Peter Orsel

A Quick Photography Guide for Meteora, Greece

Meteora, Greece

This Greek town has been on my bucket list for a while: The monasteries of Meteora, located just above Kalabaka or Kalambaka. You’ll find old monasteries, located on impressive rock formations. The peace you’ll find is indescribable and something you have to experience yourself!

In this blog I’ll explain everything you need to know before visiting Meteora. How to get there, where to stay and of course my favourite spots to take the very best photos of this wonderful location.

In This Post

About the monasteries

The monks started building these monasteries in the 14th century. It’s impressive to see how they created these buildings high upon the rocks. Some of the monasteries were demolished, but you can see and visit many of them and learn about living in these impressive structures. 

Some monks still live in the monasteries, and it must be a breathtaking view every morning when they wake up at 6 am. We once arrived just before 6 and heard the bells ringing to wake up the monks. The sound of the bells combined with the views of the valley is truly magical.

Kalambaka is the town you see behind the rock formations and it's about 5km from the monasteries

How to get to Kalambaka / Meteora?

You’re most likely arriving in Thessaloniki or Athens when you want to make a trip to Meteora. Another option is arriving from Albania, so if you’re doing a big Balkan trip, this is an option as well. If you’re coming from Thessaloniki or Athens, these are your options: 
 
  • 🚌 You can book a tour and go on a day trip from Thessaloniki or Athens. Expect to have little time at the monasteries and probably no time to take decent drone content. For me, shooting at sunrise and sunset was key to get the results I wanted.

  • 🚂 Depart by train from Thessaloniki or Athens. There’s one direct train from Athens, the others require a stop in Larissa.

  • 🚎 Ammon Express is offering some bus services from Thessaloniki. From Athens KTEL Trikala is offering a bus with a stop in Trikala.

  • 🚗 The last option is what I did. I rented a car from Thessaloniki and drove to Kalambaka by myself. It might be the most expensive option, but it’s very useful to have a car in Kalambaka, to be able to get to the monasteries quickly.

Sunset in Meteora, Greece
What a spot to watch the sunset!

How to get around in Kalambaka / Meteora?

It might be the most expensive option, but it’s very useful to have a car in Kalambaka. With a car, you’ll be able to get to the monasteries quickly. You can rent a scooter or a car in town as well, but as their main source of income is tourism, expect to pay a little more. 

From Kalambaka it’s about 5-8km to get to the viewpoints of the monasteries. You can park pretty much anywhere for free, but it can get crowded during the daytime or during sunset.

If you want to hike from Kalambaka, expect to spend at least 1hr hiking uphill. That doesn’t sound too bad, but don’t forget about the heat. During summer days the temperature can rise up to 40 degrees. 

There is a bus going up and down as well, but they don’t run very frequently. A ticket is about €2 euros and I’d suggest to ask your accommodation for the actual timetable. 

The first morning light on the Meteora monasteries in Greece
The first morning light on the Meteora monasteries

Where to stay in Kalambaka / Meteora?

To make the best out of your visit, you should stay at least one sunrise and one sunset here. If you’re a backpacker like me, I highly recommend Holy Rock Hostel. This hostel might not be very fancy, but in terms of atmosphere it has been one of my best hostel experiences ever. 

It feels like walking into a family you never knew before and the perfect place to chill, have a drink and simply enjoy life. 

On to photography! There are several stops if you want to capture the Meteora monasteries  the best way possible. Here are my favourites, sorted by the time of the day:

The best spots for sunrise

Even though you won’t get the best view on the monasteries, this is the spot to watch a magical sunrise. It takes a 20 minute walk, but you’ll be at peace as there’s barely anyone around! I got these pictures below from there. 

You can park at this location and if you see the wall with the mountain next to the parking lot, search for the place to climb up. Walk left bound and you’ll walk close next to the monastery. Continue walking the path for about 10 minutes and you’ll see the rock formations from where you’ll be able to see a stunning sunrise.

2 hours before sunset was the perfect time to shoot this exact shot I had in mind

The best spots 2 hours before sunset

My favourite time of the day in Meteora. It’s the time when I shot the header of this blog and the picture above as well. You can see the wonderful town of Kalambaka behind the monastery while the sun is still lighting up the area from the back. I parked my car around this location.

I've seen some of my favourite European sunsets in Meteora

The best spots for sunset

Be ready to be surrounded by crowds, but sunset is simply magical from here. You can park next to the spot. Make sure you arrive about 1 hour before sunset to find the best spot and see all the magic going on. There are two panoramic viewpoints, but if you go to the other, this viewpoint will block a part of your sunset view, so make sure you visit this location. This is not the main observation deck Google is telling you about.

That’s it for my recommendations! If you have any questions, please let me know. I can’t wait to visit the area again by myself and hope you’re able to create awesome photos and videos here!

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