Driving to Greece’s Monasteries in The Sky

 

Photo Credit: SonOfJordan via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: SonOfJordan via Compfight cc

Meteora literally means “suspended in the air” or “in the heavens above.” Along with Mount Athos, it is one of the most important complexes of Eastern Orthodox Monasteries in Greece. Due to the outstanding geography of the area, the feeling you get when you arrive is surreal; as if the place was specially created to make you feel close to God.

There are six monasteries which can be visited. Some of them require a tiny entry fee (1 euro or 2 euros) and you can always make a donation. Remember to cover your shoulders and knees. Yes, all Orthodox Monasteries require visitors to abide to a dress code.

The monasteries date from the 14th -16th centuries and have been renovated over the years. Unfortunately, tourism has also impacted them and sometimes you may not exactly feel very contemplative here (and this happens in pretty much any church / monastery which has been opened for mass tourism).

Kalampaka (alt spelling: Kalambaka) is located at the foot of Meteora. If you are looking for an overnight to explore the area better, then this is the place to look for a place to stay. Plus, the city in itself is filled with history and there are interesting places to see: from the ruins of an ancient Greek temple to old churches.

Tip: should you want to come here to any Orthodox major holiday (Easter being the most important), make plans way in advance!

Meteora is located closer to Thessaloniki then Athens. So if you are looking for the easiest way to get here, then you’d want to fly into Thessaloniki. Sure, there are buses and travel agencies which organize trips to Meteora but to fully grasp the magnificent area, it’s better to be driving on your own.

Attention: if you are not used to driving in hectic European towns, you’d want to let someone more experienced to do the driving for you. Plan breaks and stop when you feel tired.

The winding roads and the backdrop of the mountains make it an interesting and beautiful drive. And since there are areas along the way where you can park, take advantage of them to both stretch your legs and take photos.

Map Thessaloniki - Meteora

The drive from Thessaloniki takes about 3-4 hours, depend on how often you stop, of course.

The drive from Athens is about twice as long. However, there is a very interesting stop along the way which would totally be worth it. Do plan to break the trip though. Drive from Athens to Delphi , visit the sanctuary, then spend a night in the coastal village of Glaxidi before driving further to Meteora.
Make sure to leave Athens in the morning – especially if you drive during summer. By the time you reach Delphi it would be noon and hot.

Map Athens - Meteora

The archeological site of Delphi is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In ancient times, it was the home to the most important oracle of the God Apollo. The archeological site and the museum are located within walking distance of modern Delphi, so you can easily find a parking spot and cover the rest of the distance on foot.

Depend on how long you spend visiting the site and the museum, you’d want to stop for an overnight rather than continue to Meteora.

Traveling Cricket

Traveling Cricket has been a travel writer since high-school (many moons ago). Currently she blogs in English on her personal blog and you can find her traveling around Europe. She is hopelessly in love with Budapest, London and Athens.

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