For those of you who are not familiar with Kalabaka (also spelled Kalambaka), this little town lies in Thessaly and is the gateway to Meteora. Having been burned down by the Nazis during WWII, the town was entirely rebuilt and boasts a collection of hotels, guest houses, taverns, and restaurants where you can sample the local cuisine after a day of exploring the amazing rocks of Meteora. But there is a lot more to Kalabaka than these monasteries perched on inaccessible rocks—keep reading to find out what to see and do in this town.
There is no doubt that a visit to the impressive monasteries of Meteora, perched atop massive boulders, is a must. Built by monks looking for absolute solitude, these monasteries offer mesmerizing views over the plains. While there are 27 monasteries in the region, only six are still in operation and open to the public. Whether you decide to visit them by bus, by foot or by car, these are a must-see.
Beyond these impressive monasteries, Kalabaka is perfect for exploring the region and indulging in some heart-pumping action, such as rafting. The nearby Aspropotamos River is an ideal place to admire the splendid scenery and incredible area. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned rafter, you will certainly enjoy a day out in nature. Visit Meteora offers a few rafting activities that you should check out.
Natural History Museum of Meteora & Mushroom Museum
Did you know that this underrated region of Thessaly is one of the best for the cultivation of endemic mushrooms? You can learn more about it at the Natural History Museum of Meteora and Mushroom Museum in Kalabaka. You can explore the local wildlife and ecosystems, learn more about birds or discover the fascinating world of mushrooms. Even better, you can sample some at the museum and purchase them, along with other mushroom products, such as mushroom-infused olive oil, at the museum’s shop.
Did you love what you learned at the museum? Brilliant! The institution also organizes truffle hunting tours in the nearby forests of the region. You will have the chance to discover the ins and outs of truffle hunting, taste a delicious pasta dish with truffles, and sample products. Check out the dedicated website to learn more about it.
One of the best ways to fully experience Meteora is definitely by hiking. The rock forest features crisscrossing trails, including the Eastern Trail, which takes half a day and starts at the Agios Stefanos Monastery. For the more adventurous, the Western Trail takes a full day and allows you to see unique views, along with monasteries closed to the public, from a different angle.
If enjoying the outdoors makes you hungry but mostly thirsty, this next activity might be the one for you. Kalabaka is surrounded by wineries worth visiting. For example, the family-run Loudas Winery, established in 2006 in the lovely hamlet of Diava, is one of the best places to enjoy Thessaly’s wines. Furthermore, the Tsililis Winery and Distillery is an excellent place to try wines and tsipouro.
Less than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) from Kalabaka, you will find the Theopetra Cave, located near the village of the same name. The unique archaeological site contains remnants from the Paleolithic, Mesolithic, and Neolithic eras and measures about 500 square meters. It was there that significant paleontological finds were made; indeed, records of two cultural transitions were found, including the transition from Neanderthals to modern humans, as well as the later transition from hunting-gathering to farming at the end of the last Ice Age.
Everyone that has been to Meteora will agree that its rock formations are simply spectacular and breathtaking. As such, it is an excellent spot to indulge in some rock climbing fun, even if you are a newbie. Several climbing routes have been established, which makes it an ideal place if you want to give this adrenaline-prone hobby a try.