Greece offers more challenging walking, but none stranger than between the sandstone needles of the Metéora.
Monasteries perched on the pillars were once accessed by rope ladders, replaced only when they broke. Now there are steps, and larger sites like Megálou Meteórou are busy. The hawks hunting in the thermals below, and the black-frocked priests hugging their knees in the ramshackle cable-car to the staff car-park, make it worth the climb. Walks to Ipapandí or Aghios Triádhos are wilder and more peaceful.
Boufidis' Cave guesthouse/campsite in Kastráki, camping from €10, rooms €40 (www.camping-boufidis-meteora.biz/). Kalambaka station: trains from Athens/Thessaloniki, (c.€25 single); buses from Igoumenitsa, (c.€20).
It doesn’t have to be all beaches and boats. For an alternative Grecian experience, take the train inland from Athens to Kalambaka, the end of the line west. A short taxi ride to Kastraki village brings you to the heart of the spectacular Meteora region, famous for the monasteries impossibly perched on top of the dramatic rocky outcrops.
Stay at the modest but charming Doupiana House hotel and wonder at the stunning sights from the veranda. But don’t stop there, get walking and follow the winding road up to the highest monastery for the cheapest and most rewarding journey you’ll ever make.
Doupiani House, Kastraki (nearest station Kalambaka)
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