Visiting Meteora From Thessaloniki
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Visiting Meteora From Thessaloniki – The Perfect Guide

Since the moment I saw a photo of Meteora in one of my travel books, I’ve been excited to visit this incredibly stunning-looking place.

So when my sister and I took a trip to Thessaloniki and discovered Meteora was only three hours away, we immediately made plans to go!

There are several options for visiting Meteora from Thessaloniki: joining a guided tour, renting a car for a self-drive adventure, or using public transportation.

Since we didn’t want to rent a car for our short stay in Thessaloniki and public transport seemed too inconvenient, we opted for a guided tour.

Firstly, it seemed to be the most convenient choice, and secondly, it hardly made a difference in terms of cost.

In this blog post, I’ll share my experiences visiting Meteora as a day trip from Thessaloniki, highlight what you can see there, and provide helpful tips for your trip!

But before we dive in, let me share a bit of information about the place to better prepare you for your trip!

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a certain percentage of a sale if you purchase after clicking.)

Interesting Facts About Meteora

Meteora, located near Kalambaka in central Greece, is famous for its incredible rock formations topped with monasteries that seem to defy gravity.

The name “Meteora” means “suspended in the air” in Greek, which perfectly describes these monasteries perched on tall sandstone pillars.

Monks first settled here in the 11th century, seeking peace and isolation. Originally, they accessed the monasteries using ropes, ladders, and baskets, later building staircases carved into the rock for easier access.

The towering rock formations, some of them reaching up to 400 meters from the valley floor, were shaped over millions of years by earthquakes and erosion.

Meteora was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988 for its natural beauty, historical importance, and cultural significance, and it is one of Greece’s most stunning landmarks.

How to Get to Meteora From Thessaloniki

As I mentioned earlier, we visited Meteora as part of a tour, but I would like to share other possible options for getting there from Thessaloniki.

By Public Transport

To get to Meteora from Thessaloniki by public transport, you can either take the train or the bus.

Direct trains are running from Thessaloniki to Kalambaka, the town at the base of Meteora, taking about three hours.

Tickets can be bought on the Hellenic Train website (if it works as it didn’t for us) or at the ticket machine at the train station and cost somewhere between €15–€30.

I couldn’t find a standard price for a return ticket as the prices seem to vary depending on the time and availability of the train.

A notable disadvantage is that trains only go as far as Kalambaka. To reach the monasteries, you’ll need to hire a taxi or a guided tour.

Taking the bus requires an even longer journey. KTEL operates services from Thessaloniki to Kalambaka, typically requiring a transfer in Trikala.

The total travel time is around 4–5 hours. Once in Kalambaka, similar to the train, you’ll need to hire a taxi or join a tour to visit the monasteries.

As you can see, taking the bus is pretty inconvenient, so if you want to travel by public transport, I recommend that you take the train.

By Car

Traveling to Meteora by car is quite straightforward. Simply take the Egnatia Odos (A2) highway towards Ioannina, then follow signs to Kalambaka. The drive takes about 2.5–3 hours.

At Meteora, there are several designated parking areas where you can park your car conveniently. These parking lots are typically located near the entrance points to the monasteries and the hiking trails.

Upon arrival, keep your eyes open and you’ll find signs directing you to these parking areas.

If, like my sister and me, you are traveling to Thessaloniki by plane and thus don’t have a car, renting one is also an option. You can find the best and most affordable rental cars at DiscoverCars.

By Tour

Last but not least, you have the option of joining a guided tour to Meteora, just as we did. In my opinion, joining a guided tour is the best choice for getting to Meteora from Thessaloniki because it’s convenient and hassle-free.

We booked the full-day bus trip with Ammon Express via GetYourGuide and were fully satisfied with the organization and services.

Our tour included round-trip transportation, provided water onboard, informative commentary about Thessaloniki & Meteora during the bus journey, a stop at a scenic viewpoint, and a lunch break at a restaurant in Kalambaka.

They also pre-select the two best monasteries that are open on the day of your tour – each monastery is only open a few days a week – so you don’t have to worry about this.

I can wholeheartedly recommend it!

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What to See at & Near Meteora

The main highlights of Meteora are, without a doubt, the monasteries themselves.

Six of the original 24 monasteries still stand today and all of them are open for visitors to explore, however, not every monastery is open every day and the daily opening times depend on the season.

If you want to see specific monasteries, make sure to check the opening times in advance and plan your day trip accordingly.

The entrance fee for each monastery is €3 and payment is accepted only in cash. Keep this in mind while planning your visit and make sure to carry enough cash, as these fees are usually not included in tour prices either.

Besides the monasteries, there are other great places to see in the Meteora area. Before I tell you more about that though, let’s take a look at the individual monasteries first!

The Monastery of Great Meteoron

The Monastery of Great Meteoron is the largest and oldest of the Meteora monasteries.

It was founded in the 14th century by Saint Athanasios the Meteorite and houses a museum with an impressive collection of religious artifacts, manuscripts, and frescoes that depict the rich history of the Greek Orthodox Church.

Visiting Meteora From Thessaloniki

The Great Meteoron monastery is great to visit to get a glimpse into the monastic life of centuries past as you’re able to explore the church, the old refectory, and the monk’s cells.

The Monastery of Varlaam

The Monastery of Varlaam is the second-largest monastery in Meteora and was founded in the 16th century. It’s situated on a lower rock compared to The Great Meteoron but still offers impressive panoramic views.

The Monastery of Varlaam

Named after the monk Varlaam, who first settled on the rock in the 14th century, the monastery is renowned for its stunning frescoes painted by the celebrated hagiographer Frangos Katelanos.

The monastery also houses a museum where you can admire religious painted icons, mostly from the Renaissance period.

The Monastery of St. Stephen

Located on a low plain and connected by a small bridge, the Monastery of St. Stephen or Agios Stefanos is one of the most accessible monasteries in Meteora. It was also one of the two monasteries we visited on the day we did the tour.

Inside the 14th-century monastery, you can explore beautifully preserved frescoes, a chapel dedicated to Saint Stephen, and the main chapel of Saint Charalambos, which houses a priceless relic of the saint and is renowned for its exquisite iconography.

The Monastery of St. Stephen

One unique aspect of St. Stephen’s is that it is one of only two female monasteries in Meteora. During your visit, you’ll most likely see some members of the active community of nuns who reside here and maintain the monastery.

A visit to this monastery also comes with spectacular views of the Thessaly valley, the Pinios River, the Pindos mountain range, and the town of Kalabaka from 300 meters above the ground.

The Monastery of Roussanou

The second female monastery, and also the one we visited after St. Stephen’s, was the Monastery of Roussanou.

Perched on a slender rock pillar, this monastery is among the smaller ones in Meteora but is in no way inferior to the others.

Founded in the 16th century and dedicated to St. Barbara, it’s notable for its beautiful frescoes depicting various scenes from the life of Christ and the saints.

What sets Roussanou apart is its somewhat remote, enchanting location with lush surroundings, offering an intimate and serene environment compared to the larger monasteries.

Getting to the Monastery of Roussanou involves a short hike up from the road which requires a bit of effort but is not overly challenging.

The Monastery of Holy Trinity

Perched atop a precipitous cliff that stands over 400 meters above the ground, the Monastery of Holy Trinity is undoubtedly the most visually striking and dramatic in Meteora.

Thanks to its feature in the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only,” it’s now also the most famous one. It’s very close to the Monastery of St. Stephen, less than a 10-minute walk. 

The Monastery of Holy Trinity

Accessing this monastery requires a steep hike and the ascent of over 140 steps carved into the rock, making it one of the most difficult monasteries to reach.

Just like the Monastery of Roussanou, the Holy Trinity is smaller in size and provides a more secluded and contemplative experience.

The Monastery of St. Nikolaos

Founded in the early 16th century, the Monastery of St. Nikolaos or Agios Nikolaos is probably the first monastery you encounter when ascending the rock formations of Meteora.

Its compact size is due to the limited space on the narrow rock on which it is built, leading to a vertical structure with multiple levels.

Inside the monastery, you can admire exquisite frescoes painted by the renowned Cretan artist Theophanes Strelitzas. Moreover, you can explore the small chapel dedicated to St. Anthony, the old refectory, and the ossuary.

The terraces and balconies of the Monastery of St. Nikolaos offer beautiful views of the surrounding landscape and the nearby village of Kastraki.

Monastery Viewpoints

Throughout the area, there are several great viewpoints where you can take in the overall landscape and see the monasteries perched on their iconic rocks from afar.

Among these, one particularly remarkable viewpoint allows you to see five monasteries – all except St. Stephen’s – from a single spot.

To find it, simply head towards the road between Kastraki village and the Monastery of Holy Trinity. is located along the main road that connects the various monasteries, near a bend that offers an elevated, unobstructed view of the area.

If you’re visiting Meteora as part of a tour, a stop at this viewpoint will most likely be on the itinerary!

Visiting Meteora From Thessaloniki

Another viewpoint we visited and that I enjoyed a lot was located at the base of Roussanou, right where the stairs ascend to the monastery. From there, you can have a clear view of St. Nikolaos and Varlaam Monasteries.

It was extra peaceful because except for the few people from our tour – and a friendly red cat – there was no one else there.


Another place to include on your visit to Meteora is the charming town of Kalambaka, situated at the foot of the iconic rock formations.

It’s not only a popular base for exploring the nearby monasteries but also boasts several attractions worth visiting.

You can explore the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum if you’re interested in exhibits on local wildlife and fungi, or visit the old Byzantine church of the Dormition of the Virgin that dates back to the 11th century.

Kalambaka also features a variety of shops, cafés, and traditional tavernas, where you can sample local cuisine.

As part of our tour, we had lunch at a restaurant located right beneath one of the great rock formations, allowing us to enjoy a fantastic view during our meal.


Kastraki is another picturesque village nestled at the base of the towering Meteora rock formations.

This charming village is renowned for its traditional stone houses and narrow cobblestone streets, providing a tranquil atmosphere.

Surrounded by olive groves and vineyards, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in the rustic charm of the Thessaly region.


Just like Kalambaka, it features several family-run tavernas and cafés where you can savor authentic Greek cuisine and local delicacies.

So if you have some extra time, make sure to plan a stop in Kastraki!

Useful Tips For Visiting Meteora From Thessaloniki

No matter if you decide to visit Meteora by public transport, car, or guided tour – it’s important to know a few things to be properly prepared for your trip!


If you go by public transport or car and want to visit specific monasteries, check their opening hours and plan your itinerary accordingly.


Wear comfortable walking shoes with good grip, as you may need to climb stairs and navigate rocky paths to reach some monasteries and viewpoints.

Dress Code

Most monasteries have a dress code that requires shoulders and knees to be covered. Not all monasteries provide skirts so dress appropriately to avoid any issues when visiting.


Photography is generally allowed in the outdoor areas of the monasteries but is often restricted in certain interior spaces. Respect any signs or guidelines or ask the staff if you’re uncertain.


Start your day early if you plan to visit more than two monasteries, ensuring you can see them all before they close. Take enough time for each monastery – I recommend at least an hour – to get the full experience and enjoy each place without feeling rushed.

Enjoy Your Visit

Meteora is a unique and awe-inspiring place, so enjoy every moment of your visit!

Tours you might find interesting:

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Do you need more info for your trip to Meteora or have other questions?
Feel free to reach out!

Check out:
16 Best Things to do in Thessaloniki For First-Timers
The 8 Best & Easiest Day Trips From Thessaloniki
Where to Stay in Thessaloniki – Elisabeth Boutique Hotel

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Do you want to travel like me?
Here are some of my favorite travel tips and resources:

Flights: I prefer using CheapOair or Skyscanner to book flights. The destination everywhere feature is perfect for finding some cheap deals!

Accommodation: is my favorite site to find some great hotel deals. I do love staying at a local place as well, so I book an Airbnb every now and then.

Travel Insurance: There are many reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without one. I use the simple and flexible one from SafetyWing that protects me against unforeseen events.

Tours: I love taking tours to explore destinations like a local. My favorite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Camera Gear: I use a Nikon D5300 camera with an 18-105 mm and a 10-20 mm wide-angle lens to take my photos.

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