Unfortunately, all international trains linking Greece to the rest of Europe have been canceled as of February 2011. But, it’s still possible to travel by train, at least part of the itinerary.
The Balkan Flexi Pass, the Multiple Countries Pass and the Global Pass can still be used because you can travel by train all the way to Sofia (Bulgaria) or Bucharest (Romania). For either cities, take the bus to Thessaloniki and once in Greece and you can travel by air, land or water to other parts of the country.
Traveling by train is, generally, a sure way to get to your destination on a rather low budget. Although if you plan to travel right in the middle of the summer you will need to book your tickets up to 90 days in advance, the prices don’t change during the year so planning the budget is really easy. Plus, if you are taking a night train you are assured a comfortable place to sleep the night way without being bothered so you wake up fresh in Greece ready to explore the country.
Using the rail passes
Although rail passes don’t offer unlimited travel (as many might think) they are a great way to save when you plan to travel by train. There are several types of passes which you can use when visiting Greece and they usually depend on your plans.
It’s the perfect option if you plan to visit Greece and other countries near-by (Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, etc). You can buy passes for 5, 10 or 15 days of travel within a month. Then you only need to get the seat from the train station and the supplements (if you want a couchette for example). It also comes with discounts at several hotels in Athens, a cheap RT flight from Athens to one of the islands and discounts for several ferry rides. Prices start at €86 per adult (26 years and older), for 5 days travel *. Youth tickets (12-25 years old) are also available. It’s valid only accompanied by your passport or ID card.
Greek Rail Pass
If you plan to travel by train only in Greece then this is the best option for you. You can choose between 2 and 10 days of travel within a month but the pass is available only in 1st class. It also comes with discounts for ferry travel, discounts at several hotels in Athens, discounts for several tours (including Athens sightseeing) and free admission to the Railway Museum in Athens. Prices start at €100 per adult, for 3 days travel.
Multiple country pass
If the Balkan FlexiPass doesn’t comprise the countries you want use the train in, then you can get the multiple country pass. Prices depend on what countries you plan to visit.
Allows you to travel by train in 21 European countries (including Greece). It’s valid for 10 or 15 days of travel within two months. It also comes with discounts for ferry travel, discounted Danube cruise, discounted sightseeing tours, free travel in Paris using the metro, discounts at hotels, free transfers and many more. Prices start at €605 per adult for 10 days travel.
How to get to Greece by train from several European countries/regions
The easiest way to get to either UK or France from Greece is via Italy. Travel by bus or train to Patras, then catch a ferry to Italy (either Bari or Brindisi). From there, connect to the trains which reach Paris or London, depending on your needs.
If you need to travel from Greece to Vienna (Austria), first you need to take a bus from Thessaloniki to either Bucharest (Romania) or Sofia (Bulgaria) and then get on a train to Vienna.
If you want to get to Eastern Europe from Greece, your only option is the bus. Thessalonii is connected to both Sofia and Bucharest. And from either cities you can catch buses, trains or flights to other parts of Eastern Europe.
Getting to Greece by train from UK or France
To get from UK to France you can use the Eurostar trains (which go under the British channel) or catch a train from the Ebbsfleet railway station. Alternatively, there are ferries from Dover to Calais and then you need to take a train to Paris.
To get from Paris to Greece, firstly you need to get to Italy. There are both night and day trains from Paris to Milan (do make sure to book couple of days in advance). From there you need to get by train to Bari and Brindisi. All ferries to Greece depart from either one of these ports.
Alternatively, you can get by train from Paris to Vienna (Austria) then catch another train to Bucharest (Romania). Then make sure to reserve a ticket for the night train between Bucharest and Thessaloniki.
Read more about:
>>Getting from Paris to Athens
>>Getting from London to Athens
Getting to Greece by train from Scandinavia or Germany
If you need to get from Scandinavia to Greece, the first stop is Copenhagen (Denmark). Then you need to catch a train to Germany (Hamburg or Munich). Now catch a train to Vienna (Austria).
From here you have two choices: either travel by train to Italy, then catch a ferry to Greece from Ancona or you can get on a train to Bucharest (Romania) and then use the night train from Bucharest to Thessaloniki.
Getting to Greece by train from Eastern Europe
Greece is connected to Eastern Europe via Bulgaria and Romania. There are direct trains from Bucharest (Romania) to Thessaloniki. And since Bucharest is connected to Budapest via night trains you can easily get to/from pretty much any European country to Greece.
Note:*the price is first-hand information from the Railways’ Agency; you will find different prices online (starting with €187 per adult for 5 days, 1st class). Therefore if you can, get the info from a train station or a railways’ agency.
The article was first published on June 17th, 2009 and has been updated and republish on February 2, 2012