There are 6 monasteries that are open to the public in Meteroa. The area originally had 24 monasteries, but over time most have closed or fallen into ruin. Two of the operational sites are actually nunneries (run by women) and the other four are monasteries. Each location has an entrance fee of €3. Each is closed on a different day. Be sure to check with your hotel or other establishments for the current schedule. From what I saw, the only day all of the monasteries are open is Saturday.
There are several things to keep in mind when you plan your trip to the monasteries around Meteora. Men are required to wear long pants and women are required to wear skirts or pants, with something covering their shoulders… Each monastery has “loaner” clothes available at no cost… Note: these aren’t washed frequently, so if you would like to avoid this bring a shawl of your own or wear long pants and a shirt that covers your shoulders.
The Different Monasteries of Meteora:
The Holy Monastery of Great Meteoron – the oldest and largest of the six. It was originally built in 1387, but since that time there have been several additions. When you enter the monastery you can view an old storage room, as well as an old kitchen, both still full of items and tools used by the monks in earlier times. The wine-making area was particularly interesting to me, as it was fairly large and seemed pretty well equipped. As you make your way up through the hallways and corridors, there is a small room that you can peek into that stores the skulls and bones of monks that have died over the years. Personally, this was a bit creepy. The courtyard and views of the valley are amazing. On a clear day you can see all five other monasteries from here. There are also multiple museums that you can explore containing old manuscripts and beautiful religious icons. One of the museums is dedicated to regional folklore, showcasing the monastery’s changes over the ages. There is a lot of information to read and learn so it is best to give yourself plenty of time.
Varlaam – the second largest of the six and a pretty close walk to The Great Meteoron. It was aesthetically one of our favorites. The sheer cliffs and grand views of the monastery from various locations were breathtaking. There is a museum in this one as well, but it is quite a bit smaller than the ones found at its neighbor, The Great Meteoron. From Varlaam you can take a trail that winds down through the rocks to the valley floor. This was a gorgeous hike (see hiking in Meteora post) that offered wonderful views of this amazing structure.
Rousanou – also located on the Eastern ridge, this location is a nunnery. It has beautiful gardens and is situated across the valley from Varlaam. The area that you can access is quite small, but the views from the terrace are amazing.
The Holy Trinity – one of the two monasteries on the Western Ridge. This one has the biggest and most difficult climbs to access it. It is particularly grueling because you have to walk down numerous switchbacks and then climb all the way up the stairs around a huge rock formation. One of the really cool things about this monastery is the hook-pulley system was historically used to get supplies to the monks. The Holy Trinity offers gorgeous views of the city of Kalambaka. It also has a nice garden to walk through.
St. Stephan – the only other nunnery. It is located on the western ridge at the end of the road. It has beautiful grounds and offers, you guessed it, more stunning views of Kalambaka. One thing to keep in mind with this one is that it closes every day from 1:30 until 3:30 for prayer time.
St. Nicholas Anapasusas – the only monastery that we didn’t visit. We were a bit “monasteried out” when it came time to visit this one, and it was closed the previous day. It is the first monastery that you see when you come from the small village of Kastraki. There is also a hiking trail from Great Meteron that comes out about 200 meters from the entrance of the monastery.