Table of Contents
- Why Visit Meteora
- Meteora Tour
- Traditional Greek Food in Kalambaka
- Three Great Kalambaka Restaurants
- Transportation and Logistics
- Hungry for More Greek Food?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
Don’t worry about finding traditional Greek food when you take a Meteora tour in Central Greece. We’ve got you covered with three great Kalambaka restaurants near the ancient city’s holy monasteries.
Meteora is world-famous for its epic rock formations, stunning sunsets and majestic monasteries. Despite the fame that preceded our visit, we were floored as we approached Grecian karst for the first time and saw the Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
Having grown up watching the movie For Your Eyes Only, Daryl immediately recognized the 14th-century monastery perched on a rock formation 400 meters in the air. Meterora can’t get any better than this – or so we thought.
As we soon found out, the unique monastery made famous by James Bond is just the tip of the Meteora iceberg. There are more amazing monasteries in this breathtaking region.
Spoiler Alert: The food is great too.
Why Visit Meteora
Meteora exists between heaven and earth.
Located in Thessaly in the center of Greece, Meteora is a popular destination for travelers who seek special sites seeping with history. Since Meteora achieved UNESCO world heritage status in 1988, crowds have flocked to Greece’s most unique landlocked city to explore its rocky cliffs and breathtaking views.
Meteora literally translates to suspended in the air, and that’s how the monasteries appear upon first glance. Without doubt, Meteora’s monasteries are a huge draw to travelers who want to see the amazing clifftop structures with their own eyes.
Six of the 24 Meteora holy monasteries are still functioning places of worship for the Eastern Orthodox religion. For a small fee, travelers can enter each of the six holy structures to pay respect and view the intricately decorated, gilded gold, fresco-adorned interiors.
We visited several magnificent monasteries during a Meteora sunset tour with local tour company Meteora Thrones. Knowledgeable tour guide Christos Zoros brought life to the 60-million-year-old rocks as he shared stories about Meteora’s monasteries and the monks who built them.
52 nuns and 14 monks currently inhabit the Meteora monasteries.
We had so much fun on the amazing sunset tour that we woke up the next morning invigorated to take a hiking tour in the countryside. The hike provided us the opportunity to connect with the natural rocks, hills and streams as we ogled numerous views of the majestic, craggy cliffs.
Needless, to say, we worked up a good appetite during our enjoyable Meteora tours with Meteora Thrones.
Traditional Greek Food in Kalambaka
Just next to Meteora, Kalambaka is a great place to discover authentic Greek food. Unlike the seafood-heavy cuisine found on the Greek isles, Meteora’s central mountain location lends itself to heartier foods like meatballs and stews. Local cooks comply by slow cooking stews and other traditional Thessaly food favorites.
During our Meteora visit, we indulged in rich, meaty moussaka and ate ‘to die for’ roasted eggplant saganaki. We had previously eaten moussaka in the United States, but the baked saganaki was an oozy revelation. Interestingly, each restaurant made saganaki differently using different preparation methods and cheeses like halloumi and kefalotyri.
We sampled a range of Greek food favorites in Kalambaka. Many dishes featured fresh feta cheese and other local ingredients. The result was a homestyle counterpoint to the more urbane versions of the same Greek food we later enjoyed in Athens.
Not all the food we ate in Kalambaka was heavy. In addition to meats and stews, we ate salads and other vegetarian dishes. But it was Kalambaka’a hearty, slow-cooked food that sated our hunger after a rock hiking energy burn.
Three Great Kalambaka Restaurants
Ironically, Meteora restaurants are not actually in Meteora. Most are located in the nearby town of Kalambaka Greece. If you’re wondering what to eat in Meteora, we recommend the following Kalambaka restaurants:
Meteora Restaurant is a great taverna to start a deep dive into traditional Greek food. The family-run restaurant serves classic dishes as well as slow-cooked stews and casseroles to warm both the heart and soul of a hungry traveler.
Servers brought a procession of plates to our table like floats in a Greek food parade. A range of tasty dishes included saganaki aubergine, veal meatballs, gigantic beans, stuffed eggplant, spanikopita and orange cake. Considering the quality and quantity of food, the check was reasonable – about €20 a person.
Though you’ll want to sit outside on a pretty day, consider returning in the evening to dine inside the taverna’s dining room where the walls bleed with souvenirs and remembrances from the restaurant’s almost century-long history.
Meteora Restaurant is located at Trikalon 2, Kalambaka 422 00, Greece.
Valia Calda features traditional Greek food cooked with the freshest local ingredients. For our meal, most dishes were served mezze style and celebrated seasonal flavors of the Thessaly region.
The restaurant served homemade spanakopita during our visit, along with a menu that included roast black pig, juicy beef meatballs and breaded feta with walnuts and honey. The food, once again, was big, hearty and satisfying. After a day among the rocks, we needed it.
Plan to drink wine with your meal. As in the rest of Greece, local wine is reasonable and of high quality.
Valia Calda is located at Trikalon 91, Kalambaka 422 00, Greece.
Located on Kalambaka’s central square, Panellinio is a friendly taverna with a big outside dining area. Over a leisurely lunch, we ate a smorgasbord of Greek classics including pastitsio, stuffed peppers and Horitaki salad.
However, the restaurant’s most famous dish and our favorite was the lamb chops with roast potatoes and rice. This lamb was no refined affair as Panellinion practically charred the thinly cut, heavily seasoned chops.
But this is Greece, not France. Panellinion’s super flavored chops, enhanced by a squeeze of lemon – an omnipresent element in Greek cuisine, tasted like the kind of food which Greek families have been feasting on for centuries.
If you’re craving Greek souvlaki, Panellinion serves versions with both chicken and pork.
Panellinion is located at 20 Eythimiou Vlachava Street, Platanos Square, Kalambaka 422 00, Greece.
Transportation and Logistics
Now that we’ve convinced you to visit Meteora for the food as well as the scenic beauty, you should start planning a trip of at least two days.
Here are some pertinent tips to assist in your planning process:
Getting to Meteora
If you’re wondering how to get from Athens to Meteora, you can choose from transportation including train, bus or rental car. We took a train and recommend that option for its convenience and cost.
Though some trains have a connection in Paleofarsalos, we recommend taking a direct train from Athens to Kalambaka, the city closest to Meteora. Our train left at 8:20 am and arrived at around 2:00 pm after a typical (for Greece) delay.
Click here to research TrainOSE fares and book a train ticket.
Some people translate Kalambaka to Kalabaka and Kalampaka.
Plan Your Meteora Stay in Kalambaka or Kastraki
Most travelers who visit Meteora stay in the nearby cities of Kalambaka and Kastraki. (We stayed in Kalambaka, just a short distance from the train station.)
Meteora tour costs run the gamut depending on factors like trip duration and hotel level. You can take a Meteora tour on the cheap or with more of a luxury angle depending on your budget.
When to Visit Meteora
We recommend visiting Meteora during the shoulder seasons of spring and autumn when the weather is pleasant and the crowds are manageable.
Winter in Meteora can be cold and snowy, making touring more difficult especially if you want to hike on trails or climb up to the monasteries. Though summer in Meteora has favorable weather and long days, the popular sites tend to get jam-packed with tourists.
Some businesses may revise their hours and menus due to COVID-19. Others may close, either temporarily or permanently, without notice. Be sure to check websites for updated information and make advance reservations where possible.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.