How to Book Train Travel From Istanbul to Athens

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The trip from Istanbul to Athens is truly a trip through time as you'll pass from the seat of the ancient Ottoman Empire to the cradle of western civilization in Greece.

Things You'll Need

  • Passport
  • Internet connection

Book Your Ticket From Istanbul to Greece

  • Book your ticket through Rail Europe by visiting the Web site (see Resources) or calling a North American agent at (888) 382-RAIL.

  • Visit the Turkish State Railways Web site to view the latest pricing information and timetables for your trip to Greece (see Resources). For more information, call 011 (+90) 212 527 00 50. (From outside of the United States and Canada, call 00 (+90) 212 527 00 50.)

  • Book space on the Dostluk/Filia Ekspresi (Friendship Express) for the trip. The new service began in 2005 and will cost you around 85 Euros including the private sleeper supplement. If you are traveling with a friend, you can book a double sleeper for around 100 Euros total. Purchasing a round-trip ticket is an option but won't save you any money as the price will be equal to buying the tickets separately.

  • Log on to the Greek Railways site to book travel from Thessoloniki to Athens. The Friendship Express does not go all the way to Athens so you'll have to switch trains here.

  • Take plenty of food and drink to keep you going for the 10-hour trip. As the Friendship Express only pulls sleeper cars, there will be no opportunity to buy any food or beverages once you board the train.

Plan Your Trip From Istanbul to Athens

  • Research other options to determine whether train travel is the best method of travel for you. Bus or air travel may prove more suitable due to time and money constraints.

  • Decide on the route you'd like to take to get to Athens. While your trip into Greece will likely take you directly to Thessoloniki, you'll have to change trains once you arrive there. After Thessoloniki, you'll have the opportunity to take a direct route to Athens or a more circuitous route that will allow you to see more of Greece.

  • Plan on taking the popular overnight train from Istanbul into Greece for the most comfortable trip. The Dostluk/Filia (Friendship) Express carries only sleeper cars and will complete the journey to Thessoloniki in 12 hours. There is also a day train, but it is slower and not nearly as comfortable.

Tips & Warnings

  • Bus service is faster and cheaper than the train, but not as comfortable.
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