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Meteora Day Trips from Athens

Isabel Catalán

Isabel Catalán

8 min read

Meteora Day Trips from Athens

©Clement Souchet

With more than 3,000 years of history, Athens is the symbol of Western culture and a fascinating city whose wealth of monuments attracts visitors from all corners of the globe.

However, Greece is much more than its capital. During your vacation I recommend you to reserve some time to make an excursion to Delphi and Meteora from Athens, two spectacular sites in the Hellenic country with a long history and beautiful landscapes that will leave you speechless. Don't miss it!

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Considering that Greece is one of the most touristic countries in the world, the good thing about doing an organized tour to Delphi and Meteora from Athens is that you will have the opportunity to discover two of the most amazing places in the country declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO without having to worry about how to get there, where to stay or how to get the tickets. Planning it on your own can be an odyssey, especially in high season.

The adventure begins at 8:30 AM, when you will depart Athens for Delphi, a charming little tourist village on the southern slopes of Mount Parnassus, which in ancient times was considered the navel of the world according to Greek mythology. You will arrive at noon and together with your guide you will visit the archaeological site, the theater and the ruins of the temple of Apollo, the stadium where the Pythian games were held and the archaeological museum of Delphi.

In the afternoon, the group will head to Kalambaka, already in Meteora, to spend the night in a 3 or 4 star hotel. This is a small town built at the foot of the majestic gray rocks on which the monasteries of Meteora are located. Both dinner and hotel are included in the price.

The next day you will visit the Monasteries of Meteora with your expert guide, who will explain everything you need to know about this place to understand its grandeur and you will be able to satisfy all your curiosities by asking him any questions.

Why I like this option: you will save time because you will simplify all the formalities of organizing an excursion, you will be accompanied by a guide who will show you all the secrets of Delphi and Meteora, you will travel comfortably and you will have a great time taking pictures. All at a very reasonable price, you can't ask for more!

Recommended if... you want to visit the two places together with an expert guide who will accompany you during the tour and will give you a guided tour of the most important places of Delphi and Meteora.

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Meteora, in the region of Thessaly, is a very special place that by its morphology seems that it was created to be close to God. Declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, this unique place combines the natural beauty of this territory with the ancient Orthodox monasteries built on the rocks.

The day of the excursion you will have to get up early to catch the train from Athens at 7:20 AM to Kalambaka, a small village built at the foot of the majestic gray rocks where the monasteries of Meteora are located.

The train ride takes about 4 hours but it is short because it is quite comfortable and on the way you can admire the beauty of the Greek rural landscape as well as read a little about what you will see in Meteora to get into the subject. Around 11:30 you will arrive at Kalambaka station, where an English speaking driver will be waiting for you to transfer you to the monasteries of Meteora.

Once here you will have the opportunity to visit the hermit caves of Badovas and three of these almost 700 year old monasteries. In the past there were as many as 24 active monasteries of which today only 6 are inhabited by monks.

At the end of the day, the driver will take you back to Kalambaka where before boarding the train back to Athens you will have some free time to explore this charming little village and have lunch if you wish to recharge your batteries. The train will depart Kalambaka at 5:15 PM and arrive in Athens around 9:25 PM.

Why I like this tour: with this train option you will be able to optimize your travel time, taking more advantage of the visit to Meteora and even having time to discover it at your leisure in the afternoon, something that for me adds a special charm.

Recommended if... you don't have much time but you don't want to miss this unique place in the world in a very comfortable organized excursion at the best price.

Why Meteora is worth a visit?

Kalambaca Monasteries, Meteora | ©fauve othon
Kalambaca Monasteries, Meteora | ©fauve othon

Meteora is a beautiful site in the plain of Thessaly filled with towering crags crowned by monasteries that shape one of the most striking landscapes in Europe. The landscape of Meteora is one of the most beautiful I have ever had the opportunity to see. It is such a fascinating place, with its great sandstone crags topped by Byzantine monasteries, that it is understandable that for many it is more than enough reason to take a trip to Greece.

Meteora means "rocks in the air", a term that defines what we will find there during the second day of the excursion perfectly. It is a very peculiar place that sticks in the memory.

Seeing the plain of Thessaly, one can understand why the hermit monks withdrew to this place to cultivate their spirituality, because according to their beliefs these rocks seemed to be sent by God to the Earth to be closer to Him.

Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1988, in Meteora there were more than twenty active monasteries, of which today only about six survive with small communities of monks. On the day of the excursion you can visit the monasteries of Great Meteora and Varlaam.

Little is known about its construction, only that it is an unknown although there are several theories about which you will learn during the tour of Meteora. I advance that the system they used was the most surprising and curious for the time, almost impossible to our eyes and a demonstration of tenacity and faith!

The entrance is well worth it, not only to know the interior of these communities and their coquettish churches but also to enjoy the unique views from the top of these rocks formed millions of years ago. Impressive!

To take into account when visiting Meteora...

Something very important to know when making an excursion to Meteora is that to visit the Orthodox monasteries it is required to comply with a dress code as they are places of worship. Otherwise they are not accessible.

It is not allowed to wear sleeveless shirts or skirts or pants that expose the knees. In other words, shoulders and legs must be properly covered for both men and women as a sign of respect.

Isabel's Traveler Tip

At Meteora, head to the lookout points to take in the scenery. When the mist covers the tops of the rocks it looks as if the monasteries are suspended in the air.

Why Delphi is worth a visit

Sanctuary of Delphi | ©Jorge Cancela
Sanctuary of Delphi | ©Jorge Cancela

Athens is the cradle of Western civilization, a city with an incredible history whose legacy has crossed borders, be it artistic, philosophical or political. Its archaeological wealth is overwhelming, who has never heard of the Parthenon, the Agora or the Acropolis?

However, beyond Athens there are wonderful places to visit. We usually focus on the capital for its historical and cultural relevance but the Hellenic country hides many other treasures throughout its geography that are well worth knowing.

A good example of this is Delphi, a charming little village on the southern slopes of Mount Parnassus with beautiful views of the valley and the sea that for the ancient Greeks was the center of the world and a spiritual retreat. Here is the famous Oracle of Delphi! In my opinion, a trip to Delphi is the perfect complement to a visit to Athens and an indispensable excursion to understand classical Greece.

What to see in Delphi

  • The archaeological site of Delphi,
  • The theater and the ruins of the temple of Apollo, to whose oracle pilgrims from all over Greece came to seek advice on important decisions. For example, on the foundation of colonies and new cities, on the approval of laws and constitutions or on wars and peace treaties.
  • The Pythian games stadium, one of the four Panhellenic games (with the Isthmian games, the Nemean games and the Olympic games) which were consecrated to the god Apollo and the winner was awarded a laurel wreath.
  • The Archaeological Museum of Delphi, one of the most important in Greece that houses in its collection valuable pieces such as the twins of Argos, the sphinx of Naxos, the statue of Antinous, a Hellenistic copy of the "omphalos" with which the god Zeus pointed here the center of the world or the most valuable object of the museum, the magnificent charioteer of Delphi a sculpture made of bronze commemorating a great victory in the Pythian games of 478 BC.

Where to eat during your visit to Delphi and Meteora?

Follow the rich Mediterranean diet with traditional Greek salad | ©Susan Lucas Hoffman
Follow the rich Mediterranean diet with traditional Greek salad | ©Susan Lucas Hoffman

If you choose the option to visit Meteora in one day, lunch is on your own, but don't worry. I leave you here the best options so you won't make a mistake when choosing. Juicy meats, tasty vegetables and rich Hellenic-style cheeses are just some of the delicacies you can try during the excursion. They cook with care and put a lot of passion into the dishes, that's why we all love Greek gastronomy. bon apetit!

  • Taverna to Paramithi: It is a cozy and inexpensive restaurant that stands out for its delicious food and fast service. The owner is very attentive and you feel at home. During the meal, traditional Greek music was playing in the background and the atmosphere was very relaxed. The lamb kebab and tzatziki should not be missed at the table.

  • Meteora Restaurant**: This is one of the best restaurants in Kalambaka and one of the oldest as it has been open since 1925. The waiters are very friendly and the atmosphere is very pleasant and quiet. The dishes are plentiful and the desserts are delicious. We highly recommend the moussaka, the meatballs, the Meteora salad and the Greek yogurt with plums.

  • Restaurant Panellenion**: It is a place in the center of Kalambaka of rustic aesthetics with a great terrace and a very attentive service. The dishes are homemade and plentiful. The peppers stuffed with rice, the lamb and the Greek salad are very good.

  • Where to eat when passing through Kalambaka: In this small town you will find many restaurants to enjoy Greek food and to try some local specialties at much more affordable prices than in other parts of the country.

Other places of interest in Greece...

View of the Acropolis and the Parthenon | ©Antonio Campoy
View of the Acropolis and the Parthenon | ©Antonio Campoy

There is no other place like Athens to immerse yourself in the magic of classical culture.

Through a tour of the historic center of the Greek capital you can take a trip back in time to the cradle of Western civilization to learn about its mythology, the majestic buildings and the great temples that have amazed travelers from all over the world for generations.

If you liked this excursion to Delphi and Meteora, in the article The best tours and excursions from Athens you will see other very cool tours to explore the city.

Frequently asked questions

  • How far is Meteora from Athens?

    At around 350 km (217 mi) northwest of Athens, Meteora isn't close. That said it can be reached via a 4 hr 10 mins car/bus journey, as it is quite far, most tours include Delphi as a stop, on its way to Meteora. It is also possible to take a combination of metros and train, however there are a number of changes before you arrive at Meteora.

  • Why is Meteora famous?

    With the name translating to "Suspended in the air", the area is a UNESCO World Heritage site, featuring 24 monasteries, many of which are now inaccessible, built on eroded rock. The scenery around the area is beautiful in its own right, with rock towers jutting out across the landscape, making it a famous rock-climbing site for the adventurous.

  • What else can I do in Meteora?

    Aside visiting 6 of the visitable monasteries and taking in the scenery, the main town is actually a great place for food, especially if you want to try something that is authentically greek.