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 city.  Train information updated for 2020.  COVID-19 update.

bullet pointI want to go from Athens to...

  London by train   Thessaloniki   Belgrade   Corfu
     

London by ferry+train

 

Patras

 

Zagreb

 

Rhodes

 

Paris by train

 

Kalambaka

 

Budapest

 

Crete

 

Paris by ferry+train

 

Sofia

 

Rome

 

Milan

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...


Domestic trains in Greece:  Athens to Thessaloniki or 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 May 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.  A free meal is served if you have a 1st class ticket.  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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Greek island ferries:  Piraeus to Rhodes, Crete & other islands...

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International trains from Athens...

Trains are back!  International trains linking Greece with other countries were all cancelled in February 2011 due to the Greek government's dire financial state, but the good news is that they are now back.  Greek Railways restored a train link between Thessaloniki & Sofia, and between Thessaloniki & Belgrade in May 2014.

Athens & Thessaloniki to Sofia, Bucharest, Istanbul...

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...

On board the overnight train from Thessaloniki to Belgrade...

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

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International ferries from Greece... 

Athens to Rome, Florence, Venice by ferry + train...

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!

Athens & Greece to Turkey...

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bullet pointFind hotels in Athens & other European countries

Find hotels at Booking.comMy 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...

Backpacker hostels...

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bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN...

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com 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 myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

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

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

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

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

A Curve card saves on foreign transaction fees...

 

Curve card

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then charge you a currency conversion fee.  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 balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

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 have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you 5 cashback through that link, too.

 

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 it 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, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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