Nowadays the railway network in Greece is not as dense as it once was but you can still reach many interesting cities and places. The main line runs from north to south and connects Thessaloniki with Athens, the capital. From the port of Piraeus, close to Athens, ferries connect the mainland with the plenty of beautiful Greece islands.
Travelling through Greece with a rail pass
If you are travelling with a rail pass through Greece, keep in mind that a reservation and supplement is required for travel on Intercity trains. These connect Thessaloniki with Athens, Florina and Alexandroupoli. The reservation itself is free however if you are travelling with Interrail or a Balkan Flexi Pass you have to pay a supplement which is not cheap. For example, the reservation and supplement from Thessaloniki to Athens is about EUR 20. Eurail pass holders only need a reservation and do not have to pay the supplement. If you want to save money, do not use the Intercity connections and travel with normal trains instead.
Although the supplements are quite high, a rail pass still makes sense if you want to use one of the ferries across the Adriatic to Italy. With a rail pass you only have to pay port and fuel taxes and a seasonal surcharge in summer on the services of Blue Line and Superfast Ferries. If you have booked a trip on one of these ferries you also get discounts on domestic ferries in Greece.
Travelling through Greece with regular train tickets
You can easily buy tickets online at the website of Greek Railways TRAINOSE where you will also find price examples for the routes below. Of course it is also possible to buy tickets at train stations, but when purchasing online you receive a small discount.
In March 2015 I did a quick trip through Greece, starting in Thessaloniki. Unfortunately I was not that lucky with the weather but still would like to show some of the pictures I took during my trip.
Thessaloniki – Kalabaka
Kalabaka is the terminus of a branch line of the Thessaloniki – Athens main line that starts in Palaiofarsalos. Usually you have to change in Palaiofarsalos from an Intercity to a local train however there are direct trains from Thessaloniki and Athens to Kalabaka once daily – these are regular trains and do not require the IC supplement. I would recommend these trains also if you want to go from Thessaloniki to Athens.
Close to Kalabaka you will find the famous Meteora monasteries which are classified as UNESCO world heritage. It is possible to explore them on your own or book an organized tour. I paid EUR 35 for my tour via Visit Meteroa.
Kalabaka – Athens
From Kalabaka I continued my trip to Athens. I did not take the direct train but changed in Palaiofarsalos to an IC train. The IC train even includes a meal traveling in 1st class. The ticket price was EUR 15. The line runs through the mountains and includes many scenic views.
In Athens you should definitely visit the historic old town with the Acropolis. The entrance fee was EUR 12 but totally worth it.
Athens – Piraeus
A metro line connects Athens with its harbour, Piraeus. A single ticket is EUR 2.
Piraeus – Mykonos
From Piraeus frequent ferries connect the main land with the many Greek islands. I took a ferry to Mykonos, the trip took about five hours and cost EUR 34.
While the island is a party hot spot in summer it is a beautiful and quiet place during off season. Many restaurants and bars are closed but at least a handful of shops, cafes and restaurants are still open.
Mykonos has its own small airport and I took the opportunity and flew back home from here.