Visiting Meteora is one of the highlights of any trip to Greece, and one of the best things to do in the area is to see the monasteries. The buildings towering on top of steep rock formations are a fascinating sight that you won’t forget anytime soon.
When visiting Meteora, you have the choice between multiple modes of transport. You can rent a car, join a tour, get an electric bike for a day or hike to the monasteries. We think that all of those ways are fantastic for seeing the area, and we went for a sunset tour ourselves when we arrived.
The next day, though, we opted for a hike. Hiking Meteora on your own is an excellent way of getting around if you don’t like driving and don’t want to be tied down to the schedule of a tour. It’s also the most budget-friendly way of seeing the monasteries.
To help you organise your hike, we have put together this Meteora hiking guide. Here, you can find a map as well as a detailed description of all segments of the walk. This way, you will arrive at all of the six monasteries without getting lost.
Here is the essential information you need to know about this hike:
- Length: Around 16 kilometres
- Time required: At least four hours (more if you want to stop in all monasteries)
- Difficulty: Medium
- Must-take items: Water and appropriate clothing for the monasteries
- Good to know: Every monastery is closed on one day of the week, so you need at least two days in Meteora if you want to visit all of them.
We estimate that the minimum time you need for the Meteora hike is around four hours. For us, it took much longer as we visited five out of the six monasteries and took hundreds of photos.
Ideally, you have the whole day for this hike. That way, you can explore the monasteries and enjoy the views along the way.
Before you set out on this hike, make sure to check the opening hours. You can find six operating monasteries in Meteora, all of which you can visit.
However, each of them has one closing day (sometimes even more in winter). That means that you will likely not be able to visit the interior of all of them. Plus, some of them close early, even in summer. We had to run to Great Meteoron because it closes at three o’clock, and we then only had five minutes to look around.
Also, make sure to take appropriate clothing. Men need to cover their knees, while women have to cover their shoulders and must wear skirts that end below the knees. Trousers are not allowed for women, although it is acceptable to wrap a skirt around them.
I carried a light wrap skirt like this one with me, which I could easily take in my backpack when I didn’t need it.
Meteora hiking map
Below, you can see a Meteora hiking trails map for reference. Make sure to download it or take a screenshot before you leave Kalambaka.
In the mountains, you might not always have phone reception. Therefore, we also recommend downloading a map of the area. You can do this via multiple apps, but we personally love maps.me. The app is great for offline maps, and it also includes all the hiking trails you need for the Meteora hike.
By the way, do you want to know which other apps we use on our travels? Then check out this post about our favourite travel apps and resources!
#1 Kalambaka – Agia Triada
You start your Meteora hike in the town of Kalambaka. From here, you can already see St. Stephen’s Monastery. If you look carefully, you will be able to spot a white cross on the rocks left of St. Stephen’s. This cross is part of Agia Triada, the Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
You will go to Agia Triada first.
In Kalambaka, head to the northern tip of the village. At the end of the road Kleisouras, past the bed and breakfast Koka Roka, you can see signs indicating a hiking path to Agia Triada. Follow these signs.
At first, the path climbs gently. You’ll eventually reach a big boulder, where the path splits. Make sure to stay on your right. Along the way, you should see signs of the Meteora Trail Run.
The path eventually gets steeper as you enter into the forest. If it feels like you’re never going to reach the top, don’t worry. This is the hardest part of the hike, and it will get better.While hiking through the forest, take a look at the trees. The leaves might look like holly, but those are oak trees, holly oaks to be precise. In autumn, you can see the acorns growing on them. Unlike other oak trees, they are evergreen and don’t lose their leaves in winter.
Once you reach the top, the path joins the road going to Agia Triada. If you want to visit the monastery, you need to turn right here. Otherwise, go left to reach the main road.
Around 100 steps take you up to the Holy Trinity monastery. In front of the building, you can find a bench where you can rest after the ascent.
Congratulations! Once you’ve made it here, you have completed the most challenging part of the hike. From here on, it’s going to get easier.
#2 Agia Triada – St Stephen Monastery
If you have decided to visit Agia Triada, you need to go down all of the stairs and climb up the path on the other side to reach the main road.
From here, turn right and walk along the main road. You will have to walk along this road for most of the time while hiking in Meteora. Greece has lots of fantastic hiking trails through the forest, but the terrain around the monasteries is so rough and steep that you will only find the asphalted road here.
At least, it is wide, and the cars slow down when they see you.
In fact, we enjoyed walking along the main road. The asphalt is comfortable to walk on, and there were lots of incredible viewpoints along the way.
At the end of the road, you will reach the Monastery of St Stephen. If it’s open, we highly recommend that you go inside. Both the garden and the church are stunning.
The St Stephen Monastery is one of two nunneries in Meteora (the other one is the Monastery of Rousanou), and the nuns often walk around the complex. They also have a small gift shop where you can buy souvenirs.
If the monastery is open, you will see a truck in front of it, selling drinks and snacks. If you need a break from your hike, this is an excellent opportunity to get a cold drink.
#3 St Stephen Monastery – Rousanou Monastery
From St Stephen, turn around and walk back the way you came. You will soon pass Agia Triada on your left. Continue along the main road, but make sure to also take lots of small breaks during this hike. Meteora is stunning from all angles, so it pays off to turn around from time to time to take a look at the view.
After a while, a road branches off to your right. Do not follow this road, as it will take you back to Kalambaka. Instead, continue straight to get to Rousanou Monastery. Another road will fork off on the right, which takes you to the neighbouring village. Once again, continue straight along the main road.
After a while, you will see a large rock on your left. Many people call this “Sunset Rock”, as it gives you the perfect Meteora view at sunset. But even during the day, the view is fantastic, with the rock formations rising in front of you.
From here, you can see all four monasteries that you haven’t visited yet. The closest one is Rousanou, also called St Barbara.
If you keep walking along the main road, you will soon reach the upper access to the Rousanou monastery. Turn left if you want to visit it. You’ll need to walk downhill through the forest for quite some time, but it is well worth it.
After you’re done with your visit, return to the main road to continue hiking the Meteora monasteries.
#4 Rousanou Monastery – Varlaam Monastery
It is time to visit our favourite monastery in Meteora. Keep walking along the main road until you reach the next crossroads.
The road to the left takes you down back to Kalambaka, but you don’t want to go there yet. Instead, continue right along the mountainside (and refer to the Meteora hike map above to make sure you’re on the right path).
From here, the road continuously climbs up until it reaches Varlaam. The monastery entrance is on the left, and you’ll have to climb some steps to get there.Before you enter Varlaam, make sure to double-check the time and reference the opening hours again. When we visited, the Monastery of Great Meteoron closed earlier than Varlaam. If that’s the case for you, too, and you’re running out of time, visit the Great Meteoron monastery first and return to Varlaam later.
For us, Varlaam was one of the main highlights of hiking Meteora. Greece is full of fantastic monasteries and churches, but we especially loved Varlaam with its gardens and the view of the Monastery of Rousanou.
Plus, you can learn lots of interesting bits about life in the monasteries here. Did you know that the giant barrel inside Varlaam was for storing water? The area is very dry, so having enough to drink was always a concern. You can also see a net here, which, in former times, was used for lifting up both people and items to the monastery.
In front of Varlaam, if the monastery is open, you can find a truck that sells snacks and drinks. We had lunch here, and this is a great spot to take a break.
Once you’re done, head back to the main road.
#5 Varlaam Monastery – Great Meteoron Monastery
The next segment is one of the shortest while hiking the Meteora monasteries. From Varlaam, you only need to follow the road for a little while until you reach the Monastery of Great Meteoron.
We ran out of time, and Great Meteoron was about to close, so we ran this segment. Yes, it might be short, but it was extremely exhausting, so make sure to manage your time better than we did!
Once again, you need to walk down and climb up some stairs to reach the Great Meteoron Monastery. Inside, make sure to stop by the kitchen to get an idea of how life must have once been in these monasteries.
Once you’re done here, it’s time to get back to the main road. The parking in front of Great Meteoron is another location where you might find a truck selling drinks and snacks, so take a break if you need one, as the next segment will be long.
#6 Great Meteoron Monastery – St Nicholas Anapausas Monastery
From the Monastery of Great Meteoron, it’s time to start hiking down. Backtrack past Varlaam until you reach the crossing with the road from Kalambaka. Here, you need to turn right (once again, look at the Meteora hiking trail map above if you’re unsure).
As you walk along the main road, you will come past the Rousanou monastery. The building’s lower access is from this road, so if you haven’t visited it yet and still want to go, this is your last chance.
After a few turns, you eventually reach the St Nicholas Anapausas Monastery. This monastery is the smallest one, and only one monk lives here. We, unfortunately, didn’t get a chance to visit, as we were running out of time, but we heard that it is well worth it.
#7 St Nicholas Anapausas Monastery – Kalambaka
It’s time to head home. You could follow the main road to get back to Kalambaka, but we recommend that you take the Meteora hiking trails that disappear into the forest opposite the Monastery of St Nicholas Anapausas.
These trails take you into the forest and along a backroad and are much nicer for walking.
After a short while, you reach the village of Kastraki. You can find lots of restaurants and cafes here, so this is a great place to have a drink after your hike.
From Kastraki, you need to follow the main road to get back to Kalambaka. The walk is relatively short, and you should have no trouble getting back to where you started.
What to take on your Meteora hike
Fortunately, in Meteora, trekking is relatively easy. You’ll walk along an asphalted road most of the time, and you can buy drinks and snacks at some of the monasteries.
Therefore, you don’t need to take much. Here are some of the items we recommend:
- Good walking shoes (can be trainers, no hiking boots necessary)
- Water (take enough, in case the shops are closed)
- Appropriate clothing
- Camera or phone
- Meteora trail map (make sure to download a decent map of the area before you leave)
One word about appropriate clothing: In the monasteries, men need to wear trousers that end below their knees. For women, the rules are even stricter. They need to cover their shoulders, but they also have to wear a long skirt. We, therefore, recommend taking a very light cloth or sarong that you can wrap around your hips when you enter the monasteries.
We did the hike in trainers which worked well for us. If you are interested in hiking more or you prefer wearing hiking boots, check out suggestions of the best affordable hiking boots.
Before Covid, the monasteries used to hand out appropriate clothing at the entrance. This was not the case anymore when we went, so we highly recommend taking your own.
Meteora hiking tours
We think that it’s pretty easy to hike to all of the Meteora monasteries by yourself. However, we understand if you prefer to go with a guide.
In fact, we booked a sunset tour for our first evening and loved having a guide. It was great to be with someone who knew the region and could tell us more about the monasteries.
If you’re looking for a hiking tour, we can highly recommend Visit Meteora. We did the sunset tour with them and were very satisfied. Plus, their hiking tour doesn’t follow the above itinerary and instead goes past some lesser-known sights.
How to get to Kalambaka
To hike Meteora, you first need to get to Kalambaka.
No matter where you’re coming from, you have the option of going to Kalambaka by car. The roads are pretty well-maintained, and you should have no problem coming here.
If you’re coming from Thessaloniki or Athens, one of the most comfortable ways of travelling is by train. You can check the schedule and buy your train tickets on TrainOSE.
Another option is to take a bus. We found the bus system in Greece a bit confusing to navigate, as every prefecture has their own bus company. Generally, they do not seem to know about any connections with buses from other companies, so you will have to ask at your hotel or google a bit yourself.
Visit Meteora has a great interactive map that you can look at to see bus connections with some places around the country.
Where to stay in Kalambaka
Kalambaka is a small town, so it doesn’t really matter where you stay. Everything is easily accessible on foot. Our hotel was close to the main street, which we loved as that’s where you can find most of the cafes and restaurants.
Here are some recommendations to help you book your trip:
Budget: We stayed at Toti Boutique Rooms, and we can highly recommend them. Our room was spacious and clean, and we even got an upgrade to have a view of St Stephen Monastery from our balcony! One of the highlights of Toti is the breakfast. The owners prepare far more food than you could ever eat, and everything is delicious. It’s a great way to start the day and to prepare for your hike. Click here to check availability now!
Mid-Range: At the end of the main road, you can find Alexiou Hotel. All rooms here have private balconies, and once you go outside, you can find lots of cafes and restaurants nearby. The hotel consistently receives excellent ratings for its location and excellent breakfast. Click here to book your room now!
A bit more comfort: Do you want to relax by a pool after your hike? Then you should book the Divani Meteora Hotel. The hotel even offers a spa area with a sauna and a steam room. Plus, the rooms are spacious and comfortable. Click here to see pictures and book your stay now!
We hope you found this description of the Meteora hike useful. As you can see, you don’t need to rent a car or join a tour to visit all of the monasteries in Meteora.
Leave us a comment below if you have been to this beautiful corner of Greece or are planning on going soon. We’d love to hear from you!
Also, make sure to check out some of our other articles about Greece and travelling which will help you plan your trip:
- How to spend a perfect day in Athens
- See the highlights of Greece in one week
- Paros was our favourite Greek island. Find out why while looking at the best Paros Instagram spots.
- How many days in Santorini do you really need?
- Coming from overseas? Then check out our long-haul flight essentials you need to take
Until your next adventure!
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