Visiting Delphi and Meteora from Athens

GreeceAthens › Visiting Delphi and Meteora
Updated: April 16, 2024
By Santorini Dave

Ruins of a circular tholos temple with a mountain backdrop

The iconic Tholos at Delphi’s Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia. Ancient Delphi is easy to visit from Athens by car (2 1/2 hours), bus (3 hours) or guided tour (so many options – the best are listed below).

See Also
Where to Stay in Athens
Where to Stay in Delphi
Where to Stay in the Meteora
Mainland Greece Travel Guide

Mystical Delphi and the awe-inspiring Meteora Monasteries are two of Greece’s most incredible destinations. Both are located on the mainland, and if you’ve got a day or two to spare in your Athens itinerary, are easy to visit on a guided tour or on your own via public transportation or rental car. While Delphi can easily be done on a day trip (but is a delightful place to spend the night), we really recommend spending at least one night in Meteora if at all possible.

Map showing the location of Delphi and the Meteora in Greece, in relation to Athens.

Visiting Ancient Delphi from Athens

View looking down over ancient Delphi toward olive groves and the mountains beyond, on a sunny day.

Located on the olive-studded slopes of Mount Parnassos, the UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site of Delphi dates back to the 8th century BC and is one of Greece’s most significant archaeological destinations. Once viewed as the epicenter of the world, it is famous for the Temple of Apollo, where pilgrims sought insight from the gods through the Delphic Oracle, delivered by resident priestesses. The Apollo Temple complex also features an amphitheater, gymnasium, and Roman Agora, with an on-site museum offering essential context for the relics. Within walking distance of the main site you’ll also find the serene Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia and the remains of an ancient gymnasium.

Greek taverna with tables arranged on steps leading up a hillside.

Traditional taverna in Delphi village.

The adjacent village of Delphi is small and easily-walkable – essentially two narrow main streets (one up, one down) lined with Greek tavernas, shops, and boutique hotels that overlook the picturesque Amfissa Valley and cater to more modern Delphic pilgrims. During midday, Delphi village can be thick with tour bus crowds, but in the morning and evening hours it is a quiet and charming mountain perch that can make a welcome change from urban Athens. While you can visit Delphi on a day trip, spending a night in the quiet village is a lovely experience – and one that we recommend.

Best Day Tours from Athens

Note that none of the tours below include site/museum entrance fees or guided tours within the archaeological sites themselves.

  • Delphi & Arachova Day Trip: Small group, 10 hours. Visits the archaeological sites and museum at Delphi and the picturesque mountain village of Arachova. Includes round-trip bus transportation with historical narration en route.
  • Delphi Day Trip: Small group, 10 hours. Similar to the above tour; visits Delphi with a shorter stop at Arachova, but with many more bus pick-up and drop-off options offered in Athens, so may be more convenient.
  • Full-Day Private Tour: Private, 9 hours. Includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, plus a more flexible itinerary and comfortable, personalized experience.
  • Delphi & Thermopylae: Private, 10 hours. Visits Delphi and the storied site of the the Spartan king Leonidas’ 480 AD battle of Thermopylae. Includes optional stop in Arachova.
  • Delphi, Corycian Cave, Thermopylae, Arachova: Private, 12 hours. The most you can do and see in a day from Athens. Great for ancient history, archaeology, and mythology buffs.

Athens to Delphi by Bus or Train

There is no train route between Athens and Delphi, but bus travel is frequent and convenient. KTEL buses from Athens to Delphi run 5-6 times daily and are generally reliable. Buses to Delphi leave Athens from KTEL Bus Station B, Liosion, located about a 10 to 15-minute cab ride from Monastiraki Square or a 10-minute walk from the Agios Nikolaos metro station (green M1 line). The entire trip takes about 3 hours, and includes a brief 10-minute stop for snacks, to use the restroom, or to stretch your legs.

Buses wait in the covered bays in a bus station

The Liosion Bus Station in north central Athens.

Tickets are available online, at the station in Athens, or directly on the bus in Delphi. (Buying on the bus requires cash, preferably in coins or small bills.) It’s a good idea to buy in advance if you can, especially if you’re traveling during the busy summer months, as the buses can and do fill up. Tickets are generally released for purchase online a couple of weeks before departure.

Ticketing desks at a Greek bus station.

Tickets can be purchased at the station, but we recommend buying online in advance, especially for summer. The Delphi route has its own ticketing desk, seen here on the left. The desk on the right sells tickets to Trikala, which is the bus route you take to get to Meteora (explained below).

Buses are air-conditioned and comfortable, with a large luggage storage compartment beneath the seating area. Especially during summer, this route gets busy, so we advise arriving early to the station. Even if you have bought a ticket in advance, seating is not guaranteed; if the bus is full when you arrive, you’ll need to wait for the next one and buy another ticket.

Greek bus station with buses waiting in the bays.

The Delphi bus departs from Bay 7. It’s a good idea to plan to be at the station about 20-30 minutes before your scheduled departure.

Coach-style bus with open door and cargo hold.

Luggage is stored underneath the bus, in the cargo hold.

For a return bus trip from Delphi to Athens, we definitely recommend buying your ticket in advance online. It’s possible to buy tickets at the tiny bus station in Delphi (really just a ticket counter), but while it’s easy to find, located right at the entrance to town, it is often shuttered.

Small village bus station window, closed and shuttered.

The tiny bus station at Delphi is generally open only when a bus is due to arrive or depart.

The alternative is to pay cash to the driver as you board, or if the station is closed you can sometimes purchase a bus ticket in advance at the restaurant “In Delphi,” which is located next to the bus stop, but can also keep odd hours. Whatever method you choose, be sure to arrive a bit early to the bus stop in order to get a seat.

Bus with open door, in a small Greek village.

A bus loading for departure to Athens from Delphi. You can see the open bus station doorway in the background.

Greek Taverna with rustic tables set under a large plane tree.

The restaurant “In Delphi” (look for the bold signs advertising “Pita-Souvlaki Pizza” and “Cafe Pizza Restaurant”) often sells bus tickets when the bus station ticketing desk is closed.

Map showing the driving routes between Athens and Delphi Greece.

Driving Yourself from Athens to Delphi

Driving from Athens to Delphi takes about 2 1/2 to 3 hours, along well-paved and well-marked (in Greek and English) roads that are in good condition. Although most of the drive is along flat and level highways, Delphi is located in the mountains, where the terrain is winding and hilly; if you are not comfortable with driving in these conditions you might be better off taking the bus or a guided tour. Also note that the route to Delphi contains toll roads, so it’s a good idea to have some easily-accessible cash on hand before you set out.

Curved, paved road in the mountains, lined with national flags.

The entrance to Delphi village by car, with the road looking out to the south over the beautiful olive groves of the Amfissa Valley and out to the Gulf of Corinth.

Aside from greater flexibility in your schedule, driving yourself offers an expanded ability to explore the countryside. The area surrounding Delphi contains some particularly delightful stops for a mainland Greece road trip, including the lovely mountain village of Arachova, the picturesque port town of Galaxidi, and the 11th-century Byzantine monastery of Hosios Loukas – a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Mountain village with stone buildings, flying Greek flags.

The charming mountain village of Arachova – just 12 km from Delphi – makes a picturesque stop to stretch your legs in the summer. In the colder months, it’s a stylish snowsports haven, sometimes referred to as “winter Mykonos.”

If you’re renting a car in Athens, we recommending doing so at the Athens Airport, rather than in the city center, so you can jump right onto the main highways and avoid dealing with the city streets. It’s also a good idea to book your rental in advance, especially if you don’t drive a sick-shift and will require an automatic transmission.

Visiting the Meteora from Athens

A Greek Orthodox monastery perched high on a basalt cliff

The Monastery of Varlaam

The Meteora is a spectacular giant rock formation and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Greece. Though the towering limestone pillars of the Meteora landscape are stunning in themselves, the main draw for travelers to the area is the collection of jaw-dropping, centuries-old monasteries that top them. Of the 24 original monasteries, 6 are still active and open to the public to tour. In addition to the grand monasteries, there are also a smattering of smaller monasteries and fascinating hermitages built into the rocks, easily visited on guided hikes and tours.

Because it takes between 3-6 hours to get between Athens and Meteora, we recommend spending at least one night there. There are two main areas to choose from: the town of Kalambaka (where the train station, bus station, and most shops and restaurants are) and the village of Kastraki (a charming small village with boutique guesthouses and small tavernas). Both areas are served by buses and taxis, and it takes only about 15 minutes to walk between the two, making it easy to stay in one location and visit the other.

Best Day Tours from Athens

Note that none of the tours below include monastery entrance fees or guided tours within the monasteries themselves.

  • Meteora Bus Tour from Athens: Small group, 14 hours. Visits interiors of 3 monasteries, plus hidden hermit caves and lunch in charming Kastraki village. Departs from and returns to Athens Larissis railway station.
  • Meteora Train Tour from Athens: Small group, 14 hours. Visits interiors of 3 monasteries, plus hermit caves with pre-booked train travel from Athens to Paleofarsalos and minibus transfer between Paleofarsalos and Kalambaka.
  • Private Meteora Tour from Athens: Private, 12 hours. Includes hotel pick-up and drop-off, transport by private car, a stop at the site of the battlefield of Thermopylae, and a visit to 3 monasteries.

Athens to Meteora by Train

Travel between Meteora (Kalambaka) and Athens is pretty easy by train, with a few trips offered daily. Trains depart from central Athens’ Larissa Station, which is located about a 5-10 minute drive north of Monastiraki Square, or easily reached via Metro from Syntagma Square (red M2 line).

Exterior view of the front of a train station, with a row of motorbikes parked in front.

The Athens Larissa train station.

Entrance to an underground metro station, with people coming up the escalators

There is a metro station just below Larissa train station, making it very easy to access from Syntagma Square.

Most train routes between Athens and Kalambaka involve a transfer at the town of Paleofarsalos. The transfer itself is easy, and even if there’s not much time between the two trains, the second train will usually wait if the first train is running late. (Many people riding the train will be making the same transfer.) The entire journey, including the transfer, takes 3-4 hours.

Small, yellow train station in a Greek village.

The train station in Kalambaka.

Train platform with overhead signage reading "Kalambaka"

The Kalambaka station is very small, and has only one platform.

Saffron colored train platform.

Most train trips between Athens and Kalambaka require a transfer at the station of Paleofarsalos.

Train platform viewed across the train tracks.

The Paleofarsalos station is not large, but there are multiple platforms, and the train you transfer to may be scheduled at a platform across the tracks.

Stairway leading down below a train station.

To access the other platforms, enter the station and use the underground pedestrian tunnels.

There is one daily direct route that travels between Kalambaka and Athens, but it’s usually slower than the Paleofarsalos transfer option, taking around 4 1/2 hours. Train tickets can be purchased online in advance of your trip (we recommend this), with schedules released about a month ahead of travel.

Upon arrival in Kalambaka, the easiest way to visit the monasteries if you only plan to stay for a day is to book a train-to-train minibus tour. If you plan to stay overnight in Kalambaka or Kastraki, you can visit the monasteries by guided tour, public bus, or on foot. We outline these options in our Meteora Monastery Guide.

Note that since the fall of 2023, train travel may be disrupted along these routes and supplemented in part by bus service, due to area flood damage.

Athens to Meteora by Bus

It takes about 6 hours to get from Athens to Kalambaka by bus. Buses to Trikala leave Athens from KTEL Bus Station B, Liosion, located about a 10 to 15-minute cab ride from Monastiraki Square or a 10-minute walk from the Agios Nikolaos metro station (green M1 line). Kalambaka’s small, street-corner bus station is a subsidiary to the larger and modern Trikala bus terminal, 23 km away. Most/all routes to and from Kalambaka will involve a change of bus at Trikala, which is well-linked to most prominent mainland Greece destinations. Bus schedules can be viewed tickets can be purchased in advance online.

Small corner bus station with bus waiting in front, with signage in Greek

The Kalambaka bus station is located just a couple of blocks down from the village’s main square, near lots of hotels and eateries.

Local buses run three times per day from the Kalambaka bus station to all 6 Meteora Monasteries (stopping at Kastraki village in between). A single ticket is 1.80€, a full-day ticket is 5.50€; tickets are issued on the bus or at the bus station. Departure times are 9am, noon, and 2:30pm; returning buses depart from St. Stephen monastery at 11am, 2pm, and 4:30pm.

Alternatively, you can walk two blocks north of the bus station to Town Hall Square, where there is a taxi stand outside of Babistas Bakery. Taxis are available to hire for Monastery tours for €20 per hour. A one-way trip to the Meteora monasteries by taxi costs a maximum of €10.

A taxi at a streetside taxi stand on a sunny day.

Taxi stand and Meteora Tour Taxi outside of Babitsas Bakery.

Sign advertising taxi service to the meteora in Greece

If there are no cars waiting for passengers at the taxi stand, they can be dispatched using one of the numbers advertised on the board.

Map showing the train and driving routes between Athens and the Meteora in Greece

Driving Yourself from Athens to Meteora (and Delphi)

It takes about 4 1/2 hours to drive from central Athens to Kalambaka along the most direct route, passing through Lamia and bypassing Karditsa on the way. Roads on this route are well-maintained and well-marked, and the terrain is not very challenging. There are some toll roads, so it’s a good idea to have some change handy before you set out.

En route, make a stop at the Leonidas Memorial at the battle site of Thermopylae outside of Lamia. It serves as a poignant tribute to King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans, who made a legendary stand against the Persian Empire in 480 BC; now celebrated as one of history’s most iconic instances of courage and self-sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds. These days there’s not a lot to see, but it makes a great spot to stretch your legs and take a look around.

Bronze statue of a man holding a spear and a shield.

Memorial to the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae

Either instead of this easier route, or as an alternate return route, you can opt for a course that takes you a bit further west through Delphi. This route, which takes a total of about 6 hours from Athens to Meteora, travels through some winding mountainous terrain with hairpin turns. While the roads are paved and well-maintained, there are some drop-offs and hairpin turns, so proceed with caution. Between sightseeing at Delphi and Meteora, plus the longer drive, it’s too much to pack into one day. If you choose to go this route, we definitely recommend staying overnight in either Kalambaka/Kastraki or Delphi village.

Whatever route you choose to take, we find that it’s easiest to rent a car at the Athens Airport, rather than in the city center, as that allows you to skirt the more confusing tangle of urban streets, and just stick to the main roads. It’s also a good idea to book your car ahead of time, especially if you require an automatic transmission.

Getting between Delphi and Meteora on Public Transportation

There is no train that runs between Delphi and the Meteora, and no direct bus route since the Covid-19 pandemic. While it is technically possible to get from Kalambaka to Delphi (or vice-versa) on the bus, it involves multiple time-consuming transfers and will end up taking most of a day. We do not recommend it.

The best option for those who want to see both sights without a rental car is either to (a) take a guided tour that includes both or to (b) take public transportation between Athens and Delphi or Meteora, book a car service like Daytrip to get between Delphi and Meteora, and then take the bus or train back to Athens.

Best Guided Tours of Delphi & Meteora from Athens

  • Delphi & Meteora 2-Day Tour: Includes bus transport, 3 or 4-star hotel accommodation, dinner & breakfast, and admission to monasteries and Delphi site (but not museum).
  • 4-Day Tour of Classical Greece: Visits Mycenae, Epidaurus, Olympia, Delphi, and Meteora. Includes 4-star hotel accommodations in Olympia, Delphi, and Kalambaka; breakfasts and dinners, attraction entrance fees, and guided site tours.

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