Messenia is a beautiful region in the southwestern part of the Peloponnese, in Greece. It has a rich history, stunning landscapes, charming towns and villages, and some of the best beaches in the country. If you are planning to visit Messenia, you might be wondering how to get there from Athens or other parts of Greece or abroad. In this blog post, I will give you some tips and options on how to travel to Messenia, depending on your budget, preferences and time.
Getting to Messenia by car
If you have your own car or you want to rent one, driving to Messenia is a convenient and flexible way to explore the region. You can enjoy the scenic routes, stop at interesting places along the way, and have more freedom to move around once you are there. However, driving in Greece can also be challenging, especially if you are not used to the traffic, the narrow roads, the tolls and the parking issues. Here are some things to consider before you hit the road:
- The distance from Athens to Kalamata, the capital and largest city of Messenia, is about 240 km (150 miles) and it takes around 3 hours to drive. You can follow the National Road 8A (E94) from Athens to Corinth, and then take the A7 (E65) motorway from Corinth to Kalamata. Alternatively, you can take the scenic coastal road from Corinth to Kalamata via Epidaurus, Nafplio and Astros, but this will take longer (about 4 hours).
- The distance from Patras, the third-largest city in Greece and a major port for ferries from Italy, to Kalamata is about 220 km (137 miles) and it takes around 2.5 hours to drive. You can follow the A5 (E55) motorway from Patras to Pyrgos, and then take the A9 (E55) motorway from Pyrgos to Kalo Nero. From there, you can follow the provincial road 9 (E55) along the coast to Kyparissia and then take the provincial road 82 (E55) inland to Kalamata.
- The distance from Thessaloniki, the second-largest city in Greece and a major hub for flights from Europe and Asia, to Kalamata is about 650 km (404 miles) and it takes around 7 hours to drive. You can follow the A1 (E75) motorway from Thessaloniki to Athens, and then take the A7 (E65) motorway from Athens to Kalamata as described above.
- If you are coming from other parts of Greece or abroad by car, you can use Google Maps or other online tools to plan your route and check the distances, travel times, tolls and gas prices.
- Keep in mind that driving in Greece requires a valid driver’s license (either Greek or international), a valid car registration document and a valid insurance document. You also need to have a reflective vest, a warning triangle and a fire extinguisher in your car. The speed limit on motorways is 120 km/h (75 mph), on national roads is 90 km/h (56 mph), on provincial roads is 80 km/h (50 mph) and on urban roads is 50 km/h (31 mph). Seat belts are mandatory for all passengers and children under 12 years old must use a child seat or booster. The blood alcohol limit for drivers is 0.05%.
- Be prepared to pay tolls on most motorways in Greece. The tolls vary depending on the distance and the type of vehicle. You can pay with cash or credit card at the toll booths or use an electronic device called E-PASS that allows you to pass through without stopping. You can buy an E-PASS online or at selected service stations.
- Finding a parking spot in Messenia can be tricky, especially in busy areas like Kalamata or Pylos. You can look for free parking spaces on the streets or pay for parking at designated areas or private lots. The parking fees vary depending on the location and the duration. You can pay with coins at the parking meters or use an app called ParkAround that allows you to find and book parking spaces online.
Getting to Messenia by bus
If you don’t have a car or you prefer not to drive, taking a bus to Messenia is another option that is cheaper and more eco-friendly than driving. However, buses in Greece can also be slow, crowded, uncomfortable and unreliable, especially during peak seasons or holidays. Here are some things to consider before you hop on a bus:
- The main bus company that operates in Messenia is KTEL Messinias. You can check their website for timetables, fares and online booking. You can also call them at +30 27210 28581 (Kalamata) or +30 210 5124910 (Athens) for more information.
- There are regular buses from Athens to Kalamata that depart from the Kifissos Bus Station (KTEL Attikis) in Athens. The bus ride takes about 4 hours and costs around 25 euros one way. You can take a taxi, a metro or a city bus to get to the Kifissos Bus Station from the center of Athens or the airport.
- There are also buses from Patras to Kalamata that depart from the Patras Bus Station (KTEL Achaias) in Patras. The bus ride takes about 3 hours and costs around 20 euros one way. You can take a taxi, a city bus or a ferry to get to the Patras Bus Station from the center of Patras or the port.
- There are no direct buses from Thessaloniki to Kalamata. You have to take a bus from Thessaloniki to Athens and then change to another bus from Athens to Kalamata as described above. The total bus ride takes about 11 hours and costs around 60 euros one way.
- If you are coming from other parts of Greece or abroad by bus, you can use BusBud or other online tools to find and compare bus routes, schedules and prices.
- Keep in mind that buses in Greece can be delayed, cancelled or overbooked without prior notice. You should always confirm your departure time and seat number with the bus company or the station staff before you board. You should also arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled departure time and have your ticket and ID ready.
- Be prepared to pay extra fees for your luggage, depending on the size and weight. You can store your luggage in the baggage compartment under the bus or in the overhead racks inside the bus. You should always keep your valuables with you and label your luggage with your name and contact details.
- Finding a taxi or a public transport option in Messenia can be difficult, especially in remote areas or late at night. You can use an app called Beat that allows you to find and book taxis online or call a local taxi company such as Radio Taxi Kalamata (+30 27210 21112) or Radio Taxi Pylos (+30 27230 22222). You can also rent a car, a bike or a scooter at the bus stations or nearby locations.
Getting to Messenia by plane
If you want to save time and avoid the hassle of driving or taking a bus, flying to Messenia is another option that is faster and more comfortable than other modes of transport. However, flying to Messenia can also be expensive, limited and dependent on weather conditions. Here are some things to consider before you book your flight:
- The only airport in Messenia is the Kalamata International Airport (KLX), located about 9 km (6 miles) northwest of Kalamata. The airport is small and has basic facilities such as a cafeteria, a duty-free shop, a car rental desk and an ATM.
- The airport is mainly served by seasonal charter flights from European destinations such as London, Munich, Amsterdam, Stockholm and Vienna. The flight duration varies depending on the origin, but it usually ranges from 2 to 4 hours. The flight prices vary depending on the season, the demand and the availability, but they usually start from around 100 euros one way.
- The only domestic flights to Kalamata are from Athens and Thessaloniki, operated by Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air. The flight duration is about 45 minutes from Athens and about 1 hour from Thessaloniki. The flight prices vary depending on the season, the demand and the availability, but they usually start from around 50 euros one way.
- If you are coming from other parts of Greece or abroad by plane, you can use Skyscanner or other online tools to find and compare flights, airlines and prices.
- Keep in mind that flights to Kalamata can be affected by weather conditions, technical issues or strikes. You should always check your flight status with your airline or the airport before you depart. You should also arrive at least 2 hours before your scheduled departure time and have your ticket, passport and boarding pass ready.
- Be prepared to pay extra fees for your luggage, depending