Getting around Greece is generally easy but not always very efficient. The ferries remain the most important means of travel between the islands and between the mainland and the islands, but vast improvements have been made over the past two decades. However, traveling by train is not very efficient in the Northern part of the mainland. So the budget travel is left with using the buses on the mainland (and on the large islands).
>>before you read the detailed information, make sure to take a look at the tips for having a great first trip to Greece
Before getting to the general information, here are some specifics which will definitely help when planning your vacation in Greece:
- When you arrive in Athens, you’ll most likely take the next plane out to one of the islands or get to Piraeus to grab a ferry to your vacation destination. Thankfully, it’s not that hard to get from Athens to Piraeus whether you are at the airport or in the city.
- Ferries remain the first option to consider when you travel between the islands, even if you’ll make a multi leg trip. Such is the case when getting from Hydra to Santorini
- However, sometimes the easiest way is to grab a plane ticket and travel between two islands. Case in point? Getting from Mykonos to Rhodes (and return) . Or, it’s cheaper to chose the flight such as when you want to get from Athens to Santorini (and return) .
- Likewise, when you travel from the mainland to the island, it’s best to choose a flight rather than a combination of means of transportation. Good example? Getting from Athens to Corfu (and return) .
- Traveling on the mainland means you’ll have to choose between train, bus and renting a car. But for rather short distances, choosing to travel by bus is the best option. Here are some good examples : Getting from Thessaloniki to Kavala , getting from Thessaloniki to Meteroa (and return) and getting to Halkidiki
Getting around Greece by plane
It’s fast, it’s easy and , in some cases, cheaper than taking a ferry. Most islands have an airport, which receives domestic flights. On the large islands, the airports are also served by European airlines during the summer season. From April to October, low-cost European airlines offer flights into the Greek islands.
Getting around Greece by ferry
Taking a ferry is sometimes the only way to get between the islands. In other cases, they compete with the flights, but if you are looking for a relaxing and most often low cost trip, choosing the ferry is the best option. There are extensive connections from Athens and the islands, as well as between the islands. There are both fast and slow ferries. The frequency changes according to season, although none of the islands “close” during the winter. The peak travel season is in mid-August as Greek travel for the Festival of the Assumption of Virgin Mary (August 15, a major Greek Orthodox Holiday).
>>read more about Ferries in Greece
Train travel might be the cheapest way to get around but the infrastructure is limited. However, the importance of traveling by train has been rediscovered and major improvements are being added to the network. Meantime, you can take a train between Athens to Meteora (and return) .
>>also read more info about Trains from Athens to Thessaloniki (and return)
Buses are mostly used for domestic travel in Greece. The system is efficient, inexpensive and reliable. Distances served are both long and short. Actually, on short distances you are better of taking a bus than planning to drive in Greece. The frequencies of buses vary according to season.
>>read more about buses from Athens to Thessaloniki (and return)
Getting around Greece by car
Renting a car in Greece can be a fun way to explore the country. However, expect to be a little stressed when driving on the mainland (and especially in the capital). Greeks tend to drive quite violently, often ignoring the rules. On the islands, you can switch from a car to a scooter. Or maybe a…donkey (in Santorini, for example).