Mount Athos, known in Greece as the Holy Mountain (Agion Oros), is a peninsula in Halkidiki, north Greece containing 20 monasteries. Although the peninsula of Mount Athos is part of Greece, it enjoys certain autonomy. The region is governed by the “Holy community” under the ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Only men are permitted to enter Mount Athos. The rule, known as the “AVATON”, forbids access to Mount Athos by any female and is enforced by law. In accordance with the procedures established by the Holy Community foreigners must obtain a written permit to visit Mount Athos from the “Mount Athos Office”(Pilgrims Office).
Pilgrims who arrange their reservations by phone should mail (not fax) a copy of their passport to the office, and call two weeks before the date of the visit to confirm the reservation.
The Mount Athos Office is open: from Monday to Saturday from 9:00a.m. to 01:00p.m. The address is: 109 Str. Av. Egnatias – 54622 Thessalonica Greece. Tel.:0030-2310-252578 and fax: 0030-2310-222424.
Generally, the office issues only 10 permits per day for non-orthodox pilgrims (foreigners) and 100 for Greeks and orthodox pilgrims. Because of the small number of permits our advice is to contact the office well in advance. These permits are valid for a 4day permit. Can be sought from the Mount Athos authorities in Karyes (Ιερά Επιστασία). Permits are issued to adult male pilgrims over the age of 18. Young males under 18 are permitted if they are accompanied by their father. Young men who are accompanied by an adult group leader visiting Mount Athos for educational reasons need the written consent of their parents, verified by an official authority of their country. Pilgrims can go to Ouranoupolis by car or by bus. It is about 120km from the airport of Thessalonica. Our visit advice to the visitors to carry a rucksack. When pilgrims arrive in Ouranoupolis, the port where ferryboat depart to Mount Athos, must go to the “Mount Athos office for pilgrims” and take the “diamonitirion” (visitors permit). The pilgrims’ office is open every day including Saturdays and Sundays from 08:00a.p. This permit is required upon boarding the ferryboat and also when pilgrims arrive at the monasteries. It costs 35,00€ for the non-orthodox, 25,00€ for the orthodoxs and 18,00€ for the students.
The ferryboat leaves at 09:45a.p. From Ouranoupolis (see time table). We recommend to pilgrims to arrive in Ouranoupolis one day earlier if it possible. This ferryboat arrives in Mount Athos port of Dafni around 12:00. From Dafni you can take the bus to Karyes the capital of Mount Athos and from there to other monasteries. Pilgrims can move to Mount Athos mini busses (mini bus tel.: 0030-23770-23266 and fax: 0030-23770-23879)
But the best way is in foot. Because you have the possibility to meet and communicate with “askites” (hermits), walk into unique forest, visit fantastic where there is no car road but only paths. Pilgrims can also walk until Mount Athos Top and visit the little church of “Metamorphosis tou Sotiros”, 2033m high.
There is also an other ferryboat that departs from Ouranoupolis port at 06:30 (ex Sat/Sun-see timetable) F.B. “Agia Anna”. In this case the pilgrims must notify to Pilgrims Office before the arrival and obviously if they want to travel with the F.B. “Agia Anna”. It is better to spend the previous night to Ouranoupolis. Pilgrims can also use the ferryboat “Agia Anna” during their visit to Mount Athos from the port of Dafni (see timetable)
With F.B. “Agia Anna” pilgrims can visit the monasteries and the skites of the south west part of Mount Athos (M. Simonos Petra, M. Grigoriou, M. Dionysius, M. Agiou Paulou, and skiti Agias Annas).
The monasteries do not charge for their hospitality, however donations are accepted. Most of the monasteries and skites require that pilgrims call in advance to reserve a bet. Also visitors who have been issued an “idiko diamonitirio” (invitation from a monastery) they must stay only at the monastery that made the invitation
Pilgrims to Mount Athos should be decently dressed (no shorts pants). Several penalties are enforced against anyone who attempt to remove religious items from Mount Athos. The entrance of video cameras on Mount Athos is strictly forbidden. As pilgrims leave Mount Athos all the video tapes found at the customs office will be distrain. Hunting dogs and guns are not permitted upon entrance