A Guide to Staying in Convent and Monastery Guesthouses in Greece

Combine the sacred and the secular on your trip to Greece.

Greece has many monasteries and convents, with most of them occupying historic buildings in exquisite locations. While only a few of them offer overnight accommodations for guests in xenones, a night spent this way is worth seeking out to add an entirely new dimension to your trip to Greece.

Things to Know

  • While some monasteries and convents accept visitors of all faiths, many will require that the guest is Greek Orthodox and may request a letter from a priest in your home country. The monasteries of Mount Athos accept only men and require an application be submitted well in advance, but they do allow a certain number of places for non-Orthodox visitors. But even the non-Orthodox may find that connecting with a Greek Orthodox priest at a local church back home and getting a letter of recommendation may make staying in a monastery in Greece much easier.
  • August is both a vacation month for urban Greeks and the celebration of Mary; monastery accommodations are limited at best, but it will be even harder to secure a spot in August, around Pentecost, or at Easter.
  • Some may have gender restrictions.
  • Families with children may or may not be welcomed.
  • Curfews may be strict—so strict as to be unbreakable. This is one time when lateness may have a direct price—you may need to scramble to find another place to stay the night without your safely cloistered luggage.
  • Accommodations are usually limited to a night or two, depending on the monastery.
  • There is generally no specific fee for staying overnight, but donations are welcomed and a typical amount may be mentioned in an inquiry.
01 of 09

Agios Nektarios, Kontos, Aegina

Agios Nektarios Monastery

Scott McLeod / Flickr / ​CC BY 2.0

This thriving convent offers limited accommodations for overnight guests. Booking is done via fax or telephone, with fax preferred. Foreign guests can stay for two nights; most pilgrims are limited to a single night at this monastery dedicated to a native saint of Greece, Agios Nektarios.

02 of 09

Mount Athos, Greece

The Holy Mount Athos

The Eastern Orthodox / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

 

The monasteries of Mount Athos accept male visitors for overnight stays but this must be arranged in advance and are mainly intended for Greek Orthodox pilgrims visiting all of the monasteries on the peninsula, but many non-Orthodox men also visit. England's Prince Charles is a repeat visitor—though he has a familial royal connection with Greece via his father, Prince Philip.

03 of 09

Other Resources: Pilgrimage as a Lifestyle

Lake Kerkini

Giannis Papanikos / Getty Images

Subtitled "A Contemporary Greek Nunnery as a Pilgrimage Site," this academic dissertation by Mari-Johanna Rahkala, M.Th. of the University of Helsinki offers a detailed look at the modern practices of pilgrimage. While her experiences took place at a specific convent in Northern Greece, to spare the nuns unwanted publicity, she has renamed it in her study. The dissertation is free to download and makes for interesting reading.

04 of 09

Fanermomeni Convent, near Salamina, Salamis

Convent of Faneromeni

Courtesy of Visit Greece

 

This active convent has a few guest rooms for visitors. The island of Salamina is neglected by tourists and is an active, working island in the Saronic Gulf. You will find shipyards and other industries, but it also has areas of great natural beauty. The convent complex is located near the sea in a pastoral area. The island and the monastery both vigorously celebrate a long festival in August.

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

Monasteries of Greece Website

Prodromos monastery in Arcadia prefecture in Peloponnese, Greece
Charalambos Andronos / Getty Images

This extensive site has information on the monastic establishments of Greece, along with articles on monastic practices and contact information for most of the monasteries. In twelve languages (choose your flag) but not all pages are translated, and you may need to copy and paste into Google translate or another automated translation service to get the information you need.

06 of 09

Ecclesia: Churches of Greece

The Byzantine Church of Panagia Chalkeon, 1028 AD, Thessaloniki, Greece

Athanasios Gioumpasis / Getty Images News / Getty Images

This website has extensive information on the churches of Greece, aimed at the Greek-speaking and Greek-reading population. This site is now available in English.

07 of 09

Monastery of the Holy Agathon, Oiti

View of Spercheiada Valley from Agathonos Monastery

Georgios Liakopoulos / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY SA 3.0

 

This monastery in the Oiti area of Fthiotida provides some guest accommodations. Oiti is sometimes spelled Iti.

08 of 09

Leimonas Monastery, Lesbos (Lesvos)

Leimonas Monastery

Steve Outram / Getty Images

Situated in a meadow (leimonas), this beautiful and peaceful spot is well worth visiting for a day, but it also offers some overnight accommodations for pilgrims. Call in advance.

Women are not permitted in the main church but can tour the ecclesiastical museum and the rest of the complex.

Here is more on monasteries and churches on Lesbos.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Monastery of Agiou Raphael, Lesbos

Monastery of Agiou Raphael

Courtesy of Monastery of Agiou Raphael

 

This monastery complex on the Greek island of Lesbos also offers overnight stays to pilgrims.

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