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 without flying!

No problem!  Take Eurostar to Paris and a high-speed TGV to Italy through the Alps, then an overnight cruise ferry to Greece across the Adriatic in a comfortable en suite cabin, with restaurants & bars on board.  Sailing across blue seas under even bluer skies past the islands of Ithaca and Kefalonia is perhaps the nicest way of all to reach Greece, a far more rewarding experience than 3 hours strapped to a seat on a plane, and it's practical & affordable, too.  On this page you'll find a step-by-step guide to planning, booking & making a memorable train journey from London or Paris to Greece, with schedules, fares and how to buy your tickets.

Train times, fares & tickets...

  London to Greece without flying: A guide to the options, with route map

  London to Athens by train & ferry via Paris & Italy (quickest & cheapest)

  London to Athens by train via Paris, Munich, Belgrade, Sofia (overland)

  London to Athens by train & ferry via Venice (with an Adriatic cruise!)

  London to Thessaloniki & Larissa

  London to Meteora (Kalambaka)

  London to Corfu

  London to Kefalonia

  London to Crete

  London to Rhodes & other Greek islands

  Trains & ferries from Athens to other European cities

  Trains & ferries to Athens from other European cities

Other travel information...

  Hotels & accommodation in Greece  

  Buying UK train tickets to connect with Eurostar

  Send your luggage in advance

  Greece to Turkey by ferry   

  Taking bikes   Taking a dog   Luggage   Left luggage in Paris  

  General information on train travel Europe

Sponsored links...

 

Useful country information

Trains within Greece:  

OSE (Organismos Sidirodromon Ellados): www.trainose.gr (previously www.ose.gr)

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 & dialling code:    

GMT+2 (GMT+3 last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).  Dial code +30.

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 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:

8 April 2014.  Train times valid from 15 Dec 2013 to 14 June 2014.


London to Greece:  What are 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 & Sofia to Thessaloniki, Larissa & Athens, although sadly it now involves a 6-hour bus ride between Sofia and Thessaloniki as there are now no trains.  Due to its dire economic situation, Greece cancelled all its international trains from 13 February 2011 until further notice, cutting itself off from the rest of Europe.  It seems mainland Greece is now just another 'Greek island'!  The complete journey from London to Athens takes 3 nights, with safe & comfortable sleeping-cars or couchettes available for each of the overnight sections and one night in a hotel in Thessaloniki.  Even with the long bus ride, it's an exciting journey with some wonderful scenery on the way.  Feel free to stop off if you like, too.  Train times, fares & information for this option are shown below.  IMPORTANT UPDATE:  It's possible a Belgrade to Thessaloniki train will resume in 2014, reconnecting Greece to the rest of Europe, see details here.

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

This is a simpler but slightly longer version of option 1.  You take Eurostar to Paris, catch the overnight sleeper to Venice, then take a 2-night cruise ferry from Venice to Patras in Greece for the train to Athens.  This lets you see Venice on the way, and it's a simpler journey to book.  Ferries from Venice to Greece sail either daily or several times each week, depending on the season.  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

London to Athens by train & ferry via Italy 

  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 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?

London to Paris by train, see the Eurostar page

Paris to Milan by high-speed TGV.    Watch the Paris-Milan video guide

TGV from Milan to Paris   TGV 2nd class

The TGV to Milan at Paris Gare de Lyon...

 

2nd class seats...  See panorama photo.

TGV cafe-bar car   TGV 1st class

Cafe-bar serving drinks, snacks & hot dishes...

 

1st class seats...  See panorama photo.

Designer interiors... The Paris-Turin-Milan TGV trains now feature chic interiors by designer Christian Lacroix.  All seats have power sockets for laptops & mobiles.  In first class, you'll be offered a 3-course tray meal with wine served at your seat, although this is extra, not included in the fare.  The bar car sells Paris metro tickets, which can save time on your return.

 

The TGV crosses rural France at up to 186 mph...

 

...then slows right down through the Alpine foothills.

  TGV from Milan to Paris

The TGV 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.

2nd class on the TGV from Paris to Milan  

More mountains...

 

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

Milan to Bari by Frecciabianca train...

Frecciabianca trains are fully air-conditioned with 1st & 2nd class.  There's a refreshment trolley, or you can take your own food and a bottle of wine along.

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

A Frecciabianca train at Milan Centrale...  Frecciabiancas link Milan with Verona & Venice every hour or so, at up to 125 mph...

 

2nd class seating.  Most seats have a power socket for laptops or mobiles.  There's a small bar car and a refreshment trolley...

1st class seats   Frecciabianca at Milan Centrale

This is 1st class, more spacious and less crowded.  All seats have power sockets for laptops or mobiles, and there's a complimentary coffee from the trolley...

 

A Frecciabianca to Venice, about to leave Milan.  A strange train - two modern power cars sandwich former intercity carriages.  This shows the new colour scheme.

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 to Greece, at sea on the Adriatic   Taking the ferry from Italy to Greece.  Wonderful!

Steady as she goes...

 

At sea, passing Cephalonia and Ithaca

How much does it cost?  Full details...

Each part of the journey is ticketed separately, so add up the fares for each stage for the class or accommodation type you want.  If you want to stop off in  Paris or Milan, this doesn't cost any more.  Incidentally, the cheapest way to make this journey is with low-cost advance-purchase tickets as shown here, not with an expensive railpass, as passes don't cover Eurostar and incur some hefty additional fees, such as a €55 passholder fee for the Paris-Milan TGV, when regular fares for this train start at €29 without a pass.

 1. London to Paris

 by Eurostar...

 From £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Milan or Turin

 by daytime TGV...

2nd class

1st class

 Cheap one-way fares:

From £26

From £41

 Cheap return fares:

From £52

From £82

 Full-price one-way fare:

£101

£121

 Full-price child fare:

£47

£61

 Railpass fare:

£54

£72

 Domestic animals:

£32

£32

Cheap fares = Prems or Leisure fares = Book ahead, price varies, no refunds or changes.

Full-price fare = Refundable and flexible.  There are no senior or youth reductions.

Child fare = Child 4-11 years (use an adult special fare if cheaper). Children under 4 free.

Railpass fare:  What you pay if you have railpasses (Eurail, Interrail, etc) covering both Italy & France.

Check actual prices for your date of travel at www.raileurope.co.uk or www.capitainetrain.com.

 3. Milan to Bari

 by Frecciabianca train

 Booked online at www.trenitalia.com:

 2nd class Super-Economy fares from €39 (£33) each way.

 2nd class Base full-price fare €89 (£75) each way.

 1st class Super-Economy fares from €59 (£50) each way.

 1st class Base full-price fare:  €120 (£102) each way.

  

 4. Bari to Patras

 by Superfast Ferries- 

 Blue Star Ferries...

 Booked online at www.superfast.com:

 Fares vary by season and accommodation - here's some examples:

 With a basic deck place:  €56 (£49) one-way, €95 (£83) return;

 With reclining seat:  €78 (£68) one-way, €129 (£112) return;

 With berth in cabin: From €118 (£103) one-way, €190 (£165) return

  

 5. Patras to Athens by bus

 A bus costs around €20 per person.  Buy your bus ticket when you get to Patras.

How to buy tickets online...

The easiest and cheapest way to book a journey from the UK to Greece is online, just follow the step-by-step instructions below.  As it involves 3 or 4 websites, do a dummy run on all sites to check prices and availability before booking for real.  It's pretty easy, but make sure you get your dates right for each leg of the journey.  It can help to jot down the date and departure time for each individual booking before you start, the how to plan an itinerary & budget page may help.  Hotel accommodation in Milan or in Greece can be booked before booking your trains risk-free if you use a site like www.booking.com with free cancellation.

How to buy tickets by phone...

Tailor-made train travel + hotel arrangements...

Traveller's report...

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.

Information on Patras-Athens trains...

Narrow gauge trains used to run between Patras & Athens Peloponnese station, a very scenic though not very fast ride.  The first stage of a new fast standard-gauge line has opened between Kiato (near Korinthos) and Athens main station, and until July 2010 you could still travel by narrow-gauge train from Patras to Kiato, changing onto a standard gauge train for the remainder of the journey to Athens.  Now the narrow gauge line has closed completely for rebuilding to standard gauge.  Greek railways are providing buses between Patras & Kiato.  One option is to use a direct bus between Athens main bus station and Patras.  The other option is to use the Greek railways bus/train connecting service from Patras to Kiato to Athens.

To check Patras-Athens or Athens-Patras train+bus times, go to www.trainose.gr, click the UK flag top right for English, then click 'Journeys', then look for the 'ROUTES - Suburban and National Network Services' box and click it.  This brings up a journey planner.  Typing 'Ath...' allows you to select 'Athina'.  Typing 'Pat...' allows you to select 'Patra'.  In the results, the Kiato-Patras 'trains' are now in fact buses.

Traveller Guy Aston reports:  "The Patras-Kiato narrow gauge railway is now very much closed, the tracks having been ripped up over lengthy sections, but OSE are running replacement buses between Patras & Kiato as shown in the OSE timetable (where they appear as trains!).  In August they were also running some non-stop buses which weren't in the official timetable. The Patras-Kiato buses take about 2 hours, and connect with the hourly Kiato-Piraeus standard gauge train service, which takes another 90 minutes to Athens. A Patras-Kiato ticket costs €10 including a seat reservation on the bus, Kiato-Athens/Piraeus costs €5 (second class only). The Patras booking office sold me the two tickets stapled together for €15, so I didn't have to risk missing the connection in Kiato with queuing at the ticket office there.  Coming back, however, the Piraeus booking office could only do a ticket to Kiato.  This bus-train combination seems ideal if you're heading for Piraeus and the islands, since it takes you directly to the port in Piraeus without having to change in Athens. The trains are reasonably comfortable air-conditioned diesel multiple units.  One thing you might also want to mention is the possibility of breaking the Patras-Kiato timetabled bus journey halfway at Diakopto, and taking a trip on the spectacular narrow-gauge rack railway up the gorge to Kalyvryta (4 trains a day: 70 minutes for 15 miles!).

London to Athens by train all the way...

NO INTERNATIONAL TRAINS TO OR FROM GREECE... 

Greece cancelled all international trains connecting it with the rest of Europe in 2011.  But trains to Greece may resume from 10 May 2014...

Greece has cut itself off from the rest of Europe.  With their economic situation dire, their government has implemented massive rail cuts.  This includes the cancelling from 13 February 2011 until further notice of all international trains between Greece and Sofia, Belgrade, Bucharest & Istanbul.  Greece is now cut off from the rest of Europe, except by ferry from Italy.  So much for Greece being part of Europe, let alone in the EU!  It has become an island!  So I currently recommend taking the train to Italy then the ferry to Greece, see the section above.

However, it's still possible to take a train all the way from London or Paris to Sofia in Bulgaria, stay overnight, then take a long bus ride across the border to Thessaloniki in Greece for an onward train to Athens.  This option is shown below.

Glimmer of hope for summer 2014?  At last some good news.  It's now reported that a Belgrade to Thessaloniki train will resume in 2014 along with a Sofia-Thessaloniki train, reconnecting Greece to the rest of Europe, though I'll believe it when I see it!  Latest reports say it will start from 10 May 2014.  I have added details of this train to the itinerary below, as an 'advance information' paragraph, but note that it is all still 'subject to confirmation'!

 

London to Greece overland, by train and the odd bus...

This is an overland adventure through the Balkans, via Paris, Munich, Zagreb, Belgrade and Sofia (other routes are possible, if you'd prefer the route via Vienna, Budapest & Bucharest, or Vienna, Budapest & Belgrade, see the Bulgaria page).  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.  Sadly, the withdrawal of all international trains to and from Greece means that the trains end in Sofia, and you'll now need to spend 6 hours in a bus from Sofia to Thessaloniki, picking up a train again for the scenic ride from Thessaloniki to Athens.

The route via Munich, Zagreb & Belgrade is the fastest overland option, London to Thessaloniki in Greece overland by train & bus in 2 nights, 3 days.  It involves comfortable high-quality air-conditioned trains all the way to Belgrade, but a more basic train which currently only has 6-berth couchettes, not private sleepers, overnight between Belgrade and Sofia, but it's comfortable enough - see the video guide!  If you insist on a private sleeper for both nights, and don't mind the journey taking 3 nights rather than 2, with a day and night at leisure in Bucharest between trains, see the Bulgaria page.

London ► Greece

Greece ► London

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 £39 one-way, £69 return 2nd class.

 From £107 one-way, £189 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior 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

 Savings fare one-way, from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€79

€139

 Savings fare return, from:

€58

€98

€118

€138

€158

€278

Savings 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...

 £43 each way.

 

 5. Belgrade to Sofia

     by night train...

 £44 each way plus £10 couchette supplement

 

 6. Sofia to Thessaloniki by bus

 50 Bulgarian Lev, around €25 (£22) each way.

 

 5/6. Belgrade to Thessaloniki

     by overnight train from 10 May 2014...

 Fares for the new train will be €32 bought at the station + approx €9 couchette supplement

 

 7. Thessaloniki to Athens by train

 From €9 to €39 in 2nd class.

 From €39 in 1st class.

 Booked at the station or online at www.trainose.gr.

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone:  0844 248 248 3...

Tailor-made travel & hotel arrangements:  020 3327 0761...

What are the trains & scenery like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page.

Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...  Click for TGV Duplex video guide

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train has power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  After an hour or two, 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 and Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine...

 

2nd class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and tables for 4 like this...

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

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

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

Munich to Zagreb on the 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, I recommend the typically Bavarian Mongdratzerl restaurant located inside the Hauptbahnhof, open until late.

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 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.

 

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

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

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

Zagreb to Belgrade by air-conditioned train...

This is a spacious and comfortable air-conditioned Serbian train, with modern 2nd class seats - there's no 1st class.  There's no restaurant car, so take a picnic and some beer or wine with you.  On arrival in Belgrade, you have time to wander into town, perhaps visit the fortress overlooking the confluence of Danube and Sava, have a coffee at the Hotel Moskva (free WiFi!) and perhaps dinner at the basic but remarkably cheap Zelturist restaurant in the corner inside Belgrade station.

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

Belgrade to Sofia by overnight train...

East of Belgrade, you leave modern fripperies such as air-conditioning behind...  The Belgrade-Sofia night train now only has a couchette car, no sleeper.  It's an elderly Serbian Railways couchette car with lockable 6-berth compartments looked after by a couchette car attendant from Zelturist, Serbian Railways' sleeper and catering subsidiary.  But it's comfortable enough, and seldom ever full.  Clean sheets, pillow and blanket are provided.  You'll probably find fellow travellers from Germany, the Netherlands, Australia or Britain on board...

The Serbian couchette car on the Belgrade to Sofia train   A 6-berth couchette compartment on the Belgrade to Sofia train

Sofia to Thessaloniki by bus...

In Sofia, the bus station is next to the railway station.  Several bus companies link Sofia with Thessaloniki, this is an Arda Tur bus.  Photo courtesy of Graeme Thorley.

Arda Tur bus from Sofia to Thessaloniki   Inside Sofia bus station

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...

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

Soon after leaving Thessaloniki, the InterCity 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 the mountains, over the famous Gorgopotamos viaduct, blown up by the British S.O.E. in WW2...

Great scenery from the train:  In the mountains between Athens and Larissa   2nd class on Greek InterCity train

Emerging from the mountains, the train descends a spectacular escarpment (above left), with the Greek plain laid out hundreds of feet below...

Thessaloniki to Athens InterCity train at Athens   The main Larissa railway station in Athens

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


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

The video shows what the train ride from London as far as Sofia is like.  There's a slight variation from the journey shown above, 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 the Gare de l'Est to Munich, then Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb, but the sleeping-car is identical to the Munich-Zagreb one and you see the same wonderful scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb.


London-Athens by train & cruise ferry via Venice

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

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

   

Taking a ferry to Greece from Venice rather than Bari means the London-Athens journey will take 3 nights rather than 2, but the simplicity of taking Eurostar to Paris, an overnight sleeper to Venice, then a direct cruise ferry along the Adriatic to Greece makes it a wonderful and leisurely option.  With a free day in Venice (stop off for longer if you like), a two-night Adriatic cruise on a modern ferry with cruise ship facilities, less train travel necessary through Italy and a simpler booking process involving just two websites not three, 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.


London to Salonika & Larissa

The overland route from London to Athens passes through Salonika (Thessaloniki in Greek) and Larissa.  However, it's currently blocked by the Greek government.  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.


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.


London to Corfu

By train & ferry via Bari or Brindisi...

By train & ferry via Venice...

You might prefer to catch the ferry from Venice.


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.


London to Crete (Heraklion & Chania)

  Ferries from Piraeus to Crete, seen at Heraklion
 

Pictured below:  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 of the overnight ferries from Piraeus, port of Athens, to Crete.

 

London to Rhodes & the 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.


Send your luggage in advance

Enjoy your journey without heavy luggage... 

Let www.carrymyluggage.com deliver your bags door to door.

If you'd like to enjoy your train journey free of heavy luggage, making it easy to get on and off trains with nothing more than a lightweight daypack or handbag, www.carrymyluggage.com will collect your luggage at your home address a few days before you leave, and will deliver it to addresses all over the EU, so it will be waiting at your hotel when you arrive.  It's not cheap, you can reckon on around £78 per case each way, but this is door to door, covering collection from your home in the UK or other EU country and delivery to an address in another EU country.  I've also arranged a 10% discount if you use the Promo code 'seat61' when booking your bags online.  www.carrymyluggage.com are a reliable company, they also work with companies such as Great Rail Journeys, Virgin Trains, First Great Western, Hull Trains, and South West Trains.


The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineThomas Cook Rail 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 have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

The Thomas Cook Rail Map of Europe is the best & most comprehensive map of train routes right across Europe, from Portugal in the west to Istanbul, Moscow & Ukraine in the east, from Finland in the north to Sicily & Crete in the south.  High speed & scenic routes are highlighted.  Highly recommended, if you can find a copy!  Buy online at www.amazon.co.uk (worldwide delivery).  A new edition will be published by the European Rail Timetable team in 2014.  See map extract.


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

My own book, an essential handbook for train travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61", was published in June 2008, and is available from Amazon with shipping worldwide.Lonely Planet Greece - click to buy online

 

 

 

 

 


Find hotels in Athens or anywhere in Greece

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

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

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        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.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on mobile data and phone calls...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find a huge bill.  Consider buying a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone from www.Go-Sim.com, which can slash costs by up to 85%.  Go-Sim cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also allows cheap data access for laptops & PDAs.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not used between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


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