One of the most touristy things to do in Greece is a trip to Meteora. " The Meteora is a formation of immense monolithic pillars and huge, hill-like rounded boulders that dominate the local area. It is also associated with one of the largest and most precipitously built complexes of Eastern Orthodox monasteries in Greece, second in importance only to Mount Athos" (Source).
There are in total 6 monasteries that are still being used and can be visited. We decided to visit 2/6 while also passing by a 3rd one. Even though touristy, I believe going there is super nice to experience you can see them from outside and pick one to visit inside as well.
My first trip to Meteora was back in 2000 when i went on a day trip from Paralia Katerini and consequently went by a tour bus. To be fair I don't really remember more than having to climb a lot of stairs. The other option which we chose this time was by car. The uphill is a bit tight and to park at least for the Great Meteoron Monastery is a challenge as there are looooads of people, but if you are patient you'll manage :)
Should I visit all?
I think it depends a lot of how religious you are. if you come there for religious perspective, it might be interesting to see all, but if it's just out of tourism and curiosity I believe that going to only part of them is enough. We decided to visit: Great Meteoron Monastery and St. Stephen Monastery. But I mostly loved are the views!
What you should know
This is a religious place and consequence adequate cloths are important. Make sure your legs are not visible and maybe wear a t-shirt rather than tops. They usually have some sort of pareos you can use, but I recommend to bring your own scarf.
Price: 3 Euro
For the opening hours please check Visit Meteora website.
All 6 of the remaining monasteries are in use, so please respect their house.
Great Meteoron Monastery
The oldest and largest of the Meteora monasteries, the Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron is the highest too, rising more than 615 meters (2,000 feet) above the valley floor. Founded by St. Athanasios, whose disciples included exiled royalty, Great Meteoron has long been considered the most prestigious of the monasteries as well. (Source)
In order to get to the entrance you need to climb approx 300 stairs, make sure you have comfortable shoes.
Maybe the thing that willll mainly strike you is the skulls cellar :S
St. Stephen Monastery
"Built in the 1500s, the present church features the skull of St. Charalambos, which is believed to have miraculous healing powers. The monastery suffered much damage in the 20th century: it was bombed in World War II by the Germans while most of the frescoes were defaced by Communist rebels during the Greek Civil War. St. Stephen's was virtually abandoned until 1961, when it became a nunnery." (Source)
The monastery is easy accessible via a bridge.
Some of the breathtaking views
The formation of the rock structures was done through earthquakes and weathering about 60 million years ago
I won't bore you more with landscape pictures, but you see my point...or wait just one more :)
The access used to be even more difficult where people had to use long ladders or big nets to transport food and to bring themselves up.
Where to eat
There are a lot of restaurants around Meteora so it will be easy to find a spot even with a lot of tourists. As we were by car we picked one that was a bit further away
the restaurant had good food and some great views :)
And well, yes, this was a full day trip to explore the amazing monasteries, maybe just a line to add, Meteora is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1988.