Travel to Athens

Flying to Athens

Airlines offering direct flights to Athens from the UK include British Airways, easyJet, Olympic Air and Aegean Airlines.

Flight times

From London - 3 hours 45 minutes; New York - 10 hours; Los Angeles - 18 hours 30 minutes; Toronto - 12 hours; Sydney - 22 hours.

Travel by road

Summary:

In Athens, traffic drives on the right and the minimum age for driving is 18 years. Speed limits are 120kph (70mph) on motorways, 110kph (60mph) outside built-up areas and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas. It is illegal to carry spare petrol (benzina) in the vehicle. A national driving licence is acceptable for EU nationals but nationals of other countries may need an International Driving Permit. EU nationals in possession of a Green Card, which provides international third-party insurance, are permitted to import a foreign-registered car, caravan, motorcycle, boat or trailer for a maximum of six months (or up to 15 months for a fee). A Green Card is no longer a legal requirement in Greece for visits of less than three months; however, without it, insurance is limited to the minimum legal cover. Car registration documents must be carried at all times. The Greek Automobile and Touring Club - ELPA (tel: 210 606 8800; www.elpa.gr) provides members of associated national automobile clubs with 24-hour assistance on main roads.

Emergency breakdown service:

ELPA (tel: 10400).

Routes:

The PATHE (Pátra, Athens and Thessaloníki) motorway runs from Pátra in the west via Athens to Thessaloníki and Tsoliades on the FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) border. To reach both Istanbul and Sofia, drivers must head north on the E75 to Thessaloníki. From there, Istanbul is east on the E90, crossing the border at Kipi, while Sofia lies northeast on the E79, crossing the border at Promahonas.

Driving times:

From Thessaloníki - 6 hours; Sofia - 10 hours 45 minutes; Istanbul - 16 hours.

Coaches:

There are two domestic long-distance bus terminals in Athens - terminal A, Kifissou 100, and terminal B, Liossion 260. Buses link Athens and all the main towns in Attica, northern Greece and the Peloponnese. Bus schedule information for the Attiki region is available (tel: 21088 08000; www.ktelattikis.gr).

In addition, Hellenic Railways Organisation – OSE (tel:14511; www.trainose.gr), runs regular international bus services to Bulgaria, departing from Thessaloniki in northern Greece, but not direct from Athens.

Travel by rail

Services:

All trains now depart from Larissis station, off Dheliyáni. Facilities at Larissis station (which is served by the metro, red line, connecting it to Syntagma in the city centre) are minimal, basically left luggage and a couple of bars.

Operators:

The domestic railway network is limited to the mainland and is generally slower than travel by road. The Greek railway service is run by Hellenic Railways Organisation - OSE (tel: 14511; www.trainose.gr). Greek trains have first- and second-class accommodation. However, following cuts in 2011, during which several lines were suspended due to financial problems, the rail service is limited to the northern and eastern mainland (the principle route being Athens-Thessaloniki) and to the northern parts of the Peloponnese (at present only the Athens-Corinth line is functioning, but there are plans to upgrade and reopen the Corinth-Patra line).
Overnight trains Athens-Thessaloniki sadly no longer offer couchettes, which were also victims of the cuts.

Trains are cheaper than buses but generally much slower. Reservations are available for no extra charge and there is a 20% rebate on return fares.

International train services were also slashed during the 2011 cuts, and Greece is no longer connected to neighbouring countries by rail. To compensate in part for this, OSE operates a bus service from Thessaloniki-Sofia (Bulgaria).

Journey times:

From Thessaloníki - 6 hours 30 minutes; Corinth - 1 hour 20 minutes.

Edited by Tina Banerjee
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