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!

Route map, London to Greece by train

Click for larger map


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 train through the Alps to Italy, then an overnight 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.  It's practical & affordable too.  On this page is a step-by-step guide to booking & making a memorable journey from the UK to Greece, with schedules, fares & how to buy tickets.

In previous years you could also travel overland all the way by train via Paris, Munich, Belgrade & Thessaloniki, but post-pandemic the trains beyond Zagreb & Belgrade still aren't running.

Train times, fares & tickets

small bullet point  UK to Greece, the options explained

small bullet point  London to Athens by train & ferry via Bari

small bullet point  London to Athens by train via Belgrade

small bullet point  London to Athens by train & ferry via Venice

small bullet point  London to Thessaloniki & Larissa

small bullet point  London to Meteora (Kalambaka)

small bullet point  London to Corfu

small bullet point  London to Kefalonia

small bullet point  London to Crete

small bullet point  London to Rhodes & other Greek islands

small bullet point  Trains from Athens to other European cities

small bullet point  Trains to Athens from other European cities

small bullet point  How to buy Greek train tickets online from €9!

Other travel information

small bullet point  Starting from other UK towns & cities

small bullet point  Hotels & accommodation in Greece  

small bullet point  Greece to Turkey by ferry   

small bullet point  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking a dog

small bullet point  Left luggage at stations  

small bullet point  General information on train travel Europe

small bullet point  Insurance, mobile data packages & other tips

Useful country information

Trains within Greece:  

OSE (Organismos Sidirodromon Ellados): (previously, before that see guide to using it.   Map of Greek train routes    Athens-Istanbul by train    All-Europe online train times

Greek island ferries:

See or 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


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:



£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:   Athens Metro:   Recommended guidebooks

Hotels & tours:

Find hotels in Greece   Hotel reviews:     Backpacker hostels


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

Page last updated:

13 March 2023.  Train times valid 11 Dec 2022 to 9 Dec 2023.

UK to Greece, the options explained...

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

Option 1, by train to Bari then ferry to Greece

This is the route I'd recommend as 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 Frecciarossa 1000 train from Paris to Milan.  Stay overnight, then take an air-conditioned Frecciarossa train all along the Adriatic coast to Bari in southern Italy.  A daily ferry sails overnight from Bari to Patras in Greece, with a connection to Athens by bus & train.  Why not stop off to see something 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 was only due to run in summer, from 13 June to 20 September 2020..  It didn't run in 2021 due to Covid-19, nor in 2022.  It's unlikely to run in 2023. When it's not running, you'll have to re-route the much longer way round via Sofia, or stick with one of the train & ferry options instead (which is what I'd recommend).  Train times, fares & information for this option are shown below.

Option 3, by train to Venice then 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 or Frecciarossa to Milan or Turin and onward Italian train to Venice.  A ferry sails several times a week from the mainland near Venice to Patras in Greece, for bus & train to Athens.  Train times, fares & information for this route are shown below.

Interactive map:  Click a route for details

Route map, London to Greece by train 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.


This is the most wonderful way to reach Greece, in little over 48 hours or so from London.  Travel from London to Milan in one day by Eurostar and high-speed Frecciarossa 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...

small bullet point  Outward journey: London to Athens

small bullet point  Inward journey: Athens to London

small bullet point  How much does it cost?

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  What's the journey like?

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 at London St Pancras (45-minute minimum in Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam) 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 Frecciarossa 1000

Trenitalia (Italian Railways) operates two daily 300 km/h (186 mph) Frecciarossa 1000 trains from Paris to Milan.  The Frecciarossa has 3 classes, Standard, Business and Executive.  In Italy, Frecciarossas have 4 classes, but on the Paris-Milan route the Premium class seats (identical to Standard class but leather instead of cloth) are sold as Standard.  There's a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Business class includes complimentary coffee, juice and snacks such as a morning croissant.  Executive class includes a more comprehensive food & drink service.

The inaugurak Paris-Milan Frecciarossa at Paris Gare de Lyon

This is the inaugural 07:26 Frecciarossa to Milan boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon on 18 December 2021.  This photo & interior photos in this section courtesy of Nicholas Brooke.

Frecciarossa 1000 standard class   Frecciarossa 1000 Premium class seats

Standard class, with seats arranged 2+2 across the car width.  Larger photo.


Premium class seats, identical to Standard class but in leather, sold as Standard on this route.  Larger photo.

Frecciarossa 1000 Business class seats   At-seat meal on Frecciarossa 1000

Business class seats 1+2 across car width, with tables for 2, tables for 4 & complimentary prosecco. Larger photo.


In business class you can order a simple meal at your seat, around €18...

Frecciarossa 1000 executive class   Frecciarossa executive meeting room

Executive class at one end of the trainLarger photo.


The Executive class meeting room.  Larger photo.

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

The train leaves Paris behind & speeds across rural France at up to 300 km/h, past fields, woods, pretty villages...

Mountains from the TGV train to Italy calls at Lyon Part Dieu then slows right down through the Alpine foothills.

Mountain seen from the TGV from Paris to Milan   Scenery on the way from Milan to Paris

The Frecciarossa crosses the Alps via Chambιry and Modane, passing through the 13.6 km (8.5 mile) long Frιjus Rail Tunnel, also known less accurately as the Mont Cιnis 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.

More snow-capped mountains from the TGV train to Italy

River seen from the train   Mountain-top castle seen from the train

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

3. Milan to Bari by Frecciarossa

This is the previous incarnation of Trenitalia's Frecciarossa, the Frecciarossa 500.  It has 4 classes, Standard, Premium, Business and Executive.  There's a cafe-bar, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Business class includes complimentary coffee, juice or prosecco and snacks.  Executive class includes a more comprehensive food & drink service.

Frecciarossa 500 at Milan Centrale

A Frecciarossa 500 at Milan Centrale...

Standard class seats on a Frecciarossa from Rome to Florence & Milan   Typical table with 4 seats on a Frecciarossa

Standard class...

  Standard class table for 4.
Premium class seats on a Frecciarossa   Typical table for four on a Frecciarossa, Premium Class

Premium class...

  Premium class table for 4.
Business class seats on a Frecciarossa   A 4-seat Business class 'salottino' on a Trenitalia Frecciarossa

Business class...


Business salottino (4-seat compartment).

Executive class on a Trenitalia Frecciarossa   Executive class meeting room on a Frecciarossa

Executive class, just 8 seats at one end of the train.


Executive class meeting room...

Executive class complimentary meal on Frecciarossa   Frecciarossa cafe-bar area

Executive class includes a complimentary cold tray meal with wine and prosecco....


Cafe-bar, available to all passengers for coffee, beer, wine, snacks....

Walk, bus or taxi from Bari Centrale to Bari port

You can walk the 1.9 km from station to port entrance in 25 minutes, a pleasant stroll through Bari's old town past cathedral and castle, see walking map to the port.  Or a taxi from station to port will take 10 minutes.  Alternatively, bus 50 runs from the station to the road outside the pedestrian gate into the port roughly every 40 minutes.  See map of Bari showing station, port entrance, the check-in building and the Superfast ferries berth.

Bari Centrale station

This is Bari Centrale, Bari's main station.  Photos in this section courtesy of

Bari new town   Bari old town and castle

Walk through Bari new town...


Then through the old town past cathedral & castle.

Bari port

As you approach the port, this is the main road which runs along the port's perimeter.  The arrow marks the port entrance, walk into the port in the direction of the arrow and head round to the right to find the cruise terminal.

Check in for the ferry

The Superfast Ferries check-in desks are on the ground floor of the cruise terminal (Terminal Crociere), the arrow in the photo below left indicates the entrance.  You should check in with passport & booking number to get your boarding pass, ideally 3h before departure especially in summer - although 2 hours or even 1½ hours is normally fine.  You then walk 500m from the check-in desk to the ferry, board via the foot passenger gangway at the stern, up the escalator to the main passenger lounge and reception desk to get your cabin key.  See location map.

Bari port cruise terminal   Superfast ferry check-in desk

Cruise Terminal (Terminal Crociere) for check-in.


Check-in desks on ground floor.

4. Bari to Patras by overnight ferry

Superfast Ferries sail from Bari to Patras daily all year round, although Sunday sailings leave too early for same-day train connections from Milan.  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, all with private shower & toilet.  The ferry crossing is the best part of the journey, over deep blue waters and past many islands.

Superfast ferry from Bari to Patras in Greece

The ferry Superfast II from Bari to Patras, boarding at Bari.  Photos courtesy of

Boarding the ferry from Italy to Greece   Lounge and reception desk on the ferry to Greece

The passenger gangway, onto the ferry.


Reception desk & lounge on the ferry.

Lounge & bar on the ferry from Italy to Greece   Self-service restaurant on the ferry from Italy to Greece

Lounge and bar on the Superfast II.


Self-service restaurant.

En suite toilet & shower on ferry to Greece   Cabin on ferry from Italy to Greece

Private cabin with en suite toilet & shower.

Scenic views from the ferry from Italy to Greece

The ferry passes Cephalonia & Ithaca then approaches mainland Greece.  This is what travel to Greece should be like!

The ferry from Bari arrives at Patras

The ferry approaches the new port of Patras...

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

On arrival in Patras, take a taxi or local bus from the port to the town centre.  Every hour, a bus run by Hellenic Train links Patras railway station with Kiato, connecting with an air-conditioned electric train 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 Greek Railways 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 ΰ 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 flag  UK call 0207 864 4600,

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

Canadian flag  Canada call 1-855-882-2910, see website

Australian flag  Australia call 1300 971 526, see website

New Zealand flag  New Zealand call 0800 000 554 or see website

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London to Athens via Belgrade

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2023:  The normal, traditional, direct route from London & Paris to Athens goes via Belgrade using the Belgrade-Thessaloniki Hellas Express overnight train.  From 2018 onwards, this train was reduced to running only in summer from mid-June to mid-September, it was cancelled the rest of the year.  It didn't run at all in 2021 due to Covid-19, nor in 2022 and it probably won't run in 2023.  Oh, and the Zagreb-Belgrade train is still suspended 'due to the pandemic' so even getting as far as Belgrade is a problem.  Basically, the ferry route to Greece via Italy is by far the best one at the moment.

London to Greece via Bucharest & Sofia

In 2023, you can get from the UK to Sofia easily enough, via Romania/Bucharest, although it's a long way round.  The next link in the chain is Sofia-Thessaloniki, this train is running between Sofia and the Greek border at Kulata, but nothing is provided on the Greek side.  Any updates will be shown in the Sofia-Greece section of the Trains from Sofia page.

London ► Greece

Greece ► London

London to Greece via Belgrade-Thessaloniki

This is an overland adventure through the Balkans!  The fastest & simplest route is explained below, taking you through Paris, Zurich, Zagreb & Belgrade.  Other routes are possible, so if you'd prefer the route via Brussels or Vienna, see the London to Belgrade page then take the summer-only 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 Zurich, 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 (June-September only, suspended in 2023)

Greece ► London (June-September only, suspended in 2023)

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 Zurich

     by TGV-Lyria...

 From €29 each way in 2nd class

 From €79 each way in 1st class.

 Fares work like air fares, cheap in advance, expensive on the day


 3. Zurich to Zagreb

 by sleeper train...

In a


In a couchette

In the sleeping-car






 Saver fare one-way, from:







 Saver fare return, from:







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 as explained here.

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 & free WiFi.  Standard Premier & Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in at London St Pancras (45-minute minimum in Paris, Brussels & Amsterdam) 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 train at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.


Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

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 Zurich by TGV-Lyria...

All TGV-Lyria trains are now 320km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex like the one shown below.  TGV-Lyria trains have 3 classes:  Standard class (2nd), standard premiere (1st class) and business premiere (1st class with hot meal & drinks included in the fare).  There's a cafe-bar car selling drinks & snacks.  There are power points for mobiles & laptops at all seats in all classes.  Lyria is a consortium of the French and Swiss national railways.  More information about TGV-Lyria.

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV-Lyria TGV Duplex train at Paris Gare de Lyon. More information about TGV-Lyria

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

Cafe-bar on upper deck 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.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

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


A TGV-Lyria for Geneva, boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

3. Zurich to Zagreb by sleeper train...  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 Zurich before boarding at a local restaurant, try the Brasserie Federal inside Zurich HB.

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

Croatian sleeping-car:  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car from Zurich 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 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 ferry from Venice

Taking a ferry to Greece from Venice rather than Bari means the London-Athens journey will take 3 or more 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, it's an alternative worth considering.

London ► Greece

Greece ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

The easiest & cheapest way to book this journey is online.  It involves three websites, so do a dummy run on each site to check 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.

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London to Salonika & Larissa

The traditional overland route from London to Athens passes through Salonika (Thessaloniki in Greek) and Larissa, although this is problematical in 2023, see the London to Athens section above.

The best way is to travel from London to Athens by train & 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 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 and use their journey planner.

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London to Corfu

Option 1, by train & ferry via Bari or Brindisi...

Option 2, 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 travel to Athens, then use one of the overnight ferries from Piraeus (the 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.

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

Greek Railways (Hellenic Train, rebranded from TrainOSE in 2022) offer online booking for their domestic trains at, in English.  This is the only way to book Greek domestic trains, 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 pointless, as all mainline Greek trains require reservation.  You should therefore always buy Greek domestic tickets online at as explained here, with the necessary reservation automatically included or simply buy tickets at the station when you get to Greece.  Here's how to buy online:

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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 at (UK addresses) or (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at (shipping worldwide) or at (UK addresses).

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Amazon logoPaying 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

Rough Guide to Greece   Lonely Planet Greece - click to buy online   Lonely Planet Greek Islands guide - click to buy online

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Hotels in Athens & Greece

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: 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: is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on,, 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

Other hotel sites worth trying... is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Backpacker hostels...  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 & other tips


Staysure travel insurance


Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with myself.  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, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag is also a well-know brand.

US flag  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA. logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package for Europe

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for Europe and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.


Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  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 money you spend on your Curve card 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 Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you £5 cashback through that link.


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 encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I get a small commission to help support this site.


Anker Powerrbank

Always carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from or from Buy from

Touring cities & museums?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!


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