Thessaloniki to Athens Fly-Drive
Thessaloniki - Meteora - Athens
This culture-packed journey begins in Greece’s second city, whose lures include a citadel and the house where Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first leader, was born. You can make day trips to little-known Vergina, home to ‘Greece’s Tutankhamun’, and Alexander The Great’s ruined home of Pella before driving to Meteora’s cliff-clinging monasteries. There are various options for the route from there onto Athens and its superb temples, but the most exciting goes via Delphi – once reckoned the centre of the world, and a treasure trove of excavated remains and monuments.
- Explore Kemal Ataturk’s birthplace at the Ataturk Museum
- Inspect the undisturbed tomb of Philip of Macedon at Vergina, like a Greek version of Tutankhamun.
- Visit still-inhabited monasteries on the clifftops of Meteora
- Finish in Athens, admiring the majestic Acropolis and its Doric columns
An unusual trip from Thessaloniki to Athens on the Greek mainland, stopping in at some fascinating and little-known cultural gems
Fly to coastal Thessaloniki – plenty of direct flights run from the UK, many of them year-round. As well as being generally accepted as the country’s foodie capital, Greece’s second city specialises in culture. There are some 16 UNESCO World Heritage sites, plus the house where Kemal Ataturk, Turkey’s first president, was born. Drive up to the top of town and then, after admiring views of the citadel and Ottoman walls, wind downwards past superb Byzantine churches and the site where St Paul supposedly preached to the Thessalonians.
Hiring a car also enables you to make the easy, one-hour trip to Vergina. Little-known in the UK, this ‘Greek Tutankhamun’ is where the undisturbed tomb of Philip of Macedon, Alexander the Great's father, was discovered in 1976 with funeral silver and an exquisite suit of armour. It’s a wondrous place. Also nearby is ruined Pella, where both Philip and Alexander were born. Look out for beautiful mosaics and a newly opened museum showcasing Bronze Age gold burial masks.
It’s about a three-hour drive to the remarkable complex of Meteora, whose Eastern Orthodox monasteries and caves teeter precariously atop massive, slender rock pinnacles. In medieval times, ladder access to these led to many premature deaths. Thankfully, there are now fixed stairways leading to the still-inhabited monasteries - but be prepared to climb about 300 steps each time – plus a bridge to one. Your reward? Rare manuscripts, 16th-century frescoes and mind-blowing views.
Now you have options. You could easily drive the 215 miles to Athens inside a day, using quiet motorways, breaking up the journey at minor sites like the former citadel of Thebes, and arriving in time for a late lunch and chilled white wine overlooking the Parthenon as its night-time lights come on.
Alternatively, detour via Delphi. Not only was this pretty place once home to Pythia, an oracle consulted about every important decision in the ancient classical world, but Ancient Greeks considered it the centre of the world, hence all the rich monuments and remains now strewn across Mount Parnassus’ lush slopes. You could continue onto Athens in the same day, but it’ll be a long, hurried one and Delphi’s museum closes in mid-afternoon – so staying a night will make life more pleasant.
Athens hardly lacks for culture; you can either get up early and pack in as much as possible, or simply concentrate on one wonder. The contenders include the Acropolis’ three mighty temples, headlined by the 46-column Parthenon, its accompanying museum, Mount Lycabettus’ rock-carved theatre and hillside Plaka’s neoclassical mansions.
It’s easy to access Greece’s islands or the Peloponnese from Athens, while another option involves staying longer in Thessaloniki and doing some beachcombing. This whole itinerary is entirely flexible, and simply intended as a taster. Call us up, and we can tailor-make something perfectly suited to you.
From £875 per person
Price is based on travel in mid season and on 2 people sharing. Includes international flights from the UK, seven nights' B&B accommodation and car hire.
All of our itineraries are tailor-made to your specific requirements and therefore prices do vary. The above is an indication only. Prices will vary depending on the season of travel and the standard of accomodation used. Please contact us for a quotation and to discuss your holiday requirements in more detail.