A new national highway linking Athens to the western port of Patras has been inaugurated, paving the way for drivers to enjoy an easier journey to the port city famed, among other things, for its carnival parades and university.
The new highway runs from the town of Corinth across the northern coast of the Peloponnese and is expected to reduce the time it takes to travel to Patras from Athens to around one hour-and-a-half. The previous route took two-and-a-half hours on a road that had many dangerous stretches and was long overdue for repairs.
The new road has two lanes (plus an emergency lane) in each direction with a dividing barrier, and passes through 12 newly constructed tunnels.
Apart from the carnival, Patras is well-known for its cultural sites and love of good food, as well as its beautiful Venetian-influenced architecture. Aside from linking Athens with Patras, the route is also a key artery that links capital to numerous destinations in the west of Greece such as the western coast of the Peloponnese, the port of Igoumenitsa from where ferries leave for the Ionian islands and Italy and the mountainous regions of Epirus and Arta.
The tollway will be operated by the Olympia Odos company. All of the lanes on the new highway will be opened for the Easter holidays – tollbooths will not be in operation before the weekend – and some restrictions will apply for a short period afterwards as final roadworks are completed.