What You See as You Drive from Meteora to Delphi

There are several ways to get from Meteora to Delphi but driving is the most convenient. This scenic route from Meteora to Delphi across the Thessaly Plain and the Pindus Range is full of history from both remote and recent pasts. Your decision to drive from Meteora to Delphi will ensure that what you see will be aspects of Greece that you otherwise would have been missed if you had chosen other modes of transport, such as bus or train.

The drive from Meteora to Delphi is quite safe and you won’t be required to attempt any type of driving you haven’t already done, even in the mountains. You’ll be on good roads all the way – sometimes the roads will be excellent. And, of course, the destination will be any effort, whether you are interested in the Temple of Apollo and its Oracle or visiting the ruins of Ancient Delphi to decipher the role of Delphi within the ancient world.

The road trip from Meteora to Delphi can be divided into two stages.

The first stage of the drive from Meteora to Delphi is across the flat Thessaly Plain between Meteora and Thermopylae. The route will first take you south of Meteora through Trikala where you may wish to spend a couple of hours to see its Roman and medieval past. You will then cross the Thessaly Plain to Thermopylae which was not only the site of the famous battle against the Persians in 480 BC, but was also the site of a heroic rear guard stand by allied forces during World War 2. You may also wonder as you drive from Meteora to Delphi about the flatness of the Thessaly Plain and how it ends with the abrupt rise of the Pindus range. We briefly address these landscapes in the post.

The second stage of the drive from Meteora to Delphi is a lovely mountain road trip that crosses the southern branch of the Pindus Range between Thermopylae and Delphi. You will get a feel for the mountainous terrain that dominates Greece and ponder on the remoteness of some of the towns and villages that are scattered across the landscape. Should you make the journey in spring you will see a generous display of wild flowers. You will also pick up on some history of the allies as they continued their retreat from the conflict zone during World War 2.

How Much Does it Cost to Drive from Meteora to Delphi?

Item Information
Driving Distance from Meteora to Delphi 350 km
Car Rental Driver’s Quotation
Fuel Costs 25 Euro
Tolls 6 Euro
Drive Time from Athens to Meteora Allow 4 hours
How Long Does it take to Drive from Athens to Meteora Allow 5-6 hours

The Drive from Meteora to Delphi

Drive From Meteora to Delphi Across the Thessaly Plain

Visit the Regional Town of Trikala

You’ll leave Kalambaka on the E92 which is a well-used dual carriageway with an acceptable surface. The E92 takes you south across the Thessaly Plain to Trikala.

The very flat Thessaly Plain, the result of a rift.
The flat Thessaly Plain

If you have decided to use the whole day to drive from Meteora to Delphi then pull in to the sizeable city of Trikala to peek at its attractions and to enjoy a coffee.

Trikala clock tower
Trikala

Trikala’s history dates back to antiquity which is associated with other sites that you might have on your itinerary, such as  Epidaurus (or Epidavros) and Mykines. Epidaurus is not only the site of a famous amphitheatre but also the site of an ancient healing centre. The healing in Epidaurus was ascribed to the God of Medicine, Asclepius (or Aesculapius) who was said to have been born in Trikala. Mind you, Trikala is not the only city in Greece to claim the birth of Asclepius! Trikala also connects with Mykines in that both cities in antiquity were important Mycenaean capitals of their respective regions (You may also wish to view our post on Mycenaean culture at Tiryns.

Trikala has a long history of foreign invasion dating back from antiquity right through to the middle and modern ages. Some of the attractions of interest are related to these periods of occupation; the Roman Baths, 6th Century Castle with a 17th Century Clock Tower,

Byzantine castle and clock tower at Trikala

medieval mosque,

Kursum mosque at Trikala

and Trikala Old Town.

The older parts of the city centre of Trikala

Image Credits:
17th C clock tower: GNantin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons;
Kursum Mosque: Ava Babili, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons;
Trikala Old Town: GNantin, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Route South from Trikala

Just south of Trikala you have a choice of either staying on the E92, which feeds into the E30, or diverting onto the A3 tollway.

The E30 Regional Road

The E30 is the typical, well-used inter-town regional road that can be seen in any country. It requires regular maintenance due to its consistent use. Soil and grass verges run its length in the absence of any road-side gutters. The E30 often converges to a single carriageway and can get quite busy because it is the preferred route of local residents and business traffic. The E30 becomes the E65 at Neo Monastiri, the road that will take you over the mountains.

The E30 is not a colourful route but does offer an insight into the cost of the financial crisis on Greek life. Perhaps you could add some colour to the journey by imagining the convoy of German troops, artillery and Panzer divisions rumbling their way down the E30 because this is the most likely route the  German forces took when they forged south pursuing the allies through Central Greece in 1941. More about that later in the post.

The A3 Tollway

Alternatively, you can divert onto the new A3 tollway near Rozario just south of Trikala which morphs into the E65 further south near Metallio in the direction of Lamia. The dual carriageway surface of the A3 is excellent and as you head south you will never lose sight of distant mountains to the west and the plains of Thessaly to the east. There will be kilometres and kilometres of a straight dual carriageway in front of you, the monotony only broken by the need to pay tolls – regularly.

And we shouldn’t forget to mention the space-age rest-room capsules that are all along the tollway. You will be pleasantly surprised by their functionality and cleanliness. Bravo!

Modern rest room facilities on the A3 tollway
Modern, clean rest rooms along the A3 on the drive between Meteora and Delphi

Approximately 10kms south of Anthili you will come to a junction of the E65, the E75 and the A1.

The E65 leads to Delphi via Skamnos and is the mountain road that will take you over the Pindus Range to Delphi. The E75 and A1 head towards Athens and if you haven’t yet visited the Leonidas Memorial at Thermopylae now is the time to do it because it is just a few kilometres along the A1 from the junction.

You can read more about the Leonidas Memorial and Greece’s battle with the Persians at Thermopylae in our post describing the drive from Athens to Meteora.

Why is the Thessaly Plain so Flat?

You could draw a straight line over the surface of the Thessaly Plain, a landscape that has resulted from earlier stress on the earth’s crust. There are many events that stretch the earth’s crust and it is not always easy to identify the type of event it was. For example, heat rising from the mantle may cause the crust to expand and fracture, resulting in lateral displacement. This and alternate events can result in what is known as a rift. The flat Thessaly Basin was the result of a rift where the faulted crust was forced downwards, later to be back-filled with water-borne sediments. The sediments may have been brought down by rivers from the north or perhaps left behind by a retreating sea. The former appears more likely due to the large amount of debris that would accumulate due to the erosion of mountain ranges to the north.

Greece and other countries on the Balkan peninsula are seismically active and so there are other examples of rifting described in our posts. The Gulf of Corinth is the result of rifting that is still active. Another rift produced the spectacular landscape of Skadar Lake in Montenegro, as is the rift valley on the drive between Montenegro and Bosnia. In each case images capture the rifting with brief explanation.

War in Greece During World War 2

So, the question is “did the second world war come through here?”

A Battle Beckons in Thessaly

The answer to that question helped us to understand that Trikala and the adjacent city of Larissa made a significant contribution to the modern history of Greece during World War 2. These towns felt the effects of the German invasion of Greece in 1941 when the German forces attacked Greece from the north through Albania and Bulgaria. The Germans overpowered the allied armies’ defences at the Servia Pass and Mount Olympus. The allies were forced to withdraw to the south and protected their retreat through Thessaly by leaving behind an Australian and New Zealand rear-guard to slow the German advance. They were to fight to extinction if necessary. The rear-guard action took place at the Pineios Gorge on the Pineios River in the vicinity of Larissa. The Pineios, you’ll recall, flows through Meteora.

This account of World War 2 in Greece continues when the journey arrives at Thermopylae.

An image from the public domain archives of the Australian War Memorial showing the Servia Pass that had to be defended.

This historical Greece in War image of the Servia Pass near Mount Olympus is from the public domain archives of the Australian War Memorial.

The Battle Resumes at Thermopylae

And so back to 1941 and Greece during WW2. There had already been one historical battle at Thermopylae in 480 BC – there was about to be another one.

The allies informed the Greek commander at Lamia that they were going to pull back all their forces from the Pineios and establish another defensive position at Thermopylae. The agenda was a general withdrawal of allied forces from Greece. Again, the New Zealand and Australian troops were deployed for the rear guard.

A division of the New Zealand Army was given the task of defending the pass at Thermopylae, the coastal road and the north-facing slopes of the Southern Pindus. Australian troops were assigned to hold up the advancing German armies at the village and pass at Bralos, further along the E65 in the mountains.

Drive from Meteora to Delphi Over the Pindus Range

The Route Across the Pindus Range to Delphi

You will see during your drive across Thessaly how the main spine of the mountainous Pindus Range dominates western Central Greece, running north-south. Just south of Anthili, now on the E65, you will be confronted by a change in landscape – the flat Thessaly Plain yields to the mountainous southern spur of the Pindus. This spur runs east-west across southern Central Greece and you will cross it to reach Delphi and Itea.

After having spent so much time driving across the flat Thessaly Plain the sudden emergence of the Pindus’ southern branch just begs another question.

Why Does The Pindus Suddenly Rise Out of the Thessaly Basin?

The change to a mountain landscape that you will see is the result of very powerful forces. During the period when the Alps were formed the softer limestone rocks that make up much of central and southern Greece were thrust against harder, unyielding continental sediments. A sequence of these subduction events resulted in the ongoing compression and heavy folding of the softer rocks producing mountain-valley systems which were later subjected to further tectonics.

Your first experience of the Southern Pindus will be the steep ascent up its northern face. There are a couple of vantage points to look out for during the ascent and if you stop you will be rewarded with a stunning panorama of the Thessaly Plain.

Panoramic view of the flat Thessay Plain from a road-side vantage point available on the ascent up the northern face of the Southern Pindus Range
Panoramic view over the Thessaly Basin from Southern Pindus

This climb announces the altitudes that await you between Gravia and Delphi via Amfissa but with careful driving you will be able to enjoy the scenery. We’re sure you will agree that the views will be worth the concentration.

View of the rugged Pindus range near Bralos
Mountain views Worth the concentration driving across the Southern Pindus

The E65 for this part of the journey is mostly single carriageway but the road is well-sealed, well-marked and quite wide. It makes for safe driving and there aren’t any sections of switch-backs to cause concern. The route passes through a number of small towns and villages, the first of which is the pretty village of Skamnos, followed by Bralos.

War in Greece During World War 2

The Battle Continues at Bralos

As previously stated, Bralos was an important site of rear-guard action in Greece during WW2 to protect the general evacuation of allied forces from Greece.

The village of Bralos and the Bralos Pass, the defence of which was important to the evacuation of allied troops in 1941
WW2 Greece and the defended Bralos Pass today
An image of the war-time Bralos Pass from the Public Domain Gallery of the Australian War Memorial
Bralos Pass – Australian War Memorial Public Domain
An image of rear-guard soldiers at Bralos Pass from the Public Domain Gallery of the Australian War Memorial
Rear Guard Soldiers At Bralos Pass – Australian War Memorial
An image of a painting of Bralos Pass from the Public Domain Gallery of the Australian War Memorial
Bralos Pass – Australian War Memorial

The rear-guard actions at Thermopylae and Bralos confronted German infantry and a Panzer Division while the larger allied force withdrew further south to eventual evacuation.  The allied rear guard at Bralos, led by the Australians, held the Pass for about 24 hours before joining the main force in Thebes, and eventual evacuation.

And on Towards Delphi

Spring is a lovely time of the year to drive through the highland landscape of Greece on the E65 and you see along the route displays of beautiful spring flowers.

Spring flowers across the Pindus
Spring flowers along the E65 Across the Southern Pindus Range
Panorama of Pindus
Spring flowers in the Southern Pindus

Amfissa

Amfissa is closely linked with the Peloponnese which is to be expected given its proximity to Ancient Corinth. It also has excavations of Mycenaean civilisation.

Scattered villages through the Pindus range
Scattered towns and villages along the E65 in the Southern Pindus

The E65 slowly descends from the Southern Pindus and on the way to the coast the EO48 points the way to Delphi. But the town of Itea is only a few minutes further along the E65.

The town of Itea on the coast of the Gulf of Corinth, a pleasant place to stay with access to Delphi
At the end near Delphi – coastal Itea on the Gulf of Corinth

What Can You Expect if You Overnight in Itea?

We didn’t choose to stay in Delphi but rather the lovely coastal town of Itea – a pleasant and convenient alternative. We can recommend it as an added facet to the journey – a couple of balmy evenings on the shores of the Gulf of Corinth.

Itea is well-equipped to provide for a happy summer seaside holiday. And of course, it is a doorway to a region of rich archaeology.

Itea main street adjacent to coastline
Itea

Accommodation is available along the sea front and is fairly priced.

Interior of apartment accommodation
Apartment accommodation in Itea

Food and Drink in Itea

Restaurants are well-located and plentiful. The food offered is similar to what was experienced in Meteora and consisted typically of seafood, pizza, salad, moussaka, meat balls, schnitzels of veal and pork with sauces typically made from freshly pressed tomatoes. Typical breakfasts included sliced meats, eggs, cheeses, yoghurts (particularly sheep) and bread. Yummy!

Enjoy an evening meal in one of the restaurants on the water’s edge and then a pleasant walk along the promenade in the setting sun and evening breeze. It’s all part of the ambience of a European vacation.

We were pleased to have picked out Itea for our accommodation. Its coastal location provided a pleasant contrast to the scenery we had experienced for a few days. There are plenty of water sports available for longer stays in the summer months and skiing in the winter is only a short drive past Delhi to Arachova. And, of course, right throughout the Pindus, walking trails without end.

Itea at night
Itea on the Gulf of Corinth – a great place to stay when visiting Delphi

Itea is a great place to stay when visiting Delphi, because it’s …

“Out the door, across the road and we’re in the water, on the sand or at a table. Happiness”.

Final Thoughts On the Drive from Meteora to Delphi

Driving from Meteora to Delphi is not difficult. Concentration is required when crossing the Pindus Range but no more so than for any similar road conditions.

The drive from Meteora is also not too long, but it’s worth thinking about how to best plan the time to make the journey more enjoyable. We hope that if you haven’t thought about it previously then you’ll find useful our suggestion of framing some simple questions to make your driving more interesting.