How to reach Agion Oros
Only men are allowed to visit Agion Oros, according to the Protocol of the monastic state. A few days before their visit, visitors have to phone Agion Oros offices at Thessaloniki (phone- number: 031 943 181) in order to make their booking and receive a code number. This code- number is necessary because the number of visitors is limited to 120 men per day.
Visitors can go by road (by private car or by bus) from Thessaloniki to Ierissos, Nea Roda or Ouranoupolis. The distance is around 140 Kilometres. These towns cater for tourists which means that there are all kinds of shops, hotels and parking spaces for cars. (In Agion Oros the only cars allowed are the cars of the monasteries and the workers that offer their services there). For this reason, the visitors must leave their cars in the city.
The visitors, before their visit to Agion Oros will have to take their "Diamonitiria" (permit to reside) from the offices of Agion Oros, at Ouranoupolis (on the right side of the port). The visitors will have to be there, at least one hour before departure. In order to get "diamonitirio" visitors must show their identity cards and pay the sum of 3000 Drs. Foreign visitors also need:
A Letter of recommendation from their embassy in Athens or their consulate in Thessaloniki.
A Permit of entry to Agion Oros from the Greek Foreign Ministry in Athens (Administration Division of Church Affairs) or from the Ministry of Northern Greece in Thessaloniki (Administration of Foreign Affairs)
On the "diamonitirion" are written the identity elements of the visitor, his code number, the date and the number of days (duration of stay). This duration is usually four days, though in case the visitor wishes to stay longer, he can ask for a extension from the Holy Supervision at Karyes.
From Ierissos the visitors can take the boat to the western side of Agion Oros. From there, they can visit the monasteries: Hiliandarion, Esfigmenos, Vatopedion, Pantokrator, Stavronikitas, Ivira, Megisti Lavra. To visit the other monasteries they will have to go to the Monastery of Ivira (3 hours by boat) from there to Karyes (1/2 hour by bus) and from there to the monasteries they wish. This itinerary from Ierissos takes place only in the summer.
From Ouranoupolis, there is another boat that sails to the eastern side and stops over at the monasteries of: Dohiarion, Xenofon, Panteleimon, Gregorion, Dionysios, Saint Paul. For the rest of the monasteries, visitors will have to go to the port of Daphne (2 hours by boat) and from there to Karyes (1/2 hour by bus).
The public transport in Agion Oros is not always satisfactory. For that reason, besides boats and buses, visitors can get local taxis to get to their destination. For the most part, visitors should be prepared for long walks.