Traveling to Meteora by train is very easy. There are trains that go to Kalambaka (the village at the base of the rocks) from the two largest cities in Greece, Athens and Thessaloniki. It takes about 5 hours from Athens and 3.5 hours from Thessaloniki. Some trains are direct and some make stops where you need to change trains. The direct routes are shorter but more full. You can also get to Kalambaka via bus, but they are more expensive and about the same amount of travel time.
The trains in Greece are comparable to planes, when it comes to comfort. There are spaces above the seats were you can store luggage and other items. The seats recline so that, if you are on a long journey, you can sleep for a bit. There is also quite a bit of leg room. Brandon is a tall guy and he was fairly comfortable. There are bathrooms on board, but I would only use them if it was an emergency. They were not very clean and smelled pretty bad. You have been warned.
When we rode the train from Athens, we arrived at the station about 30 minutes prior to departure. We got to the window and discovered there were no seats left on the train. The cashier then said we could buy a ticket without a seat. Being that the train takes 5 hours, I was a bit concerned. But the next train didn’t leave for 5.5 hours, so it was either sit on the floor of the station or on the floor of the train. When the train left we were able to sit for the first hour. Then we had to embrace the suck and played musical chairs for the next 4 hours. In total, we only ended up sitting on the floor for about an hour. The ride was much better then we originally anticipated.
When we left Meteora we were headed to Thessaloniki. We boarded our direct train and were then told we would need to change trains at some point. This made sleeping on the train quite difficult, as we didn’t want to miss our stop. We also were quite confused during our train transfer because we went to a station, stopped for a bit, and then continued back the same way that we had come. After a bit the train turned off on another track and arrived at the station we needed. When we got off, we boarded a metro type train that had no assigned seating. We had another 2 hours or so to go and were loaded down with our full packs, so this was a bit inconvenient. Luckily as the train made some stops, people cleared out and we were able to store the packs and sit down.
Overall, the train experience was a pretty fast and cheap way to get to and from the area.
3 Tips When Traveling to Meteora by Train
Tip 1: Get a map of the area that so that you can see which station and approximately how far it will be for you. Remember, reading the Greek language can be very difficult.
Tip 2: Purchase tickets ahead of time via the station or online. This may not always be available or an easy thing to do, but if you can it is definitely worth it.
Tip 3: Bring train snacks and refreshments with you since not all trains sell these things and when they do, it can be quite expensive.