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Meteora: Head to the clouds

There might be only three steps to Heaven but there are plenty more ways to see the vertiginous monasteries of Meteora

Meteora: Head to the clouds
Meteora, Greece. Image: Getty

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A rock formation comprising around 150 gargantuan sandstone peaks, Meteora, in northern Greece, literally means ‘suspended in air’ — and it’s easy to see why. The lofty columns dotting the landscape (the tallest: 2,100ft) look like they’ve been placed there by a divine being; the six active monasteries that still teeter at their top, even more so. In fact, monks began building them in the 14th century, a testament to the power of faith. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1988, no one who visits Meteora can help but be humbled by its ethereal presence. Here are four ways to take it in:

1 // Biking
The steep inclines make mountain biking a heart-pumping experience, but for a gentler ride there’s always the option to head out into the flatlands. One trail leads to the monastery of Ypapanti, nestled in a rock crevice near the town of Kalampaka. The area is a photographer’s paradise so be sure to pause for snaps. 

2 // Hiking
Hiking is one of the best ways to discover this unique geological phenomenon, and you’ll be following in the footsteps of the monks who first walked these paths. Ypapanti Monastery appears to cling to the side of the cliff face, while a sunset tour takes visitors right to the peaks, just as the sky turns a deep, wonderful red.  

Climbing in Meteora Greece. Image: Visit Meteora

Climbing in Meteora Greece. Image: Visit Meteora

3 // Climbing
These dramatic rock formations are covered by around 700 climbing routes, catering to everyone from hikers to mountaineers. Tour companies can provide everything climbers need — ropes, harness, guides — to get to the top, bar energy and willpower. But the epic views will make the effort worthwhile. 

4 // Scrambling
The Meteora adventure tour takes visitors up the area’s tallest rock, the Great Saint, towering 1312ft above the town of Kalampaka. It’s an adrenalin-fuelled experience, offering the ultimate views of the lofty monasteries that pepper the landscape, along with green swathes of countryside stretching into the distance.

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