Travelling around Greece

Travelling around Greece
Updated 2017-09-18 09:06

When considering transportation in Greece, first you need to consider where you are. Although most cities (even the biggest ones) are relatively easy to walk in, in the islands, the villages and the more remote areas, your fastest option might be booking a flight or hopping on a ferry. Thankfully Greece has an extensive domestic air network and many ferries that criss-cross the Adriatic and the Aegean seas, and are available frequently from March to October. There's also the option of buses, but you need to be prepared for delays and unpredictable timetables.

Transportation in Athens

Athens is uniquely blessed in the sense that it offers the most transportation options in the whole country. It's the only city in Greece to have a Metro, an urban and suburban railway and a tram network. Although the Metro network, which was upgraded for the Olympic Games of 2004, still consists of just three lines, these lines are ever-expanding with more stops being added constantly.

The ticket still remains quite affordable: 1.40 euros for as many rides you can take within the course of one and a half hours, 4.50 euros for a daily ticket, 9 euros for five days and a special 10 euro ticket to go to the airport. The electronic tickets are not yet implemented fully, but you can buy paper tickets from the vending machines placed in every stop, or you can download the TFA tickets mobile app and purchase your tickets online (you may be asked to show your phone screen to a ticket conductor).

Riding the Metro is usually quite comfortable, as the stations are very clean (no smoking, eating or drinking allowed), there is air-conditioning, and the names of the stops are announced in both Greek and English. Plus, while building the Metro system a lot of ancient relics were unearthed, and they are now being displayed in several stations, making for a very interesting trip. Just be aware that the Metro is not 24-hour: last trains leave the stations at around 00:30am (or 02:20am on Friday and Saturday nights) and the service starts again around 5:00am.

Apart from the Metro, there's also the electric train (which is older and, admittedly, not that pleasant, but runs across the city connecting the Piraeus port with the northern suburbs) and the tram, which connects the southern suburbs and is a great solution if you want to visit the Attica coastline.

Taxis in Greece

Taxis in Greece are everywhere: you will find them even in the most remote island, flocking at the village square. They are very cheap -- minimum fare is 3.47 euros (you will find that this will be enough to take you around downtown Athens, for example) whereas there is a flat fee of 38 euros to take you to and from the Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport. One thing you should be aware of is that the colour of the taxis changes depending on where you are: in Athens, and several other areas of the country, taxis are yellow, but in Thessaloniki they're dark blue and in many other cities in the mainland are grey, white or dark red.

In general, taxis in Greece are safe to use and there have been zero incidents of fraud or violence, but older taxi-drivers may be rude, smoke while driving and, on occasion, try to scam you to pay more. To be on the safe side, it's better to pick a taxi from a piatsa, the place where they all gather (there are piatsas next to big city squares, outside hospitals or areas with many bars & nightlife), to call for a radio cab to come pick you up (there is no extra charge anymore for services like that) or, if it's available in your area, to use an app like UBER or BEAT (the locals' favourite).

Buses and trains in Greece

Again, there is a big difference depending on where you are. Buses and trolley cars in Athens have an extensive network and frequent service lines, whereas many stops now feature electronic information displays in Latin characters. But as you move further away from the capital, things change: in many islands, for instance, there is only one (quite old) bus that connects the port with the 'chora' and passes every 45 minutes or more, whereas all the information is in Greek.

Nevertheless, the bus tickets are cheap (in Athens they cost the same with the metro tickets and can be used interchangeably) and you can buy them in bus stops or even on board. They have similar service hours with the Metro (aka they stop after 00:30 and start again around 05:30) but in Athens there are also a couple of 24-hour buses that will take you to and from the airport.

For longer distances, you need a suburban KTEL bus -- these are usually green nowadays and connect Athens to many towns of the mainland. Itineraries are regular and tickets can be bought onboard. Trains in Greece are not that popular as KTEL buses, although in most cases the train fare is cheaper than the bus ticket. The most popular train route is from Athens to Thessaloniki, but the northern and central Greece is also well-served by the rail network.

Car rental

When you want to get around, cars can be the best and most secure way to transport yourself in Greece. There are car rental agencies at the airport, as well as in popular places throughout the country and in every port of every Greek island. The main road networks in Greece are modern and in good state, but the regional roads, especially the island ones, will need extra caution: they are usually very narrow and winding.

Useful links:

Athens transport
Train transport
Taxi Beat

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