Reliable public transportation can help your vacation run smoothly and without any hassle. Luckily, Greek public transit is pretty convenient (and cheap!). Follow our quick tips to get from A to B in no time.
In most towns and on the smaller islands, you can get around on foot. If you’re staying in Athens, you can reach a lot of the major sites on foot, depending on where your hotel is located. Don’t discount this option, unless you’re travelling with very small children who might get tired more easily. In that case …
Taxis are available almost everywhere in Greece. The rates are quite low compared to other European countries, especially if you split the fare two or three ways. BUT: taxi fares double after midnight (and until 5am). Often companies will have a flat rate for airport transfer or pickup, so the double rate probably won’t affect you in that case. While the yellow city cabs are metered, the grey rural cabs are not. In both cases, make sure you ask how much the ride will cost before you get in. Most cabs will only take cash, so don’t rely on your debit or credit card.
While most taxi drivers are very friendly and helpful, Athenian drivers have a bit of a reputation for overcharging tourists. You can estimate how much your ride will cost beforehand (try zee.gr), or simply ask a few drivers for their rates before getting into a cab. The safest and most convenient option is to order a Radio Taxi in advance – it will cost a little extra, but you’ll know the rate in advance and you can easily report the driver if there are any incidents.
Athens is the only city in Greece with a subway system (Thessaloniki is expected to finish construction on an underground metro system by 2018). This is a cheap, safe, and reliable way to get around downtown Athens. You can buy tickets at train stations for about 1.20 euro each. Tickets are valid for 70 minutes, even if you’re switching from the train to a bus or vice versa. You can use Google Maps to figure out which station is closest to your destination.
Buses are another option for getting around the city, particularly if you’re travelling to the suburbs or the outskirts of town. Most towns have buses, although you’ll really only need them if you’re staying in Athens, Thessaloniki, Patra, or Kalamata. Bus tickets cost the same as metro tickets (1.20 euro), although if you’re transferring from metro to bus you don’t need to buy a new ticket at all. However, it can be tricky to get a stroller or heavy luggage onto a bus – in those cases, a taxi may be a more convenient option.
Travelling by air is probably one of the easiest ways to get to Greece, especially if you’re coming from far away. Aegean Airlines has affordable flights to and from most major European cities. If you’re traveling from North America, you can get a direct flight from Athens departing from Philadelphia, New York (JFK), Montreal, or Toronto. The Eleftherios Venizelos Airport is approximately 30 minutes outside of the city center (also accessible by metro), and most taxi companies offer a flat rate to and from the airport.
But if you’re traveling within Greece, say to one of the islands, consider your other options first. While it’s fairly easy to get to the major cities and islands by plane, many of the smaller islands don’t even have airports. And the planes that fly out to the Dodecanese and the other islands in the Aegean can be cramped and uncomfortable. Why not enjoy the trip on a ferry or a flying dolphin?
Ferries & Hydrofoils
These will get you to almost any island in Greece (some islands are only accessible via other islands). Ferries are cheaper, but significantly slower and often more crowded than the smaller hydrofoils, also known as “flying dolphins.” When you buy a ticket on a hydrofoil, you also reserve a seat. On a ferry, you are not guaranteed a seat, but there are usually lots of seating options both indoors and on the deck. If you’re looking for the quintessential Greek travel experience, you have to travel by boat at least once. Even if you head out to a nearby island for a day trip (like Aegina, for instance), it’s worth it! You’ll take in the sun and fresh air while you make your way to a gorgeous island.
Traveling by train is one of the best ways to get around the major cities of Greece. The slower trains, which stop at every station, are extremely reasonably priced – even cheaper than bus travel. The faster inter-city (IC) trains are a little pricier, but more modern and a lot more comfortable. You can buy tickets online here.