Train & Rail Travel in Central Greece Page 1 (see Greece train map)

Athens-Thessaloniki

This line links Greece's two largest cities with some 520km/322miles of track; the international standard gauge north/south Greek main rail line. It is a scenic route, and the IC now takes only 4 ½ hours. There are ten trains a day: five IC and five expresses, two of the latter overnight trains, one of which only carries passengers in couchettes or sleeping cars. Two local trains leave the main line at Lianokladi for Lamia, and for Stylis to the east. Two daily IC trains leave the main line at Larissa for Volos; two other locals go only as far as Larissa. One IC leaves the main line at Platy, just south of Thessaloniki, for Kozani to the west. South of Larissa, at Paleofarsalo, you can transfer from the main line to the railway linking Paleofarsalo with Kalambaka. There are spectacular views along this stretch of railway.

Oinoi to Thebes

The grand natural feature on the way to Thebes (in Greek, 'Thiva') is Mt. Parnassos, with its various peaks visible from the train windows on the left. Local trains stop at the villages of Tanagra, Eleon, and Ypaton before reaching Thebes station. Thebes is the main junction for all northbound and southbound IC trains.

Thebes-Livadhia

This route passed through the Teneric Plain, with little villages off to the left up in the hills with little stone stations. The area to the left of the line, in general, is very primitive. This is the hinterland above the northeastern end of the Gulf of Corinth, much of it inaccessible even by car. In these mountains is the Valley of the Muses, in the upper Permessos River area, where the Musean Games were held every four years, with music, poetry, and athletic contests (as in Olympia) which developed into a sanctuary connected with Dionysos. It was sacked by the Byzantine Constantine the Great. A fascinating area to explore, but totally without tourist amenities, so be forewarned. To the right side of the rail line is the drained plain of what was once Lake Kopais, filled with reeds, and once Greece's largest lake. It dries up during the summer months, but is a swamp the rest of the year. It is said that the reed that grows here was used for the ancient Greek 'aulos' (a reed pipe). Alexander the Great tried to drain the lake with tunnels but it wasn't until 1931 that the land was finally dry enough to plant grains and cotton.

All IC trains stop at Livadhia. This town of around 20,000 inhabitants is ensconsed in the hills almost 7km from the railway to the west. It is straddles the high banks of the Herkina River which is fed by mountain springs. Livadhia produces textiles and is a pleasant place to stop for those going on to Delphi, to the west. East of Livadhia is Orhomenos (ten minutes by local bus) with its ancient site ; twenty minutes further east near the village of Kastro is the Mycenaean citadel of Gla. Yet another road to the east leads through cultivated land to Atalanti, home of a very progressive wine producer, Ktima Hatzimikhali, where visitors are welcome for wine-tasting. To the west is the road around Mt. Parnassos and its lesser peaks, which continues on the Delphi and beyond, to the Gulf of Corinth. There are many interesting places to visit in this area, including the Byzantine Monastery of Ossios Loukas (via Disomo), and Arahova, which is a ski resort.

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