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Will be traveling to Athens to meet a cruiseship this December so long as Covid allows, though i do not want to fly, so i looked in to alternative means of getting there and i could get a train to Italy and then a ferry from Ancona to Greece and then a bus to Athens. However this still means a good three days travel and quite a few changes along the way.

Does anyone know another way to get to Athens? I know there is a train goes from Paris to Moscow once per week, is there anything like this that goes to Athens? What is the closest i could get to Athens by one train from Paris? And how many trains from there?

It is a pity that the ferry from Marseille appears to have stopped going to Greece, as that would have been much easier from London, than Ancona.

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    Technically an option independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/… – kiradotee Feb 24 at 23:44
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    @JonathanReez Minor heart damage due to a heart attack. Flying is not good for the heart either. – John Strachan Feb 25 at 1:42
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    @JohnStrachan - while you should always check with your GP or heart specialist, the general statement "Flying is not good for the heart either" is not true - Most people with heart disease can travel by air safely without risk to their health. Have you looked into airport assistance options, as they're there to help ease the journeys of passengers with reduced mobility, etc. – Gwyn Evans Feb 25 at 10:57
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    Maybe consider NOT traveling in these times altogether? Safer for you, safer for humanity. – Xenonite Feb 25 at 11:12
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    @Xenonite they specifically say "so long as covid allows", so they're clearly already planning on only doing this if it's safe. – Kat Feb 25 at 20:28
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The Man in Seat 61 has a detailed exploration of train routes from London to Athens, some including ferries.

Note that the state of basically all forms of transportation are in an indefinite state of flux due to the pandemic. It's impossible to say firmly whether cruise ferries from Italy to Greece will be running in December, and if they run, it's impossible to say on what schedule. This makes planning difficult, as small changes to the schedule of one segment can break the entire journey.

A trip like this before a cruise is also risky, as there are so many opportunities for your journey to be interrupted, which could cause you to miss your cruise. If you're relying on, say, four trains and a cruise ferry (plus various local transit systems) to get you to port on time, a problem with any one of those could ruin your trip or at least require significant scrambling to find alternate transportation.

None of these methods really count as easy: all will require at least a couple days of travel and a number of changes. Option one, with trains to Italy, an overnight ferry to Patras, and a bus/train trip to Athens was at least doable in normal times, though I would personally want to pad my time in Athens significantly before a cruise before trying it. Flying is probably the most practical option in terms of travel time and certainty.

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    Any ground transportation between London and Athens is going to take about 30 hours of travel time just because of the distance and terrain. – Peter M Feb 24 at 23:38
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    Exactly. And as long as you can fly it in 3:45, there's not enough of a market for people who want a 30 hour train trip, so there's no direct/near-direct train service, so it takes even longer. – Zach Lipton Feb 25 at 0:43
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    The risks of a complex travel itinerary before a cruise can be mitigated by a couple days layover in the port city, or a day's layover there plus another day's layover within a day's travel of that. A variaton of that is schedule the train travel so it occurs at night, and daytime is spent enjoying cities enroute. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Feb 25 at 8:40
  • Pro tip: forget the train from Patras to Athens. I last did this many years ago, but I very much doubt the train infrastructure has been improved and it was actually about an hour slower to take the train than to go by bus. Since then, the road between the two cities has been upgraded and it's only around a 2-3 hour drive. – terdon Feb 25 at 16:07
  • @Harper-ReinstateMonica Of course, and that's why i suggested adding padding in Athens to the itinerary, but if someone's already concerned that the trip takes three days, it seemed worth noting that they'd want to allow a couple more days on top of that in case things go wrong. – Zach Lipton Feb 25 at 21:49
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There used to be Orient Express trains from London to Athens, but those stopped running... in 1962!

There are at the moment very limited international train services between Greece and the rest of the world. According to Wikipedia, the only trains running at the moment are:

  • Thessaloniki – Skopje – Belgrade
  • Thessaloniki – Sofia – Bucharest
  • Thessaloniki – Sofia* Arrival train into Thessaloniki connecting with the 11pm service to Athens, thus being aimed at connecting passengers from Sofia to Athens

Rome2rio lists an itinerary from London to Athens with a bus from London to Sofia followed by Sofia-Thessaloniki and Thessaloniki-Athens trains, with a total of over 2 days and 5 hours (40 hours of which on the London-Sofia bus!).

The shortest option they list without a flight involves 5 trains, one bus and one taxi, taking a bit under 34 hours (London - Brussels - Frankfurt - Wien - Bratislava - Thessaloniki - Athens).

Very long distance trains have become a rarity in Europe, and the Paris-Moscow service is a bit of an exception.

The option with the least changes (but by far not the fastest) would probably be London - Paris - Venice - Patras - Athens.

I love trains, but I would most definitely fly!

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