Feature image showing the Bralos Pass nestled in the Pindus range as part of the drive from Meteora to Delphi

The Drive from Meteora to Delphi and What You Will See

The drive from Meteora to Delphi across the Thessaly Plain and Pindus Range is both scenic and full of history. The route passes over complex but beautiful landscapes and identifies sites of ancient battles and modern warfare. The Battle of Greece which was fought during World War 2 is an example of the latter.

Your decision to drive from Meteora to Delphi will ensure that you will see aspects of Greece that you otherwise would have missed if you had chosen other modes of transport, such as bus or train. The Meteora to Delphi drive is quite safe. You won’t be required to attempt any type of driving you haven’t already done, even in the Pindus mountains. You’ll be on good roads all the way – sometimes the roads will be excellent. And, of course, the destination will be worth any effort, whether you are interested in seeing the Temple of Apollo and its Oracle or visiting the ruins of Ancient Delphi. Both will invite you to decipher the role of Delphi within the context of the ancient world.

How Far is Meteora to Delphi?

Item Information
Distance from Meteora to Delphi 350 km
Car Rental Driver’s Quotation
Fuel Costs 25 Euro
Tolls 6 Euro
Meteora to Delphi Driving Time Allow 4 hours

The Meteora to Delphi Drive In Two Stages

The first stage of the drive to Delphi from Meteora is across the flat Thessaly Plain between Meteora and Thermopylae. The route will first take you south of Meteora through Trikala. You may wish to spend a couple of hours to see Trikala’s Roman and medieval past. You will then cross the Thessaly Plain to Thermopylae. The ancient site of Thermopylae is not only celebrated for the famous battle against the Persians in 480 BC, but was also the site of a heroic rear guard stand by allied forces during the Battle of Greece of World War 2.

You may also wonder as you drive to Delphi from Meteora about the Thessaly Plain. Notice how flat the plain is and how it ends with the abrupt rise of the Pindus range. We briefly address these landscapes in the post.

The second stage when driving Meteora to Delphi is a lovely mountain road trip that crosses the southern branch of the Pindus Range between Thermopylae and Delphi. This part of the road trip to Delphi will give you a feel for the mountainous terrain that dominates Greece. You will also ponder the remoteness of some of the towns and villages that are scattered across the landscape. Should you take this route 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.

Menu: The Drive from Meteora to Delphi

  • Drive Across the Thessaly Plain
    • Visit the Regional Town of Trikala
    • The Route South from Trikala
      • The E30 Regional Road
      • The A3 Tollway
    • See the Extent of the Flat Thessaly Plain
    • Identify Sites of the Battle of Greece During World War 2
      • A Battle Beckons in Thessaly
      • The Battle Resumes at Thermopylae
  • Drive Across the Pindus Range
    • The Route Across the Pindus Range to Delphi
    • Ascnend the Rugged Pindus Range Out of the Thessaly Basin
    • Explore Sites of the Battle of Greece During World War 2
      • The Battle Continues to Bralos
    • Enjoy a Highland Landscape Covered in Spring Flowers
    • See Small Villages Scattered Across the Pindus Range
  • Final Thoughts On the Drive from Meteora to Delphi

Drive Across the Thessaly Plain

Visit the Regional Town of Trikala

You’ll drive away from 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.

Starting the drive across the Thessaly Plain on an alternative road
Driving across the Thessaly Plain on an alternative road

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

Stop at historical on the drive to Delphi from Meteora and visit the Trikala clock tower
Trikala

Trikala

Trikala’s history dates back to antiquity which is associated with some other sites you might have on your itinerary, such as  Epidaurus (or Epidavros) and Mykines (Mycenae). Epidaurus does not only have a famous amphitheatre but is 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 centres 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.

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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 many 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 route becomes the E65 at Neo Monastiri, the road that will take you over the mountains to Delphi.

The E30 is not a colourful route to get to Delphi 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. 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.

Driving To Delphi on the A3 Tollway

Alternatively, you can make your Meteora to Delphi road trip easier if you divert onto the newish A3 tollway near Rozario just south of Trikala The A3 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 towards Thermopylae you will never lose sight of distant mountains to the west and the surrounding plains of Thessaly and Larissa. There will be kilometres and kilometres of a straight dual carriageway in front of you. The monotony of driving this section of your route will only be 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!

The road trip to Delphi is made much more comfotable by the 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. 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.

See the Extent of the Flat Thessaly Plain

The very flat Thessaly Plain is a relief to anxious travellers driving from Athens to Meteora.
The drive from Athens to Meteora crosses the Thessaly Plains

The Thessaly and Larissa Plains appear quite uncomplicated – just hectares of a flat, broad expanse. But don’t be fooled! The view does little to account for the complex series of events that caused their formation that occurred over millions of years. These included the migration and collisions of continents, periods of mountain building, and the compression and extension of the crust. The basin and range like structure that evolved was responsible for the initial formation of most of the linter-mountain basins in Thessaly which trend in the NW-SE direction.

The progressive weathering and erosion of the mountain ranges produced large masses of sediment. The sediment washed down from the mountains forming a profile of rocks and materials depending on when they were deposited. Conglomerates form the basement rocks, above which are fine grained sediments and sandstones associated with lakes, then sands and clays which indicate the presence of both lakes and rivers, and finally most recent river deposits of clays, sand, and angular and rounded pebbles. We see the end result as the Thessaly and Larissa Plains. And they look so innocuous!

Greece and other countries on the Balkan peninsula are seismically active. The most local to Thessaly is the Gulf of Corinth. The gulf is formed by rifting, the pulling apart of the crust, and the process 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.

Identify Sites of the Battle of 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, with air support and greatly superior numbers, overpowered the defences of the allied armies at the Servia Pass and Mount Olympus.

The allies were forced on April 15 to withdraw to the south in the face of the Panzer Corps. They 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 and indeed, many became trapped behind enemy lines. 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.

The Servia Pass - an important site of WW2
The Servia Pass

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

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

The E75 and A1 head towards Athens. 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.

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 on April 19 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.

The E65 is therefore the route across the Pindus Range for the drive to Delphi. The E65 is picked up at the junction of the E65, the E75 and the A1 approximately 10kms south of Anthili..

Drive Over the Pindus Range

During the drive from Meteora to Delphi across the Thessaly Plain it is very noticeable how the main spine of the mountainous north-south Pindus Range dominates western Central Greece. These are the ranges associated with the formation of the Thessaly Plain as previously explained. You will now be confronted by a sudden change in landscape when on the E65 just south of Anthili. 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 drive across cross it to reach Delphi.

Ascend the Rugged Pindus Range from Thessaly

The Pindus Mountains of Greece represent part of the Alpine–Himalayan orogenic system and formed as a consequence of collision between the African and Eurasian plates.

A simplified explanation can be made consistent with the explanation that outlined the formation of the Thessaly Plain. During the period of collision between the African and Eurasian plates, the softer rocks that make up much of central and southern Greece were thrust against harder, unyielding continental masses. These softer rocks underwent these events in sequence numerous times and it resulted in their ongoing subduction, compression and folding. The result was the formation of mountain-valley systems which were later subjected to further tectonics.

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

Your first experience of the Southern Pindus will be the drive up the steep ascent of the northern face. There are a couple of vantage points to look out for when driving the ascent, and if you stop you will see the stunning panorama across the Thessaly Plain.

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

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

The E65 for this part of the drive from Meteora to Delphi 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.

Explore the Sites of the Battle of 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 from Greece of allied forces from Greece.

On the drive from Meteora to Delphi you will pass through 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 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 the German infantry and a Panzer Division. 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 three days starting on April 21. The rear guard then joined the main force in Thebes, and eventual evacuation. The British Mediterranean Fleet arrived at various locations east and west of Athens. They embarked 50,000 soldiers between the 24th and 29th April. The German forces had entered Athens before the last of the ships departed. (Greek Campaign, 1941, Battle of Bralos)

And on to Delphi

Enjoy a Highland Landscape Covered in Spring Flowers

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

Spring flowers across the Pindus on the road trip to Delphi
Spring flowers along the E65 Across the Southern Pindus Range
Panorama of Pindus on the scenic route from Meteora to Delphi
Spring flowers in the Southern Pindus

See a a Number of Small Villages Remotely Scattered Throughout the Range

Amfissa

Amfissa, due to its proximity to Ancient Corinth, is closely linked with the Peloponnese. It also has excavations of Mycenaean civilisation.

Scattered villages through the Pindus range on the drive to Delphi
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.

Final Thoughts On the Drive from Meteora to Delphi

When contemplating how to get from Meteora to Delphi one is faced with many options. Bus and train services are quite efficient and take responsibility for the journey. However, they also limit what can be seen and done along the way. For this reason, many consider travelling by car to be the most satisfying way to get from Meteora to Delphi. The drive is not difficult, the roads are excellent and the Meteora to Delphi distance is easily achievable within a day, but you will need to concentrate when crossing the Pindus Range. But no more so than for any similar route or road conditions.

The actual Meteora to Delphi driving time is not overly long, allowing plenty of time to explore some points of interest along the way. But it’s worth thinking about how to best plan that time to make the journey from Meteora to Delphi by car more enjoyable.

References

Greek Campaign 1941
Battle of Bralos
Australian War Memorial

Late Cainozoic Geodynamic Evolution of Thessaly and Surroundings (central-northern Greece)
https://www.sciencedirect.com

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