The Parthenon, Athens.  It's easy to get to Greece by train!

The Parthenon in Athens, without flying...  You really can get there in comfort without having to fly!

Click for larger map

Guide to the route options

London to Greece in 48 hours...

No airports, no flights, just civilised trains and a cosy en suite cabin on a comfortable ferry.  Take Eurostar to Paris and a high-speed TGV through the Alps to Italy, then an overnight cruise ferry across the Adriatic to Greece.  Sailing across blue seas under even bluer skies past Ithaca & Kefalonia is perhaps the nicest way to reach Greece, far more rewarding than 3 hours strapped to a plane seat, and it's practical & affordable too.  Or you can make an exciting and adventurous overland journey all the way to Greece by train via Paris, Munich, Belgrade & Thessaloniki.  On this page you'll find a step-by-step guide to planning, booking & making a memorable journey from London or Paris to Greece, with schedules, fares & how to buy your tickets.

COVID-19 update See COVID-19 travel information.

Train times, fares & tickets...

  London to Greece by train - options explained

  London to Athens by train & ferry via Bari

  London to Athens by train via Belgrade

  London to Athens by train & ferry via Venice

  London to Thessaloniki & Larissa

  London to Meteora (Kalambaka)

  London to Corfu

  London to Kefalonia

  London to Crete

  London to Rhodes & other Greek islands

  Trains from Athens to other European cities

  Trains to Athens from other European cities

  How to buy Greek train tickets online from €9!

Other travel information...

  Starting from other UK towns & cities

  Hotels & accommodation in Greece  

  Greece to Turkey by ferry   

  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking a dog

  Left luggage at stations  

  General information on train travel Europe

  Travel insurance, Curve card & VPN


Useful country information

Trains within Greece:  

OSE (Organismos Sidirodromon Ellados): www.trainose.gr (previously www.ose.gr) see guide to using it.   Map of Greek train routes    Athens-Istanbul by train    All-Europe online train times

Greek island ferries:

See www.ferriesingreece.com or www.ferries.gr for all Greek island ferries & operators.

Ferries Italy-Greece:

Superfast Ferries, Blue Star ferries, Minoan Lines, Anek Lines, Hellenic Mediterranean Lines.  UK agent for most of these ferries: Viamare Travel

Railpasses:

Beginner's guide to European railpasses     Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:    

GMT+2 (GMT+3 last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

+30

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.11 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.gnto.gr   Athens Metro: www.ametro.gr   Recommended guidebooks

Hotels & tours:

Find hotels in Greece   Hotel reviews:  www.tripadvisor.com     Backpacker hostels

Visas:

UK citizens do not need visas for travel via any of the routes shown here.

Page last updated:

17 October 2020. Train times valid 15 Dec 2019 to 12 Dec 2020.


London to Greece, the options...

You can reach Greece from London either by train to Italy then a cruise ferry to Greece, or by train all the way to Athens across eastern Europe via Munich, Vienna & Budapest.  Here are the best options:

Option 1, by Eurostar & TGV train to Italy then cruise ferry to Greece...

This is the route I'd recommend, it's the quickest, cheapest and most comfortable way from London to Greece without flying, shown in red on the route map below.  It's a wonderful trip and a great alternative to a flight, taking little over 48 hours from St Pancras station to stepping ashore in Greece.  Take a morning Eurostar from London to Paris and an afternoon high-speed TGV from Paris to Milan.  Stay overnight, then take an air-conditioned Frecciabianca train all along the Adriatic coast to Bari in southern Italy.  Modern cruise ferries sail overnight from Bari to Patras in Greece, for the train to Athens.  Why not stop off to see a little of Italy on the way?  Times, fares & information for this route are shown below.

Option 2, by train all the way to Athens...

The overland route from London to Greece takes you via Paris, Munich, Zagreb & Belgrade to Thessaloniki, Larissa & Athens.  The complete journey from London to Athens takes 3 nights, with a safe & comfortable sleeping-car or couchette car available for both overnight sections and 24h stopover in Belgrade.  It's an exciting & adventurous journey with some wonderful scenery on the way.  Feel free to stop off if you like, too.

Update:  In 2020 the Belgrade-Greece train will only run in summer, from 13 June to 20 September 2020.  At other times of year you'll have to re-route the much longer way round via Sofia, or use one of the train & ferry options.  Train times, fares & information for this option are shown below.

Option 3, by train to Venice then cruise ferry to Greece...

This is a simpler but slightly longer version of option 1, which lets you see Venice on the way.  You take Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Milan or Turin and onward Italian Frecciabianca train to Venice.  Ferries used to sail from Venice itself, but Minoan Lines now go from Trieste, so you hop on the hourly Venice-Trieste regional train.  A Minoan Lines cruise ferry sails several times a week from Trieste to Patras in Greece for a bus to Athens.  Train times, fares & information for this route are shown below.

Interactive map:  Click a route for times, fares & how to buy tickets...

London to Rhodes London to Crete London to Greece overland by train London to Greece via ferry from Bari London to Sofia via Budapest & Belgrade London to Budapest via Brussels & Vienna London to Sofia via Bucharest London to Greece by ferry from Venice London to Greece by train all the way London to Greece via ferry from Bari

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London to Athens via Bari 

  Taking the ferry to Greece...

Don't fly to Greece, cruise there!  Take the train to Italy, then sail by cruise ferry from Italy to Greece across the sunny Adriatic, perhaps the nicest part of the trip.

   

A train to Italy & cruise to Greece...

This is the most wonderful way to reach Greece, in just 48 hours or so from London.  Travel from London to Milan in one day by Eurostar and high-speed TGV through the French and Italian Alps.  Next day, travel all along Italy's Adriatic coast to Bari, and now for the best bit, board a comfortable modern ferry for an overnight cruise across the Adriatic from Italy to Greece, waking up next morning to see the islands of Cephalonia and Ithaca passing slowly to starboard in the bright Mediterranean sun...

London ► Athens

Athens ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to cross Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

Lunch in Paris at the Train Bleu restaurant?

The trains to Italy leave from the magnificent Gare de Lyon in central Paris.  Why not have lunch (or at least a drink in the bar) at the fabulous Train Bleu Restaurant inside the Gare de Lyon (pictured above right) before catching the train to Turin or Milan?  Paris Gare de Lyon station guide.

Paris Gare de Lyon, from where the TGV trains to Barcelona leave   The Train Bleu restaurant at Paris Gare de Lyon

2. Paris to Milan by TGV...

SNCF (French Railways) operates three daily 186 mph TGV trains from Paris to Milan.  Previously operated by Artesia, a consortium of Trenitalia & SNCF, they are now operated entirely by SNCF, officially via a new Italian subsidiary, Società Viaggiatori Italia.  On leaving Paris they sprint over the high-speed line at up to 186 mph (300 km/h) as far as Lyon St Exupéry, but they then slow right down to meander through the scenic Alpine foothills on conventional lines via Chambéry, crossing into Italy at Modane and heading through Turin to Milan.  These TGVs have 1st & 2nd class seats and are fully air-conditioned, with new interiors designed by Christian Lacroix.  There are power sockets for laptops and mobiles at every seat and there are baby-changing facilities and designated spaces for passengers in wheelchairs.  There's a cafe-bar serving drinks, snacks & light meals, or feel free to bring your own food & wine along for the journey.  In first class you can order a 3-course meal with wine, served at your seat.  You can now buy Paris metro tickets from the bar car, too.  1st class TGV passengers can use the Grand Voyageurs 1st class lounge at Paris Gare de Lyon.  Incidentally, SNCF's experienced in-house designer still hasn't forgiven Christian Lacroix for breaking the unwritten rule and using warm colours in 2nd class, cooler colours in 1st class, so see what you think!

TGV train from Paris to Milan about to leave Paris Gare de Lyon

The afternoon TGV to Milan at Paris Gare de Lyon.  There's no check-in, just be on board at departure time...

TGV bar car   Food on board the TGV from Milan to Paris

The cafe-bar, serving tea, coffee, beer, wine, hot & cold snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  Larger photo.

 

The cheese platter bought from the cafe-bar as the mountains swept by...

TGV interior by Christian Lacroix, second class   TGV 1st class by Christian Lacroix

2nd class with a mix or unidirectional seats & tables for 4.  Seats are 2+2 across car width.  360 degree photo.

 

1st class with a mix of unidirectional seats, solo seats, tables for 2 & for 4.  Seats 2+1 across car width.  360 degree photo.

The fields of rural France from the train to Italy   Rural France

The TGV leaves Paris behind & speeds across rural France at up to 186 mph, past fields, woods, pretty villages...

Mountains from the TGV train to Italy

...it calls at Lyon St Exupery then slows right down through the Alpine foothills.

2nd class on the TGV from Paris to Milan   TGV from Milan to Paris

The TGV crosses the Alps via Chambéry and Modane, passing through the 13.6 km (8.5 mile) long Fréjus Rail Tunnel, also known less accurately as the Mont Cénis tunnel.  The tunnel transit takes just 7 minutes, during which the train enters Italy.  Opened in 1871, this the oldest of the large tunnels through the Alps, and was the longest tunnel in the world from 1871 until 1882 when the Gotthard tunnel opened on the Zurich-Milan route.

Moresnow-capped mountains from the TGV train to Italy

 

More mountains...

Now we're in Italy, leaving the Alps behind...

Scenery from the train between Oulx and Turin   Scenery from the train between Oulx and Turin

Scenery between Oulx and Turin...  Photos courtesy of DiscoverbyRail.com.

The TGV arrived at Milan Porta Garibaldi   Milan Porta Garibaldi station

Arrival at Milan's modern Porta Garibaldi station, a 10-minute €6 taxi ride or 25 minute walk from Milan's main Centrale station.

3. Milan to Bari by Frecciabianca...

Frecciabianca train to Venice, seen at Milan Centrale   2nd class seats on a Frecciabianca

A Frecciabianca train at Milan Centrale...  Frecciabiancas link Milan with Ancona, Bari & Brindisi...

 

2nd class seat, most with a power socket for laptops or mobiles.  There's a small bar and a refreshment trolley.  Larger photo.

1st class seats on a Frecciabianca   Frecciabianca at Milan Centrale

1st class, more spacious.  All seats have power sockets and there's a complimentary coffee from the trolley.  Larger photo.

 

A Frecciabianca at Milan.  A strange train - two modern power cars sandwich former intercity carriages.  This shows the new colour scheme.

4. Bari to Patras by Superfast Lines - Blue Star Ferries cruise ferry...

Several ferry companies sail from Bari or Brindisi in Italy to Patras in Greece.  Probably the best one is the joint Superfast / Blue Star Ferries service as this uses modern ships, sails daily, and can easily be booked online.  If you book a 'deck place' you can use your own sleeping bag and set up camp in a covered area on deck near the stern.  For a few more pounds you can book a reclining seat.  Or you can book a berth in various types of cabin, including luxury cabins.  Most cabins have private shower and toilet.  The ferry crossing is the best part of the journey, over deep blue waters and past many islands.

Blue Star Ferries from Bari to Patras in Greece   At sea crossing by ferry from Italy to Greece

The best ferry service from Bari to Patras is jointly run by Blue Star Ferries and Superfast Ferries.  This is the Blue Star 1 at Patras.

 

On deck next morning!

A 2 or 4 berth cabin on the Italy-Greece ferry  

2 or 4-berth cabin with private toilet & shower.

 

Relaxing on deck...

The ferry from Bari to Greece at sea

At sea, passing Cephalonia & Ithaca.  This is what travel to Greece should be like!

5. Transfer from Patras to Athens by bus/train combo...

Every hour, a bus run by TrainOSE links Patras station with Kiato, from where an air-conditioned electric train speeds you along the Aegean to Athens.  Look out for the Corinth Canal as the train passes from the Peloponnese peninsula to the rest of Greece, blink and you'll miss it...

Bus from Patras to Kiato, run by TrainOSE   On board the train from Kiato to Athens

The TrainOSE bus from Patras to Kiato...

 

The train from Kiato to Athens...

The train crosses the Corinth Canal   Athens station

Crossing the Corinth Canal...

 

Arrival at Athens station...

Traveller's reports...

Traveller Nick Stone returned to London from Athens this way:  "We travelled from Athens to London.  The ferry ride was relaxing and we enjoyed beers and a lovely à la carte meal for €34 including drinks.  We were both impressed with quality of the meal and service.  We arrived 2 hours late in Bari, but made the 11:03 train to Bologna with 5 minutes to spare, and celebrated by having the set €26 menu lunch on the train and a bottle of wine.  Spent a 5 hours in Bologna which a great place for a short break before taking the sleeper overnight to Paris and the Eurostar home.  It was great trip and we thoroughly enjoyed it."

Alternative ferries from Brindisi or Ancona...

Superfast Ferries from Bari is recommended rather than ferries from Brindisi for several reasons.  Superfast Ferries and their partners Blue Star Ferries use modern ships and sail daily to a convenient schedule with good connections possible from Paris, London, and most Italian cities.  Superfast Ferries sail from a terminal next to Bari's pleasant old town, and you can walk there from the station.  In Brindisi, most ships now use a new terminal a couple of miles out of town, reached by taxi or courtesy minibus from the shipping company offices in town.  Since 2004, there are few scheduled sailings from Brindisi, most go from Bari.

Custom-made travel arrangements with trains, ferries & hotels all booked for you...

If you want someone to sort out your whole trip to Greece with all your rail & ferry travel expertly booked for you and good quality hotels arranged, call Railbookers.  Tell them what you want, and they'll sort it all out for you, hassle-free.  They get very positive reviews and take good care of their guests.

  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

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London to Athens via Belgrade

IMPORTANT UPDATE FOR 2020...

The normal, traditional, direct route from London & Paris to Athens heads straight from Belgrade to Greece using a Belgrade-Thessaloniki train.  In 2018, this train was reduced to running only in summer from mid-June to mid-September, cancelled the rest of the year.  So at other times of year, if you still want to go all the way overland by train then you'll need to head further east from Belgrade to Sofia, then use the Sofia to Thessaloniki train which is still operating all year round.  That adds significant time and distance, but the only way when the Belgrade-Thessaloniki train isn't running..

London to Greece via Belgrade & Sofia:  Much longer route, but runs all year round...

London ► Greece (all year round)

Greece ► London (all year round)

London to Greece via Belgrade-Thessaloniki:  Direct route, runs mid-June to mid-September...

This is an overland adventure through the Balkans!  The fastest and simplest route is explained below, taking you through Paris, Munich, Zagreb & Belgrade.  Other routes are possible, so if you'd prefer the route via Brussels or Paris, Vienna, Budapest & Belgrade, see the London to Belgrade page then take the daily Belgrade to Thessaloniki train.  If you'd like to go via Munich, Vienna, Budapest, Bucharest & Sofia, see the London to Sofia page then take the daily Sofia to Thessaloniki train

Whichever route you choose, once past Belgrade, don't expect western standards such as air-conditioning on the trains, and bring you own supplies of food, water, wine or beer.  But it's a safe and comfortable journey, rediscovering some of the mystery, intrigue and romance of long-distance train travel across Europe.  You'll also see some great Balkan scenery with your feet up and a beer or glass of red in your hand.  The route via Munich, Zagreb & Belgrade is the fastest overland option, London to Thessaloniki in Greece overland by train in 2 nights, 3 days.  It involves comfortable high-quality air-conditioned trains all the way to Belgrade, but a more basic overnight train between Belgrade and Thessaloniki with 6-berth couchettes but no private sleepers, but it's comfortable enough!

London ► Greece (mid-June to mid-September only)

Greece ► London (mid-June to mid-September only)

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so add up the price for each leg of the journey.

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

     by TGV Duplex...

 From £34 one-way, £68 return in 2nd class

 From £53 one-way, £106 return in 1st class.

 Limited availability, book in advance to get these fares.

 Full fare £81 one-way, £142 return.

 

 3. Munich to Zagreb

 on the Lisinski...

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Saver fare one-way, from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€79

€139

 Saver fare return, from:

€58

€98

€118

€138

€158

€278

Saver fare = Advance-purchase fare, price varies, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

 4. Zagreb to Belgrade

     by day train...

 Bought in the UK:  £44 each way.

 Bought locally at the station: About €35 each way.

 

 5. Belgrade to Thessaloniki

     by overnight train...

€34 bought at the station + €8 couchette supplement.  If you buy through a western ticketing agency, reckon on €75 including couchette.

 

 6. Thessaloniki to Athens by train

 €45 in 2nd class or €55 1st class even bought on the day.

 Book online at www.trainose.gr as explained here.

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Custom-made travel arrangements with trains, hotels & transfers all booked for you...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...   See the video guide

In Paris it's an easy 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Germany.  Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart & Munich.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guideMunich Hbf station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris with Nice, Marseille, Munich, Barcelona & Switzerland...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360º photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.  360º photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich to Zagreb by sleeper train Lisinski...   Watch the video

This modern sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

The sleeping-car on the Lisinski:  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car of the Lisinski from Munich to Zagreb has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Above left, the sleeper arrived at Zagreb.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car on the Lisinski has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound train is seen boarding at Zagreb. See panorama photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

4. Zagreb to Belgrade by train...

This is a comfortable air-conditioned Serbian train, with modern 2nd class seats - there's no 1st class.  There's also no restaurant car, so take a picnic and some beer or wine with you.  Below right, the Belgrade to Zagreb train about to leave Belgrade.  Below left, 2nd class seats.

2nd class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train   The train from Belgrade to Zagreb & Zurich, about to leave Belgrade

5. Belgrade to Thessaloniki by overnight couchette train...

East of Belgrade, you leave modern fripperies such as air-conditioning behind...  The Belgrade-Thessaloniki night train has a Macedonian couchette car, though no sleeper.  But it's comfortable enough, and seldom full, see the photos below, courtesy of traveller Tom Whitehead.  Clean sheets, pillow and blanket are provided.  You'll probably find fellow travellers from Germany, the Netherlands, Australia or Britain on board.  See larger couchette photo.

The Macedonian couchette car on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train   A 6-berth couchette compartment on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train
A 6-berth couchette compartment on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train   The Macedonian couchette car on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train

6. Thessaloniki to Athens by InterCity train...

Modern air-conditioned InterCity trains link Thessaloniki (Salonika) with Athens in as little as 4½ hours, with superb scenery through the mountains between Larissa & Athens.  But hurry, as in a few years time a new 125mph section of line will by-pass these scenic mountain sections, cutting the Athens-Salonika journey time to little over 3 hours.  The most scenic section through the mountains with the famous Gorgopotamos viaduct has now been by-passed by a new tunnel.

Greek InterCity train from Thessaloniki to Athens   Seat on Thessaloniki-Athens intercity train

A Thessaloniki to Athens InterCity train.  The carriages are modern and air-conditioned.  The photo above right shows the new colour scheme introduced when the service was speeded up in July 2019.  Photos courtesy of Rosie Maguire.  Larger seats photo.

2nd class on Greek InterCity train   More mountain scenery, and the Gorgopotamos Viaduct...

Soon after leaving Thessaloniki, the train runs along the Aegean coast and past Mount Olympus (seen above, from the train), mythical home to the Greek gods...

 

Between Larissa & Athens the train snakes through mountains, over the Gorgopotamos viaduct, blown up by the British S.O.E. in WW2.  This section is by-passed as from May 2019.

Parnassus mountains seen from the Thessaloniki-Athens train

View of the Parnassus mountains from the train.  Courtesy of Laurent Faurite.

Great scenery from the train:  In the mountains between Athens and Larissa   More scenery on the train to Athens

Emerging from the mountains, the train descends a spectacular escarpment (above left), with the Greek plain laid out hundreds of feet below.  This section is by-passed as from May 2019.

2nd class seats   Cafe car   The main Larissa railway station in Athens

The train has comfortable 1st & 2nd class seats (2nd class above left) and a cafe car.  A free meal is served if you have a 1st class ticket.  Interior photos courtesy of Dave Roberts.

Finally, you arrive at Athens' main (Larissa) station, over 2,000 miles from London St Pancras...

Watch the video: London as far as Belgrade by train...

The video shows what the train ride from London as far as Belgrade is like.  There's a slight variation, the video shows a journey by TGV from the Gare de Lyon to Zurich, then Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb, instead of a TGV from Paris Est to Munich, then Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb, but the sleeping-car is the same and you see the same wonderful scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

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London to Athens by via Venice

  A Minoan Lines ship passing St Marks Square, Venice, en route to Greece...

The civilised way to reach Greece...  A cruise ferry to Greece sails right past the gondolas in St Mark's Square in Venice.  You can buy Italy-Greece ferry ticket online at the Seat61 Ferry ShopPhoto courtesy of Andy Brabin of www.discoverbyrail.com.

   

Cruise from Venice to Greece...

Taking a ferry to Greece from Venice rather than Bari means the London-Athens journey will take 3 nights rather than 2, but taking a cruise ferry all along the Adriatic is a wonderful and leisurely option.  With some time in Venice (stop off for longer if you like), an Adriatic cruise on a modern ferry with cruise ship facilities, less train travel necessary through Italy, it's an alternative that's well worth considering.  You could do the journey over a weekend!

London ► Greece

Greece ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

The easiest & cheapest way to book this journey is online, just follow these step-by-step instructions.  This journey involves three websites, so do a dummy run on each site to check prices and availability before booking for real.  Make sure you get your departure dates right for each leg of the journey outward and back.  It can help to jot down the date and departure time for each separate booking before you start, the how to plan an itinerary & budget page may help.

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London to Salonika & Larissa

The overland route from London to Athens passes through Salonika (Thessaloniki in Greek) and Larissa, see the London to Athens section above for details.

Alternatively, you could travel from London to Athens by train and ferry via Italy, then take a train from Athens north to Larissa and Athens. See the London to Athens section above, then use the Greek Railways website, You can check train times for this section at www.trainose.gr for train times between Athens, Larissa and Salonika.

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London to Meteora (Kalambaka)

Meteora is a spectacular monastery perched on a huge rock, near the town of Kalambaka.  Kalambaka is at the end of a railway branch line from Paleofarsolas on the main Thessaloniki-Larissa-Athens rail line.  There are two direct trains from Athens to Kalambaka every day (about 4 hours 45 minutes), plus regular trains throughout the day from Athens, Larissa and Thessaloniki with a change of train at Paleofarsolas.  For train times from Athens or Thessaloniki to Kalambaka, see You can check train times for this section at www.trainose.gr and use their journey planner.

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London to Corfu

By train & ferry via Bari or Brindisi...

By train & ferry via Venice or Trieste...

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London to Kefalonia (Cephalonia)

Made famous by the book and film Captain Corelli's Mandolin, it's easy to reach Kefalonia all the way from London in less than 48 hours, without flying.

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London to Heraklion & Crete

  Ferries from Piraeus to Crete, seen at Heraklion
 

Ships of rival ferry operators Minoan Lines and Anek Lines in Heraklion harbour.  Photo courtesy of Walter Smith.

To reach Crete, you first need to travel to Athens, then use one of the overnight ferries from Piraeus, port of Athens, to Crete.

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London to other Greek islands

  Ferries from Piraeus to Crete, seen at Heraklion
 

Anek ferry at Samos. Courtesy of Sue Smith.

Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini...

Ferries to Rhodes, Mykonos, Santorini and most Aegean islands leave from Piraeus, the port of Athens.

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How to book Greek trains online

How to buy Greek train tickets online:  Athens to Thessaloniki or Kalambaka...

Greek Railways (OSE) now have an online booking service for their domestic trains at www.trainose.gr, in English.  This is the only way you can book Greek domestic trains, because the Greek Railways ticketing system isn't connected to anyone or anything outside Greece, so European train ticketing agencies such as Rail Europe can only issue expensive international-tariff unreserved tickets - which is useless, as all mainline Greek trains require reservation.  You should therefore always buy Greek domestic tickets online at www.trainose.gr as explained here, with the necessary reservation automatically included or simply buy tickets when you get to Greece.  Here's how to buy online:

  • Go to www.trainose.gr.  Click the UK flag top right for English.

  • Use the journey planner to find trains.  In the results, 'seats' means the number of seats available, 'Full cost' is the price in euros. 

  • A means 1st class, B means 2nd class.

  • Select a journey and click Seat selection and passengers.

  • When you select seats, carriages beginning with A are first class (for example, A1), those beginning with B are second class (for example B2, B3).  Select a seat in the class you want!

  • Now click Terms of Service top right, tick the box accept these and click Payment top right.

  • The arrow at the top of the carriages above the train number shows the direction of travel, useful if you want a forward-facing seat.

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European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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Guidebooks

Paying for a guidebook may seem an unnecessary expense, but it's probably only a tiny fraction of what you're spending on your whole trip.  You will see so much more, and know so much more about what you're looking at, if you have a decent guidebook.  For independent travel, I recommend either the Lonely Planet or Rough Guide.  Both have plenty of background historical and cultural information, with all the practical information you need.

Click the images to buy at Amazon.co.uk

  Lonely Planet Greece - click to buy online  

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Hotels in Athens & Greece

My favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.

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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel without travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should also cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback is always welcome.

In the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

You can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card. Use code MAN61 to get £5 cashback after signing up and using your Curve card the first time.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use them myself.

 


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