Earth > Europe > Southern Europe > Balkans > Greece > Thessaloniki
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Thessaloniki is a city in Greece.
This route is widely perceived to be difficult. If you are lucky it can be easy if you get to a Turkish truck. Take bus #27 from the centre (e.g. Kamara) until the very end of the line. [UPDATE: bus #83 no longer starts where bus #27 finishes. Instead ask your #27 bus driver where to get off for bus #83] Switch to bus #83 and go a few stops until you see the motorway. Get off when you see a JetOil rest area on the other side of the motorway. Just follow the bus and go under the motorway to reach the other side. Once you are there, rally the gas station personnel to help you (they are very nice!). Show them your Istanbul (or Kavala or whatever) sign and ask them to tell you if they notice someone going to Turkey. Be prepared to convince the paranoid drivers that you are not wanted by the police and show them your passport. Getting a ride can take anything between one minute and five hours. If it just does not work at the gas station see the options below (thumbing up on the road etc). Also, there should be a toll station (peage) about 15 km east of Lagynas, near Analipsi (where bus #83a is supposed to go). When you get to the border you might want to switch to a passenger car because the truck could be stuck in customs for a while.
Another option: Bus #83 goes all the way to Lagkadas. If you stay on the bus until it reaches this small town, you can try hitching out in the direction of Kavala, Istanbul, etc.
- "I've also followed the intructions and waited several hundred meters after JetOil. It wasn't railly easy to hitchike in a freezing weather and nobody has stoped for about 2 hours than a turkish truck driver stopped and we've driven to the direction of Malaka.
So what I can highly recommend you is: Go to the truck station in Thessaloniki, where you can also drive by 83. There is certainly some Turkish trucks who drives to the direction of Turkey, but on the border because of the strikes or controls you might have to wait more than 7 hours. There I'd advice you to pass the bridge with a truck from the front of the queue. If it is evening mostly the drivers would sleep in Keşan. So just try to speak to car drivers on the Turkish border. 2012 Arsen
- I followed the instructions and went to JetOil and got the personnel to help, but it turned out to be quite hard to get a ride going east. Even though a lot of cars and trucks do stop there, the cars appeared to be going local and the trucks were heading towards Athens. After half an hour, I decided to move on and got a short ride to the highway. After 5 minutes a trucker, who was on his way to Iran, stopped for me. So even though I do not recommend thumbing up on the highway, it does work some time. December 2010, Lana
- I tried the recommended way of asking around at the JetOil trying to get out of Thessaloniki, with no luck. It seemed all the truckers were either sleeping, local, or going to Athens. Also, they were not that keen on taking hitchhikers anyway. After a few hours, I went to the highway right next to the station (there is an opening in the fence, you just have to look for it), and got a ride halfway to Istanbul within 10 minutes. It surprises me how closed-minded the original post is, being that it is entirely possible, and quite easy to get a ride on the highway. Just a lesson that you should never take anyone's recommendation as absolute truth. I would personally recommend getting the gas-pumpers at the station to ask around for you (they were incredibly friendly), and stay within clear sight on the highway in case they get you a ride before you do. February 2011, Jon
- First of all: it's not easy at all to hitchhike in Greece btw Thessaloniki. We spent one day and two hours the next day in that area to get a hike in the direction to Turkey. If you take the bus #83 from town be prepared that it doesn't stop on the highway. We drove to the next station and waited for the bus #86 to drive back. The whole in the fence is an option but a bad one because the cars are driving fast and they have almost no space to stop. We got a hitch at the drive-up, direction Kavala. It is wide and the cars are driving slow. If you come with the bus and go under the highway you'll find it on your left hand side. 250m to walk from the JetOil. Good Luck! July 2011, Timo
- In Thessaloniki Kamara you can take bus 83. There is no need to take bus 27 and change to 83. The ride towards the HH point takes about 20 to 30 minutes. The bus will drive on the highway. Stay on the bus until it leaves the highway and continue for about 5 minutes on the local road. Leave the bus when you see a petrol station on your right. Walk for 100 metres until the traffic light where you will find some shade from trees. It is so hot between 12 and 4. 500 metres further from the traffic light is the highway. I first tried there but all the traffic was heading for Thessaloniki. So I went back to the traffic light. The cars are local but there are several trucks going to Turkey. They take the national road to avoid the tollcosts from the highway. Try to get the attention of the trucks. I used a cardboard written Kavala-Turkey. The truck took me to the border and there I slept in the truck with the driver. At the border change to a car. The waiting time for the truck was about 40 minutes. The waiting time for the car was 5 minutes. May 2012. Len
- Spent a full day trying to get a ride from the area where bus 27 stops before going over the motorway. Greeks do not stop, slept on top of a derelict building of which there's plenty there. Go to Jetoil as described above, guy with ponytail (late 30ties I think) speaks English and has been helping hitchers out for 20+ years. He knows a substantial amount of the traffic because this gasstation apparently has very loyal customers, meaning he knows which people to ask. Hole in the fence was still there but the police use the cafe as their coffee stakeout and they were there in number all day, so hitching beyond the fence might not be advised. Might still take a substantial amount of time at the Jetoil but I got a ride all the way to Georgia. August 2014. Wouter
North-West to Skopje (FYROM)
"Don't bother to hitch hike to the border!!!
There is a free bus from the city centre to the border! These buses belong to the casinos you can find at the border just before Gevgelija. You can find theses buses on Tsimiski street. They are easy to recognize (the name of the casino is printed on the bus, and it is written "free shuttle"). The buses leave at 17:00 and 21:00 though, so it might be quicker to hit the road directly, but more comfortable taking the bus. I didn't take it but I was picked up by a guy working at a casino who gave me the information. Another nice information: you can eat and drink for free at the casino!! Apparently you can just show up at the reception, they will give you a card and you can enjoy food and drinks for free!! I did! Anne-laure, may 2013"
- If you are traveling with a lot of baggage, the driver will probably refuse to take you (which happened to me and my girlfriend, we had one big and one small backpack, two sleeping bags and a tent), as he needs to be informed by the hotel/casino in advance, that there will be some passengers with big bags. What you can do is call one of the casinos/hotels some time before you go and ask them to inform the driver, you might have to lie about going to spend a night at the hotel. DuriTraktorista
Take a bus #8 (or #31?) from Egnatias street in the centre to KTEL (last stop). You can also take bus #45 which goes between KTEL Makedonia and KTEL Halkidiki (you want to go to Makedonia). Then switch to bus #81 which you can find on the upper platform. Afterwards, you can do different things. You can get off at a first bus stop after you drive over the highway Athens-Skopje - here. Be careful, the first big crossing you going to come to is the crossing with the ring road (you are going to driver underneath it) while only the next on is the one you need (you are going to drive above it). Then you have to walk almost 2km backwards (if you walk fast it takes 20 minutes) and you can hitch on the junction to the highway to Skopje. However, if the bus goes into Agios Athanasios you can better get off and find your way from there (it seems that this bus goes differently depending whether it is #81 or #81A and depending on some external stuff; you can talk to the driver to make sure).
- My girlfriend and me stood at the junction just next to the old paytoll, which seemed to be the best place since cars were going rather slowly. After 10-15 minutes we were picked up by a Macedonian woman who brought us to the border. A week later I hitchhiked alone from the same spot and was picked up after 40 minutes and got to the junction with Polykastro before which the highway goes into one line for 500 metres. On that spot I thumbed and got to the border after another 40 minutes. December 2011, Rozwal
- My friend and I (two guys) stood here for 4 hours and despite many cars passing only one Macedonian guy stopped but he asked for money. Then we put up our tent in the nearby field and tried our luck the next day. After another 2 hours we got picked up by Albanian workers that took us to Polykastro. There are no gas stations or shops nearby, so bring food and water just in case! August 2012, Chaba
Alternatively, you can get off here which is reported to be a better place for cars to stop. But there you have a lot of cars going to the West, while if you come the previous stop you will have cars going only towards Polykastro or the border.
- I took bus 81A from KTEL busstation to Agios Athanasios. Got off when it turns from the highway. From there hitched to Polykastro and another ride got me to the border. At the border asked the car in front of me for a ride, which got me to Skopje. Standing on the highway there, it was very quiet, but I was very lucky as an Austrian car passed and got me straight to Belgrade. January 2011, Lana
South to Athens
Take Buses #31, #12, #8 or #78 to the bus station called KTEL. From there take bus #80 or #80A to the village called Malgara. You can go down on the station "25 Martiou" which is the closest to the tolls (in Greek ikostis pemptis martiou if you want to ask the driver). There you can ask and find the toll station (in Greek diodia) easily. You'll have to walk about 2 km to find it, but then there is a possibility to get a ride even straight to Athens. Before you enter the motorway where the toll station is, you will have to go through some fields. If it's night be careful, just before the motorway there is a small ridge that is a bit steep and there is water flowing down, you need to find your way around it. If it's day, from the fields you can see a small canteen on the motorway, head to that direction, you can bypass the ridge there very easily and also you don't need to jump the fence (easy to jump though) because there is an entrance/exit for the canteen. From the canteen you will see the tolls, they are less than 50 m away.
For those not wanting to take a bus or want to hitch closer to the city (and aren't scared to walk), go to the the A1 motorway going towards Athens. It runs right beside the city centre. Starting from near the train station after walking 2kms you will arrive at the international bus station. From there it's a 6km walk along the motorway to where the E90 highway joins on to the A1 road to Athens. This is a good spot due to the high amount of Turkish trucks coming straight from the border and bypassing the city as well as any traffic coming from the north. Stand at the end of the onramp where there is a shoulder for traffic to pull over and you can get a ride to Larissa or even Athens.
West to Igoumenitsa
Go to the train station, which is also the inner-city bus station. From here, take bus 8 KTEL (the KTEL are the blue and white buses) to Makedonia bus station. From there, you can catch the bus #80 to the end of the line, then follow motorway signs walking (approx. 2km) to the toll station. Or rather than taking bus #80, just walk across the road (roundabout) till you come to an on-ramp where, according to Liva, is a a pretty good spot to stop cars.
Take the bus #27 from the centre to it's final stop, where also other buses stop(you need #85). Then take bus #85(A, B or M) and you're already on your way. Almost any stop of this bus leaves you at a good hitchhiking point, but the nineteenth stop 21o chiliometro (21st kilometre) is on the way to Serres and the Bulgarian border (to Sandansky, Blagoevgrad, Sofia). If you can't explain all this to the driver just ask him to get off at Assirus. It's a village near the motorway. When you ask the locals for the motorway use the german word "autobahn" instead of "motorway" or "highway". The road is E79 and it's not a motorway, especially after the border. These city bus tickets for 2 rides cost 90 cents (that you don't even have to pay) and take you quite some kilometres out of the city towards all destinations.
Update: If you want to get to 21o chiliometro make sure to make that really clear to the busdriver since the bus doesn't stop at every stop nor says the stops out loud. Try to not end up in Assirus. Hitchhiking out of this village is a pain. And if you are unlucky enough to end up there: Don't ask locals for the highway because they will take you to the old highway. If you want to get to the new highway to Sofia ask for "autobahn".
[Update: getting off at Assirus has not proved a good idea, it's quite difficult to reach the new motorway from there. A kind local took me there on unpaved roads, and after I had to climb over a fence and descend on a rough path...]
Basically you need to take 2 buses. Very similar to the above direction to Sofia. But this time it is bus #27 / #27a and bus #84 / # 84a. You can change buses in two different places.
- This way is faster as you don't need to stay on bus #27 so long. Take bus #27 or #27a and get off at Minerva stop in Oreokastrou suburb. If you walk some hundreds of meters from the bus stop where you get off, in the direction the bus was going, you will reach a crossroads and on your left you will see another bus stop. From there you can take bus #84.
- This way is easier because you don't need to change bus stops, it is the way mentioned in the Northeast to Sofia section. Take the bus #27 or #27a from the centre the the final s top Platia Stavroupolis (Stavroupolis square). Then at the same place take bus #84 / #84a and you're already on your way.
Stay on bus #84 whilst it passes through 2 villages, Liti and Melissochiori. When it is out of Melissochiori, at one point the bus will cross the road going to Kilkis and you will see signs for Kilkis. When you are at the cross roads you can press the stop button on the bus and it will stop just after the cross. There is a bus stop there. Then you are at a great spot for hitching a ride to Kilkis, Gallikos or even Macedonia (but not the most common way to Skopje. it is a different border).
There are many hospitality network members in the city, so try your luck there. Livas had luck once at sleeping in the train station. She asked the people on the train station if she could sleep there even though they where closed at night, and she could!
Some have had luck asking the good people at Mikropolis/Micropolis Social Space, (see ). They were very friendly and could advise on where to squat for the night.
If you find yourself at the train station at night beware that it is closed at 01:00 and the guard will kick you outside (where it's safe to sleep if it's warm) if he sees you. However it is possible to hide in the main yellow café while he checks for people, then after he locks the terminal you can go and sleep on the seats. There are other homeless people around but they won't give you any trouble.
The university campus in Thessaloniki is just in the city centre and it's the perfect place to sleep in your van/tent/sleeping bag, because it's the only green place in the city and because the police are not allowed to enter the university! There are few guards but don't have the right to touch you. It's generally safe, though perhaps not suitable for a single female.
The tickets for the buses in the city cost 0.80€ and sometimes 0.90€. Blackriding is possible. If you speak to the controller in a foreign language (showing that you're a tourist, not an illegal immigrant) they'll just leave you alone. If not, they first ask 30 euro for the tax, you say you don't have. Then they ask your id card, you say you don't have it with you and then they'll just give you a paper to note your name and address, where you can write any fake name. Or even simpler you can give your real passport and they are supposed to send you the bill to your country. It's 100% SURE that they will not.
There were big movements in this city about not paying for public transport. Many people don't pay and controls are rare. Spent a whole month in this city taking buses daily and never got checked.
- On bus #85 the driver asked for tickets before leaving the station, I simply said (in English) that I had no money and where I was going, and he let me ride the bus anyway. September 2012, Alnair
I took one shower in one hospital 500 metres from the television broadcast antenna. There are three hospitals close to each other and I just tried one. After walking around in the hospital and talking friendly to some nurses I was able to take a shower and shave. May 2012. Len
Thessaloniki is perhaps the only place in the world where you can eat everyday for free easily. Next to the campus of Aristotles university, Egnatia street, after the crossroad with 3rd September street there is the university canteen. Ask anybody for fititiki leschi/φοιτητική λέσχη. There you can find a free full meal twice a day. 12.00-15.00 and 18.00-20.00. These free meals are provided for the university students, but even if you're not one, you don't have to pay and you don't have to show a student ID or any document. Just follow the queue, take the food and eat it. There's never any checks. There's nothing to be afraid of, just try to look more or less like a student. Only disadvantage is that it is closed on weekends, summer holidays and not-working days for the university in general. Picture of the building here.
This might not be true any more, have heard that this year they started checking for a student pass.
- You're right, since September 2010 they started checking. But don't be scared, just ignore them, they don't insist! Myself, although I have a student card, I refuse to show it, many students do so out of solidarity. Tidy looks always help.
- Actually they don't check any more. Barely anyone was showing their IDs when they started checking so they gave up. Nobody cares now. Go early if you want choice of foods. Sometimes they run out of the nicest meal or of the dessert and they give you the other one and an orange instead of the baklava or rice pudding. You can easily ask for seconds and thirds.
- They don't even look at you, so there is no such thing as "checking". You can just go there and eat. (April, 2012)
- My friends were there (1st week of September 2012) and they were asked about student cards, so they replied that "we are from Erasmus and still waiting for Greek ones, but of course we have our normal"... OK! OK! com'on, there is no problem, so you only have to say "I am a student" if any doubtful problem occur