For years I have been coming through the area of the Meteora, wondering why, in a place so famous for its phenomenal rock formations and historic monasteries, there wasn’t a single attractive small hotel or bed and breakfast. There are plenty of hotels in the town of Kalambaka and around, but nothing with even a hint of charm. And then I found Sotiriou, a wonderful little guesthouse in Kastraki, a village situated right beneath the Meteora. There it was, a guesthouse with heaps of charm! It is an old stone building, dating from 1845, which used to house the local barber shop, grocery store, tailor and butcher. Voula (who was born and raised in the village) and her husband Christos did a great job restoring the it and turning it into a sweet guesthouse with only five bedrooms. They did the interiors in an inviting, traditional style with lots of wood, warm colours, and old-style furniture. A family room on the ground floor has a double bed and bunk beds for two children; a triple room also on the ground floor is suitable for people with special needs. Three more rooms are on floor above – I stayed in one with its a working fireplace. Christos and Voula are wonderful hosts who welcome their guests with drinks and homemade sweets, and treat them to an amazing breakfast. You will feel at home.
The amazing location right under the Meteora, the warm welcome by the owners and the delicious breakfast.
Some of the rooms feel on the small side, mainly due to their traditional low ceilings. But they are cosy!
2 double rooms
1 room with two single beds
1 triple room (with a double and a single bed)
1 room for up to 4 persons (with a double bed and bunk beds for two children)
Prices for two persons from 70 Euro per night, breakfast and taxes included. For a full overview of room rates, please contact Guesthouse Sotiriou.
En-suite bathroom (shower).
One of the rooms has a Jacuzzi bath.
Hair drying upon request
Fireplace (wood provided) in 3 of the rooms
The quadruple room has its own entrance
One of the double rooms is equipped for people with special needs
Breakfast room with fireplace
Guests are free to use the kitchen to prepare small snacks during the day
A great breakfast is served from 8 to 10.30 am (or even later…) on the lower floor of the house or in the garden. You get to taste the freshest eggs, delicious homemade pies, cakes and sweets and other treats. No other meals are served at the guesthouse, but there are quite a few traditional Greek restaurants in the village. The menus revolve around meat but vegetarians do not need to worry: there’s always a good choice of non-meaty starters, fresh seasonal salads and vegetables.
Children are definitely welcome at Guesthouse Sotiriou. Ask for the family room on the ground floor (which has its own entrance) if you want to stay with your children in the same room, but keep in mind that the bunk bed does not have a safety rail. We stayed with at the guesthouse with our children, and had our own double room plus a room with two single beds for the children.
The area is a beautiful destination for family holidays. The rocks and monasteries are fascinating for young and old alike – it feels a bit like visiting fairy-tale land. We took our boys to the 14th century Monastery of the Great Meteoron (not only the oldest of the six that are still in operation, but also the largest and highest) which has a room with the skulls and bones of late monks carefully stacked on shelves. They loved that!
You are also not far from the Pindos Mountains with possibilities for a wide range of outdoor activities your children, if not too young, will probably enjoy (river canoe and kayak, rafting, hiking…), and so will you.
Visit the Meteora
This is probably what you came for in the first place, and if you stay for a few days you can see all six in operation (Great Meteoron, Holy Trinity, St. Nikolaos Anapafsas, St. Stephen’s, Roussanou and Varlaam). Opening days and hours vary, but most open at 9 am and close sometime in the afternoon and close only on one or two weekdays. Access to the monasteries is a lot more easy than it used to be – a car can get you close to most – but you have to be prepared for a bit of walking and climbing steps to get to them, except the St. Stephen Monastery which is the only one with wheelchair access.
Walking and hiking
Combine culture, history and action and visit the monasteries on foot. There are trails and footpaths connection them, and routes start from Kastraki. You can also have a guide take you on a half-day hiking tour over the old monk paths leading you past abandoned monasteries to those you can visit, or sign up for a slightly longer culture/history walking tour, with a picnic on the way.
Go rafting at the Ionas River, a beautiful 8 km route with rapids of 1st and 2nd grade difficulty, perfect also as a family activity, as it is suitable for children from the age of eight. The more adventurous can try rock climbing (you will climb the actual Meteora rocks!) as well as rappel/abseiling, or go on a scramble tour that will take you to one of the tallest rocks of Meteora.
Guesthouse Sotiriou sits at the top of Kastraki, in the oldest part of the village, right beneath some of the Meteora rocks. It is a magical spot. You can walk in just a few minutes to the village centre, but keep in mind that to come back you have to climb a bit.
If you come from Athens, you should count about 3-4 hours for the 345 km drive. The fastest way is via Lamia, Karditsa, Trikala and Kalambaka. Leave the main road to go to the centre of Kalambaka, and then follow signs for Kastraki. Just before you arrive at the village, you will see Hotel Dellas on your left. Turn right just opposite to this hotel, and follow the signs for Guesthouse Petrino. If you drive to Kalambaka from the opposite direction (Ioannina), don’t take the earlier turnoff for Kastraki, as it will be harder to find the guesthouse from there.
My 9-year old daughter and myself stayed for one night in the guesthouse and we loved every moment of it. A hearty welcome by Giagià and Voula, information on the Meteora and on the house, splendid room, breathtaking view of the mountains and a gargantuan breakfast made this stay memorable.
Trudie van O.
We enjoyed our stay at Guesthouse Sotiriou very much. It was peaceful, exceptionally clean and the views from our little balcony were magnificent. The owners were gracious and generous. We were given a bottle of homemade wine upon our arrival as well as some of the spiced figs made by the Paraskevi’s [Voula’s] mother, Avangelia. who lives in the house nearby. We couldn’t have been happier staying there. Their gracious hospitality extended throughout our stay. We were going out for dinner our last night when Evangelia appeared and wanted to offer some more of her spiced figs. We told her that we would have them in the morning as we needed to eat dinner first. This was all done with her speaking Greek and us English, neither one of us understanding the exact words that were shared between us but somehow being able to understand what the other was saying. On our return from dinner and walking around town, 2 hours later, we found Evangelia patiently waiting for our return so she could feed us some of her spiced figs that evening. We were very full but could not turn her wonderful gesture down. I am sure that out of the 5 pounds I gained while in Greece, 3 of them came from Evangelia’s offerings. Also, breakfasts were wonderful with fresh eggs from her chickens. The best eggs I have had in years as well as a wonderful orange and chocolate cake made by the gal who served us breakfast in the morning. Guesthouse Sotiriou was a great pick which we never would have found on our own, as it was set back from the road. We left our last two nights open as we weren’t sure about driving distances and did not want to be locked into an accommodation that we were sure if we could reach before getting too tired. We were glad we did not stay in Ioannina, as we did not feel like being in a big city, after the peacefulness of being in the countryside. We wish we could have spent a night at Metsovo, as it was lovely but we had too much distance to cover so we traveled on to Mododenri, to see the Vikos Gorge. It was a long drive that day, too long. But we had a restful night and made the drive to Arachova the next night. Toured Delphi in the morning, which was excellent, and then chose to drive the mountain range and small farming villages back to the Athens airport, instead of driving on the National Highway. We were so glad that we chose to do this as it was a peaceful drive and we saw the diverse countryside of the region. There were a couple of times we could not tell which direction to go as we drove through one of the small villages, but someone was always eager and willing to point us in the right direction. I have to say that the Greek people are the friendliest and most helpful we have found in all of our travels throughout Europe. They could not have been nicer.
Palo Alto, USA