London to Athens via the Balkans
- 11 Days
- From £1,199
- London to Athens by rail through nine countries
- Overnight stops in three historic capitals – Zagreb, Belgrade and Sofia
- Scenic journeys across the Austrian Alps, through Slovenia and along the Nišava River
- Three nights in fascinating Greek capital Athens before your flight home
- Add extra nights & destinations
- Choose alternative hotels
- Upgrade hotels and rail journeys
- Let us suggest the most scenic routes
- Return to London without flying
- Standard Class rail travel with seat reservations
- 10 nights’ handpicked hotel accommodation with breakfast
- Return flight from Athens to the UK in Economy class
- Comprehensive directions to your hotels
- Clearly-presented wallets for your rail tickets, hotel vouchers and other documentation
- All credit card surcharges and complimentary delivery of your travel documents
Your adventure begins this morning at London St Pancras as you make your way from London (or Ebbsfleet) to Brussels on a high-speed Eurostar service. Here, make an easy platform-change onto a German ICE train that will whisk you to the heart of the country, the city of Würzburg.
Check in at the Dorint Hotel Würzburg (or similar) for an overnight stay and then perhaps head out for dinner in the heart of the old city.
Depart Würzburg this morning and take another ICE train south into Bavaria, where you change at the region’s capital, Munich. Here, you board a comfortable EuroCity train that takes you through the stunning scenery of the Austrian Alps.
You’ll arrive into the southern Austrian city of Villach in time for dinner. Your hotel, the City Hotel Villach is located across the road from the station.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast and a free morning in Villach before leaving at lunchtime today on another EuroCity service. This journey takes you south into the former Yugoslavia, as you pass through the Karawank Tunnel into Slovenia. Marvel at the beauty of this picture-perfect nation from the large picture windows of your train while sipping on something cold from the buffet car. On arrival in Croatia’s exciting capital Zagreb, check in at the Canopy by Hilton Zagreb (or similar) for an overnight stay.
Take a late-morning train from Zagreb across the plains of northern Croatia and into Serbia today, as you move towards Belgrade. Though there may be catering facilities onboard, we recommend buying something for lunch to take with you.
When you arrive in Belgrade’s large Centar station, transfer to the Hotel Moskva (or similar) in the heart of this bustling capital city. Take an evening to explore the fortress at Kalemegdan and indulge in the city’s thriving restaurant scene.
After a morning soaking up the coffee culture of Belgrade, make your way back to Belgrade Centar station and take a train even further south, this time to the southern city of Niš, your next stepping stone towards Greece! Say overnight at the Eter Hotel (or similar), and head out to explore this fascinating centre, well off the tourist trail.
Your journey today takes you east along a spectacular river gorge as you wind your way towards the Bulgarian border. You’ll reach the town of Dimitrovgrad, the last settlement in Serbia before you cross the border. Customs checks are carried out and you continue on a surprisingly smart Bulgarian regional train into the capital, Sofia. On arrival check in at Hotel Les Fleurs (or similar) for an overnight stay.
The once-daily service in aged but characterful rolling stock departs Sofia mid-afternoon. Journey south through the increasingly mountainous topography of southwest Bulgaria at a sedate pace, crossing the border into your tenth and final country, Greece. The train comes to a final halt in the port city of Thessaloniki where you will be spending the night at the Anatolia Hotel (or similar).
Greek trains are clean, air-conditioned and comfortable, and this morning you board a Greek InterCity train south towards the capital city of Athens. Gaze at the scenery of the parched mountains set against the backdrop of the Mediterreanean, catching glimpses of the fabled Mount Olympus as you go. On arrival at Athens Larisa station, transfer to your home for the next three nights, the Hotel Herodion (or similar) and head out for your first evening meal of your stay.
In many way, Athens is the historic capital of Europe, with a history dating from the first settlement in the Neolithic age. Ancient monuments abound here, including the world-famous Acropolis overlooking the city. As you would expect, there is also a wide choice of museums covering everything from archaeology to modern art.
A large part of the city’s historic centre has been now converted into Europe’s largest pedestrianised zone so you can not only sight-see but also shop at over 2,500 stores or, for from the street vendors in the Plaka and Monastiraki districts.
After a last look around Athens today, it’s time to head home as you check out of your hotel and make your way to the airport for your return flight back to London.
Typical hotels on this itinerary
The modern Dorint Hotel Wurzburg is located within walking distance of the main station and the historic centre of the city. The property has complimentary Wi-Fi internet access throughout and there is also a spa area and indoor swimming pool. It’s possible to dine outside at the hotel’s restaurant during the summer months.
Only steps away from Villach Train Station, this 4-star hotel is just a short walk from the Old Town. It offers a sauna and free Wi-Fi. All rooms at Hotel City feature an LCD flat-screen TV with a laptop connection, a minibar, and a tea/coffee maker. The daily breakfast buffet includes organic dishes and products from local farms.
Just a few yards from the Main Train Station, the hotel features modern, air-conditioned rooms that are fitted with a minibar, flat-screen satellite TV and a coffee machine. Featuring a shower, private bathrooms also come with a hairdryer and free toiletries. The on-site restaurant, ReUnion serves Croatian cuisine while a buffet breakfast is served each morning. After a busy day guest can relax in the lounge bar while enjoying a refreshing drink. Zagreb Main Square, as well as the Upper Town and all major sights, can be reached in a 15-minute walk.
Hotel Moskva is housed in an Empire-style building considered a local landmark. Ideally set on Belgrade’s main street, it offers an a la carte restaurant and the well-known pastry shop. Elegantly decorated rooms feature air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. Sauna, hammam are hot tub are available free of charge.
The boutique Eter hotel is located in the centre of Niš, within easy reach of all major sights, shopping and dining. All bedrooms are equipped with en suite bathrooms, complimentary Wi-Fi access, mini bar and cable TV. There is also an on-site bar, 24-hour reception and a concierge service available.
Hotel les Fleurs occupies a convenient location on the main shopping street in the centre of Sofia, close to Bulgaria’s parliament building. The hotel’s exterior and interior were designed by Italian architect Francesco Lucchese and each bedroom is individually decorated. All bedrooms are non-smoking and feature modern facilities such as iPod docking stations and DVD players. There is also a gourmet restaurant in the hotel, offering locally sourced dishes,
Situated at the foot of the Acropolis, Herodion Hotel offers elegantly decorated air-conditioned rooms. It has a beautiful roof garden with sun loungers and 2 hot tubs boasting spectacular views over Athens.
Offering direct views of the Acropolis, the rooftop PointA restaurant servesg Mediterranean cuisine, and a variety of cocktails.
Why not return by land and sea from Athens to the UK? You can take a ferry from the port of Patras to Bari in Italy, and then catch the train back home through the Italian peninsula, traverse the Alps and arrive seamlessly back into London – ask one of the team for details.