Getting Around Greece
Advance bookings are recommended throughout summer. Private charter flights are also available.
Greece's motorway network has been significantly upgraded in recent years. Some sections of motorways and some bridges have toll gates; many of which accept cash. In rural areas, and especially on the islands, many roads are narrow and twisty.
Beware that roads up steep mountains may involve hairpin bends and plummeting cliffs with no guardrails. To reach some of the more isolated beaches you may have to negotiate unsurfaced tracks.
Side of the roadRight
Greece's major motorways are E75 (Athens-Thessaloniki), E94 (Athens-Corinth), E55 (Patras-Pyrgos-Olympia), E90 (Thessaloniki-Kavala- Alexandroupoli), among others. Secondary roads are known as national roads and numbered from 1 to 99.
Most major international car hire firms operate throughout Greece, with offices at airports, ferry ports and in all major cities. The legal age for hiring a car is 21.
In Athens, taxis are safe, plentiful and cheap. It is common practice to share the ride with other passengers going in a similar direction. The same applies to other major cities. On the more commercial islands, such as Santorini, taxis can be expensive and also difficult to find during peak season. On the less touristy islands, taxis are cheaper but often scarce.
The Greek countryside offers superb terrain for mountain bikers. Various companies hire out bikes, and organise guided and self-guided tours of anything from a half-day to one week. The most popular regions for cycling are the island of Crete and the Peloponnese, both of which offer cycling paths, rural back roads and stunning mountain scenery.
Cities in Greece are well connected by an extensive network of long-distance buses, which often are more efficient than trains. Major routes include Athens-Thessaloniki and Athens-Patras. The private companies involved operate under the umbrella of KTEL (www.ktel.org).
The minimum age for driving is 18. Children under 10 must sit in the back seat. Seat belts must be worn. There are fines for breaking traffic regulations. The maximum speed limit is 110-120kph (68-75mph) on motorways, 90kph (56mph) on ordinary roads and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas.
Items you must carry with you are headlamp beam deflectors (either deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually), a warning triangle, as well as a fire extinguisher or first aid kit.
Items you must not carry with you are spare patrol.
It is also illegal to use your horn in built-up areas except in cases where there is immediate danger.
ELPA (Automobile and Touring Club of Greece) or use the number given by your insurance provider.
A national driving licence is acceptable for EU nationals. You must carry your car registration documents at all times. Nationals of non-EU countries will need an International Driving Permit.
Athens: Athens city centre is well served by frequent buses and trolleybuses, and its reliable metro system has three lines (Line 1 is green, Line 2 is red, and Line 3 is blue). Line 3 serves the city centre and Athens International Airport. You can buy tickets from Transport for Athens (www.oasa.gr) at various booths and kiosks situated around the city as well as at underground stations.
The tram system in Athens cuts through the city from Syntagma Square right through to the coast and runs a pleasant route from Peace and Friendship Stadium (in Neo Faliro) all the way to the most southern point of Glyfada. Trams connect with the Metro at Syntagma, Neos Kosmos and Neo Faliro.
Athens' yellow taxis are extremely cheap by European standards. If you hail a taxi down in the street, it's not unusual to share the ride with other passengers going in a similar direction. Drivers are obliged to run a meter. Prices go up between midnight and 0500.
Thessaloniki: The city centre is well served by frequent buses. Tickets can be purchased from periptera (kiosks). Taxis in Thessaloniki are dark blue and white. As in Athens, they are cheap and plentiful.
Athens has one main railway station, Larissa. Train information and tickets are available from the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) (www.trainose.gr). The main train line serves Athens and Thessaloniki with express trains taking about 4 hours each way.
InterRail offers three types of passes which are Interrail Greek Island Pass, Interrail Greece Pass and Interrail Global Pass. For more information, see Passes for Greece.
It is both cheap and easy to travel around the islands. There are ferry services (www.greekferries.gr) on many routes, with services most frequent during the summer. The main ports in Attica are Piraeus and Rafina, although there are regular services to the islands from the smaller ports of Alexandroupolis, Igoumenitsa, Kavala, Kyllini, Patras, Thessaloniki and Volos.
You can buy tickets from the shipping lines' offices located around the quaysides or online. In major ports the larger companies have offices in the city centre. There are two classes of ticket (First Class and Economy Class) which offer varying degrees of comfort. Cabins can be booked for the longer voyages or those wishing to avoid the sun. Most ships have restaurant facilities. During high season it is wise to buy tickets in advance, as inter-island travel is very popular.
Routes from Piraeus: Piraeus offers frequent services to most islands in the following groups: Argo-Saronic, Cyclades, Dodecanese and the northeast Aegean, plus Crete and several mainland ports. Check sailing times either with individual lines, the Greek National Tourism Organisation, or in Piraeus.
Routes from Rafina: There are ferries to nearby Evia from Rafina, plus to some islands in the Cyclades, the Dodecanese, and the northeast Aegean.
Other routes: Several other routes between the mainland ports and the islands are also covered.
Yachts: Numerous types of yachts and sailing vessels can be chartered or hired with or without crews.