This page explains how to travel by train from Athens & Greece to other European cities, and how to buy the cheapest tickets.  Click here to for journeys starting in another cityInformation current for 2023.

bullet pointI want to go from Athens to...

 

London, Paris, Belgrade, Sofia, Istanbul & the rest of Europe overland by train

 

London, Paris, Rome & the rest of Europe using a Greece-Italy ferry

  Thessaloniki   Belgrade   Corfu  
     

Patras

 

Zagreb

 

Rhodes

 
 

Kalambaka

 

Budapest

 

Crete

 
 

Istanbul & Turkey

 

 

 

 

 

bullet pointBefore you buy your tickets

Take a moment to read these tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all the usual questions, "Do I need to book in advance or can I just buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just buy a 35 point-to-point ticket online?".  Click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

bullet pointEuropean train travel FAQ

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to Interrail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...


Athens to Larissa, Thessaloniki, Kalambaka

What's the journey like?  Athens to Thessaloniki by train:  Modern air-conditioned InterCity trains link Thessaloniki (Salonika) with Athens in as little as 3h57 after a speed-up in 2019, with new or upgraded sections of line coming into use.  The fare is just 45 in 2nd class or 55 in 1st class, even bought on the day, and there's superb scenery past Mt Olympus south of Thessaloniki and in the mountains between Larissa & Athens.

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

Trains leave from Athens' main (Larissa) station...  The train has comfortable 1st & 2nd class seats (2nd class above left) and a cafe car.  Interior photos courtesy of Dave Roberts.

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.

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

South of Larissa, the train ascends a spectacular escarpment (above right), with the Greek plain laid out hundreds of feet below.  This section is by-passed from the speed-up in May 2019.

Parnassus mountains seen from the Athens-Thessaloniki train

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

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

The train snakes through the mountains, over the Gorgopotamos viaduct, blown up by the British S.O.E. in WW2.  This section is by-passed by all fast trains as from May 2019.

 

Approaching Thessaloniki, the InterCity train runs along the Aegean coast and past Mount Olympus (seen above, from the train), mythical home of the Greek gods...

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Athens to Crete, Rhodes & other Greek islands

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Athens to other countries by train

International trains linking Greece with other countries were all cancelled in February 2011 due to the Greek government's dire financial state, but they were partially restored in 2014.  There should now be two international trains from Greece, Thessaloniki-Sofia daily all year, and Thessaloniki-Skopje-Belgrade which was reduced to running June-September only in 2019, then cancelled during the pandemic and now shows no sign of resuming..  For destinations in western & central Europe, it's now far better to travel to Italy by ferry then train, see the next section.

Athens & Thessaloniki to Sofia, Bucharest, Istanbul

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2023:  The international train between Greece & Sofia was suspended due to Covid-19 and remains suspended within Greece.  It is running between Kulata (on the Bulgarian side of Bulgaria/Greece border) and Sofia, but nothing on the Greek side.

On board the Thessaloniki to Sofia train:  The train uses modern Greek air-conditioned carriages, although as elsewhere in Greece there's a graffiti problem on the exterior.  Photos courtesy of Damien McGrath.

6-seat 2nd class compartment   Train corridor   The Thessaloniki to Sofia train

Comfortable 2nd class compartment.

 

Corridor...

 

The Thessaloniki to Sofia train.

Traveller Damien McGrath reports:  "I travelled up from Athens the day before.  I think its worth knowing that yes you will have to stay the night in Thessaloniki but it's a lovely city with lots to see and a lovely vibe right beside the Aegean Sea.  I then caught the 6.55am train from Thessaloniki to Sofia.  The train was made up of 7 or 8 carriages but I was told that Sofia travellers should only use the last two carriages as not all of the train goes to Bulgaria.  These also seemed to be the only carriages that were covered in graffiti!  I would estimate that there was only about 20 passengers in these two carriages and it never really got that busy all the way to Sofia.  We stopped after about two hours and it felt like were changing engines and being shunted up a siding.  Then there was the usual passport control all of which was reasonably efficient and we arrived on time into Sofia.  Some nice countryside especially on approach to Sofia where we passed the snow-capped Vitosha mountains."

Athens & Thessaloniki to Belgrade, Zagreb, Budapest, Vienna, Paris, London

IMPORTANT UPDATE 2023:  The international train between Greece & Belgrade was suspended due to Covid-19 and remains suspended with no sign of resuming.

On board the overnight train from Thessaloniki to Belgrade:  The Belgrade-Thessaloniki night train has a North 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

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Athens to other countries by ferry

These days, it's usually easier to catch a ferry from Patras to Bari, Ancona or Venice in Italy, then take trains to destinations all over western & central Europe.

Athens to Rome & Italy

Athens to other countries by train & ferry

1. Athens to Patras by train & bus

Athens station   On board the train from Kiato to Athens

Athens station.

 

By train from Athens to Kiato.

The train crosses the Corinth Canal   Bus from Patras to Kiato, run by TrainOSE

The train crosses the Corinth Canal.

 

Kiato to Patras by connecting bus.

2. Patras to Bari overnight by ferry

Superfast ferry from Greece to Italy

The ferry Superfast II at Bari.  Photos courtesy of DiscoverByRail.com.

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.

The ferry from Bari arrives at Patras

The ferry outside Patras port.

Athens to Istanbul & Turkey

Option 1, using the Thessaloniki-Izmir overnight ferry

Option 2, by ferry via a Greek island

Option 3, by train via Thessaloniki & Sofia

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Find hotels

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search: www.booking.com

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Tip:  It's sometimes worth comparing prices across multiple hotel booking sites:  HotelsCombined.com compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Agoda & many others.  If there's not much in it, I prefer to keep all my bookings together at www.booking.com, but it's sometimes worth checking!

Backpacker hostels

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Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

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

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting 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 listMaya.net 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

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 at time of writing.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

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 digging 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.  Why you need a VPN

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 expressvpn.com 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

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 Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com.

 


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