Planning a Meteora day trip from Athens is one of the most spectacular historic days out from the Greek capital you could do. Meteora is undoubtedly one of the most unique places to visit when venturing on a trip to Greece.
Many travelers head to Athens and the islands when visiting Greece, missing the jewels of the mainland, including Meteora.
The 14th-century ethereal monasteries perched above the unique and dramatic landscape of naturally formed high rocks offer travelers a truly special experience. Continue to read on to plan the perfect day trip to Meteora from Athens.
How to Get from Athens to Meteora
Athens to Meteora by Organized Tour
Perhaps you’re someone that would prefer to visit Meteora with a guide and an organized plan for your trip. If this is you, I recommend taking part in a guided tour from Athens to Meteora.
This takes a lot of the pressure away from organizing your time in Meteora and is also incredibly informative to visit with a knowledgeable guide of the area.
These tours are great options if you’d like to skip visiting Meteora independently and head with a guide and group.
This full-day tour takes the train from Athens before arriving at the UNESCO Heritage Site of Meteora. You’ll visit 3 of the 6 historical monasteries of Meteora as well as the Caves of Badovas with lunch included. A similar tour is also available on Viator here.
Another good option for those wanting to take a guided Meteora day trip from Athens is this full-day tour. This option includes train transport to and from Athens on the same day, a local tour guide during your visit, transportation during the trip, and many photo opportunities.
If you’re looking to get more out of your trip than just one day in Meteora, this 2-day tour is perfect for you. You’ll have time to visit all 6 monasteries as well as enjoy a sunset tour and hiking tour. The tour includes all transport, guides and accommodation, A similar tour is also available on Viator here.
Athens to Meteora by Train
If you decide to head to Meteora from Athens independently, the best transport option (besides renting a car) will be to take a train. You can reach Meteora from Athens’ Larissa station in around 4 hours, and although it is a long journey, it’s incredibly worth it.
It’s important to note that “Meteora” is the physical structure of rocks rather than the town it is located in. The town next to and directly below Meteora is the town of Kalambaka. This is where you will arrive, eat, and seek accommodation if you decide to stay more than just for a day trip.
Trains leave to and from Athens and Kalambaka just about every day with a few departures each day. This means you’ll want to plan your trip well in advance so that your schedule can line up with train times.
Train tickets are about €35 in each direction but can differ depending on the time of day as well as the route and speed of the train. Also, keep in mind that purchasing individual tickets will likely come out more expensive in comparison to booking a round trip for around €50.
These routes are quite common and trains aren’t as frequent in comparison to other European countries so they tend to book up quickly, so you’ll want to reserve in advance. Train schedules for the Hellenic Trains can be found and purchased here.
To reach Meteora from Kalambaka, you can either hike to the rocks and monasteries or take a bus/taxi. The hike is around 1.5 hours with stunning wild scenery, and the bus or taxi ride is quite short but takes you directly to the area of the monasteries.
Athens to Meteora by Bus
Alternatively, another transport option for a day trip from Athens to Meteora is to take the bus. Bus transport for a Meteora itinerary is a bit more complicated than taking the train, but it is feasible for a day trip if that’s your preferred option.
There are no direct buses from Athens to Kalambaka (the nearest town to Meteora), so the journey from Athens to Meteora consists of two different buses.
The first bus departs from the “Liosion 260 Bus Station” in the Kato Patisia area of Athens. From here you’ll take the bus departing to Trikala which takes around 5 hours.
Buses to Trikala from this stop leave multiple times a day with extra departures on weekends. This is the nearest city to the town of Kalambaka and where you will take the second bus onward to Meteora.
From Trikala, you’ll transfer to another bus towards Kalambaka (your final destination for Meteroa). Buses leave just around every hour for Kalamabaka from Trikala and tickets cost €2- €5 with a journey of just under half an hour.
This makes a total journey of around 6 hours on your Meteora itinerary to reach Meteora from Athens by bus. With that being said, if you take the first bus in the morning and the last bus in the evening, it’s possible to make the day trip (if you don’t mind the long day).
Otherwise, if you’re keen on bus transport, I recommend at least staying one night in Meteora to make the most of your trip. This way you won’t be worn out from the bus journey or rushing to see the sites.
Athens to Meteora by Car
If you want the flexibility of travelling to Meteora on your own schedule, then another option is to rent a car, particularly if you want to visit other nearby sites such as Delphi.
You can browse Rentalcars.com to compare options for car rentals across many different companies.
Meteora Day Trip Itinerary
Planning a Meteora day trip from Athens can be quite overwhelming. It’s far from Athens and a bit complicated to plan, but a Meteora day trip from Athens is incredibly worth it. Due to the expected length of a Meteora day trip, you’ll possibly wonder, how many days in Meteora are necessary?
Doing a day trip and spending only one day in Meteora will allow you to see the main sights, however, an extra day or two with overnight accommodation will give you enough time to explore the surrounding areas without being in a rush. From ancient monasteries to the deep history of humankind, this is Meteora.
Monasteries of Meteora
The main attractions of Meteora are easily the 6 Greek Orthodox monasteries resting above the immaculate rock peaks making up Meteora. Hiking to the monasteries and witnessing the below towns from above is an incredible experience.
In Byzantine times, Monks had a longing to be “closer to god”, and therefore built these monasteries atop the high rock peaks of Meteora. At the time, there were 24 standing. Incredibly, 6 of the monasteries are still standing today perched above the world below.
The main thing that stuck out to me during my first visit was the immensity and height of the rocks. I wondered, “there’s no way people hike up there!”. Then just around 1.5 hours later, I too found myself looking down from above in awe.
Reaching the Monasteries
Your options to reach the monasteries from Kalambaka are either by rental car, bus, taxi, or hike.
Buses leave from the main square in Kalabaka to reach the furthest monastery and cost about €3 for each bus journey. A taxi will cost you around €25 to reach the top, making it the most expensive transport option to reach the monasteries from Kalambaka.
If you have a rental car during your Meteora itinerary, this is a great option to hop around the monasteries that you prefer to visit. And the most popular option is to hike to the monasteries.
From the town of Kalambaka, you’ll want to follow the signs leading you into the forest, through the trail, and to the first monastery. The journey itself is about 2 miles and after about 100 steps upward, the first monastery you’ll reach is Agia Triada (the Holy Trinity).
From Agia Triada, each of the other 5 Monasteries are quite spaced out so be prepared for a long day if you plan to visit all of the monasteries and then hike back to Kalambaka.
Visiting the Monasteries
While there are still 6 monasteries standing, I personally recommend only visiting a few of them unless you’re someone with a particular interest in monasteries and the Orthodox religion.
Visiting one or two of them is ideal as there is an entry cost of €3 for each monastery and it can add up quite quickly if you decide to visit all 6. All of the monasteries are pretty similar in design and history so once you’ve seen a few, you get a good idea of what they’re all like.
The view from each monastery is quite unique though, so this is a benefit if you decide to visit all 6.
If your Meteora itinerary is within the summer months, keep in mind that it can become extremely hot. So if you’re hoping to hike to the monasteries during the summer, make sure you’re in good physical shape to face the hike as well as have water and food on hand.
There’s nowhere to buy water or food once you reach the top, so having these with you is a necessity.
Comfortable walking shoes are also something important to keep in mind especially if you plan to walk to and between the monasteries.
There is also a strict dress code in place visiting the monasteries; women need their shoulders covered and also wear a long skirt, dress, or sarong. For men, a t-shirt or long sleeve shirt and pants should suffice. Wrap skirts are available to borrow from each monastery which is included in the €3 entry cost.
Hermit Caves of Badovas
Another point of interest in the area that’s worth visiting during a Meteora day trip from Athens is the Hermit Caves of Badovas.
As you make your way toward Meteora from the town of Kastraki (beside Kalambaka), you’ll likely notice a large number of holes within the rocks of Meteora. While they may just seem like holes weathered into the rock formations, they’re actually caves.
These caves are evidence of the earliest days of Monastic presence in Meteora and are where hermits are believed to have settled in the 9th and 10th centuries – rarely if ever leaving their caved homes.
It’s possible to hike throughout the area of the caves once reaching the entry point between Kastraki and Kalambaka. Wandering through these caves and this peaceful world that the hermits built and lived in are a great way to get an idea of the beginnings of Meteora, how it was created, and by who.
There are a few tours led by local guides of the Hermit Caves of Badovas and these are a wonderful way to experience the area as well as learn more about the caves.
The Town of Kalambaka
Before leaving Meteora (if you have time), make sure to spend at least a little time in the town of Kalambaka. For an area that’s becoming increasingly busy with tourists, the town itself still has a wonderfully local feel to it.
Wander around the main area, eat at one of the many delicious local restaurants, and mingle with the incredibly friendly locals. Kalambaka is a town with heart and you’ll definitely witness this even if you just spend a few hours there during your one day in Meteora.
Looking for a great restaurant to eat at after a long day hiking and wandering the monasteries and rocks of Meteora? I recommend Skaros Tavern.
It’s a delicious family-run tavern in the center of Kalambaka offering classic Greek tavern dishes as well as dishes local to the area and Thessaly region.
Have More Than One Day in Meteora?
Do you have more time to spend in the area during your Meteora itinerary and want to dive deeper into this beautiful part of Greece? Luckily the region and surrounding areas are full of natural beauty, rich history, and friendly locals.
Just about 4 km away from Meteora, is the incredible archaeological area of the Theopetra Cave. The Theopetra Cave is easily one of the most important archaeological findings in Greece and throughout the world, with the oldest known man-made structure on earth to this day.
Throughout the years and excavations of the area, archaeologists have found all sorts of items, giving us a look into prehistoric times and some of the first evidence of homo sapiens.
For outdoor and adventure seekers, about a 2-hour drive or bus ride away is the famous Mount Olympus. Mount Olympus is the home of the Greek Olympian Gods and is also the largest mountain in Greece.
Spend time hiking the area (or to the top if you’re feeling adventurous), take in the otherworldly views, see the waterfalls of Olympus, and explore Litochoro, the town at the feet of Mount Olympus.
Where to Stay Near Meteora
If you’ve decided that you want to spend a night or two near Meteora rather than going on the long day trip from Athens, then you’re going to need a place to stay near this incredible UNESCO site. These are some great suggestions:
Dellas Boutique Hotel – Those travelling to Meteora on a mid-range budget will love this 3-star boutique hotel. Located in the town of Kalambaka, it is well-located to exploring the monasteries and all this area of Greece has to offer. Click here to check availability
Hotel Doupiani House – This hotel is another fantastic mid-range option close to Meteora. Also situated in Kalambaka, they have a range of cosy and comfortable rooms on offer and there is also a buffet breakfast available for guests each morning. Click here to check availability
Meteora Central Hostel – If you’re travelling solo or on a tight budget, then this hostel in Kalambaka is a great option. They have both dorms and private rooms available, a great location and wonderful common areas to help you easily meet other travelers. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Meteora hotels!
Though it’s certainly a long travel time, doing a day trip to Meteora from Athens is one of the best things to do while visiting Greece.