The Most Underrated Place in Greece.
When we were planning for our trip to Greece, Ryan came across the city of Meteora, and he was absolutely convinced we needed to include it in our trip. Our trip was already tight, and we were cutting it pretty close if we were going to squeeze one more place in before heading off on our next adventure, but we were so glad we did. Despite spending 8 hours driving within a 24-hour period to get there and back to the Athens airport in time, I'm honestly really glad Ryan convinced me to go! The roads are pretty windy and narrow to get up there though, so I definitely don't recommend driving at night (like we did). And make sure to be careful as you're turning the corners and give yourself some extra time to get there. But as soon as you pull into Meteora, you will be absolutely overwhelmed by the beauty of those giant rocks.
Meteora is a fascinating little city where there are these huge rocks that seem to have just popped out of the ground. The rocks were actually formed by earthquakes and wind over time, but they seriously look like giant rock plants, that just grew out of no where. The most incredible part is that on top of these ginormous rocks are these beautiful monasteries. There are 24 monasteries in total, but currently only 6 of them are still in use with practicing monks. You can go inside of them, but make sure you're wearing long pants and tops that cover your shoulders. The monasteries are basically suspended in the air, which is fitting, because the word "Meteora" means "middle of the sky."
The monasteries in Meteora originated as an escape for monks from the Turkish attacks in the 14th century. Back then, the only way the monks and nuns could access them was either by climbing the rocks, removable ladders, or being lifted up by a cable system in a basket. If that's not an extremely secluded and private lifestyle, I'm not sure what is. You can still see some of the cable systems, and it absolutely blows my mind how they were able to use those systems to even build the monasteries in the first place. It was truly fascinating to see this beautiful and untouched natural wonder.
If you're into climbing, Meteora is a climbers paradise. People spend all day climbing the giant rocks. There are 700 different climbing routes and spots that cater to all skill levels. We didn't climb, but we did spend some time walking, hiking, and exploring. Bring snacks and water with you, because there aren't any restaurants or snack spots around the monasteries. We highly recommend waking up for sunrise and watching the sunrise from the top of the rocks. You can also enter the monasteries, but they all have a small entrance fee and different operating times, so be sure to check before you go. And if you're short on time (like we were), even just driving from viewpoint to viewpoint is honestly breathtaking.
Where to Stay:
We stayed at Alsos House while we were there, and it is situated perfectly at the bottom of the rocks. There is an incredible view of the rocks just behind the hotel, and it was so cool to see them light up at night! There aren't really any luxury hotels in the area, but Alsos House was clean and definitely had a home-stay feel to it, which made us feel very welcome and relaxed. The staff was very helpful and made sure we knew where we could get all the best views even in our short time there! We definitely recommend staying there during your trip to Meteora!