8. From Athens: Delphi and Meteora 2-Day Guided Tour
This 2-day tour takes you to the ancient city of Delphi and across the scenic Plain of Thessaly to Kalambaka. This picturesque small town is located at the foot of Meteora, the site of one of the most important groups of Greek Orthodox monasteries.
You’ll start the day with a relaxing drive through the beautiful Greek countryside, passing by the cities of Thebes, Levadia, and Arachova, before arriving in Delphi at around noon.
At Delphi, you’ll have the opportunity to visit this important site that appears in Greek mythology. In ancient times, Delphi was considered to be the center of the universe and was guarded by a python dragon that was killed by Apollo.
You’ll see the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, which was built in the 4th century B.C. and was destroyed by Emperor Theodosius I in 390 A.D. It was also here that the priestess Pythia would foretell the future from the famous Oracle of Delphi.
Visit the theater that seated 5,000 spectators and hosted plays, poetry readings, and festivals. At the nearby stadium, the Pythian Games were held every 4 years. Athletes from all over the Greek world would come to compete, and these games would become predecessor to the modern Olympics.
At the end of the day you’ll drive to Kalambaka, a lovely city with beautiful gardens and magnificent views of the Meteora rocks. Overnight in Kalambaka.
In the morning, you’ll head to Meteora for a tour of the fascinating cliff-top monasteries.
The cliffs, which average a height of 1,000 feet, were first inhabited in the 9th century by a group of hermit monks who lived on the rock towers. In the 11th and 12th centuries, basic monasteries were built and by the 14th century the great monastery of Meteoron was constructed. The difficult access gave the monks an ideal refuge, as well as protection during the Turkish occupation.
Today 6 monasteries remain out of the original 20. Views of the entire valley from the magnificent rock towers, and the peace of the surroundings, make this a unique place to visit.
On the way back to Athens you’ll make a short stop at the monument to Leonidas, the King of Sparta who died in 480 B.C. at the famous Battle of Thermopylae.