8 other things to do while visiting Meteora’s monasteries in Greece
Meteora is the gorgeous formation of rocks located in the Greek town of Kalabaka (also spelt Kalampaka and Kalambaka). With the main focus for your visit likely to be around seeing the beautiful monasteries, here are 7 other cool things you must do while visiting Meteora and its monasteries!
1. Visit the Byzantine Church of the Virgin Mary
Built in the 4th century the Byzantine church is probably one of the oldest churches in the area. Located in the town of Kalabaka, the church itself has amazing history.
The church connects 25 years of ancient history which includes Christianity, Hellenistic and Roman. It’s a very special place housing many periods of history which all coexist in one monument.
Christianity only arrived in Greece in the 3rd century and it wasn’t really recognised until later. The church has now been there for many, many centuries.
The inside of the church is beautiful with art work and paintings used not just to decorate the walls, but to tell story to illiterate people. It was like the TV of the dark ages and painted the 16th century.
2. Hike around Meteora
A great way to get around some of Meteora – while taking in the great views from different vantage points – is to go on a hiking tour. There are a handful of travel companies that offer hiking tours including Meteora Thrones and Visit Meteora.
I went on a hiking tour with Visit Meteora which I booked through Expedia here. It was a really great way to hear about the history of the area and the monasteries as well walking the paths the monks took many years ago.
If you’re into hiking and would rather go it alone, make sure you find a map of some of the paths and routes you can take.
3. Visit the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum
A quirky place to visit while in the town of Kalabaka is the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum. Yes, you read that right, a mushroom museum!
Its the first of its kind in Greece and is home to two individual museums. The first museum exhibits embalmed birds and animals, and you’ll find more than 300 species of birds and animals beautifully displayed in surroundings that depict their natural habitats.
The second museum boasts a large collection of over 200 sculpted mushrooms. You can read about where each variety can be found and which are edible…. or not!
There’s also a shop and cafe in the museum. You will also have the chance to taste some of the types of mushrooms and purchase some too. You can also take part in truffle hunts, event or listen to educational seminars.
4. Visit the town of Trikala
About a 30-40 minute bus ride away, or 20 minutes by train, is the nearby town of Trikala.
In the northwestern area of Thessaly, Trikala is a lovely town worth visiting if you’re in Kalabaka for more than a few days. Built on the ancient town “Trika” or “Triki”, the town of Trikala has the river Lithaios flowing through its centre.
The town is very pretty and was bustling. There are plenty of shops, restaurants and cafes along the river once you cross over the bridge which has water cascading from it.
Trikala is a lovely place to go for a stroll. Aside from wandering the town there are a few places you could visit. There’s the Justinian Fortress, the 16th century Koursoum Mosque or the Katsikogianni museum.
5. Visit the Hermit caves of Badovas
When you get to Meteora you may see some large holes in some of the rocks – they’re actually hermit caves. Dotted around Meteora, with the first of them coming into view as you make your way to the monasteries from the town of Kastraki, you’ll find the Hermit caves of Badovas.
Hermits were believed to have settled in Meteora from the 9th, maybe 10th century. They lived peacefully and locals from the towns would bring them food as they rarely ventured out of their homes.
6. Have lunch in Kastraki
If you plan to visit the nearby village of Kastraki, stop for some lunch while there. The town is home to 2000 people and can be seen from from high up non the rocks of Meteora. It’s a very peaceful, beautiful village and the locals are very welcoming!
When you get to the main centre, you’ll find a beautiful church and a couple of restaurants and a shop.
I stopped for a light snack and chose a tasty Greek salad.
7. Have an evening out in Kalabaka
There are many good places to eat in the town of Kalabaka so make sure you take some time for an evening out. I was recommended to try Valia Calda – a restaurant on the Main Street.
I had a traditional dish called Briam -a mix of vegetables toasted like Zucchini, tomatoes and red peppers with potatoes and homemade bread.
After dinner, I washed it down with a cocktail at Mélydron, a cafe bar also on main street.
8. Watch the sunset
One of my favourite things to do from anywhere is watch the sunset, and the view you’ll get from high up in Meteora is stunning! Take advantage of it in the evening and watch the sunset. You can pretty much get a great view from anywhere, but one of the best places to capture it in all its full glow glory is at Sunset Rock.
This spot has become very popular – it’s one of the main places for tourists to see the spectacular view as the sun sets on the city of rocks. It’s absolutely gorgeous! I went on the Meteora: Sunset tour from Kalabaka tour which I booked through Get Your Guide here.
The evening was beautiful and the tour guides gave us more history on Meteora. We were able to spend quite a bit of time at a few spots along the way. The tour also included a visit to one of the monasteries and a visit to the Byzantine Church of the Virgin Mary.
I’d love to know if you’re planning a trip there soon – let me know and leave a comment below!
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