Top 15 Things to Do in Kalabaka, Greece

Top Tourist Spots in Kalabaka, Greece

Bucket List: 15 Best Places to Visit in Kalabaka, Greece

Kalabaka, sometimes called Kalambaka or Kalampaka, is a small town in Thessaly, Greece, and is the gateway to UNESCO World Heritage Site, Meteora. Meteora means “suspended in the air,” referring to the site’s massive pillars and sandstone cliffs. The limestone rock formations, their range of outdoor activities, and their religious and historical significance attract visitors worldwide.

1. Rock Climbing and Scrambling

Meteora Greece
Meteora Greece

Meteora has some of the world’s most popular rock climbing peaks and routes, over 170 peaks and 870 routes, giving climbers the overwhelming power of nature and the serene beauty of the region. Several routes and bolts were opened and secured decades ago, giving the climbers the challenge to face the haunting landscape of the site while putting their own bolts as they go.

Another great way to experience the challenge and beauty of Meteora is through hiking and scrambling the same path that monks took centuries ago. Several tours accompanied by expert rock climbers and hikers are offered in the area, each of which can take 3 to 4 hours.

2. Rafting

Rafting in Veneticos River by Zahos Anastasiadis via Wikimedia cc
Rafting in Veneticos River By Zahos Anastasiadis – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

The extraordinary landscape of Kalabaka offers another experience of exploring the region and indulging in some thrilling adventure. Adventurers can experience the rapids of Venetikos, Aliakmonas, and Aspropotamos rivers and into the heart of the thriving nature of Greece. The rapids have a medium grade of difficulty during the winter and spring and a low grade of difficulty in the summer and autumn seasons. Rafting tours are offered near Meteora, inviting beginner and seasoned rafters out in nature.

3. Truffle Hunting

Truffle by Regis Marcon via Wikimedia cc
Truffle By Elekes Andor – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

Accompanied by an expert truffle hunter and truffle dogs, the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum offers its visitors the to participate in truffle hunting in the nearby forests where they can have a taste of native mushrooms and truffle pasta. After the fun hunting experience and the delightful meal prepared by the chefs, the hunting participants can get a guided tour of the museum, learn about Greece’s truffle industry and purchase mushroom-related products from the souvenir shop.

Location: 20 Pindou Street, Kalampaka, Greece
Participation Rates: 49€ (Adults), 25€ (Participants aged 6 to 17 years)
Website: meteoramuseum.gr/truffle-hunting

4. Louda’s Winehouse

Louda's Winehouse photo via FB page
Louda’s Winehouse photo via FB page

This family-owned vineyard has been planting wines since the 1960s and has been in the winery business since 2006, producing smooth and aromatic wines with local grape varieties. Set in the village of Diava with its rich viticulture history, the location of Louda’s Winehouse is one of the most historical in Greece. Visitors can set an appointment to tour the vineyard and taste their varieties, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot, Assyrtiko, Malagouzia, Moschato Hamburg, Xinomavro, and Roditis.

Location: Diava, Kalambaka, Greece
Contact: +30 24320 24171
Website: loudas.gr

5. Museum of Geological Formations of Meteora

Meteora in Kalampaka Greece by Fauve Othon via Unsplash
Meteora in Kalampaka Greece by Fauve Othon via Unsplash

A relatively new museum that opened in 2018, the Museum of Geological Formations of Meteora is housed in a 1902 building that used to be the Kastraki Elementary School until 1985 and a local government building until 2012. The museum has a General Geology Hall and a Meteora Geological History Hall where audiovisual presentations of Meteora, a detailed analysis of the formation and creation of Meteora and the surrounding mountain of Koziakas, and Kalabaka’s general geology are displayed.

Visiting Hours: 8AM to 3PM, Mondays to Fridays; 9AM to 4PM, Saturdays, and Sundays
Entrance Rates: FREE
Contact: +30 24320 22523

6. Natural History Museum of Meteora & Mushroom Museum

Meteora Museum by Chrysaetus via Wikipedia cc
Meteora Museum by Chrysaetus via Wikipedia cc

The Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum is a private museum established in late 2014 with over 350 species of taxidermized animals and about 250 species of mushrooms. The dioramas of taxidermized animals represent the animal’s natural habitats, while the mushroom collections are displayed according to the phases of their development.
The mammals displayed are native to Greece and its neighboring countries, such as Roe Deer, European Otter, Arctic Fox, and Beech Marten. The bird collection is just as extensive as Greece is one of the richest sites in biodiversity. The museum’s bird collection is also one of the largest in Greece, constantly updated with new exhibits to enrich the public on the dangers that mammals and birds face nowadays and to protect them.

Location: 20 Pindou Street, Kalampaka, Greece
Visiting Hours: 10AM to 6PM, Daily
Entrance Rates: 5€ (General Admission), 4€ (Guests aged 4 to 18 years), FREE for Friends of the Museum, Children under 4 years, PWDs, Attendant Teachers of Schools, Tourist Guides, Journalists, and Soldiers
Contact: (+30) 24320 24959
Socials: facebook.com/meteoramuseum
Website: meteoramuseum.gr

7. Mushroom Festival

Mushroom Festival photo via meteoramuseum.gr
Mushroom Festival photo via meteoramuseum.gr

The Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum annually organizes a festival that promotes mushrooms’ nutritional and medicinal value. The festival displays seminars, cultural and culinary events, truffle hunting, and extensive mushroom collections. The festival’s main highlight is when a dozen chefs cook different varieties of mushroom dishes for the thousands of festival participants. The Mushroom Festival is held annually, from September 7 to 9, at the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum.

Location: 20 Pindou Street, Kalampaka, Greece
Entrance Rates: FREE
Website: meteoramuseum.gr/Mushroom-festival

8. The Great Meteoron Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour

Monastery of Great Meteoron by Janmad via Wikimedia cc
Monastery of Great Meteoron by Janmad via Wikimedia cc

The Great Meteoron Holy Monastery of the Transfiguration of the Saviour, simply known as The Monastery of Great Meteoron or “Megalo Meteoron”, is the largest and oldest monastery in Meteora. The Monastery of Great Meteoron was founded in the 14th century by Saint Athanasios, the Meteorite, founder of the monastery and monasticism for the region of Meteora. Visitors can see historical codices and religious icons displayed inside the monastery.

Summer Visiting Hours: 9AM to 3PM, Wednesdays to Mondays; Closed on Tuesdays
Winter Visiting Hours: 9:30AM to 2PM, Fridays to Mondays; Closed on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays
Entrance Rates: 3€ (General Admission), FREE for children aged 0 to 12 years
Contact: +30 24320 22278

9. The Holy Monastery of Varlaam

The Holy Monastery of Varlaam is the second largest monastery in Meteora, located close to The Monastery of Great Meteoron. The monastery was founded in the mid-14th century by a monk named Varlaam. With other monks, Varlaam climbed the cliff where the monastery was to be established. However, it was soon left in ruins when Varlaam died. Decades later, the priest-monks Theophanes and Nectarios decided to revive the monastery and built a new chapel dedicated to “All Saints” in 1541. The two priest monks are now celebrated as the founders of The Holy Monastery of Varlaam.
Visitors can see the frescos of Franco Catalano in the All Saints Chapel, paintings of contemporary to Renaissance religious icons, an ancient pulley system used by the first monks to bring up people and supplies, and a 16th-century oak barrel used to store water.

Summer Visiting Hours: 9AM to 4PM, Saturdays to Thursdays; Closed on Fridays
Winter Visiting Hours: 9AM to 3PM, Saturdays to Wednesdays; Closed on Thursdays and Fridays
Entrance Rates: 3€ (General Admission), FREE for children aged 0 to 12 years
Contact: +30 24320 22278

10. The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas Anapafsas

Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas by Bgabel via Wikimedia cc
Monastery of St. Nicholas Anapausas by Bgabel via Wikimedia cc

The Holy Monastery of Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas or Agios Nikolaos is the first monastery that pilgrims will encounter, the resting place before continuing to the other monasteries. The monastery’s name, Saint Nicholas of Anapafsas or Agios Nikolaos Anapafsas, translates to “Saint Nicholas, the one who rests you.” The Church of St. Anthony and the crypt where historical codices and heirlooms were used to be stored can be seen from the monastery’s entrance. Other sights within the monastery are 14th-century paintings, murals, and an ossuary.

Summer Visiting Hours: 9AM to 5PM, Daily
Winter Visiting Hours: 9:30AM to 4PM, Daily
Entrance Rates: 3€ (General Admission), FREE for children aged 0 to 12 years
Contact: +30 24320 22375

11. The Holy Monastery of Roussanou

Monastery of Rousanou by Ava babili via Wikimedia cc
Monastery of Rousanou By Ava babili – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

The Holy Monastery of Roussanou, or The Holy Monastery of St. Barabara, was founded in the 14th century by hermit monks and suffered like the other monasteries during World War II. Visitors can see paintings of the Catholicon by an unknown hagiographer or take the pathway from the monastery to an off-the-road panoramic viewpoint spot to get a different view of the cliffs. The Holy Monastery of Roussanou was built at a lower elevation, making it more accessible than the other monasteries.

Summer Visiting Hours: 10AM to 4PM, Thursdays to Tuesdays; Closed on Wednesdays
Winter Visiting Hours: 10AM to 2PM, Thursdays to Tuesdays; Closed on Wednesdays
Entrance Rates: 3€ (General Admission), FREE for children aged 0 to 12 years
Contact: +30 24320 22649

12. The Monastery of the Holy Trinity

Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Meteora by Dido3 via Wikimedia cc
Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Meteora By Dido3 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

The Monastery of the Holy Trinity is one of the most photographed monasteries in Meteora and the most recognizable landmark in all of Greece because it was the monastery featured in the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only. The Holy Trinity Monastery sits atop a steep rock 300 meters above the town of Kalabaka. Like The Monastery of Great Meteoron, it is difficult to reach in terms of its access. The monastery was established in 1362 by a monk named Dometious and was abandoned in the early 20th century, like most other monasteries of Meteora. Archaeologists discovered artifacts in 1909, and locals constructed stairs in 1925 for safer access. Since then, the monastery has been active and open for people to visit.

Summer Visiting Hours: 10AM to 4PM, Fridays to Wednesdays; Closed on Thursdays
Winter Visiting Hours: 10AM to 4PM, Fridays to Wednesdays; Closed on Thursdays
Entrance Rates: 3€ (General Admission), FREE for children aged 0 to 12 years
Contact: +30 24320 22220

13. The Monastery of Agios Stefanos

Monastery of Saint Stephen by Berthold Werner via Wikimedia cc
Monastery of Saint Stephen By Berthold Werner, CC BY-SA 3.0, cc

The Monastery of Agios Stefanos is connected by a walking bridge, making it the most accessible monastery compared to the other monasteries at Meteora. The Agios Stefanos Monastery was founded in the 12th century by the first hermit monk Hosios Antonios. Hosios Philotheos is credited as its founders when they rebuilt the monastery’s foundations in the 15th century. In 1961, the monastery was transformed into a convent where nuns continue to live there to this day.

Summer Visiting Hours: 9AM to 1:30PM and 3:30PM to 5:30PM, Tuesdays to Sundays; Closed on Mondays
Winter Visiting Hours: 9AM to 1PM and 3PM to 5PM, Tuesdays to Sundays; Closed on Mondays
Entrance Rates: 3€ (General Admission), FREE for children aged 0 to 12 years
Contact: +30 24320 22279

14. Theopetra Prehistoric Cave

Theopetra Prehistoric Cave by Tolis 3kala via Wikimedia cc
Theopetra Prehistoric Cave By Tolis-3kala – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, cc

The Theopetra Cave is one of the oldest human constructions with significant remnants from the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic Periods, such as records of cultural transitions from Neanderthals to modern humans and hunting-gathering to farming.

Near the cave is the Theopetra Cave Museum, where documentation and excavations from 1987 to 2008 are displayed. The museum was built to promote the cultural wealth and unique archaeology and prehistory of the Theopetra Cave. The museum has an educational trench where visitors can experience what an actual excavation is like and educational exhibitions that bring life to the prehistoric life of humans.

Museum Visiting Hours: 8AM to 6PM, Wednesdays to Mondays, Closed on Tuesdays
Museum Entrance Rates: 3€ (General Admission)

15. The Byzantine Church of Dormition of the Virgin Mary

Built in the 4th century, the Byzantine Church of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary is dedicated to the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. Inside the monument are 11th and 16th-century Byzantine frescos and relics from an ancient Greek temple dedicated to the god Apollo which stood on the same spot before the church was built.

This hidden treasure of Kalabaka stood for the past 25 centuries and stands as the only church in the world with an early Christian ambo or pulpit preserved in the center of the nave. Today, the church remains hidden behind the popular monasteries of Meteora, even though the Byzantine Church of Dormition of the Virgin Mary is older than the Monastery of Great Meteoron.

Visiting Hours: 8:30AM to 1PM and 3PM to 8PM, Daily
Entrance Rates: 2€ (General Admission)

How to get there

Reaching Kalabaka and the monasteries of Meteora differs from how the first hermits arrived in the region. Visitors can take d trains from Athens, trains that connect with the Athens-Thessaloniki line at Palaiopharsala, or the local buses that run from Kalabaka to Kastraki and Trikala. It should be noted that public buses, mostly one-way trips, only run between April and October from 9AM to 5PM every 2 hours.

Visitors must observe the dress code and wear appropriate clothing before entering the monasteries. For men and women, sleeveless clothing and shorts over the knee are not allowed. Women can borrow or buy shawls and skirts at the entrance of monasteries.

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