Earlier in June of 2014, I was ready to leave Northern Greece for the South. I had arrived in Greece on a bus from Istanbul and thought I would continue my odyssey by bus – to save money and see more of the landscape as I could afford the time.
I started searching online while I was in Meteora and Corfu about what’s there to explore between the North and Athens. There are countless points of interests depending on preferences. Direct buses does save money but I have to consider what I really want to see.
So I paid more and spent a bit more time and decided that on my way to Athens from Corfu, I would make a short visit in Olympia. If you’re not aware, Olympia is where the very first Olympics where held back in 776 BC. So I figured it would be worth the trip!
Brace yourself for a taste of “The Amazing Race” style of traveling.
From Corfu to Athens with visit to historical Olympia the whole trip took me about 24 hours in total. It was a very loooong day where I slept and ate whenever possible.
Bring a day pack, snacks and lots of enthusiasm!!
From Corfu I took the 8:15pm bus from the Corfu Green bus station for 27.20€. The ferry ticket to Igoumenitsa costs another 10€ and it leaves port at 9pm. Everything timed to work together.
All passengers are required to board the ferry on foot with their valuables, separately. The luggages will stay in storage under the bus.
Various types of seating is available for passengers to choose from, some are more suitable for large groups than others. The upper deck is completely outdoors and passengers can enjoy the view of the sunset.
There’s a well stocked snack bar on the ferry. The W/C is clean though mostly without toilet seat as discussed in this post.
The ferry crossing takes approximately 1.5 hours.
Walk off the ferry and wait for the bus to disembark before reboarding back onto the bus. There’s typically only one public bus amongst many many tour buses.
The bus will try to arrive in Patras by 3 am. The Patras station is open 24 hours with a staff at the info desk. The ticket sales staff start work around 4 or 430am. I was very fortunate the staff at the info desk was very patient and spoke English fluently as he planned out 2 scenarios for me and calculated the time and costs associated with each option.
The facilities are outside down a flight of stairs, I had to ask the man at the info desk to unlock the facilities and turn on the lights.
Buy a return ticket from Patras to Pyrgos for 18.50€. The return portion can be left blank. The ticket is valid for 3 months. Take the 5:30 am bus and it will arrive in Pyrgos approx 2 hours later.
Buy a 2.2€ ticket to Olympia once at the Pyrgos bus station. The bus will drop you off at the start of the path to the Archeological site and the museum. I arrived by 9:15 am. Else you can get off at the Olympia bus station and walk through town.
Entrance fees to the archeological site and the museum can be bought separately for 6€ each or pay 9€ for a combo ticket. Seniors and students under 25 with valid ID only have to pay 5€ for the combo ticket.
After a few hours under the baking sun and surrounded by ruins, I took the 1:30pm bus back to Pyrgos. I chose to walk through town to the main bus station as I didn’t want to be exposed to the elements while waiting for the bus.
From Pyrgos I took the 3 pm bus to Patras. Remember I bought the return ticket so I checked in with the ticket sales staff for a seat number and departure time.
The route between Patras and Athens offers very frequent service. There’s either a regular bus or an express bus every 30 minutes. I took the 5:30 pm express to Athens for 18.9 €. I noticed passengers request stops prior to arrival at the Athens bus station, if you speak Greek and know the route, go ahead and make a request. It’s much better than to double back after the bus arrive in the station.
Originally as my bus from Patras arrived at 5pm. I hurried and bought a ticket for next available bus which was at 6 pm. The 5:30pm express bus was sold out. However I wanted to get into Athens as soon as possible – to check in and eat a proper dinner. I was told there maybe no shows so I was to go and wait by the 5:30 pm bus.
I collected my luggage from storage, and used the facilities (very important – the Athens bus will not make rest stops). I lucked out as 3 of us from the 6 pm bus wanted to be on the 5:30 express. The express bus saves 30 minutes of travel time. At the last minute, 3 people did not show up and we all arrived in Athens by 8pm.
The bus #051 took me directly to Omonia square which has a metro station for 1.5€. Fortunately my hotel was close to the Omonia square station.
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Alternatively, you can take the bus directly from Pyrgos to Athens – if you brought your luggage with you to Pyrgos. Costs 27.7€ and takes about 4.5 hours of travel time.
Luggage: I had mine stored at Patras for free. However, if you do not want to make the return trip back to Patras, ask the staff at Pyrgos or Olympia to store your luggage for you. If you choose this route, go to the main bus station in Olympia and walk back to the Archeological site’s entrance.
This was my crazy journey from Corfu to Athens in 24 hours with a side trip to Olympia, Greece.
**Please note the costs and bus schedule was accurate in June 2014. It is best to double check the bus times prior to embarking on your journey.