until 1961, when it became a nunnery. The monastery is home to a lovely museum that displays finely embroidered robes and tapestries. The residence nuns welcome visitors and sometimes offer their handmade embroideries for sale.

In the evening, head back to Kalambaka to find a nice café, that typically turn into bars in the evening, with a relaxed lounge feel. Or, enjoy a long dinner in the one of the town’s taverns that offers delicious meat dishes. For something a bit more lively, head to Trikala, a lovely town about 30 minutes from Kalambaka, where you will find many lively bars along the paved Asklepiou street.

Day 3 in Kalambaka (The Meteora)

On your last day, head out for some more exploration of the area. We recommend a hike to the ruined and abandoned monasteries, there are numerous ones scattered throughout the area. A guided hike through the Meteora`s Rock Forest will be helpful to identify ruined structures that blend into the rock. It will also help to provide insight and bring life to these forests by sharing the local legends behind them.

Another interesting hike will bring you to the hermit caves and jail caves. This area is home to hundreds of caves peeking from the rock faces. There are caves where locals kept their goats and sheep at nights, caves where hermit monks went to spend their days in absolute solitude, and caves where the `misbehaved monks` were jailed for causing trouble and disobeying orders. Again, a guided tour is a must to share the unique stories that each of these caves holds.

Spend your last evening sampling some of the local wines and Tsipouro in a cozy wine cellar. Because this area is one of the most mountainous regions of Greece, with vertical, breathtaking cliffs result in some excellent local wines. Another fantastic way to experience the wines is to join a private food and wine tour

Additional Days in Kalambaka (The Meteora)

Should you be able to spend additional days in Kalambaka we recommend you try your hand at other outdoor adventures, and there`s a lot to choose from. In Meteora you can go rock climbing, canyoning, mountain biking, rafting, horseback riding and more! It`s a perfect destination for both active and adventurous travelers who want to do a little more beyond the standard monastery tours and really soak in the outdoors.

Your Last Day in Kalambaka (The Meteora)

Depart your hotel for the train station where you will head home or make your way to more Greece adventures. Savor the memories of a very special time in Kalambaka.