For years now we do the route Athens Thessaloniki without taking the highway. On one hand the cost of tolls that for an RV exceeds
50 70 € for 500 km. On the other, the fact that the alternative routes are more interesting and even if they require a few more hours of driving, the mileage does not increase by much, in the worst case we are talking about 50km more.
Athens – Larissa (distance 300km)
Enlarge MapLeave Athens taking the highway to Corinth. A couple of Kilometers before the tollbooths, at the height of Mandra, exit following the signs for Thebes.
Aliartos [38.421318,23.105484], just after Thebes is a quiet village, which we often used to stay overnight. Some times we prefer to start from Athens in the late afternoon to get a few kilometers ahead for the next day and avoid the morning traffic.
After Thebes follow the signs to Lamia Larissa.
Right before Lamia, Thermopylae [38.833289,22.520462], are another good stopping point, see my previous post.
Continue following the signs for Domokos-Farsala-Larissa.
Larissa – Thessaloniki (distance 220/250 km)
Enlarge MapJust before reaching Larissa you have to decide which way to take for Katerini: for this stretch there are two possible routes, equally interesting, one that follows the coast and the other going up Mount Olympus.
As expected, the road of the sea in summer can be very busy and to be avoided if you are in a hurry. Out of season, however, is really nice and even if it is about thirty kilometers longer, it has far fewer ascents and descents and offers many opportunities for a stopover. The one that passes from Tirnavos-Elassona offers wonderful views of the mountain of the gods, but is a bit more demanding for the driver.
Before you get to Katerini you will find Dion, where there is an archaeological site that is supposed to be very interesting. Shortly after the site, we found a wonderful small church in the middle of the fields that look like the abandoned scenery of a movie, and where you can comfortably stop for lunch.
After Katerini the route is always parallel to the motorway up to Thessaloniki, apart from a small stretch after Eginio, where you have to take a little detour to cross the river Aliakmonas. In Thessaloniki, I pointed out a parking lot where we’ve been on several occasions, is not the best area and a bit noisy, but we were never bothered and is relatively close to the town center [40.643819,22.934523]