Meteora in one day? Yes, it is possible – from Athens. However, you need to sacrifice your sleep if you want to maximize your time. And if you are into walking/hiking, you’ll go far.
So, here’s our one day itinerary in Meteora.
We took a train from Athens (Larissa Station) at almost midnight. When you buy your ticket at the counter, tell them straight that you are going to Meteora or Kalabaka. You have to remember that this train at this timetable doesn’t go directly to Meteora. The attendants will explain to you that you have to get off at Paleofarsalos. You should be arriving at around 4:00 in the morning. Then, from there, you have to transfer to another train that takes you to
The train ride was ok. Six people in a cubicle, sitting face to face might not be comfortable, but you can certainly move your legs from time to time. You will be sleeping most of the time, anyway.
It was still dark when we arrived in Kalabaka. The train station is tiny and there are no food stalls or cafe. We crossed the street and walked left until we found a bakery/cafe that was already open. We stayed there for more than an hour drinking coffee to power us on throughout the day. Twenty minutes before sunrise, we left the cafe and on to Meteora.
Our server at the cafe told us that the best way to go there is by taking a taxi. He said that the bus that takes visitors to the monasteries starts at 9 o’clock and he won’t recommend it. Why? According to him, “It’s very unreliable. They don’t show up at the scheduled time.” Following his advise, we grabbed a taxi and negotiated the price for 10 euros – all the way to the Great Monastery of Meteoron.
We were the first people
The monasteries won’t open until 9:00 AM. Take note that it’s impossible to go inside ALL monasteries because not all of them are open on the same day. On that Friday we went there, Varlaam and St. Nicholas Monasteries were closed.
Just like I said, it opens at 9:00 in the morning. By 8:30, tour buses start coming, so you better stand at the entrance before everyone arrives. Ticket booths are not located near the parking lot. You have to go down and up the stairs until you reach the first door of the monastery. Stand there and wait until it opens.
It was closed. All we had to do was take photos around. You can walk down, following the road, from the Great Monastery to Varlaam.
From Varlaam Monastery, we walked to the Viewing Platform. We didn’t know about this platform, but we saw it on our way to Roussanou Monastery. Before we went down to the monastery, we saw cars and buses stopping at the roadside ahead of us, so we decided to check it out first. And boy this is the view from there.
From here, you can see cathedrals of towering rocks, like skyscrapers in the city. You can also see the bird’s eye view of St. Nicholas Monastery, St. Stephen Monastery and Roussanou Monastery.
When you’re done, follow a hiking trail on your left that will take you to Roussanou Monastery.
The monastery was open but photos were not allowed. Be discreet if you want to take one or a few shots. 😉
From here, we planned to go St. Stephen Monastery and Holy Trinity Monasteries. According to the bus schedule, there should be one in 15 minutes. So, we waited. But, boy, for 90 minutes, the bus was a ghost! We ate all our food and drank our water bottles – but the bus didn’t show up! We were already tired at this time, so we waited for another 30 minutes, hoping that a taxi will drop off someone, but nada. So, we ditched our plan to see those two monasteries. We decided to start walking down to St. Nicholas Anapafsas Monastery. It was quite a long walk, following the road. The views entertained us and we definitely enjoyed that walk.
The sign outside the gate says that it should be open. Unfortunately, the only entrance visible from the road and parking lot was locked. Several road trippers came and went, feeling disappointed. They should have put up a sign somewhere letting us know the monastery was closed. Big disappointment here.
The searing heat was too much already, so we decided to walk back to Kalabaka, and at the same time looking for a cab with no passengers. We followed the main road and when two roads merge, we asked for directions to avoid getting lost. After walking for too long, we finally sat down at one of the restaurants in downtown Kalabaka. Boy, we ate like hungry wolves!
The last train of the day from Kalabaka to Athens is at 5:22 in the afternoon. This time, we didn’t have to transfer. It was a direct ride from Kalabaka to Athens. It was supposed to be only 4 hours and 40 minutes ride, but we arrived almost 6 hours later.
While it is possible to see Meteora in one day, I’d still recommend a night stay here. Especially if you’re taking sightseeing slowly. Stay in Kalabaka town where you can find a few hotels and guesthouses. Some of these hotels have tour buses which take you to all monasteries. These two accommodations are a good start: Dellas Boutique Hotel and Hotel Doupiani House.