You may be wondering how to get from Athens to Thessaloniki if you are planning on visiting both cities as part of a wider trip to Greece. There are 5 different ways that you can make the journey.
But they vary significantly in terms of price and travel time. There is a distance of 502km between Greece’s two largest cities.
This equates to around 55 minutes of flight time, or between 4 and 6 hours overland. The best option for you depends on your personal preferences, your budget, and your schedule.
This article has been written by someone who has lived in Athens since 2017 and has made the journey countless times. It provides all the information that you need to decide how you want to travel, and to work out the logistics of your trip.
How to Get from Athens to Thessaloniki in 2023
If Athens and Thessaloniki are two stopping points on a wider Greece itinerary, you may want to consider renting a car in Greece and self-driving. This gives you a lot more freedom and flexibility of schedule and it allows you to make various stops en route.
A road trip across Greece is a wonderful travel experience. If you are just trying to get from A to B, the train is perhaps the best option. It is cost-effective and fast, and the trains are clean, modern, and efficient.
The buses take longer than the train and often cost just the same or even more. While public transport in Greece is generally excellent, and buses tend to run on time, it’s a long journey with a couple of stops, and a hot stuffy bus may not be your preferred choice if you feel car sick.
Catching a domestic flight is of course the fastest option. The flight time between Athens and Thessaloniki is just 55 minutes.
However when you factor in the time that you spend getting to Athens airport, 2 hours waiting at the airport, and the time getting from Thessaloniki airport to the city at the other end, it doesn’t really work out all that much faster. That is why the train is perhaps the best option to consider.
However, more detailed information on each of these transport methods, how much they cost, and how long they take, is provided below. So, you can weigh up which is best for you personally.
Travel from Athens to Thessaloniki by train
Travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki by train is arguably the most convenient option. Greece’s rail network is not comprehensive at this point, and it only runs between a few cities.
Fortunately, the route between Athens and Thessaloniki is one of them. Despite the distance between the two cities, you can get from Athens to Thessaloniki in just under four hours.
A new ¨fast train¨ service was launched in the spring of 2019. Think of it as the Greek version of the Japanese shinkansen (bullet train)!
Trains are modern and clean with spacious seating, onboard wifi, and toilets. Services currently depart five times a day. They depart from Athens at 06:22, 09:22, 12:22, 15:22, and 18:22 respectively.
From Thessaloniki to Athens, services depart at 06:27, 09:15, 12:15, 15:15 & 18:15. Additionally, the 600/601 train runs on a slower evening route.
The stops along the way vary depending on which direction you are travelling in. From Athens to Thessaloniki, the train stops at Lianokladi and Larissa. From Thessaloniki to Athens, it stops at Larissa and Paleofarsalos.
Buying Train Tickets from Athens to Thessaloniki
Typically, it is fine to purchase tickets on your intended day of travel. The only exception to this is if you are travelling during the holidays.
A one-way ticket from Athens to Thessaloniki costs €45. There is a 20% discount on the return journey if you book both tickets together. There are some concessions available.
Athens Train Station
Trains depart from Athens to Thessaloniki from Athens Larissa station (Heathfield Industrial Estate, KA8). This station is a little on the outskirts of town and so, you need to take a metro or a cab to get here.
The area surrounding the station is not dangerous, but it isn’t beautiful either so it’s not really a place that you want to base yourself in when choosing where to stay in Athens. If you have a lot of heavy luggage, you may want to consider taking a cab to Athens station.
Download ¨BEAT¨ taxi app for taking cabs in Greek cities. Uber is banned here and you can only use licensed yellow cabs.
However, opting to order a cab via the app minimises your chances of getting tricked or ripped off. Better yet, it tells you the price before you get into the car.
If you’re relying on the Athens metro, you can take metro line 2 (blue line) from Syntagma Square to Metaxourgeio. From there, it’s just a short walk to Athens Larissa. However, it’s not really ideal if you have a lot of bags.
Arriving at Thessaloniki Train Station
Thessaloniki train station is not the centre of town exactly, but pretty close. From here, you are just 2.5km away from Aristotelous Square.
There are a lot of hotels and Airbnb apartments in the Thessaloniki station area but it isn’t the best part of town and you should be careful walking here at night. Regular buses run between Thessaloniki station and the downtown areas of Aristotelous Square, Thessaloniki port, Ladadika, and the White Tower.
Travel from Athens to Thessaloniki by bus
Another cheap and convenient option for travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki is to do so by bus. KTEL buses service all parts of Greece – even the most far-reaching areas.
Confusingly, it is worth keeping in mind that KTEL does not have one centralised website for all of its bus routes and services. Instead, there are different KTEL bus websites to use for different regions of the country.
Don’t ask. Welcome to Greece!
Buying Bus Tickets from Athens to Thessaloniki
Just like when travelling through Greece by rail, you can buy Greek bus tickets and check times and fares online via the KTEL website. Similarly, you can buy the tickets in person at the station.
Buses depart approximately 13 times per day, between the hours of 6:45 and 23:30. Standard tickets cost €32.40 with reduced fares available for students, the elderly, and military personnel.,
Athens Bus Station
There are a couple of bus stations in Athens so whenever you take an intercity bus in Greece, it’s important to check exactly where you are going to be departing from. However, the Kifissos bus station (Station Kifisou) is the main Athens bus station. This is where you will depart if you travel to Thessaloniki.
There is not a metro station directly on the doorstep of Station Kifisou. It is somewhat awkwardly located in the middle of Agios Antonios, Egaleo, Sepolia, and Eleonas stations.
Your best bet is to take the metro to one of these places, from wherever you are in Athens, and then take a short cab ride.
Thessaloniki Bus Station
There are two main bus stations in Thessaloniki. One is conveniently located close to the train station. However, the other is set on the outskirts of town beside the ¨Menemeni¨ district.
Unfortunately, it is the latter, farther-out station where most buses to Thessaloniki terminate. This is Ktel Makedonia station at Giannitson 244.
From here, you can take a cab or a bus onwards to the centre of town. There are always plenty of yellow taxis waiting outside. BEAT also works in Thessaloniki.
Monastiriou 67 is the other Thessaloniki bus station. This is literally adjacent to the Thessaloniki train station but unfortunately, not all buses stop here.
Renting a car in Greece
Renting a car in Greece is a great way to get around. It can give you a lot more freedom and flexibility when travelling from Athens to Thessaloniki.
However, you don’t really need a car for travelling in these cities themselves.
(Both are congested, difficult to find parking spaces and have many chaotic, multi-lane or one-way roads that can be a nightmare to navigate). So, you may want to consider renting a car if you are embarking on a wider Greece itinerary, or you plan on taking a lot of day trips out from Thessaloniki.
If you are literally just going from Athens to Thessaloniki and staying in the city centre, you are best off relying on the train, bus or plane.
Numerous reputable rental companies operate in Athens and Thessaloniki. This includes Enterprise, Sixt, and Hertz.
Use a rental comparison website such as Discover Cars so that you can compare the prices between various rental providers and secure the best deals. You are looking at an approximately 5-hour drive between the two cities.
You may want to do this all in one go, or stop off at a few towns and villages along the way to break up the journey. A lot of people are often nervous about driving in Greece but for the most part, driving here is no different from driving in most of Europe.
The roads in Greece are very modern and well-maintained. Be aware of your surroundings and watch your own driving and you ought to be fine.
Tolls on Greek roads
One thing to keep in mind is that there are a frustrating amount of toll booths. From Athens to Thessaloniki, this is likely to cost you over €30.
Always be sure to keep a small amount of cash on you, particularly small denomination notes and coins. You cannot pay by card at Greek toll booths and they may not be able to give change if you pay with larger €20 and €50 denomination notes.
Fly from Athens to Thessaloniki
It is possible to fly from Athens to Thessaloniki and vice versa. The journey takes 55 minutes and you can find one-way tickets for as little as €20.
Of course, prices vary substantially depending on the time of year that you decide to travel. This cost almost triples during the Greek summer months of July and August, with many domestic tourists flocking to Halkidiki.
Olympic Air, Aegean Air, and Sky Express all serve this route. Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos and Thessalonikis Airport Makedonia are both approximately an hour out of each city respectively. Do keep in mind that you will probably have to be at the airport at least 2 hours before departure.
Use Skyscanner to search for the best flight deals between the two cities. It is a good idea to book your tickets a couple of months in advance if you are travelling during the summer to avoid price increases.
However, since there are usually 11 departures per day, the tickets rarely (if ever) sell out.
Get from Thessaloniki airport to the city centre
It is easy to get from Thessaloniki airport to the city. The airport is just 17km away from the centre, close to the beach suburb of Peraia.
You can reach central Thessaloniki in just 30 minutes. The X1 bus runs from the airport arrivals terminal every half an hour. Tickets can be purchased on board.
Alternatively, you may want to organise a private Thessaloniki transfer. This way, a car will be waiting for you on arrival. City transfer by Airport and beat cabs is also possible.
Organise a taxi or private transfer
A private taxi transfer from Athens airport to Thessaloniki is estimated to cost about €300 – €800 one way. This is far from the most economic option, although it may be something you are considering if there are 4-5 of you and you prefer not to drive overseas.
(After all, between 4 of you, this only works out at €75 each.) It is highly unlikely that you will find a driver that is willing to take you to Thessaloniki if you hail a random cab or try and take a BEAT cab.
(This is due to the distance and the fact that they are unlikely to get a return fare). You need to organise a private transfer in advance.
You can ask your Athens hotel to provide you with a suggested contact as they will likely have trusted drivers that they use for their guests. Alternatively, you can make calls to a few local taxi firms to request quotes and make an advance reservation.
FAQs on How to Get from Athens to Thessaloniki in 2023
Do you have any further questions or uncertainties about getting from Athens to Thessaloniki (or vice versa)? The answers to some frequently asked questions are detailed below.
Hopefully, you will find the information that you are looking for there. Otherwise, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
How much is the train from Athens to Thessaloniki?
A one-way ticket from Athens to Thessaloniki (or vice versa) by rail costs between €10 and €35 depending on the specific service you are traveling on. The journey takes about 4 hours and 10 minutes.
Is the train from Athens to Thessaloniki scenic?
Yes. You will pass some gorgeous scenery and rural Greek villages on the rail journey from Athens to Thessaloniki. (Or Thessaloniki to Athens).
You will depart Thessaly and pass through Katerini and Platamon, before rolling through the foothills of Mount Ossa, through Larissa, and through Central Greece before making your way to Athens.
How much is a bus ticket from Athens to Thessaloniki?
The bus from Athens to Thessaloniki costs around €39 one way and the journey takes around 5.5 hours. Since the journey by rail is often cheaper, faster, and much more enjoyable, you may want to consider this option first.
How to get from Athens airport to Thessaloniki
The best way to get from Athens airport to Thessaloniki is to fly. The flight from Athens Eleftherios Venizelos airport (ATH) to Thessaloniki Makedonia Airport (SKG) takes just 55 minutes.
There are multiple departures every day. (Often as many as 11-12). A one-way ticket costs around €35 on average, excluding additional extras like checked baggage.
There is currently no direct bus/rail link from Athens airport to Thessaloniki. If you prefer to travel overland, you will need to get from Athens airport into Athens city centre and travel by bus/train/road from there.
How far is Thessaloniki from Athens by plane?
There is a distance of 502km between Athens and Thessaloniki. This equates to around 55 minutes of flight time.
Final thoughts on how to get from Athens to Thessaloniki
Do you have any further concerns about getting from Athens to Thessaloniki, or do you need general assistance in organising your Greece trip? Please don’t hesitate to reach out.
I’ve been living in Greece since 2017. Safe travels. Geia sou! Melissa xo