If you’re trying to put together your Greece itinerary and choose whether to visit Delphi or Meteora, you’ve come to the right place! While both Greece UNESCO World Heritage sites are stunningly beautiful and historic, they are very different places. Here are twelve points to help you decide. At the bottom, we have links to help you plan your visit, whichever you choose!
Choose Delphi if…
Here are four reasons you should choose to visit Delphi.
…You Love Greek Mythology
The ancient Greeks believe that Delphi was the center of the world and the home of the Greek god Apollo. It appears in important works of Greek literature, and it has the ruins of gifts brought to the Oracle from all over the world. Delphi is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the ancient world. If you love ancient Greek history and mythology, then Delphi is the right choice.
…You’re Intrigued by Oracles
All of ancient Greece and many of the surround civilizations believed in the power of the Oracle at Delphi. We think we know how the Oracle worked, and how the women who acted as the Oracle saw their visions. If you’re interested in learning more about exactly how the Oracle at Delphi foretold its many prophecies, then you need to come and learn directly at the source!
…You Love Ancient Greek Sports
The Olympics weren’t the only important games to the ancient Greeks. The Pythian Games were held at Delphi every four years in honor of the god Apollo. While here, you can run around the stadium or pretend to be an ancient Greek athlete.
…You’re an Avid Skier
We think that both Delphi and Meteora are great places to visit in winter (here’s why we think Meteora in winter is a fantastic idea), but if you want to combine your historic site with a few days of skiing, then head to Delphi. Mount Parnassus is one of the best ski resorts in the Balkans, and it just so happens to be just a short drive away.
Choose Meteora if…
Here are four reasons to choose Meteora over Delphi.
…You Want to Explore Orthodox Monasteries
We’re a little obsessed with visiting Orthodox monasteries, we admit. We adore the monasteries in Bulgaria, but the ones in Meteora are insane! Perched high up on the top of rocks, they defy gravity. Yet when you tour the inside, you see the beauty and mystery of the Greek Orthodox faith and how the monasteries are a testament to the faith of the people who built them.
…You’re Interested in Medieval History
In Delphi, it’s all about ancient Greek history, but the monasteries of Meteora were built in from the eleventh through the fourteenth century. These are masterpieces of medieval Greek architecture, and the reason they were built where and how they were has to do with the medieval traditions of hermeticism and the prevailing Ottoman Empire.
…You’re Obsessed with Kitty Cats
We love running into kitties wherever we go, but the monastery cats of Meteora do have a special place in our hearts. They walk around with the confidence of cats who know they live in the coolest place in the world, and that makes them better than you. And they’re okay with you knowing that.
…You Love Game of Thrones
I will travel for Game of Thrones. I’ve seen Game of Thrones locations in Malta, Northern Ireland, and here in Meteora. These rocks to the back and right were used in Game of Thrones as part of the Eyrie. Just imagine you’re Tyrion Lannister, staring at them from the top of an open-air mountain prison cell. Chilling.
Choose Both for…
Sometimes you have to choose Meteora or Delphia, and you want to know what is similar about them so you know what you won’t have to worry about missing out on. Or, you want to know if they’re actually both worth seeing, and you shouldn’t force yourself to choose. Here’s what you can count on from both sites.
Greece is full of beautiful places, and even though I’ve seen many of them, both Delphi and Meteora stand out as two of the best views I’ve ever seen. Both the mountain view from Delphi and the views of the monasteries at Meteora are the kind worth getting on a plane, but, or train to see.
…Feats of Architectural Wonder
How did medieval monks build monasteries on the tops of cliffs? How did ancient Greeks build temples so high in the mountains? Whichever site you visit, Delphi or Meteora, you’ll set to see some of the world’s truly great architecture and wonder about the incredible feats of strength and smarts required to get them there.
…Visiting a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Both Delphi and Meteora are designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. If you love visiting WHS or want to start looking at the list, these are two of my favorites in the world (and I’ve been to over a hundred so far)!
…Escaping the City for a Day
I love Athens and Thessaloniki because I love cities. But sometimes you want to escape the city and get out into nature. Both Meteora and Delphi are set in gorgeous settings that let your eyes feast on the beautiful greens and grays of mountains and rocks. Leave the smog and traffic of the cities behind!
Plan a Trip to Delphi
If you’re more interested in a visit to Delphi, you can do what I did on my trip and visit Delphi Day Trip from Athens. Unfortunately, there is no organized day trip from Thessaloniki to Delphi, so you’ll have to go on your own and stay overnight.
Plan a Trip to Meteora
Are you more interested in visiting Meteora? Allison and I have both been, but we’ve taken tours from different cities. I visited Meteora as a day trip from Athens with a guided tour company. I chose this one-day Meteora Full-Day Trip from Athens by Train. Another option if you want to spend more time here is to go as a two-day visit.
You can read all about how to visit Meteora from Thessaloniki. Allison went on this tour guided tour of Meteora from Thessaloniki. If you want more time to see the monasteries, you could also go as a Two Day Train Journey from Thessaloniki to Meteora
Tour Recommendations for Meteora or Delphi
Here are all the tour recommendations from this post in an easy-to-reference list.
- Delphi Day Trip from Athens.
- Meteora Full-Day Trip from Athens by Train
- Guided tour of Meteora from Thessaloniki
- From Athens: Two-Day Rail Tour to Meteora
- Two Day Train Journey from Thessaloniki to Meteora
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.
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.
Finally, Make Sure You Come to Greece with 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 Athens 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!
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.