Are you dreaming of going on a Meteora tour? This was a highlight of my first trip to Greece, and I highly encourage anyone who can take a trip to Meteora to do so! We have detailed guides to how to visit Meteora from Athens and from Thessaloniki, so if you’ll be leaving from these cities take a look at our guides. This post covers things you need to know before visiting the monasteries so that your tour of Meteora goes smoothly!
How to Book a Guided Tour of Meteora
There are a lot of companies that resell guided tours in Greece, from hostels to hotels to online platforms. We personally use (and therefore recommend) you book through GetYourGuide. We prefer using them for a couple of reasons:
- They let you know who the tour operator will be so you can independently verify the tour company’s reviews on sites like Trip Advisor.
- In our travel experiences, tours booked through accommodations tend to be overpriced.
- I personally had an awful tour experience in Dresden, Germany, and I was able to use GetYourGuide’s customer service when the tour company wouldn’t help me at all. I got a full tour refund within just a few days.
There are several options for going on a guided Meteora tour. Here are the most common circumstances.
From Kalabaka (Kalambaka)
For travelers who come to Kalambaka on their own and stay in local hotels or guest houses, you can book a guided monastery tour that will take you around the monasteries and explain the history of each. They also will take you to some of the best photography viewpoints in the area.
Even if you want to visit some of them independently, a guided tour is a great way to start your visit. Then you can continue your travels afterward to the ones you missed.
There are different kinds of tours that you can go on. Here are the main three.
Most people who come to Kalabaka to tour Meteora choose to go on a Half Day Monastery Tour. This tour includes hotel pick-up, touring three of the monasteries, and seeing all six from the different vantage points across the landscape. Great for anyone who wants to learn about the history of the monasteries and also wants to be driven to them as opposed to walking up on your own from Kalabaka.
If you’re excited about exploring some of the amazing hiking that you can do here while also visiting the monasteries, you can go on a 5-Hour Hiking Tour of Meteora. On this hike, you’ll see all six monasteries (going inside one or two) while learning about the history and see some of the secret places that can only be seen from the hiking trails.
Sunset Monastery Tour
If you’re an avid photographer and you’ll be staying overnight in Kalabaka, then a Meteora Sunset Tour is a great opportunity to see the sunset in one of the most beautiful places in the world. On the tour, you’ll go inside one or two monasteries while seeing all six. The tour includes hotel pick-up, so you won’t have to walk back down the rocks after sunset in the dark.
Visiting Meteora is an ambitious day trip from Athens, but it can be done. Most people who choose to come on a guided Meteora tour from Athens will go on a Meteora Full-Day Trip from Athens by Train (this is the way that I chose to visit Meteora).
For more about the logistics of how to do this day trip, read my guide: How to Go from Athens to Meteora on a Perfect Day Trip
If you’ll be based in Athens and are trying to decide whether to visit Delphi or Meteora (my two favorite Athens day trips), you’ll be glad to know that you can actually do both! I did them as two separate day trips, but you could book them as a single Delphi and Meteora 2-Day Tour from Athens. On this tour, you travel from Athens to Delphi by bus, tour Delphi, and then spend the night in Kalabaka. The second day you tour Meteora and Thermopylae and then return to Athens.
If you’ll be traveling from Thessaloniki, Allison wrote up her entire experience on how to do a day trip from Thessaloniki to Meteora. She went on this Guided tour of Meteora from Thessaloniki, which included hotel pick-up and drop-off. In Meteora, the tour visits two of the monasteries with photography opportunities to see all six.
Things to Know Before Your Meteora Tour
Here are the things we wish we knew before our Meteora tours.
1. The monasteries have a dress code…and they enforce it
The monasteries are important religious sites to Orthodox believers. The official dress code of the monasteries is:
No entry for men wearing shorts and for women wearing trousers, shorts, or sleeveless.
Make sure you have dressed appropriately. However, if you’ll also be coming as a day trip from Athens or Thessaloniki then you also need to dress comfortably for the long bus or train rides. I chose a dress with leggings, but it’s up to you what you wear so long as you follow the dress code.
2. What happens if you show up and you aren’t following the dress code?
Women who aren’t dressed appropriately will be given wraps to put around your legs (or arms if you’re sleeveless). You can see in the picture what they hand out in one of the monasteries.
I have no idea what they do if men show up in shorts, so I wouldn’t test it.
3. Wear comfortable shoes that can handle slick staircases
You’ll be walking up and down lots of staircases, many of which are slick if the weather is wet at all from rain or snow. You’ll be happy in shoes that have rubber soles or ones with some grip. I wore tevas, and Allison wore her sneakers.
4. Even if you go on a guided tour, you need to bring some cash
Your tour price does not include the cost to get into the monasteries (three Euros), souvenirs, or a tip for your guide. You’ll want to bring cash with you so that you can get in. Each monastery has a gift shop (and there are also booths outside some of them).
5. Guided tours will go to a few of the monasteries, but it’s nearly impossible to visit all six in one day
First, not every monastery is open every day, so it is literally impossible to go inside all of them unless you stay the night. The opening hours for each monastery changes from season to season, so if you’ll be going on your own you want to check the updated monastery schedules.
Most tours visit two or three monasteries, but they all show you where all six of them are and give you time to take photographs of them from the outside.
6. You can tour Meteora year-round & each season has advantages
I went in October when the hills were still green and lush, but there weren’t very many tourists. Allison went to Meteora in winter and got some beautiful photos of the monasteries in the snow. Spring is also a great time to visit because the weather is great but the crowds haven’t flocked to the country yet. In fact, April is one of my favorite months to be in Greece no matter where in the country I am.
We have an overview of when is the best time to visit Greece, but the bottom line is that it’s beautiful year-round. Summer is hot and crowded, but it’s also when the tourism industry is in full-gear and more monasteries are open longer. Autumn and spring are great weather with moderate crowds. Winter might bring you some gorgeous snow to enhance the scenery even more. I mean, you really can’t go wrong.
7. Pay attention to your guide…and tip them at the end of the tour
Greek tour guides are some of the best in the world, and the reason is that (surprise) Greece has a lot of rules and bureaucracy about who can be a tour guide. This is why tours can be a tad more expensive than in other parts of the world, but you also come away from your tour with so much more information!
In Greece, it is standard to tip between two and five Euros per person per tour for public tours. Private tours usually have larger recommended tip rates (from ten to twenty Euros per person).
8. How to behave in the monasteries
Remember that this is a holy place. Follow any rules that your tour guide tells you. Be respectful, especially since many of the tourists are Orthodox believers, and this is a holy site to them.
Unlike Orthodox churches I’ve been to in Moldova and the Caucasus, women are not required to cover their heads with a scarf before entering.
9. Things to know about photographing Meteora
Most tours will show you the best photography sites. Some of the monasteries don’t allow photography inside the actual churches, though, so be respectful of the rules of photography in each one. If you forget and accidentally snap a picture, you may be asked to delete it.
Light during golden hour and sunset is the best, but if you’re on a guided tour you can’t always control when you’ll be there. Just keep this in mind for what tour time you pick (though coming from Athens or Thessaloniki means you don’t have any options on tour times).
10. Ten things to put in your day bag
You don’t want a huge, heavy day bag, but there are some essentials that you need to bring with you:
- Camera (I was happy to have a good zoom lens on mine for pictures of the monasteries that are further away)
- Cell Phone (for normal pics and you know you want some selfies)
- Back-up charging bank to keep your cell phone changed since you’ll be taking tons of photos
- Phone charging cable
- Hand Sanitizer
- Your tour voucher (print a hard copy or download it onto your phone if digital tickets are allowed)
Meteora Tours Mentioned in This Post
Here are all the tours we mentioned in this post in an easy-to-reference list. You can also read about our personal experiences taking Meteor tours in our posts about traveling from Athens to Meteora and from Thessaloniki to Meteora.
From Kalabaka (Kalambaka)
Where to Stay in Kalambaka
If you plan on staying overnight, you will want to book your accommodations in Kalabaka and Kastraki. For our hotel recommendations, budget means hostel beds for around $40 a night and singles/doubles for around $60, mid-range is from about $50-100 per night, and luxury will cost over $100 per night. However, note that availability, time of year, and how much in advance you book will play a role in how much accommodations cost near Meteora.
Budget: If you want a budget room in Kalabaka, check out the much-loved Aeolic Star Hotel. This two-star hotel is located in the middle of town, just steps from the train station. Each room has a private bathroom, and the terraces have great views of the rocks.
Mid-Range: For a comfortable and relaxed stay in Kalabaka at mid-range prices, stay at the Theatro Hotel Odysseon. Each room is inspired by a different play, so you don’t know what’s in store for you until you’re in your room. The hotel features stunning views, a garden, and a restaurant on-site. Located less than a kilometer from the train and bus stations.
Luxury: If you’re looking for luxury, stay at the four-star Meteora Hotel at Kastraki. You can enjoy the amazing views, swim in the hotel pool (which also features great views), and large, bright rooms which are great to relax in after a long day of hiking or exploring the monasteries.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is essential for traveling in Greece, the Balkans, or anywhere in the world! Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Greece is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel like theft or injury, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!
Greece Travel Resources
Headed to Greece? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Greece and local tipping customs.
If you’ll be spending time in Athens, check out our Athens Instagram Guide and our complete Athens hotel guide. If you’re looking for more suggestions for day trips, here is our guide to the best Athens day trips.
We publish new content about the Balkans almost every day! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages so you can find out what’s new before your trip.
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.