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Greece is most often characterized by its idyllic beaches and ancient ruins, which are fantastic and not to be missed. However, on my second trip to Greece we stayed with a friend who showed us some awesome places that are slightly further off the beaten path.

One of these places was Meteora, an enchanting, surreal complex of Greek Orthodox monasteries perched high on weathered cliffs formed millennia ago. The monasteries (mostly built between the 13th-15th centuries) were constructed to be inaccessible – especially in the 15th century when Turkish invaders frequented the area.

“Meteora” means “hanging from heaven” in Greek, and the six remaining monasteries are accessible only by hiking up the steep stairs carved into the cliff faces in the 1920s (before that, goods and people were hoisted up hundreds of feet with tenuous ropes).

A small admission fee is charged to non-Greeks, and women must borrow a temporary skirt if wearing shorts or pants. From Athens, take the train to Kalampaka (about half a day) and stay in one of the hotels there.

Visiting all six monasteries can be done in one day, and the views and vibes from each are all different and equally amazing.

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