Thanks to its position in Central Europe, Vienna (Austria) is often a good choice for a stop-over before you head to Eastern Europe or the Balkans. The city is absolutely amazing and is worth your time but when you decide to move on, you should know which choices are available to get to Athens .
If the budget is not too low and you don’t exactly like to spend (a lot of ) time in trains and buses, then choose to fly between the two capitals. In about 2 ½ hours you’ll be at the destinations.
However, if you like to watch the scenery passing by and don’t mind spending about a day in the train and/or bus, then you can choose one of the slower means of transportation. The cheapest option is definitely by bus for the entire length of the trip.
Flights from Athens (airport code: ATH) to Vienna
Unfortunately, the route between the two capitals isn’t served by low-cost carriers and you have to choose among Austrian Airlines, Aegean Airlines and Olympic Airways if you choose a direct flight. Starting with May 2012, expect to pay from €84 one way on Aegean Airlines (2h 20 min flight), but outside the travel season (for example March, the fares start at €160 one way on connecting flights via Serbia)
Do keep your eyes on the airlines’ sales though as you can end up saving quite a lot on airfare.
>>book a flight to Athens
Trains from Athens to Vienna
Unfortunately, all international trains to Greece have been suspended as of February 2011. So you can either travel from Thessaloniki to Sofia (Bulgaria) by bus and then get on a train via Belgrade to Budapest and then Vienna, or travel from Thessaloniki to Bucahrest (Romania) by bus and then get on a train to Budapest and then Vienna.
Getting from Athens to Vienna by train can be quite daunting and is not exactly an adventure recommended for those who lack patience or don’t like trains.
The shortest route takes little over 19 hours (according to DB BAHN ) and you’ll be making several stops along the way; more precisely in: Eboli, Napoli, Rome, Venice and Salzburg.
You can also create your own route, via Bucharest (Romania) and Budapest (Hungary). It is one of the busiest routes during summer and you need to book the tickets in advance. First, you need to get to Thessaloniki and from there get on the train to Bucharest. The journey takes 18 hours. From Bucharest, choose the direct train to Vienna and travel for another 18 hours. It is daunting and long but it’s one of the most beautiful train rides in Europe.
You can buy a train pass which allows for city breaks. Of course, the total travel time will increase but you’ll get to see more cities along the way and get to relax as well.
Buses from Athens to Vienna
Long haul bases connect the cities in Eastern and Central Europe but there aren’t any direct links from Athens to Vienna. Here’s a simple route:
Step 1: Athens to Thessaloniki
You can travel from Athens to Thessaloniki by plane, train, bus or ferry, depending on you spare time and budget.
Step 2: Thessaloniki to Bucharest (Romania) by bus
There are several bus companies serving the route, including Eurolines. One way tickets start at €16 (65 RON).
Step 3: Bucharest to Vienna
You can travel from Bucharest to Vienna by plane, train or bus, depending on your spare time and budget. The cheapest choice, however, is the bus. One way tickets start at €65 and there are several bus companies offering connections.
Driving from Athens to Vienna
You can rent a car in Athens and plan to drive all the way to Vienna. Since both countries are in the European Union you shouldn’t have problems picking up in Athens and dropping it off in Vienna, especially if you plan to drive only through European Union countries (the route via Bucharest – Budapest).
According to Google Maps, the shortest route is via Thessaloniki – Belgrade (Serbia) – Szeged (Hungary) – Budapest (Hungary) – Vienna. It’s a total of 1728 km which can be covered in about 18 ½ h. Plan to make stops along the way. Budapest is definitely worth a day of sightseeing.
Another option in order to drive only through European Union countries it to choose the following route: Athens – Thessaloniki – Sofia (Bulgaria) – Bucharest (Romania) – Arad (Romania) – Szeged (Hungary) – Budapest (Hungary) – Vienna (Austria). It’s much longer (2269 km) but you can plan to stop several times along the way. Bucharest, Sibiu (along the road to Budapest) and Budapest are definitely worth a day of sightseeing.
Note: the article was first published on April 19th, 2010 and has been republished on February 1, 2012.