Visiting the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery in Meteora 

The Monastery of the Transfiguration of Christ is the largest and one of the most spectacular monasteries not only in Meteora but all of Greece. It stands atop the highest rock pillar in the area and was founded by Saint Athanasios Meteoriti in the early 14th Century. 

Insights Greece - Visiting the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery in Meteora 
Meteora, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Every year thousands of pilgrims arrive at Meteora, which has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks is a holy site where monks settled on these ‘columns of the sky’ from the 11th century onwards. Twenty-four of these monasteries were built, however today, only six monasteries remain open- the Grand Meteoron being one of them. 

Great Meteoron Monastery 

This particular monastery remains “suspended in the air” (meteoro), because of the cliff formation of a gigantic rock on top of which it was built. The Great Meteoro Monastery or “Megalo Meteoron” is dedicated to the Transfiguration of our Lord and Savior and is decorated with beautiful 16th-century frescoes.

There are three chapels at Great Meteoron Monastery: The Chapel of John the Baptist, the chapel of Saint Constantine, and Saint Helens, of which the latter was built in 1789 and is characterised by its polygonal domed basilicas. The third chapel of the monastery is dedicated to Saint Athanasios. 

Insights Greece - Visiting the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery in Meteora 
Monastery of Great Meteoron

Icons inside the Church

Take time to view the artistic details of some of the best samples of post-Byzantine art of Greece, found inside the church. As you enter, there are two carved wooden icon-stands, the left is of Agios Anastasios and on the right is the icon of the Transfiguration of Christ. There is also an icon of Panagia (Virgin Mary) and Saint Nicholas from the 14th / 15th Century. You will also see icons of Saint John the Baptist, the Annunciation of the Theotokos, and the Archangels. 

History of the Monastery 

The Great Meteoron is a male Monastery built on the greatest rock of the complex, the Platys Lithos or Playtlithos before the mid-14th century. In the past, monks used scaffolds in order to get supplies to them and they would climb the rocks to reach the monastery. Afterward, nets with hooks, baskets and rope ladders, or even wooden ladders of 40 metres long were used. 

Insights Greece - Visiting the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery in Meteora 
Monks dedicate their lives to preserving the monastery

Monks of the Monastery 

Monks devoted to Christ, have dedicated their lives to the monastery and hold building materials on their backs, spend hours renovating, restoring, and preserving the monastery, honouring its beauty. As a result, every year, pilgrims and tourists come here by the great mission undertaken there, making Great Meteoron one of the most visited monasteries of Greece.

Exploring the Great Meteoron Monastery 

Visitors can admire the beautiful architecture, which includes a cellar with skulls of monks that have passed, and an impressive balcony. The cellar also houses a wonderful folk museum that includes exhibits taken from historical everyday life. Along with the ossuary, explore the main church and its 15th and 16th Century Byzantine frescos and murals. The monastery’s rectory doubles as a museum with artifacts of monastic life and religious relics. Explore the ancient kitchen for a glimpse into the past and into everyday life in this sky-scraping environment.

Insights Greece - Visiting the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery in Meteora 
The monastery’s library

Don’t miss 

-Seeing the reliquaries, as the monastery keeps with respect holy relics of many and great Saints of the Orthodox Church.

-The garden of the monastery of Great Meteoron, which offers amazing views of the surrounding landscape.

-The monastery’s museum, where historical artifacts and religious icons of importance are on display. 

-The library that’s filled with treasures of books and manuscripts, including Byzantine and post-Byzantine era manuscripts and documents, as well as books concerning the function of the monastery. The monastic library is one of the wealthiest of its kind.

-The collection of the gold-embroidered cloths which is kept in the monastery, they are rich and very remarkable. 

-Silverware that dates from different periods (16th -19th century) and depicts various Saints and other decorative themes.

August 6th Feast Day of Transfiguration of Christ

Insights Greece - Visiting the Transfiguration of Christ Monastery in Meteora 
Icon of the Transfiguration of Christ

The Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, God, and Savior Jesus Christ is celebrated each year on August 6. This great Feast commemorates the transfiguration or metamorphosis of Christ on Mount Tabor when our Lord appeared in His divine glory before the Apostles Peter, James, and John.

Tips for visiting

-At the entrance of the monasteries, clothing is provided only to women. Men are not allowed to enter if they are wearing shorts above the knee or sleeveless shirts. In any case, dress appropriately.  

-The Monastery of the Holy Trinity and Great Meteoro has over 300 steps. 

-The monks do not allow anyone to photograph the interiors of the churches and especially the icons, or any of the museums located inside the Meteora monasteries. You can, however, take photos or videos in the gardens and outdoors. 

-Check the opening hours of Meteora monasteries here.

Getting there

The most convenient way to visit Meteora from Athens is by car and the most scenic is by train. The duration from Athens by train is 5 hours (transfer at Paleofarsalos), by bus (KTEL) is 4.5 hours (transfer at Trikala) and 3.5 hours by car. From Thessaloniki by train, it takes 3 hours (transfer at Paleofarsalos), by KTEL is 3 hours (transfer at Trikala) and 2.5 hours by car. 

11 Best Places to Spend Easter in Greece 

Greece is a wonderful Easter destination and even if you aren’t Orthodox Christian, a visit to one of these places during this period will be an experience that will stay with you forever. From the famous pottery smashing in Corfu to fireworks in Hydra, here are 11 Greek Easter destinations that you should add to your list. 

Easter is a huge celebration throughout Greece, even more so than Christmas. It is during this time when Orthodox Christians throughout the world celebrate Christ’s death and resurrection. As a result, Greeks take Pascha very seriously and commemorations begin from the week beforehand.

Insights Greece - 11 Best Places to Spend Easter in Greece 


On the island where the Bible’s Book of Revelation was written, here visitors are welcomed to the historic monastery of St. John the Evangelist, which UNESCO has declared a world heritage site. The main festivities are the Washing of the Feet ceremony in the central square of Chora, the reenactment of the Last Supper, and the reading of the Gospel in seven languages and in Homeric hexameter. The very spiritual celebration of Easter on the island concludes with the procession of the monastery’s icons on the Tuesday after Easter Sunday.


During Greek Easter, on Easter Sunday, Saitopolemos takes place in Kalamata. This is where groups of people wearing traditional costumes hold and light long handmade tubes filled with powder. Each year, thousands of people visit Kalamata over Easter to witness this historical tradition dating back to the Ottoman period. 

Insights Greece - 11 Best Places to Spend Easter in Greece 


This Cycladic island is filled with many Orthodox and Catholic churches, the main being The Epitaphios of the Catholic Evangelistria, the Assumption of Panagia, the Transfiguration of the Savior, and Saint Nicholas, all meet at the main Miaouli Square and Easter services take place. Locals participate in the procession often carrying spears, or sponges, which is a clear reference to the passions of Christ.


This Cycladic island, located near Santorini and Milos, has its own Easter traditions, which honour Panagia (Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ). The annual tradition has it that locals clean and whitewash their houses in preparation for the passing of the icon of Panagia. Starting on Holy Saturday, the icon goes around the village, outside all the homes, which are given a blessing. 

Insights Greece - 11 Best Places to Spend Easter in Greece 


Corfu is by far the most popular Easter destination in Greece. Each year thousands of local and international visitors arrive on the island to celebrate the resurrection with a variety of traditions, one of the most famous being the throwing of clay pitchers (botides). In the town’s historic centre, with thousands of people, locals throw ceramic pots off their balconies, yelling “Xristos Anesti” (Christ is Risen). Bands play music throughout the town, and everyone is outdoors (day and night) taking part in the festivities. 


On the Dodecanese island of Kalymnos, the anticipation for the Resurrection builds with the loud sound of dynamite exploding. This can be heard throughout the entire island, from the main port to the mountainous villages. After midnight mass on Easter Saturday, fireworks take place and the island celebrates with traditional local food and music. 


On the beautiful island of Spetses, the Epitaphios processions of each of the four main churches of the island come together on the main town square in front of the Poseidonion Hotel on the evening of Good Friday. Locals carry around the Epitaph, which is beautifully decorated and the city is lit with pretty lights and Easter candles.  

Insights Greece - 11 Best Places to Spend Easter in Greece 


Meteora is by far one of the holiest sites in Greece and come Easter time, it is truly magical. During this time you will hear chanting Byzantine hymns and you will see glimpses of holy icons inside the 30 monasteries all lit up. After the midnight service visitors are welcome to head to Kalambaka or Kastraki towns nearby where the local taverns serve traditional Magiritsa soup. On Easter Sunday you can enjoy the local celebrations in the nearby town of Kalabaka. 


The Byzantine town of Monemvasia e is filled with flowers during Easter time and on Good Friday you can follow the Procession of the Epitaph through the narrow, cobbled alleyways of the town, alongside a band playing music. The entire Holy Week is filled with many commemorations and events that culminate on Easter Sunday. 

Insights Greece - 11 Best Places to Spend Easter in Greece 


Easter is a wonderful time to visit Chania, as you can experience local Cretan customs and traditions and visit many historical monasteries that invite guests to experience the true meaning of Pascha. At this time of year the town’s spring charm also comes to life and not only is it blossoming with flowers, but the sun is also shining and the warmer weather may even allow you to have a swim. 


This is a very popular destination for Athenians to celebrate Easter, as it’s only a two-hour drive away from the Greek capital. Nafplion has special celebrations that take place throughout the entire Holy Week. On Good Friday, follow the procession of the Epitaph through the narrow streets and alleyways, and at the end of it, you will find all four Epitaphs of the various churches on the main town square in the centre of the city. 

Greece’s 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Greece, with its rich history and culture, boasts a wide variety of monuments and archaeological sites. So it comes as no surprise there are currently 18 Greek monuments and areas given the distinction of being UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

In the list, 16 are cultural sites and two (Meteora and Mount Athos) are mixed, listed for both their natural and cultural significance. Currently, there are also 14 sites on the tentative list, all of which have been nominated and waiting to be added! 

Temple of Apollo Epicurius at Bassae 

The Temple of Apollo Epikourios—a World Heritage Site since 1986—is one of the most important temples of Antiquity and sits in the mountainous region of Andritsaina and Figalia (Bassae). It is one of the best-preserved monuments of classical antiquity and an evocative and poignant testament to classical Greek architecture. The temple was built at the height of the Greek civilization in the second half of the 5th century BC (420-400 BC). 

Archaeological Site of Delphi

In Ancient Greece, Delphi was Greece’s most sacred place and was considered to be the navel of the world. The pan-Hellenic sanctuary of Delphi, where the oracle of Apollo spoke, was the site of the omphalos, the ‘navel of the world’. Blending harmoniously with the superb landscape and charged with sacred meaning, Delphi in the 6th century B.C. was indeed the religious centre and symbol of unity of the ancient Greek world.

Acropolis, Athens 

The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.

Mount Athos

This is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world, consisting of 20 monasteries and approximately 2000 monks. An Orthodox spiritual centre since 1054, Mount Athos has enjoyed an autonomous statute since Byzantine times. The ‘Holy Mountain’, which is forbidden to women and children, is also a recognised artistic site.


A region of almost inaccessible sandstone peaks, monks settled on these ‘columns of the sky’ from the 11th century onwards. Twenty-four of these monasteries were built, despite incredible difficulties, at the time of the great revival of the eremetic ideal in the 15th century. Their 16th-century frescoes mark a key stage in the development of post-Byzantine painting.

Paleochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki

Founded in 315 B.C., the provincial capital and seaport of Thessalonika was one of the first bases for the spread of Christianity. Among its Christian monuments are fine churches. Constructed from the 4th to the 15th century, the mosaics of the rotunda, Saint Demetrius and Saint David are among the great masterpieces of early Christian art.

Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidaurus

In a small valley in the Peloponnesus, the shrine of Asklepios, the god of medicine, developed out of a much earlier cult of Apollo (Maleatas), during the 6th century BC at the latest, as the official cult of the city-state of Epidaurus. Its principal monuments, particularly the temple of Asklepios, the Tholos, and the Theatre – considered one of the purest masterpieces of Greek architecture – date from the 4th century.

Medieval City of Rhodes

The Order of St John of Jerusalem occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523 and came under Turkish and Italian rule. With the Palace of the Grand Masters, the Great Hospital, and the Street of the Knights, the Upper Town is one of the most beautiful urban ensembles of the Gothic period.

Archeological site of Mystras

Mystras, the ‘Wonder of the Morea‘, was built as an amphitheatre around the fortress erected in 1249 by the prince of Achaia, William of Villehardouin. Reconquered by the Byzantines, then occupied by the Turks and the Venetians, the city was abandoned in 1832, leaving only the breathtaking medieval ruins, standing in a beautiful landscape.

Archaeological Site of Olympia

The site of Olympia, in the Peloponnese, has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the 10th century B.C., Olympia became a centre for the worship of Zeus. The Altis – the sanctuary to the gods – has one of the highest concentrations of masterpieces from the ancient Greek world.


According to Greek mythology, Apollo was born on this tiny island in the Cyclades archipelago. Apollo’s sanctuary attracted pilgrims from all over Greece and Delos was a prosperous trading port. The island bears traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the palaeochristian era. The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.

Monasteries of Daphni, Hosios Loukas and New Mini of Chios

Although geographically distant from each other, these three monasteries belong to the same typological series and share the same aesthetic characteristics. The churches are built on a cross-in-square plan with a large dome. In the 11th and 12th centuries they were decorated with superb marble works as well as mosaics on a gold background, all characteristic of the ‘second golden age of Byzantine art’.

Insights Greece - Greece's 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Pythagoreion and Heraion of Samos

Many civilizations have inhabited this small Aegean island, near Asia Minor, since the 3rd millennium B.C. The remains of Pythagoreion, an ancient fortified port with Greek and Roman monuments and a spectacular tunnel-aqueduct, as well as the Heraion, temple of the Samian Hera, can still be seen.

Archaeological Site of Aigai Vergina 

The city of Aigai, the ancient royal capital of Macedon, was discovered in the 19th century. It is located between the modern villages of Palatitsia and Vergina, in Northern Greece (Region of Hemathia). At Aigai was rooted the royal dynasty of the Temenids, the family of Philip II and Alexander the Great.

Archaeological Site of Mycenae and Tiryns

The archaeological sites of Mycenae and Tiryns are the imposing ruins of the two greatest cities of the Mycenaean civilization, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean world from the 15th to the 12th century B.C. and played a vital role in the development of classical Greek culture.

Historic Centre with Monastery of Saint John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse on Patmos island

The small island of Pátmos is where St John the Theologian wrote both his Gospel and the Apocalypse. A monastery dedicated to the ‘beloved disciple’ was founded there in the late 10th century and it has been a place of pilgrimage and Greek Orthodox learning ever since. The fine monastic complex dominates the island. 

Old Town of Corfu

The three forts of the town on the Ionian island, designed by renowned Venetian engineers, were used for four centuries to defend the maritime trading interests of the Republic of Venice against the Ottoman Empire. The mainly neoclassical housing stock of the Old Town is partly from the Venetian period. As a fortified Mediterranean port, Corfu’s urban and port ensemble is notable for its high level of integrity and authenticity.

Archaeological Site of Phillippi 

The remains of this walled city lie at the foot of an acropolis in north-eastern Greece, on the ancient route linking Europe and Asia, the Via Egnatia. Founded in 356 BC by the Macedonian King Philip II, the city developed as a “small Rome” with the establishment of the Roman Empire in the decades following the Battle of Philippi, in 42 BC. Later the city became a centre of the Christian faith following the visit of the Apostle Paul in 49-50 AD. The remains of its basilicas constitute an exceptional testimony to the early establishment of Christianity.  

Source: whc.unesco

Cover image @Greeka

Complete Guide to Meteora

Meteora, famous for its monasteries perched atop vertical peaks, is the most jaw-dropping destination. Its name literally means ‘suspended in air’ because in the 9th-century hermit monks were the first to climb these soaring stones to settle in the caves and hollows of the rocks.

Nowadays, pathways and stairways have replaced baskets and ropes and undoubtedly, it’s a destination in Greece that shouldn’t be missed. From 24 monasteries, today six of them remain active and are run by monks and nuns. Meteora is a Unesco World Heritage and archaeological site and the Greek State has officially declared it as a Holy Place. 

What you need to know before you arrive

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

Entrance to the monasteries for Greeks and Cypriots is free. For the rest, in each monastery, there is an entrance fee of 3 euro per person. Kids up to 12 years old don’t pay.

If you have less than 24 hours to spend at Meteora, plan to visit 2 or 3 monasteries as for each of them you need an hour minimum. 

There is at least one fountain with cold water inside every monastery if you need to refill your bottle.  There are no restaurants, so also take some snacks with you.  

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

At the entrance of the monasteries, clothing is provided only to women. Men are not allowed to enter if they are wearing shorts above the knee or sleeveless shirts. In any case, dress appropriately.  

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity and Great Meteoro has over 300 steps. Rousanou, Varlaam, and Saint Nicolaos have an average number of 140. The Holy Monastery of Saint Stephen is connected with a walking bridge, so it’s more accessible than any other monastery.

Check the opening hours of Meteora monasteries here.

Getting there

The most convenient way to visit Meteora is by car and the most scenic is by train. The duration from Athens by train is 5 hours (transfer at Paleofarsalos), by public transport (KTEL) is 4.5 hours (transfer at Trikala) and 3.5 hours by car. From Thessaloniki by train is 3 hours (transfer at Paleofarsalos), by KTEL is 3 hours (transfer at Trikala) and 2.5 hours by car. 

Where to stay- Most travelers who visit Meteora stay in Kalambaka city or Kastraki village. 

Tips for getting around

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

If your hotel is at a central spot in Kalambaka and Kastraki you can move around by car or on foot. 

To avoid traffic jams or difficulties to find parking spaces outside the Monasteries of Great Meteoro, Varlaam, and Agios Stefanos (from May till late October), try to be outside those Monasteries before 9 am. An alternative way is to leave your car in the hotel and join one of the tours offered by locals. 

There are public buses between April and October starting from Kalambaka at 9 am in the morning and every 2 hours till 5 pm in the evening. It’s convenient to use it as a one-way trip rather than like a hop-on, hop-off bus from monastery to monastery. You can check the bus timetable to Meteora here.

Best time to visit- Spring and Autumn offer pleasant weather and the crowds are tolerable. Winter is out of the question if you want to hike on trails or climb up to monasteries because of the cold or snow. 

Where to sleep

The traditional Alsos House for the amazing view.

 Grand Meteora Hotel, located at the foot of Meteora, in the heart of the Thessaly plain, is a fascinating experience of sights, colors, and scenery. 

Dellas Boutique Hotel, built of stone and located at the foot of the rocks of Meteora, in the village of Kastraki.

Where to eat- 

Meteora Restaurant offers classic dishes, slow-cooked stews, and casseroles. (A: Trikalon 2, Kalambaka)

Panellinion, located on Kalambaka’s central square. The restaurant’s most famous dish is the lamb chops with roast potatoes and rice. (A: Eythimiou Vlachava 20, Platanos Square, Kalambaka)

Valia Caldahere you will find traditional Greek food cooked with the freshest local ingredients. (A: Trikalon 91, Kalambaka)

Elia’s Garden features traditional delicacies and a cellar full of all kinds of Greek wines. (A: Trikalon 149, Kalambaka)

Archontariki offers traditional Greek cuisine with fresh ingredients. (A: Trikalon 13, Kalambaka)

What to eat- The must-eat dish is Mutton (kebab or chops).

Where to drink… 

Cafe Diverso in Kalambaka’s central square. 

Aroma Mentas, with charming decorations it is great for coffee or dessert.

Aerino, a nice place, decorated in stone, from where you can see the rocks of Meteora.

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

Discover history- 

Scientists believe that these magnificent rocks were formatted about 60 million years ago. At that time, the area was covered by the sea. Several earth movements caused the seabed to withdraw. Extreme weather conditions, strong winds, and waves formed their shape.

During the Byzantine times, monks had the inspiration to construct monasteries on top of these rocks so that they would be closer to God. The foundation of Meteora monasteries began around the 11th century. 

In the 14th century, Saint Athanasios established the Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of Jesus and named this huge rock Meteoro, which means hanged from nowhere. This monastery is also known as the Holy Monastery of the Great Meteoron, the largest of all monasteries. Monks used scaffolds in order to get supplies and climb the rocks. Afterward, nets with hooks, baskets, and rope ladders, or even wooden ladders of 40 meters long followed. 

Between the 15th and 17th centuries, many monks from other monasteries and people who wanted an ascetic life arrived at Meteora but the prosperity of Meteora started to fade away after the 17th century mainly due to the raids of thieves and conquerors. As a result, many monasteries were abandoned or destructed. Today, only 6 monasteries operate and the only nunnery (female monastery) is the Monastery of Agios Stefanos.

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

Must visit villages –

The small and picturesque village of Kastraki with houses made of stone, embellished with roofs of red clay tiles, has an authentic local character of the old times. The village of Kastraki has been classified by the Greek State as a traditional resort under preservation, three consecutive times. 

Culture & Traditions of Meteora 

There is a unique tradition that started back in Ottoman times and takes place every year after Easter in the small village of Kastraki. On the day of the celebration of Saint George, many people with colorful scarfs in their hands and belts gather early in the morning underneath a cave. When their belts are full with scarves they head to the bottom of the rock, grab the ropes and they start to pull themselves up. In the middle of the rock, there is a cave full of scarves from the previous year. When the climbers reach that point, they enter and suddenly you can hear them singing and dancing. After that they replace the old scarves with the new ones, they brought up there. In the end, they come down with the old scarfs while the people gathered around them, reach their hands to take a fainted small piece of a scarf. Finally, they all gather at the village’s square, singing, and dancing in circles.

According to the legend, a couple of Turks went underneath the chapel of St. George to cut wood for the fire. Suddenly, a tree fell and seriously injured the man. His wife (even though she was Muslim) prayed to St. George. Her husband was immediately healed, so she offered the most precious thing she had, her hijab. Nowadays we offer scarfs in exchange for good health and we keep the old scarfs as talismans for good luck.

Do as locals do

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

The true locals of Meteora are the… monks and nuns. They are part of a community and they have three basic rules: Purity, lack of property, and obedience. They pray and fast according to the rules of the Orthodox Church the whole year. They wake up at 3:30 am in the morning in order to pray in their cells until 5:00 am. From 05:00 until 07:30 they have the services of Midnight, of Matins, and of Hours that take place at the church. 

Top activities- 

Hiking. Alone or with a group, through a 7.5km-long route where you will enjoy the jaw-dropping landscape. 

Rock Climbing. Meteora is one of the most well-known rock-climbing sites in the world, with more than 1,000 paths, with all levels of difficulty. 

Μountain bike. Riding a bicycle can lead you beyond the mainstream paths in order to discover the hidden treasures of Meteora.

Truffle Hunting. An alternative tour that starts with the search for black truffle in the forest and after a break with a picnic with truffle-spaghetti, concludes with a tour of the Museum of Natural History and Mushrooms. 

Where to shop- 

In all the monasteries there are interesting icon stores (usually half the price of regular shops). 

“Ekfrasi”: traditional Greek tourist shop in Kalambaka where you can find real leather sandals, t-shirts, and ceramics inspired by Ancient Greek mythology and various souvenirs, among others.

Maro Theodorou ceramic shop: In the heart of Kastraki village, a Kalambaka-born ceramicist sells her own pottery as well as works by other local artists. 

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

What to see- 

Holy Monastery of Grand Meteoron (or the Holy Monastery of the Metamorfosis- Transfiguration of Christ) is the oldest and largest of all the monasteries of Meteora. It is a male Monastery built on the greatest rock of the complex, the Platys Lithos or Playtlithos before the mid-14th century. Enjoy the courtyard and observe the amazing frescoes. There is also a sacristy with the skulls of the monks who have lived there over the years. 

Holy Monastery of Varlaam is named after the first monk who built the first church on the rock. Unfortunately, after his death, the site was abandoned for 200 years. In 1517 two monks from Ioannina, Theophanes and Nektarios Apsarades, re-founded the monastery. You can reach the monastery by a bridge. There you can find a small museum and several impressive 16th-century paintings. 

Holy Monastery of Rousanou, built in 1545, is dedicated to St.Barbara. You can reach the Monastery by a bridge. Nowadays, after the restoration of 1980, Rousanou Monastery is run by nuns. 

Holy Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapafsas, founded in the 14th century, is most famous for its frescoes by the famous Cretan artist Theophanes Strelitzas in 1527. The monastery was completely abandoned for 60 years from 1900 to the 1960s when the Greek government repaired it. 

Holy Monastery of St. Stephen, constructed in the 15th century, is run by nuns and is the closest monastery in Meteora to the main town of Kalambaka. During the Second World War, it was severely destroyed by German troops and the by the Greek civil war. 

Museum of Natural History and Mushrooms, which houses approximately 300 exhibits of animals and several dozens of the main species of mushrooms. It’s the first of its kind in Greece. 

Museum of Digital Projection (in Kalambaka) & Museum of Geology (in Kastraki), a journey through Meteora’s history via 3D movies and other audiovisual material. 

The Rock in the cave of Theopetra, a prehistoric treasure, since it’s the place where the oldest human imprints in Greece were found (130, 000 years old).

The Antichassia-Meteora Natural Reserve, home to various species of flora and fauna that covers almost 830 hectares.  

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

Take a day trip to- 

Trikala, an exceptional city with a river, bridges, and bikes! Get lost in the old town and discover the alleys of Sakaflias, the fort, the Kursum Mosque, and the clock, among others. Don’t leave before you enjoy a boat ride in Litheos.

Don’t miss…

A walk in the serene village of Kastraki with the breathtaking view of the rocks. 

Wine tasting. A five-minute drive from Kalambaka is the village of Diava, where the Loudas family has been producing wines since 2006. The Loudas Winehouse is the perfect place to taste some of Thessaly’s top wines. 

Insider tips

Do not park on Trikalon Street in Kalambaka because it is very likely that you will get a fine from the traffic police. 

-Pay attention to the dress code for the monasteries. Kids up to 12 years old don’t have to comply with the dress code.

Ideal time to spend here? I would recommend at least 2 days stay in Meteora.

Favourite part? Watching the sunset at Psaropetra sunset viewpoint in Meteora (Most tourists watch the sunset from the viewpoint next to Varlaam). You can find Psaropetra beside the Rousanou nunnery parking lot. 

Insights Greece - Complete Guide to Meteora

What to avoid? 

Skirts above the knee, shorts, and sleeveless shirts (for both women and men). 

The monks don’t allow anyone to photograph the interiors of the churches and especially the murals, or in any of the museums located inside the Meteora monasteriesYou can take photos or videos in the yards or any viewpoints. 

Do not attempt to fly a drone inside or outside a monastery. It is strictly forbidden by law (flights restriction zone of up 4.000ft.) without written permission by the authorities. 

Also, don’t take pictures or videos of monks or nuns, unless they specify otherwise. They can become upset by it as they are not tourist attractions. Be very respectful of their way of life. 

Finally, you can’t leave until- Enjoying an evening car ride and enjoying the night scenery of Meteora, with the unique imposing dark figures of the rocks. 

Main images by Polina Paraskevopoulou ©

Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos at Meteora

The Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos is the first active Monastery you encounter on your way to Meteora and was founded at the end of the 14th century.

Meteora is from the biggest and most important group of monasteries in Greece after those in Mount Athos. Researchers have located the first traces of their history from 11th Century, when the first hermits settled there. The rock monasteries have been characterised by Unesco as a unique phenomenon of cultural heritage.

The Monastery

Founded in the 1300s, this monastery boasts a beautiful main church that has been decorated in a stunning tradition. The main church is dedicated to St. Nikolaos and was built in 1500.

Insights Greece - Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos at Meteora

What to see

Since the top of this rock is limited in size, the monastery buildings had to be extended upward instead of outward, rising three stories high. The small katholikon of St. Nicholas occupies the second floor. Its dome has no windows because of the floor built on top of it and it has an irregular floor plan in order to fit on the rock. A larger narthex extends to the west.

The first floor of the monastery is occupied by the tiny Chapel of Saint Anthony, which contains some early 14th-century frescoes, and a crypt where relics and manuscripts used to be stored.

The third floor contains the old refectory, decorated with frescoes and recently renovated for use as a reception hall, the ossuary (for storage of bones), and the renovated Chapel of Saint John the Baptist.

The Iconography

The artwork of Agios Nikolaos are some of the most important in Meteora, as the frescoes inside the church have been credited to the celebrated leader of the Cretan school, Theophanes Strelitzas. He painted them in 1527, when it’s said he was a monk here. These frescoes are the first to bear the signature of the artist (“Ch.M.”) and are among his earliest works of this magnitude. If you wander to the upper floors of the monastery, make it a point to admire the chapel of St. Anthony, here you’ll discover a number of 14th Century frescoes and murals that are iconic in Byzantine art- depicting such scenes as the Passion of Christ, the Virgin Mary praying, Jonah and the Whale, the Liturgy of Angels and the Last Judgement. The frescoes demonstrate the characteristics for which Theophanes of Crete became famous: delicacy of line; vividness in imagery; and bright colors. Also ask to visit the ossuary which is an important part of the monastery’s attractions.

The Architecture

The limited surface of the rock forced the builders of the monastery to build it vertically on floors, one level on top of the other. Access to all the different floors is achieved through an inbuilt staircase. At the entrance of the Monastery lies the Church of St. Anthony and the crypt where the codes and the monastery’s heirlooms were previously stored.

Insights Greece - Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos at Meteora

Who is Agios Nikolaos

Agios Nikolaos was of Greek descent from the maritime city of Myra in Asia Minor. He is revered and commemorated amongst Orthodox, Anglican, Catholic, and Lutheran Christians and is also known as Nikolaos the Wonderworker- as he performed miracles to those with illnesses, helped the poor and released the three commanders. He is also the Patron Saint of travellers, sailors and the sea, as many of his miracles are related to the sea. Agios Nikolaos is one of the most well- known and most-loved Saints of all time and his Feast Day is December 6.

Insights Greece - Holy Monastery of Agios Nikolaos at MeteoraA: Iera Moni Agiou Nikolaos Anapavsa, Kalabaka, Greece


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01 June-31 October

Saturday-Thursday: 08:00-16:00

6 Lush & Traditional Greek Destinations for your Winter Bucket List

Mainland Greece is magnificently multifaceted, and just as you can find stunning seaside locations for carefree summer fun full of aquatic adventures and seafood in summer you can relish lush, cozy alpine settings in winter.

From spas to action sports like hiking, skiing, rafting and climbing to strolling through picturesque villages with great restaurants, surrounded by marvellous landscapes and historic ruins, the options are endless. So start planning your post-lockdown adventures in wintertime Greece now!


One of Greece’s lushest zones year-round, Mount Pelion is often compared to Tuscany for its beautiful nature and rustic architectural charm. A series of villages with pretty squares, cobblestone pathways and thickly forested areas resounding with the sound of running water from crystalline mountain springs and the smell of firewood immerse you in a romantic winter wonderland. In winter Pelion is perfect for trekking, enjoying heartwarming homemade-style traditional stews and soups at the old-fashioned taverns and skiing at world class resorts.


With 46 traditionally-built and beautifully preserved villages of stone houses with slate roofs, amongst them some exemplary bed and breakfast places and boutique hotels, this region is tranquil, delightfully scenic and beautifully verdant. In Zagori you’ll also find the spectacular Vikos gorge, the deepest in Europe, with breathtaking views, and lovely rivers for white water rafting. See our story on Zagori here.


Other-worldy with its giant stacks of rock that reach to the skies, rocks into which 25 monasteries are mystically built, this UNESCO World Heritage site is without a doubt one of the most incredible destinations in the world. Stay in the village of Kalabaka and take a few days to explore the geologically incredible landscape by foot, rock climbing, mountain biking or even by hopping into a hot air balloon to get an idyllic view from the top.


From skiing at the Velouchi Ski Centre and climbing to the Black Cave or rafting in Tavropos river, Karpenisi’s rich natural wonders can keep action adventure lovers busy and red-cheeked for days. Located in Evrytania, this traditional and verdant mountain destination offers all the winter charms one could wish for – pretty architecture, good food and quality accommodations where you can curl; up by the fire.


Sprawling under Parnassos mountain – one of Greece’s most popular skiing destinations -is the traditionally picturesque and simultaneously modern and glamorous village of Arachova. The alpine village is wonderful for shopping everything from local foods to designer items, sipping a glamorous cocktail at a trendy bar and taking in the culture of the nearby areas, such as the stunning ancient site of Delphi only 15 minus drive away or the Corycian Cave dedicated to the God Pan.


Almost like a film set because of its perfectly preserved traditional style, this Epirus village beneath the Tzoumerka mountain range is a favourite spot for skiers and fans of alpine allure. You’ll find everything from tourist shops selling ‘traditional’ items to cozy tavernas, but Metsovo is especially known for its excellent choice of local cheeses (especially the smoky Metsovone) and top-quality wines produced by the Averoff Estate.

Cover Image @businessinsider

‘Supersized’ rare white truffle weighing 510 gr found in Greece

The second largest white truffle in Europe was found in Greece? It’s usually a different kind of headline that boldly confronts readers, informing them about something or other being unearthed under the diverse and ancient Greek landscape.

By Adrian Vrettos

Yes, truffling in this country is now on the map and gaining momentum, happily being embraced in modern Greek cuisine as well as jazzing up old staples.

The latest estimates are that between 2,000-3,000 Greeks are involved in the hunting and production of these edible treasures and that Greek truffles are now being exported far and wide, with some varieties regularly topping 3,000€ per kilo.

Insights Greece - 'Supersized' rare white truffle weighing 510 gr found in Greece

Quite a tidy sum but bear in mind that truffle hunting is no walk in the park.  It involves hours of muddling through the undergrowth of low-lying mountainous regions. Also, it requires a sound local knowledge of the areas likely to yield up their white or black prizes.

Where can this be done? Well, anywhere with wild oak or chestnut forests at the foothills of mountains, so just about all over Greece, from Crete to Meteora, Olympos to Komotini.

This is convenient although adding to the challenge, the conditions of forests conspire against human seekers so that often wild boars (amongst others) get to the prize first. So good are they at finding these aromatic gems that we train their hairless pink cousins to help us with the dirty work; pigs have a remarkable sense of smell and can root out a truffle up to three feet underground.  But more commonly, man’s best friend is trained as the primary scout. A decent (but by no means exceptional) dog can set you back €1,000, but compared to a pig it can be more fun, easier to house and with less food consumption, as far as I know.

There is another way to get truffles and that is through cultivation. Excellent! Problem solved. But not so fast; the best tree to cultivate for this purpose is the mighty oak, which takes 12 years to mature and, which is when the farmer can gather her first harvest. A long time indeed, and also a hit and miss process, as some inoculated saplings may never produce a single truffle. Not that I could tell the difference of course, but I would prefer to eat the hunted version, as there is something adventurous and excavatory about it that definitely adds flavor to my intellectual taste buds.

Having said all this, it would be remiss of me to not reference an ancient yarn from the heyday glory times of my ancestors: The ancient Athenians loved truffles to the extent that they gave citizenship (no small acquisition) to the sons of Xerippo for coming up with a new recipe for them! Unfortunately, the recipe in question has been lost to the ages, which is rather frustrating considering it was great enough to have such an honour bestowed on the willing chefs.

Insights Greece - 'Supersized' rare white truffle weighing 510 gr found in Greece

These aforementioned ancients called it Hydnon, and indeed “hydnology” is the science relating to truffles. In Latin it’s called “Tuber” which is the official term, where as a number of Mediterranean cultures (including Arabs, French and Spanish) conspired to give us the word ‘truffle’ the handle commonly used today. Furthermore, in Plutarch’s accounts, truffles were created by the combined action of water, heat and lightning leading me to conclude that it was considered as a gift from Zeus himself. Wherever the actual truth of this incredibly pungent food lies, it certaibnly has fascinated humankind and animals alike throughout the ages and will surely continue to bedazzle our tastebuds for as long as it exists.

Here are some exemplary Greek truffle product you can find online now:

Dryas Truffles – everything from truffles, truffle salt and truffle olive oil.

Dirfys is known for its excellent mushroom and truffle products, ranging from truffle gruyere to truffle mustard.

Eklekto sells top of the range White and Black Truffles.

Cover Image @langhenet