OK, only just now did I see this notice:

TRAIN CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE AS FROM 13 FEBRUARY 2011 Greece is in a dire economic state, and massive rail cuts are being implemented. All international trains between Greece and the rest of Europe (including the Thessaloniki-Istanbul train) are cancelled until further notice from February 2011. Greece is now cut off from the rest of Europe!

This is worrying. Assuming I have a 30-day unlimited Interrail pass, what is the best method to use to get to Istanbul from Athens, without flying?

I know that I can take a ferry to Rhodes and a ferry onwards from there to Turkey, but that takes a long time. I would rather take a train close to the border of Greece and take a bus or something over the border and continue that way. Even if it also takes a long time via bus, I would rather be spending that time on land than on a ferry.

Previous post:

I've tried bahn.de, but it doesn't recognise "Athens" at all, or "Athen" (the German name).

I've tried the Turkish train website, but it is eternally loading and never shows up at all.

I've tried the Greek train website, but it doesn't seem to recognise "Istanbul" and instead shows me Athens - Thessaloniki.

I know that I have to go from Athens to Thessaloniki to Istanbul, but I can't get any of these websites to recognise "Thessaloniki - Istanbul" either.

I know about seat61, but it doesn't have specific price/departure information for the days I want.

3 Answers 3


After a lot of searching I found this on the Interrail website:


Travel between Turkey and Greece There are several bus services available between Istanbul and Thessaloniki. These aren’t covered by your InterRail pass.

KTEL Bus: Thessaloniki – Istanbul

Departs daily at 10:00 and 22:00 from Irenes Street 17, in the centre of Thessaloniki

Approximate cost: €35

Duration: 12 hours

OSE Bus: Alexandroupolis – Istanbul

Departs Tuesday to Sunday at 8.30

Aproximate cost: €15

Duration: 6 hours

Get information and tickets at Greek railway stations

Sorry for answering my own question :/

  • 3
    No by all means, anwering your own question is encouraged if you find the answer! Long time on a bus but as you point out, you get to see stuff and it's cheaper than most of the ferries too!
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 21, 2011 at 18:45
  • 1
    It's much, much shorter than the ferry option, which would involve more than one day (9.5 hours to Rhodes, 1.5 hours to Miramas, then the train to Istanbul).
    – victoriah
    Aug 21, 2011 at 18:47
  • Oh yeah I wasn't saying it was slower by bus, just that 12 hours is a while cramped on a bus, whereas on ferries (or trains) you can get up and walk around. Hope you have fun, I'd love to get to those areas!
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 21, 2011 at 18:49
  • Yeah it was a tough decision since 12 hours on a bus isn't the most exciting of prospects, but if we take the 22:00 departure we should be able to sleep/doze, and taking the ferry is a lot more complicated and expensive! Now we're just stuck on deciding what route to take up north (and back home) from Istanbul, with around 14 days to play with. Hmms :)
    – victoriah
    Aug 21, 2011 at 18:55
  • I'd vote for some Eastern European travel - cheap and fun :) You can train right through Bulgaria to Bucharest, Romania (16 hours) from Istanbul if that doesn't interest you, and I recommend going to Brasov in the Transylvanian mountains. From there it's not far to Budapest, another 2 hours to Bratislava, and 60 mins to Vienna, one of my favourite cities in Europe, and you can go up through Poland and the Baltics as well, taking either a cheap AirBaltic flight or ferry back to Sweden. Ah, so much to see, haha :)
    – Mark Mayo
    Aug 21, 2011 at 19:04

In regards to your note about the trains being cancelled - I'm not sure, haven't found any more on that. However, this site:


has all means of getting between them, including train and ferry (assuming the train is running).

Train appears to be 54 Euros (if running), and the ferries between 30 and 60 Euros, depending on which port you use.

Wikitravel (http://wikitravel.org/en/Athens) also includes some info, and certainly seems to believe that the trains are still running.

  • RailEurope list the trains as being suspended, as does Seat61 so I think those pages are out of date
    – Gagravarr
    Aug 22, 2011 at 17:35

You can go from Athens to Thessaloniki, and then to Sofia (http://www.trainose.gr/en/passenger-activity/international-services/international-railway-services/) and than to Halkali (Istanbul uptown, http://www.bdz.bg/en/time-table-international/balkan-express-sofia-istanbul.html)

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