Only adult men and young males accompanied by their fathers, regardless of nationality, ethnicity and religious beliefs, are permitted to enter Mount Athos. This rule, which is known as the "Avaton", forbids access to Mount Athos to any female and this is enforced by the law. Moreover, young men who are accompanied by a guardian or adult group leader visiting Mount Athos for an educational purpose need the written consent of their parents, verified by an official authority of their country.The most suitable period for visiting Mount Athos is from 15th March to 15th June and from 1st September to 31st November.
Following the procedures established by the Greek Government, all pilgrims wishing to visit Mount Athos must obtain a written visitation permit ("Diamonitirion" ) from the "HOLY EXECUTIVE OF THE HOLY MOUNT ATHOS - PILGRIMS' BUREAU", located in Thessaloniki. This permit ("Diamonitirion" ), which allows the visitor-pilgrim to visit and stay in the monasteries of his choice, is valid for four calendar days (three overnights) on specific dates and it's strictly personal.
In general, the "HOLY EXECUTIVE OF THE HOLY MOUNT ATHOS-PILGRIMS' BUREAU" issues only 14 permits per day for non-orthodox visitors (foreigners of other religious affiliations) and 120 for Greeks and Orthodox Christian visitors. These limits do not include persons that have explicit invitations from the monasteries. Due to the above limitations, pilgrims wishing to visit Mount Athos should make a reservation in time by phone (+30 2310252578, +30 2310252575), fax (+30 2310222424) or e-mail ([email protected]). Τhe reservation must be made up to three months before the desired date of entry for domestic visitors regardless of their religious beliefs and up to six months in advance for foreigner visitors (orthodox or not). For the reservation to be made, the desired date of entry into Mount Athos and full details of the passport will be requested. The office in Thessaloniki is open from Monday through Friday (9:00 - 14:00) and Saturday (10:00 - 12:00). It is closed on Sundays and on official holidays.
Once visitors have received permission to enter Mount Athos, they should contact the Holy Monasteries or Sketes they wish to visit in order to arrange their accommodation at them. Contact details of the Holy Monasteries can be found below. The Holy Monasteries do not charge for their hospitality, but donations are accepted.
The visitation permit ("Diamonitirion" ) is received from the «Pilgrims' Office » at Ouranoupolis, Chalkidiki, on the departure day to Mount Athos. Personal appearance and passport or ID are required to obtain this permit. The office at Ouranoupolis (Tel.: +30 2377071421-2) is open from Monday through Friday from 05:30 – 13:00, Saturday from 06:00 - 13:00 and Sunday from 08:00 - 13:00. Visitors should be there at least 1 hour before leaving to Mount Athos (no later than 09:00).
At this time, the cost for the written permit ("Diamonitirion" ) is 25 euros for Orthodox visitors and 30 euros for non-Orthodox visitors. Students who can prove their student status through a school ID pay only 10 euros. For large families (four children and above) the cost is zero. Payment is made when the pilgrim goes to receive the written entry permit.
Access to Mount Athos from Ouranoupolis is possible daily only by ferry boat, speed boat or sea taxi. The first ferryboat departs from Ouranoupolis to Daphne at 06:30 a.m (Monday - Friday), at 07:00 a.m on Saturday and at 10:30 a.m on Sunday and the trip takes about 2 hours. From Daphne with the bus line you can go to Karyes in about half an hour.
For the pilgrims to be served better in the sea transport, it is advisable to reserve seats on the various ships that operate the Ouranoupolis - Mount Athos routes, by contacting the shipping companies responsible for these routes. (Agioritikes Lines, Tel.: +30 2377071149 and MICROATHOS, Tel.: +30 2377071400, +30 6995105105 ).