Chefchaouen (“shef-sha-wen”) is one of the most photographic cities you will ever come across. Period. Located between the Rif mountains, it affords the perfect secluded environment to get away from the madness of fast-paced cities like Morocco and Fez.
There is not so much to “do” in the Blue City,yet it’s more of a place to sit back and observe your surroundings and relax. There is something about the different shades of blue that is so calming.
Why are the Walls Painted Blue?
I’m glad you ask, and there are a few theories. The first being that the color blue deters mosquitos and keeps the city cooler during the hot summer months. Another theory is that the Jewish refugees painted it blue as a symbol of the sky and they saw this as a way to be closer to God. Which one is true? Who knows. The city is freshly repainted about once a year, making the bright blues really pop with color.
What to Do in Chefchaouen
Go to the Spanish mosque perched upon the mountain for the best sunset view
Eat at the cozy Molin Arte near the waterfalls
Get completely lost in the blue maze streets (literally and figuratively)
Photograph the copious amounts of kitties
Speak Spanish with the locals (ya, that surprised me also)
Admire the #DoorPorn
Indulge in the Hashish culture (if you’re into that stuff…it’s everywhere, you just gotta ask)
Disconnect from the world♥
How to Get to Chefchaouen
Chefchaouen is a little out of the way from other popular Moroccan destinations, but it’s worth the trip 110%. It was my favourite city in Morocco by far!
CTM bus: Take a 5-hour by bus from Fez on CTM. It eaves at 7:30am or 8 from 2 different points in the city. It is also accessible via Tangier (and a bit closer).
Once you arrive, take a taxi from the bus station to the medina. You can’t walk, trust me. It’s up a steep hill. The taxi should cost 10-20 dirham max! It cost me 10 dirham for a shared cab and only took 5 minutes.
After 4 hours of border crossings, visa applications, and transfers, we finally arrived to Zimbabwe, Africa, completely drained from the past 10 hours of transiting. As we stepped out of our shuttle van and proceeding on the dirt path, I caught what I thought was a pig in the corner of my eye. But alas, it was a warthog! A cute little (big) “Pumba” grazing nearby. I had a feeling this was the first of many Lion King fantasies that would come to life on this journey staying at Victoria Falls River Lodge. Little did I know…
We climbed into a small boat with our luggage, where we were escorted for the 10 minute ride across the Zambezi River. We started to feel really giddy as we had no idea what to except for the next 2 days in front of us. That and the fact that the wind in our face was a great wake-up call!
We finally pulled up to a cute little dock where several of the team members of Victoria Falls River Lodge joyfully welcomed us. Is this what royalty feels like? I don’t know, but I’ll take it! We let ourselves feel “cool” for a minute..until we realized each and every guest gets escorted by boat. Oh well, it felt good while it lasted haha.
The Victoria Falls River Lodge is not a Hotel, it’s an EXPERIENCE. Let me explain…
As soon as we arrived into the spectacular open-air lobby, we were given a welcome drink as well as a “briefing”. The basic message of the briefing: “we are situated in the Zambezi National Park with no fences or barriers between us and the wild animals. For this reason, you will need to be escorted back to your rooms after dark by one of our trained field guides. You may not walk back to your room alone”.
Excuse me, what did he just say? We are basically on the grounds of a live nature reserve with NO BARRIERS? NO EFFING BARRIERS!!! Carey and I looked at each other with huge eyes and gasped a little. WOW. This is going to be an intense few days.
This was the start to something fabulous, we could feel it! I mean, what other time in your life are you going to experience something like this?
Victoria Falls River Lodge is made up of 14 luxury tents situated on the edge of the Zambezi River. Included in your stay is 3 gourmet meals a day, free coffee/tea/snacks available all day, one sunrise or sunset game drive AND one sunrise or sunset river cruise, as well as the entrance fee to the Zambezi National Park.
We really loved the fact that there were only 14 tents available because this made this a more intimate experience with only a few guests staying at one time. As a result, the staff were able to give us their undivided attention.
In particular, the young manager named Andrew checked in with us at every meal, making sure we were having the BEST time. He was super engaging and you could really feel that he wanted to make sure this was an unforgettable experience for us. Well, he definitely accomplished that! He became more like a friend in the short 2 days we spent there. If you’re reading this, thank you and we miss you Andrew! 🙂
One of the most visually stunning aspects of Victoria Falls River Lodge is the open-air lobby and restaurant. The lounge area is formed by a crescent-shaped thatched roof and offers panoramic views of the Zambezi River and surrounding area.
On one side is the dining area and the other side is a huge area for lounging with comfy couches and simple local decor.
Down a little walkway off the main lobby is a bar area that opens up with an awesome view over the Zambezi River. It was closed when we were there in August, but we still went and lounged around there and took some photos.
There was also a small pool and lounge area right near the lobby/dining area. We were told that elephants were just grazing in this area a few days before!
Included in your stay at Victoria Falls River Lodge is 3 gourmet meals per day. Alcohol is NOT included and you must pay extra for that. You are given a tab at checkout for all your extras. A glass of wine was only $3.50, and it was a HUGE glass. In American measures, it was more like a double glass of wine. I sat back in bliss as they poured my jumbo glass of wine. Paradise found? Haha.
Yumm salmon salad for lunch
We were given a menu at every meal with a few items to choose from including fish, salads, steak, and vegetarian options. They were also very flexible with gluten free options and offered me a few different varieties of foods. There was also coffee and snacks available at all times of the day. Overall, the food was great! I had no complaints.
Our EPIC Luxury Treehouse
My childhood treehouse fantasies came to life in this magnificent dwelling that we got to call home for 2 nights. First of all, it was super spacious. Second of all, it was so nicely decorated and cozy. There was SO much to do around the lodge but we didn’t want to leave our room.
The shower/bath area was HUGE and it felt very freeing to shower in this big space. A thin curtain could be pulled for privacy from the outside room. There was also an outdoor shower if you fancied it! It was quite cold during the early mornings and late night so we didn’t use the outdoor shower unfortunately.
There was a nice deck with lounge chairs and a jacuzzi overlook the river. It was gorgeous. We were told that this was a popular spot to see hippos, rhinos, and elephants drinking, but we weren’t lucky enough to see that.
We did however wake up one morning to all the plants and shrubs trampled over, hinting that a herd of hippos were right next to our tent! A little scary but exciting nonetheless. We also were awoken one night to the sound of scratching noises on our tent. We never found out what it was but it was freaky!
We had 2 separate twin beds that were covered with a large mosquito net. There weren’t outlets near the bed, but they were located in the center counter area. There was also a big comfy couch in the living area, heating/AC, and yes, an actual tree trunk in the center of the treehouse! This place was AWESOME! This was definitely glamping to the fullest!
Note: the tent is raise above the ground so you aren’t in any real danger when you are inside.
Game Drive (included)
All guests are offered an inclusive game drive, with the option of early morning or evening. Although we HATE waking up early, we opted for the early morning game drive as this is prime time for large feline viewing. We were picked up at our treehouse villa around 6am and taken to the lobby for a quick coffee and snack. We were then off on our game drive through the Zambezi National Park, aka our backyard! We were the only ones on the morning game drive so it was like we had our own little private VIP safari!
The early morning air was crisp and frigid, and we were given blankets and a big heat compress to warm our hands. It was pitch black when we started, but the morning sun soon peaked in warming us up a bit.
Nothing but smiles with our awesome safari guide!
Unfortunately, you aren’t ever guaranteed to see the coveted animals during a game drive and we were a little unlucky that morning. We did, however, get to see endless amounts of Pumba’s, colourful birds, a flock of baboons, and a few crocodiles! I look at it as a warm up of what was to come in Africa!
We stopped along the riverbank where we disembarked from the open air vehicle and took some photos of the surrounding area. Our guide set up a nice little breakfast picnic on the front of his vehicle, consisting of coffee and pastries. Usually on safaris, you cannot get out of the vehicle, so this was really cool to step off onto the sole where wild animals roam! The view was spectacular and we basked in it for a bit before packing up and heading back.
You also have an option of a sunrise or sunset river cruise, and we opted for the latter. It turned out to be a great choice! We were treated with wine and cheeses/crackers as we set sail on the river.
We though it was just a river cruise, but we had no idea it was a river cruise game drive! (For that reason, we didn’t bring our cameras and our phone pics didn’t turn out so well…so not many animal pics to show). Our guide stopped in a shallow area and to our surprise we saw our first signs of hippos! We couldn’t help but sing the hungry hungry hippo song! C’mon, you know you would have too!
It was incredible to get up that close to a real live hippo! Let alone a whole pack of them. We were then shocked to learn from our guide that hippos cannot actually swim! WHAT? Ya, I didn’t believe it until i googled it. Talk about doubting Thomas. Apparently they are TOO HEAVY TO SWIM! So they just push their hooves across the bottom of the water. The more you know..
The BEST part of the river cruise was on our way back, thinking the cruise was over, we spotted a large herd of elephants drinking water at the river’s edge. Our first elephant siting in the wild brought a flood of emotions and we both had tears in our eyes! Our guide pulled up as close as he could (without disturbing them), and we just observed. It was incredible! The first big animal sighting is something you will never forget!
The newest addition to the lodge is a spa with a spectacular view of the Zambezi River offering massages, manis/pedis, and more. We snuck in a 30 minute massage into our hectic schedules and it was incredible. There is something extra relaxing about getting a massage right on the edge of the peaceful waterfront. It was the perfect way to wind down from all the adrenaline activities we had participated in.
Oh, did I mention Victoria Falls River Lodge will help Plan ALL your adventure activities?
This made it so much less stressful. We were given a little booklet with all the activity info in our rooms so we could get an idea of what we wanted to do. We relayed that to the concierge and he contacted the 3rd party vendors to get all the details. They even arranged a shuttle to transport us (and by shuttle I mean one of their open air safari vehicles!).
The activities we decided on were the gorge swing, the flying fox, Devil’s Pool, and a microlight flight over the falls! You can read all about them in my recent blog post (+video) here, where I coined Victoria Falls the “Mini Adventure Capital of the World”.
Here’s a short YouTube video I made of all the awesome activities we did in Victoria Falls:
We were first dropped off at the entrance to the falls, where we ventured to view the falls up close. Entrance is $30. After that we walked about 5-10 minutes to the Lookout Cafe where they offered most of the high wire activities, including bungee jumping, gorge swing, flying fox, and more!
Tip: make sure you book your activities as far in advance as you can because they do sell out, especially in peak season!
To sum up our 2 days in Victoria Falls River Lodge, my travel partner in crime CareBear Abroad made this awesome video:
PIN for later 🙂
Disclaimer: We were guests of Victoria Falls River Lodge; however, my opinions and AMAZING experience are my own. I would never recommend a place I didn’t truly LOVE. Carebear Abroad and I had a blast!
Victoria Falls is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. It’s also rated as the biggest waterfall in the world (based on combined width of 5,604 ft and height of 354 ft.).
Victoria Falls goes by the nickname “the Smoke that Thunders”. After my first glimpse of the falls, no explanation was needed as to how it got that nickname. The power of the falls is overwhelming.
But who knew Victoria Falls was so big on adventure activities? I sure as hell didn’t. I thought it was just a big epic waterfall honestly. But no, there is so much more! It’s like a mini adventure capital of the world! Adrenaline junkies, take note!
So, what to do in Victoria Falls? A crap load!!! Here is a quick video recap taken from my YouTube channel. (In case you don’t want to read and just want to watch a video).
From the numerous high wire activities on the Zimbabwe side such as gorge swinging, zip-lining, bungee jumping, the flying fox, to the microlight and Devil’s pool activities on the Zambia side, you most certainly will not be bored with the endless amount of adventure activities in Victoria Falls.
With only 2.5 days there, we decided to pack as much in as we could. Here are the top 4 adventure activities in Victoria Falls that you must do!
What to Do in Victoria Falls
1. Microlight Flight (best activity of my life, no joke.)
So what exactly is a microlight flight? A microlight flight is basically like a hang-glider but with a motorized engine. That’s the best way I can describe it. It fits one person at a time and it’s just you and the pilot.
Livingstone’s Adventure is the company we went with, who subcontracts out to Batoka Sky. Batoka Sky prides itself on its 100% safety record since opening in 1993. Meaning, no one had ever died during their flights!!!
The pilots also have the most flying hours out of anyone in the world. After learning that, my fears gradually subsided. Flights start at $155, which isn’t cheap. But where else in the world can you fly over the biggest waterfalls in the world in a tiny little motorized hang-glider thingy? The answer is nowhere!
Their signature flight is called “Flight of the Angels”, and rightfully so! If I could describe my experience in one word, it would be HEAVENLY.
While I was up in the air and the pilot was asking me how I felt, I had an unexpected moment. I burst into tears, I couldn’t even answer him. And I don’t mean just tears filling my eyes, I mean uncontrollable balling. For those that know me, I hate crying, I won’t ever show it and I like to remain calm and collected. But this time, it was out of my control and I just let myself feel it. Sometimes we just need to let ourselves FEEL! ♥
I wasn’t expecting to be that overwhelmed by emotions, but the power and beauty of mother nature overcame me. As I was soaring over the falls, there was a stillness, a silence. Despite the loud engine and wind blowing in my ears, I didn’t hear anything. It was as if someone picked up a controller and put the world on mute. The power of the falls showed themselves and I felt so small in the world.
On the way back, we saw elephants grazing in the water and a heard of buffalo traversing the land. It’s EXACTLY what I envisioned Africa to be. A land that is wild and free, and more radiating than anything I had ever seen.
If you do ONE activity in Victoria Falls, please make it the MicroLight Flight!!
2. Flying fox
(I like to call it Superman) since you’re strapped in face down and your arms and legs are free to soar through the air. When I got to the platform, the guide said nonchalantly, “just run and jump off”. WHAT?! Had I known about this before I might have chickened out. But once you’re up there it’s too late and you’re too deep in it to back down.
He counted down from 5 and away I went! I catapulted into the air and over the canyon gorge. For someone afraid of heights, my heart was racing but the adrenaline kicked in and I relaxed slightly for the ride. Once you’re done, they let you sit there for a minute and you have time to take in exactly where you are. Dangling over a 100 meter drop, no worries, right? It was quick, but incredible! (TWSS?) 🙂
3. Gorge Swing
The gorge swing is similar to a bungee jump but there is no buoyancy in the rope so you basically swing back and forth. I don’t ever like to recommend something I didn’t experience personally, but I was with my travel partner Carebear Abroad who did it simultaneously as I was doing the Flying fox and she highly recommends it! I remember seeing her face when she came back and she could barely speak she was so hyped on adrenaline. She even told me it might even be scarier than bungee jumping! I think her face in the photo below explains everything, haha.
The Devil’s pool is a little pool directly on top of the falls where you can swim and sit on the ledge of the actual falls. Think infinity pool…with a 355 foot drop. No big deal!
There is nowhere else in the world like it and it’s something you don’t want to miss. In fact, this was our main reason for visiting Victoria Falls! It was I-N-S-A-N-E! I have no idea how we didn’t fall off the ledge, it was unbelievable!
The Devil’s Pool must be reserved days in advance. We had no idea and were told it was fully booked the 2 days we were there. We were super bummed until we were told there were spots at 7:30am with Tongabezi Tours on the day of our departure. Our flight was not until 1pm so we jumped on the opportunity. Plunging into that frigid water that early in the morning definitely woke us up! It was a kick of energy we definitely needed as exhaustion was kicking in at this point. Who needs coffee after that?
We arrived to the airport with wet hair and probably didn’t smell the best after being in that water. But what we took with us are memories that will last a lifetime. Worth it 100%!!!
The staff is awesome and were doing backflips into the little pool on top of the falls. A little crazy if you ask me, but they seemed to have a lot of experience with it! They were also great with taking lots of pictures for us with our phones and keeping them nice and dry. They gave us a mini photo shoot up there and we were eating it up!
An added bonus was the luxurious breakfast we were served. I wasn’t expecting that given that we were on a tiny island with nothing around. On the menu was eggs benedict, coffee, biscuits, and scones.
The tour is pricy at $90 but don’t let that deter you. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat if I could! Yes, it’s completely worth the $90 if you’re wondering.
Note: only do this activity if you can swim against a moderate current. To get to the pool, you must walk across slippery rocks and swim through deep parts of the falls against a moderate current. Water shoes with traction would have been helpful as well. Do people still wear those?
So…Should You Visit Victoria Falls?
If you’re even thinking about going to Victoria Falls and wondering if it’s worth it, let me tell you that it completely blew me away and quite frankly I think it’s underrated AF. My only regret is not spending an extra day there.
I recently spent some time in Queenstown, New Zealand, the “adventure capital of the world”, and honestly Victoria Falls gives it a run for the money when it comes to unique adventure activities on offer.
If Victoria Falls wasn’t on your radar before, hopefully I have convinced you to check it out! Stay tuned for another post soon detailing all you need to know about traveling to Victoria Falls.
Have you been to Victoria Falls? What was your Favorite Activity? Do Tell!
Note: Carey and I were guests of Livingstone’s Adventure/Bakota Sky for our MicroLight Flight. My opinions, however, remain my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and was completely life-changing. I would highly recommend this company! All other activities mentioned were paid for in full on our own. ♥
Skopelos is known as the green island, and as soon as you pull into the port, you can clearly see why. The island is made up of 45% trees and vegetation and provides a gorgeous background to all the spectacular beaches. Although most people may not have ever heard of Skopelos, it made its introduction to the world as the filming site of the infamous Mamma Mia musical starring Meryl Streep.
Where is Skopelos?
Skopelos is the largest of the Sporades archipelago group, located in the Northeast of Greece. Now you know. 🙂
How to get to Skopelos
Skopelos can be reached by ferry from the mainland ports of Volos and Aghios Konstantinos. Another option is to fly into Skiathos, anothernearby island in the Sporades, and take the one hour ferry ride over. I usually book Greek ferries online with Hellenic Seaways.
Spyrou hotel group-a luxury hotel group that has 4 lovely hotels on the island. I stayed in Skopelos Holiday Hotel & Spa and it had a panoramic view over the port of Skopeos and the surrounding mountains. The staff treats you like royalty and are very attentive to your needs. The hotel has a pool, jacuzzi, and spa as well as on-site restaurant and pool bar. The room I was staying in was overlooking the pool with a spectacular view of the town in the backdrop. It’s about a 25 minute walk to town and they can arrange a ferry pick up and drop of at your request.
I was impressed with the service and treatment at this hotel. I felt like a queen during my short stay! I was also there during shoulder season so I basically had the whole hotel to myself. I think I got extra attention for this fact…something I definitely wasn’t complaining about.
Blue Green Bay-I spent quite a lot of time here lounging and enjoying the most beautiful bay known as Panormos (aka Blue Green Bay). The hotel is on Panormos beach with private loungers and beds. It’s very relaxing and tranquil. It has a pool and beach bar both overlooking the beach.
This is the place to stay when you want somewhere a little more luxurious and private. The tiny little village of Panormos has a few restaurants, shops, and tour agencies close by. It’s secluded, yet close to some amenities if you desire. It’s also closer to some of the best beaches on the island, namely Kastrani and Milia.
What to Do in Skopelos
Skopelos Town-Skopelos town is located along the waterside and is a lot less commercialised than most Greek island towns. For that reason, you can really appreciate the traditional housing throughout the maze like town. Skopelos town has many many stairs, so if you don’t mind the walk, take a stroll to the top and admire the views.
There are 3 main churches in the town worth a visit, my favourite being the Church of Panagitsa tou Pyrgou, pictured below. The pure white structure with the turquoise sea in the background is as picturesque as they come.
I had a mini tour arranged by a lady named Daphne and she was wonderful! She has her very own blog about the island called Skopelos News and she also does private tours around the island, so check her out if you’re in town.
She revealed so much of the history of the island and gave me some interesting facts while navigating through the cute little streets. And who doesn’t like a private tour guide, right? :). The most interesting fact I learned about Skopelos? It has 365 churches, one for every day of the year!
Panormos Beach (aka Blue Green Bay)-as you drive to this beach and come around the corner, you get a sneak peak from above and it is absolutely breathtaking. You can really see the changing colours from deep blue, to turquoise, to emerald green closer to the shore. It’s SPECTACULAR. If you only go to one beach on the island, make it this one!
I went back twice because I loved it so much. It’s very peaceful and beautiful. There are a few little restaurants on the beach, as well as sun beds for use.
No edits on this pic, look at the water changing colors..
Kastrani-this is the main beach used in many scenes of the movie Mamma Mia. This might be the most turquoise waters I have ever seen. It looks as if a turquoise colored highlighter had been broken and leaked into the sea. The white stone and towering trees in the backdrop only add to the beauty of this beach. This is the most popular beach on the island, so in summer, expect a crowd. There is a cute restaurant bar on the beach as well.
Is this not paradise? ♥
Milia-this beach is just on the other side of Kastrani and a little more rugged with white sand. This beach may be a little more quiet than Kastrani if you’re looking for a little R&R. There is also a little restaurant near the beach if you get hungry/hangry.
Glossa– a cute little town perched on the top of a hill with amazing views over the sea. It’s a little more traditional than Skopelos town and is another great place to base yourself when visiting the island.
St. John Church (Agios Ioannis)-this church is where the marriage took place in Mamma Mia. It’s located about 100 meters above the sea on a high rock jutting out over the water. Even if you’re not a fan of themovie, you must go up to the top. The panoramic views over the Aegean Sea are freaking awesome! It takes less than 10 minutes to get to the top and is 100% worth it. Do it!
View from the top…
SUP (stand up paddle board)-I decided I wanted my first SUP experience to be in Greece and I am so glad it was! I had an awesome Irish instructor named Shane and he gave me a one hour one-on-one lesson before we embarked on a sunset tour. We started in Elios beach and paddled north along the coast for a good 3 hours, stopping at a private little beach for some fresh melons and a snack.
The best part about my tour was the puppy that followed us along the shoreline the entire time, jumping over rocks and climbing on narrow ledges to keep up with us. On the way back, the little puppy got stuck on a rock and Shane took him onto his paddle board for the last hour to bring him safely back to where we started. My first SUP experience was extremely memorable to say the least and I highly recommend it!
Shane’s company is called Sporades SUP if you’re interested!
Kayaking-I absolutely love kayaking, especially when I’m in a gorgeous place. It’s such a good workout and allows you to see the coast from a different perspective. On our tour, we even saw a rare monk seal taking a nap on the shore. The tour company Kayaking Greece is run by an English husband-wife team and they were awesome and energetic!
The tour started at Elios beach and went south along the coast, all the way down to Kastrani beach. The scenery along the way was gorgeous and I didn’t want it to end. If you go to Skopelos, you MUST try the kayaking!
Skopelos in a nutshell
Skopelos is for nature lovers, it’s more laid back and quiet than most Greek islands, and there are plenty of water activities to choose from. It’s gorgeous, pristine, and shouldn’t be overlooked as it has so much to offer! It’s a wonderful place to get away from it all!
Note: I was a guest of Spyrou Hotels on this press trip. However, my opinions remain my own and I am in no way obligated to write a positive review. I only recommend places I truly enjoy! ♥
Have You Been to Skopelos? What Was Your Favorite Part about the Island? Do Tell!
I am thoroughly convinced that Metoera is from an entirely different planet. How can it not be? If you have never heard of Meteora, don’t feel bad. You’re probably not the only one. There are so many amazing islands in Greece that a city far from the coast could easily be overlooked.
Metoera is located in the northwest of Greece. It’s not the typical Greek destination that one would think of visiting, but I’m telling you now that you should add Meteora to the top of your travel wish list! 100%.
So why visit Meteora? I’m glad you asked…♥
Meteroa means “suspended in the sky“, and as soon as you arrive by train, your jaw will drop as you quickly understand why.
Is this place even real? Have I landed on Mars? Have I gone back in time? All questions I asked myself. And I’m sure you will too.
Meteora is unreal. How on earth is it possible that so many people have never heard of it? Who knows, but I was one of them until last year. One single picture inspired my urge to visit. That’s all it took. BAM.
Oh, and did I mention that Meteora was featured in Game of Thrones season 2? Meteora served as the backdrop to the sky cell that Tyrion was thrown into when he was held as a prisoner in the Eyrie. Since the area is protected, the cast didn’t actually film there, but a team was sent over to get footage, which they digitally integrated into the episodes. TV magic.
Why Visit Meteora?
The Story of Meteora
Meteora is composed of several monasteries perched upon narrow rock pillars, some hovering 1,800 feet (550 metres) above the ground.
Dating back to the 11th century, the monks built these monasteries on the pillars to ensure total seclusion to the outside world. They required a place where they could concentrate on God and not be tempted my life’s evils. Well, I think they #nailedit.
Astonishingly, there were no staircases until the 1920s so monks could control who goes in and out. The staircases were finally built to ensure the safety of the monks, as many had died climbing back up to the monasteries.
Today, there are only 6 active monasteries, 4 with monks and 2 nunneries, most of which are open to the public.
What to do in Meteora?
Besides pinching yourself several times throughout the day to make sure this place is real life, here’s what I suggest you do in Meteora:
1. Learn the History
You don’t have to be a history buff. Heck, you don’t even need to like history. But I guarantee, the history of Metoera will surely grab your attention and impress you!
Please don’t go to Meteora just to take pictures. While I agree that it is a photographer’s absolute dream, it’s so much more!
Study up on the fascinating history beforehand, or book a tour and let the locals’ passion and pride about their city shine through.
Some interesting tidbits about Meteora history:
Meteora became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1988 (for art & nature).
Why do the pillars have the shape they do today? Well, since I find it difficult to explain in my own words, here is a great explanation taken from Greeka.com:
“Scientists believe that these pillars were formated about 60 millions years ago, during the Tertiary Period. That time, the area was covered by sea but a series of earth movements caused the seabed to withdraw. The mountains left were continuously hit by strong winds and waves, which, in combination with extreme weather conditions, affected their shape. This is why the pillars are composed of sandstone and conglomerate”. Source: www.greeka.com
Hermit Caves were caves built into the rock where monks were sent for punishment (called “prison of the monks”).
Monks used wooden ladders and pulleys to reach the monasteries.
Monks were pioneers of rock climbing in the 14th century.
For the Varlam Monastery: it took 22 years to bring up all the supplies, and only 20 days to construct it. WOW!
There are not many active monks today, due to mass tourism.
2. Book a Tour
While I would almost always explore a new destination on my own, there is a time and a place for tours. And this is one of those times, trust me.
A tour will put everything into context and learning about it as you’re seeing it with your own 2 eyes is the best way to learn history (at least for me it is!).
Would you rather read about it in a book…or step on the soil where life changing events actually happened? I choose the latter, and I hope you would too!
3. Go Crazy with Pictures/Selfies/Videos.
You won’t see anything else in the world quite like Meteora, trust me. And you Don’t have to feel awkward taking a million selfie…everyone will be doing it too! Make the memories last!
Meteora from the ground up..
I always seem to find the kitties everywhere I go ♥
How incredible is this view? I mean, seriously.
Recommended Tours in Meteora
Meteora Sunset Tour
This was my favorite tour I took in Meteora. I’m a sucker for sunsets, what can I say.
The sunset tour lasted a good 4 hours. They pick you up at your hotel a few hours before sunset and take you to a few great panoramic spots. Also included on this tour is a visit to the beautiful Agios Stefanos Monastery and Byzantine church of Virgin Mary.
For the sunset, your guide will take you to a few nice spots to snap some pics. The final sunset spot is on a humongous bolder with a panoramic view overlooking the area. This is the best view of Metoera and you get to see it as the sun gently kisses the landscape. It’s simply breathtaking. It’s one of those moments you will never forget. Truly incredible!
Meteora Hiking Tour
I would only recommend this tour of you’re in good shape. It’s not extremely difficult, but it’s also not easy. I’m a gym rat and like to stay in shape, even when I’m on the road. But even I was struggling with fatigue by the end.
Seeing Meteora from the bottom up was better than I ever imagined. By bottom up I mean you start from the bottom overwhelmed by the towering pillars above you, and you slowly make your way to the top.
Your guide will take you on secret paths and several different lookout spots, so make sure you pack your camera. You will see so many things on this tour that you couldn’t see anyway else beside by foot, so make sure not to miss it!
Note: there is a lot of descending the mountains, so I don’t recommend this if you have any knee problems of shin splints. Also, if you have hiking shoes, I would definitely bring those over tennis shoes. My tennis shoes didn’t have the best ankle support and I was definitely feeling a little strain towards the end.
Meteora Half Day Tour
This tour is a great introduction to Meteora and it covers so much ground. Besides learning ample history and visiting 3 main monasteries, one of the highlights of this tour is a visit to Theopetra’s Prehistoric Caves. Theopatra’s Cave was excavated only in 1987! The deepest level of the cave shows evidence that humans were present 130,000 years ago. It was fascinating to see the digging sites and learn about the history here. Entrance was an additional 4€ (not included in tour price).
The tours offered by Visit Meteora are run by locals to the area, and 2 of the guides were brothers. They were both awesome and so knowledgeable and passionate about their city! All the guides were super professional, courteous, interactive, and had great energy. You guys rocked! Pun…..intended?
Overall, the tours were awesome and I would recommend each one that I did.
How Long Should I Spend in Meteora?
I originally had plans to take a day trip from Athens and come back the same day and I’m so glad I didn’t.
An entire weekend is the perfect amount of time to experience what Metoera really has to offer and I would discourage a quick trip there. You would miss out on so much and there really isn’t enough time to see everything in just one day.
How to Get to Meteora
There is no transport to Meteora actually. But there is transport to the town below called Kalambaka, which is where most tourists stay.
Take a train or bus from either Athens or Thessaloniki. I took the 3-hour train journey from Thessaloniki and it went super smooth.
The train from Athens takes 5 hours. Visit Meteora has a nice timetable organized to help you with your trip. To look up transport and timetables to Meteora, check here.
However, on the way back there was a strike (common in Greece), so I had to catch a bus instead. Annoying, but it all worked out in the end.
Things to Note:
The entrance fee for the monasteries is a few euros so make sure to bring coins with you. They don’t accept credit cards.
Some monasteries are closed on certain days, so be sure to check beforehand.
Meteora is out of this world and it is such a special and different place to visit. It’s one of the most unique destinations you will ever see and I was constantly in disbelief that a place like this could exist. It’s beautiful, it’s touching, it has a fascinating history, and you will come home having some of your best travel photographs ever. I promise you.
Disclaimer: I was invited to Meteora, Greece by Visit Meteora tourism board. My thoughts and opinions, however, remain my own. I don’t bullsh*t and would never recommend a destination or tour I didn’t love!♥
Have I convinced you to visit Metoera yet? Have you already been? What did you think? Do tell!
It seems a popular new trend in traveling is shifting toward sustainable tourism.Think traveling with the least amount of harm to the environment as possible. When I found these cozy little luxury huts at L’essenza Sardinia I couldn’t have been more excited to experience it for myself! I’m jumping right on the bandwagon and I hope to find more ecofriendly accommodations in the future.
L’essenza’s key focus is on sustainability and responsible tourism. The ecofriendly property consists of 4 luxury huts, or pinnetos (traditional hut of ancient Sardinian shepherds), each having their own unique color therapy and aromatherapy to stimulate the senses. I had the pleasure of staying in the yellow room which was characterized by the oils of the yellow plant Helichrysum, an anti-inflammatory and fungicidal. The aroma inside the hut was both soothing and calming.
L’essenza Sardinia is located on a hilltop in a secluded setting in the Northeast of Sardinia island. After spending a week on the island, I can confirm that this location was the most ideal and central to all the places I visited. If you really want to “get away from it all”, this is a perfect place to do just that! The property is completely surrounded by nature in a quiet setting, overlooking farmlands, lush olive trees, and the Mediterranean Sea. And I mean, have you ever seen an outdoor living room like this? So cool!
Note: you WILL need a car while staying at this property. In fact, you really need a car to explore the island, as public transportation is highly lacking, especially in the off season.
Luxury Hut Rooms
The unique pinnetos were anything but basic inside. Marina, the owner, designed each room herself each with a special attention to fine detail. The rooms were equipped with (reliable) wifi, an en suite bathroom/shower, queen size bed, desk, clothes rack, and candles to enhance the ambiance in the evenings. The ceilings are finely crafted out of bamboo and give you that sort of outdoor log cabin type feel. The rooms are quite large with lots of space, yet they still retain a nice warmth and cozy aspect to them.
Each morning started out with some fresh made local herbal tea which I drank overlooking the gorgeous panoramic landscape. Both the owner and her daughter are vegans themselves and always had plenty vegan as well as gluten free options for breakfast. I devoured daily vegan butter,vegan cream cheese, homemade jams with toast, home grown fruits and veggies, gluten free pastries, and cereal. Although there were no hot plates such as eggs/bacon offered, there was plenty of variety and I always left feeling stuffed. It was the prefect typical Italian breakfast.
Found this little guy sunbathing outside my window 🙂
If you know me at all, you will know that I am obsessed with cats. Ok, obsessed is an understatement, I am just crazy about them! When I found out that there were around 20 cats living around the property, I was so ecstatic! Luckily for me, one of the cats had kittens on the first morning I was there, and I almost died at the cuteness of newborn tiny kittens. This was the perfect place for a crazy cat lady like me. No shame.
Note: the cats are outdoors and they are NOT allowed inside. So if you are allergic to cats, have no fear, there is no cat hair or dander inside whatsoever. And if you don’t like cats (first off, we can’t be friends), they wont bother you and mostly keep to themselves unless they are summoned to play.
You Will Be Welcomed Into the Family
I may mention this in every review I’ve done so far, but you know what, the PEOPLE are what really makes the experience. PERIOD. I can say it a thousand times. Valeria, the daughter of the owner Marina, helped me plan my trip months in advance and went out of her way to help me with my plans, including renting a car on the island….a dreaded task in Italy.
The family was so nurturing and hospitable and loved to joke around. I was constantly smiling and laughing with them and I felt instantly at home. I felt like I was visiting as a friend, not as a guest. A++ for hospitality!
The Verdict: L’essenza Sardinia
My stay at L’essenza Sardinia was hands-down one of the most unique accommodations I have ever stayed at and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants something different than your average hotel or Airbnb stay! The setting, the focus on responsible tourism, the cozy/colorful rooms, the hospitality, and of course the kitties. It was all just perfect. And NO, I am NOT obligated to write a positive review by any means. I want future guests to have an honest opinion of my stay and know what to expect. The one negative I will mention is that the road up to the huts was not paved and extremely rocky (and steep in some areas), so just be careful if you’re renting a car that’s low to the ground. I was a little worried I would scratch my car, but it ended up being okay. Also, I had an issue with the hot water, until I was told of the “trick”. You must open the sink and let the hot water run before you turn on the shower water to “open” the hot water pipe. Overall, a unique place with a special attention to details that will leave a lasting impression!
♥A special thanks to L’essenza Sardinia for hosting me during my stay. All opinions, however, are my own. I don’t bullsh*t and would never recommend somewhere I didn’t truly enjoy!♥
Have you ever stayed in a luxury hut? Better yet, have you ever stayed in an ecofriendly property? Please let me know as I would love to add more to my list! 🙂