My Big Fat Greek Road Trip

My Big Fat Greek Road Trip covered 1520 Kms from Athens to Thessaloniki and back during the Easter period. This 11 day trip took in mountains, monasteries and plenty of lovely Greek food! Planning a Greek road trip of your own? Read on for some travel inspiration. 

Greek Road Trip

My Big Fat Greek Road Trip

As regular readers may know, a bicycle is my preferred mode of transportation. Sometimes though, circumstances dictate  otherwise, and My Big Fat Greek Road Trip saw us use a car for the duration of our 11 day trip.

The plan, was to spend a little time with the Mrs family in Arachova for the Easter weekend, see some of central Greece, and then finish up in Thessaloniki to stay with her brother. After our time there, we would then drive back from Thessaloniki to Athens.

Planning the road trip in Greece

The Greek road trip was divided into four stages, which I will describe below. As this is just a summary, I won't go into too much detail of sites such as Delphi, but you can expect individual blog posts about them over the next couple of weeks.

You might also be interested in this detailed post about the best places in Greece to see on a road trip.

Big Fat Greek Road Trip Itinerary

Athens – Arachova – Osios Loukas monastery – Delphi – Gravia – Kalambaka – Meteora – Trikala – Pyli – Elati – Pertouli – Kalliroi – Doliana (Iera Moni Timiou Stavrou church) – Vergina – Thessaloniki – Nea Michaniona – Athens

Total kms = 1520
Total Days = 11.5

Find car rentals at: Discover Cars


The mountain town of Arachova is located about 170 Kms to the north-west of Athens, and driving there took us around 2 hours. It is the most popular winter sports destination in Greece, and the town has a touristy feel to it.

Hotels, shops, cafes and restaurants are at their busiest during the peak months between December and March, when the slopes of Mt. Parnassos attract a mainly Greek skiing and snow-boarding crowd. It is also a busy place during the rest of the year, due to its close proximity to the magnificent archaeological site of Delphi.

Arachova was to be our home for 4 nights, staying with the Mrs aunt for the Easter period.


During our time in Arachova, we visited a couple of nearby places of interest. Delphi was one of them of course, and you can read about The Temple of Apollo and Sanctuary of Athena here. Another place, was the Osios Loukas monastery which was a 20 minute drive from Arachova.

Greek Easter

Easter in Arachova

Easter was the ‘main event' during our stay in Arachova though. It is religiously and culturally more important to the Greeks than Christmas, and is a chance for family and friends to eat and drink well. Really well! You can read about that in more detail here >> Greek Easter 2015 – The Fast, The Feast, and the Curious.

We had a great time in Arachova, but after 4 nights there, it was time to continue on with our Greek road trip.

Kalambaka and Trikala

We had planned to visit Karditsa and the nearby Lake Plastira on the way up to Kalambaka. Due to a late start and good-byes, we didn't have the time though, so it's on the list for the next trip!

Kalambaka is another town geared up for tourists, with plenty of accommodation to choose from. This is the place to stay when visiting the Meteora monasteries, which we did the next day. Take a look here for the best places to stay near Meteora.

The Monasteries of Meteora

Meteora Monastery

The monasteries of Meteora are perched on the tops of beautiful and improbable rock formations. There are a number of walking routes which can be used to get from one monastery to the other, but the car gave us a little more freedom and access to better viewpoints.

It would also have been a challenging but rewarding area to cycle around. In fact, I later did this in 2018 – Go and check out my YouTube channel!

Related: Road trip food ideas


After spending the day at Meteora, we then drove on to nearby Trikala where we would stay over night in a central hotel. We could have stayed an extra night in Kalambaka, but we met up with friends in Trikala for a meal, so it made more sense to stay there for the night.

Bicycle in Trikala

Note – Trikala is the most bicycle friendly city in Greece. It's not bad for pedestrians either – The traffic actually STOPS at crossings to let people walk across the road!! Crazy, I know!


On leaving Trikala, our Greek road trip then took us up through a valley, with snow capped mountains on either side. This is a part of Greece that travellers would find hard to see without transport of their own.

As we went up into the mountains, I couldn't help but think what a great cycling route it would make. It would be hard work, but thoroughly rewarding!

With limited time on our hands, the car was a better option though. There was very little traffic on the road, and we managed to hit a sweet time of year.

The mountains still had snow on, the weather was warm, and there was a distinct lack of other tourists. This was evident when we arrived at the hotel in Kalliroi – we were the only people there!


After leaving the hotel, the Greek road trip took us to Thessaloniki, where we would stay with the Mrs brother for a few days. Along the way, we stopped off at Vergina to visit the museum there.

This unique place is actually built on the top of the tombs of Alexander the Great's relatives. It both protects and displays them, and is a really interesting place to spend a couple of hours. The no-photos allowed rule is a bit annoying though!

Our time in Thessaloniki was spent with family, visiting the beach, and even going to a basketball match.

beach near Thessaloniki

Going back to Athens

Finally, it was time to leave, and we started the 500 Km drive to Athens from Thessaloniki. We had planned to stop off at Dion on the way, but again, that will have to wait for another Greek road trip.

During the journey back, we noticed two things. Firstly, that there are a lot of toll roads! Secondly, there is a tremendous amount to see and do.

It also got us thinking about travel, the future, and a possible 4WD trip around the world. That's probably something I will write about much later on though!

Related: Travelling by Car: Advantages and Disadvantages

Stats from the road trip in Greece

I know some people are into stats and stuff like that, so here is a break down of what we spent during our Greek road trip. These figures are based on two people using a car we already owned.

It was never intended to be a ‘budget' trip, and we ate and drank exactly what we felt like. Keep in mind that a lot of accommodation was ‘free', and that we were also treated to more than our fair share of meals. (Greek hospitality towards family and friends never ceases to amaze and humble me).

Still, these stats should be useful for anyone else planning a road trip through Greece.


Nights spent at Auntie's = 4
Nights spent at  Brother's = 4
Nights spent in budget hotels = 2
Nights spent in non-budget hotels = 1


Supermarket food / coffees = 22
Restaurant food = 95
Alcohol = 10
Chocolate = 5
Tolls = 41
Fuel = 147
Accommodation = 135
Ticket for church = 2 (A student card comes in handy sometimes!)

Total = 457 euro

Cost per Day = 39.73 Euro
Cost per Km = 0.30 Euro  (I put this out of habit from bicycle touring!)

You might also be interested in this travel guide: Athens to Thessaloniki travel guide

If you are planning a Greek road trip, and would like some advice, please get in touch. If you've been on a Greek road trip of your own recently, I would also love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

My Big Fat Greek Road Trip - A 1500 km road trip through Greece to see Delphi, Meteora, Thesaloniki and more.

34 thoughts on “My Big Fat Greek Road Trip”

  1. Hi Dave,
    We are planning on a trip to Greece from Australia next May/June 2023. My husband will be competing in a sailing regatta which is being held at Iraklitsa Kavala, we are retired so don’t have any time constraints we thought maybe 4 to 5 weeks including the week long regatta. Would appreciate any information on our proposed itinerary.

    Fly into Athens pick up hire car, drive north/east stopping at places of interest for a few nights arriving in Kavala on Wednesday 24th May departing 3rd June, we thought we would drive to Thessaloniki then down to Chalkidki region (Kassandria) and (Sithonia) a Greek acquaintance of ours referred this region as the 3 fingers, we would drive across to Corfu and then make our way back to Athens to fly home.


    • Hi Ann,

      Sounds like you’ll have a great time!
      A couple of quick observations and suggestions:
      Include Delphi on the way from Athens
      Drop by Meteora on the way to Kavala
      Going to Corfu – your car hire company might not allow your vehicle to be taken on the ferry. Check with them and about a potential drop off point if you can leave it at the port. You could rent another car in Corfu.

  2. My 2 week Greek road trip was our best vacation ever.

    Athens to Kalambaka and Meteora for 2 nights; on to the Pelion Peninsula for 4 nights in Cherefto, a beautiful, relaxing and totally unspoiled place. Then to Galaxidi for two nights to visit Delphi, Arachova and Loukas. We drove around the Peloponese to visit ancient Olympia on the way to Kardamili on the Mani Peninsula for 3 nights – great hiking and beaches. We visited Mystras en route to Napflion where we spent our last three nights. It was an amazing trip.

    Now I am planning a 2 week road trip through Crete in May. Noted your suggestions!

  3. Looks like you’ve had a wonderful roadtrip in Greece. I will be travelling to Greece with my husband this early November. We will be doing a roadtrip from Athens to Delphi – Kalabaka – Larissa – Portaria – Milies and back to Athens. There’s a lot of interesting places to explore but with the limited time, that is all we can cover for the trip.

    What is your view of having to drive back to Athens at night? Is it safe?


    • Hi,
      By the point you are driving back into Athens, you will be well used to Greek driving, so you should be ok!
      I would say that you’ll need to keep a close eye on signposts, and switch Google maps on for some section.
      Have a great road trip in Greece!

  4. Hi ..we are 6 couples who want to get to Sofia from Athens ….we thought of driving from Athens to thesalloniki ..stay the night there and next day morning leave for Sofia …can you suggest what would be the best possible route for us and what would be the good enroute sights to stop at …thanks in advance

    • Hi Tanya,
      My advice would be to drive to Meteora and stay the night there (and do your sightseeing of course – fantastic area to visit!), rather than stay in Thessaloniki.
      The next day you could stop off at Thessaloniki for lunch before heading to Sofia.
      There’s a lot to see on the route, so you might just want to restrict it to Meteora as described above.
      The other places you could consider (if you haven’t seem them) along the way include: Delphi and Vergina

  5. Hi Dave
    I very much enjoyed your informatine and interseting blogs, I do something similar for my freiends nad family when we do a oroad trip. We have now complted 5 each one lasting 2 months the last one was South Africa , usually go in September and October.
    I am now considering Greece and will use your blogs to develope a route, We are not big fans of the cold so would want to be leaving the warmest parts for October, I am thinking of also going to some greek Islands as part of the trip. We will hire a car when we have finished Athens the head off to explore. Do you think a budget of 50 Euro a day for food, petrol, fun, is reasonable?

    • Hi Brian,
      I hope you are well – it sounds like a great road trip you are planning! Two months would be a good amount of time to use, and you’ll get to see a lot.
      In terms of budget – For two people, we average between 60 and 75 euro per day. With two months though, you can stay longer in each place, thus lowering costs. This wouldn’t include the car hire of course.
      When planning your trip, you might want to consider the island of Crete as your last destination. It stays warmer a little bit longer, and is the largest island in the country with plenty to discover.
      When swapping to islands, depending on how much gear you want to haul around, you might find it easier to swap cars than use the same hire car throughout.
      Happy travels!

  6. Hi Dave, what an interesting read, thank you! I’d like to travel to Greece in May/June, and I’m doubting between an Athens-Thessaloniki road trip or visiting the peninsula of Peloponnesos (I can fly to/from Athens and Thessaloniki). What I like to do on holiday is trekking/hiking, find quaint beaches for a swim, eat loads of good food, see some cultural highlights. What I love is discovering small not too popular places with friendly people. What would you recommend? 🙂 Thanks in advance! Greetings, Kim

  7. Great resource, thanks Dave. You didn’t say where you got the car. We will be renting from Athens airport to drive to Thessaloniki. Any advice on rental company? How much were the tolls???

    • Hi Edie,
      Hope you are well!
      The car was our own (and in actually broke down somewhere along the way :D).
      Rental companies are all going to roughly offer the same prices for the various car sizes. The only thing I would suggest, is if you can only drive automatic, you might want to reserve a suitable vehicle well in advance.
      Hertz among other have car rental at the airport – and you can easily book them online before you go.
      Tolls to Thessaloniki – Allow up to 40 Euro extra (and even then it might not be enough)

  8. How were the roads? Wondering because I get car sick and I’m planning to someday do the journey. Were they windy or lots of up and down or turns?
    Thanks in advance!

    • Greek roads tend to vary, but certainly, there are some areas where the roads are very windy. Crete is particularly notorious for this.

  9. hi.
    wonderful to read your trip itinerary and expenses.
    we are planning to visit Greece in second week of May. We are planning to drive and we are there for 10 days.
    our main aim is to explore new place and enjoy the best on our family vacation.
    we are travelling from INDIA and would want to explore at maximum . Me and my husband and my 9 year old daughter are really looking forward to this trip making it one of the best one.

    If you have any suggestions or some must see or must do list .. please share.
    my list goes like this.
    Athens – delphi – corfu – meteora – thessaloniki – peloponnese – santorini -samaria gorge – mykonos – rhodes – athens
    with the above list we might have to skip one or two places i guess… but lets see.. i still have to explore my route, day wise itinerary and hotels bookings.
    it is not a tight budget trip but fairly luxurious is better way to define it.

    Give your suggestions. It will help us a lot.

    • Hi,
      With just 10 days, there is not enough time to do the itinerary you suggest.
      Difficult to suggest anything until you narrow it down a little more. The traditional 10 day itinerary for Greece Might be Athens (with visits to delphi and meteora), Santorini and Mykonos.
      This way, you would only need a car for half the time of course.
      Good luck with your Greek vacation planning!

      • Hi Dave, thanks for your very helpful blog!!! I’m in a similar boat as Nirali above b/c we have 10 days, but would like to focus mostly on historic landmarks. I saw your recommendation above for itinerary. My question is: should we stay in Athens all nights except for maybe 1 (Thessaloniki, which is further), since it appears from your blog that most places can be day trips from Athens?

        • Hi Rodica,
          If you want to focus on historic landmarks in Greece, you could visit many on day trips from Athens. It does really all depend though.
          If you are after historic places in 10 days on the mainland, I think moving around makes more sense though.
          I’d suggest something like
          Athens – Mycenae – Epidaurus – Methoni and Koroni Castles – Ancient Olympia – Nafpaktos – Delphi – Meteora -Athens
          There’s a lot of variations though – it really does depend on how comfortable you are with driving, and your exact priorities.

  10. A road trip in Greece seems like a perfect idea, especially seeing the Meteora! Your post is so motivational, Dave!

  11. Hi Dave,

    Do you speak Greek? We are doing a 3 week road trip roughly following yours in May. Did you use google maps, buy a road atlas or do anything else that you would recommend for a non-Greek speaker?

    • Hi,
      My Greek is very limited. Google maps and/or a GPS will be fine (you can pick up SIM cards for your phone for free, and I buy a gig of data per month for 6 euro through WIND). You will find that most people speak a degree of English no matter where you are. My main advice is to mentally prepare yourself for the traffic in Athens if you intend to drive there!

  12. Great travel/road trip blog post! I’m looking to plan a road trip of my own in Greece and will definitely use your recommendations! Also, the budget at the end was very organised and easy to follow – very useful!!

    • Hi Natalie,
      Glad you found it useful!
      I’m sure you are going to love travelling through Greece!
      When you get further into your planning, if you have any questions, just drop me a line/ leave a comment. I’ve got tonnes of other information on here that is not always easy to find. Also, I’ve been living in Athens for a couple of years now, and so have some great contacts if you need them.

      • hi dave
        would like to do three weeks touring greece with a rental car
        Athen 2 nights
        santorini3 nights
        zakynthos 2 nights
        mykonos 3 nights
        Arachova 2 nights
        thessaloniki 2nights
        athens 2 nights

        no idea which order should do it in or if its doable

        • Hi Derek,
          I’d say you should consider leaving zakynthos out altogether, as it’s in an island chain far away from Santorini/Mykonos and you’d waste time traveling to it.
          I’d suggest landing Athens, hiring a car at the airport, then drive Arachova – Delphi – Meteora – Thessaloniki – Athens
          Then boat or fly to Santorini/Mykonos
          And the finish in Athens for 2 nights.
          If you want to throw another island in, consider Tinos
          Note that it will be cheaper to rent a different car on each island than to pay the extra ferry fees for the car each time.

  13. I will be in Thessaloniki dec22-25th then taking 2-3days to drive to athens. Do you have a route you would recommend considering the time of yr? We would like to ski one day along the way. I read the post above and wondered if the roads will be bad this time of yr and your opinion of don’t miss sites along the way. We are farm living,outdoorsy Texans who would love a route with active farms or just beautiful scenery etc.once we arrive in Athens we will spend 3-4days there then on to Istanbul. Any advice and tips would be greatly appreciated. Also do you feel it’s safe there right now?much love,Leann

    • Hi Leann,

      Great to hear from you! Lovely to hear you are going to spend some time in Greece at the end of the year!
      First- safety. Yes, it’s absolutely safe here! The political problems are not social ones. In fact, I would rate Greece as one of the safest, most welcoming countries I have ever visited/lived in.
      The route then – This time of year will be surprisingly cold. (Which as you want to do some skiing, I guess you already know!).
      I would choose a route something like this –
      Mount Olympos – Meteora – Trikala – Delphi – Arachova-(skiing)-Athens
      The roads for this route will be generally clear. Getting off the beaten track in altitude on minor roads might be an issue. However, all roads at altitude have signs indicating their condition, and if they are closed due to snow fall.
      In terms of farming – I’m sorry. I can’t be of much help here. Farming occurs of course everywhere in the countryside. It is rare though, to see it on the massive, industrial scale of the USA. The time of year, means you won’t see a lot growing either. That said, you will see plenty of flocks of sheep/goats at the side of roads and sometimes on the road – Keep your eye out as you go around blind corners !

      Hope this is all of some help
      Have a great trip!!


  14. Thanks Dave! this is helpful as i’ll be doing Athens to Thessaloniki in a couple weeks by car.
    question — if you only had 2 days, which places would you visit and stay the night at?

    • I think that the trip should probably be –
      Athens – Delphi (stay the night) Meteora (stay night if possible if not continue) – Thessaloniki.

      This would give you the real highlights along the way… and still leave plenty left for when you return next time to visit!!!

  15. Hi there!

    Loved your blog and planning this almost same exact road trip in October, although our places to stay do not involve relatives, rather Airbnb’s. Besides the monastery’s, and other great suggestions for sightseeing along the way?

    Thanks so much <3

    • Hi Jen and Tom,
      Glad you found the post of some help, and I hope you really enjoy your time in Greece!
      One place that is recommended to visit, is The Cave of Theopetra, which is 4 km away from Meteora. We didn’t have a chance to visit, but hopefully we can go back the next time we pass through. The other place to try which I did mention but again couldn’t get to would be Lake Plastira near Karditsa.

      I hope you have a really good trip!!

  16. Really enjoyed your article and your photos. As you seem well tuned to Greece, one question please. Most articles and blogs I have been reading seem to warn against driving in Greece. I’ve driven in most of Europe, most recently Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina…all without incident. I was warned about the Amalfi Coast road, but did not find it as threatening as many penned.

    Did you find it “safe” to drive in Greece? Any suggestions about driving in Greece”


    • Hi Scott,

      If you have experience in driving in Croatia and Bosnia, then I would say that you would be absolutely fine in driving through Greece. Countryroads can have many tight switchback turns due to the mountains, so some vigilance is needed for traffic coming out across the lane. The motorways are fine (although the amount of tolls is irritating!).
      Driving in Athens is a lot different though! I suppose city traffic is always kind of crazy, but here it is something special! There are also some strange ’round-about’ rules, which are probably worth checking on.

      On the whole, driving in Greece is probably comparable with Italy i would say.


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