Travel to and Around Greece
There are many ways of traveling to Greece, but air travel by far, is the most popular and convenient. The Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Spata, approximately 20km from Athens, is the country's main airport and caters for huge numbers of visitors throughout the year.
From the airport, visitors arriving in Athens can find transportation in the form of buses ( which take you directly to the centre of Athens or the port of Pireaus. There are also taxi services from the airport, as well as the trainknown as Proastiakos, which will take you to the centre of Athens, where you will then be able to access the Athens Metro system, or beyond.
As well as air travel, Greece is accessable by various other forms of transport such as car, bus, train and sea. Once in Greece, the easiest way of travelling around is by car. There are car rental offices all over Greece as well as at popular airports and ports. For those of you who cannot drive, then you could use the train and bus/coach services which cater for all over Greece, as well as ferry boats for travelling to and around the Greek Islands.
On this section of our website, you will find information about the various methods of travel and transportation around Greece, and how to make the most out of your holidays and vacations in Greece.
Flights to Greece
Air travel is the preferred method of travel of the millions of visitors who travel to Greece each year. The Athens Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport in Spata, Athens, welcomes huge numbers of visitors through it's terminals each year.
There are bus services, which will take you straight to the center of Athens as well as the port of Piraeus. There is also a train connection with the airport, that can be caught from the center of Athens. These trains run approximately every 30 minutes, though they are not in 24 hours operation, so if you arrive at the Athens airport in the night or early morning, you will need to catch a bus or take a taxi to your final destination.
The Athens International Airport handles the majority of international flights to Greece, as well as domestic flights to mainland Greece and the Greek islands. There are also a number of islands in Greece that have airports that can cater for domestic and internal flights, such as Santorini, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes and many others.
The domestic flight is to Thessaloniki, in the north of Greece, is the busiest of domestic flights in Greece. There are also flights leaving Athens for over 20 of the Greek islands as well as a number of mainland destinations.
If you are planning travel to destinations in Greece by domestic flights, It is recommended however, to try to book your tickets as early as possible, because during the summer months, these routes are fully booked, and finding a ticket at the last minute could prove to be very difficult indeed.
Even though it is the largest port in Greece, Piraeus does not operate a direct route to Italy. The ports that do service routes to and from Italy are those of Patra, situated in the Peloponnese, and Igoumenitsa, in the northwest of Greece. Patra though, is the more popular of the two, and it's service to and from Brindisi is probably the most widely used. As well as Brindisi, there are also departures from Patra to Ancona, Trieste, Venice and Bari.
For travelling to and from the Greek islands, Piraeus, in Athens, is by far the main port. Apart from the Sporades and Ionian Islands, Piraeus caters for a large percentage of most of the other Greek islands. Tickets can usually be purchased before departure for most routes, but in busy seasons and for ferries to the larger and more popular islands, it is recommended to buy your tickets in advance.
Though the routes to the islands are the same, there are usually several different vessels that make the journey, and these can be quite different in terms of the facilities that they offer. Prices however, should remain the same as they are set by the government.
As well as conventional ferries, you can also make the journey to some islands with a "Flying Dolphin". These are hydrofoil services that are operated by the shipping company Minoan Lines. Again, though you may be able to find tickets before departure, it is best to try to purchase them in advance of your journey
Ferries to Turkey are not available directly from Piraeus, but you will be able to find services for this journey at some of the islands, such as Rhodes and Samos. At Piraeus, you may find a ticket for the journey to Turkey, as well as Cyprus and Israel, but this does not mean that the boat on which you depart on from Piraeus, will be the one on which you reach your final destination.
It will mean changing to another vessel at some point. Again, tickets should be purchased in advance to save on any trouble at a later time. Also, tickets for Turkey must be purchased at least 24 hours prior to the actual departure.
The Greek Railways Organization, known by the initials OSE, operate the rail network. Though travelling by train in Greece is probably the cheapest form of transportation, it is also one of the slowest (apart from attempting to drive in Athens during the rush hour!!), if you travel by the trains that stop at all stations.
Situated within about 1km of each other in Athens near to the center around Omonias Square, you will find the 2 train stations, "Peloponnese" station and "Larisis" station. As is obvious from their names, the "Peloponnese" station is for trains to and from the Peloponnese only.
At the "Larisis" station, you will find trains for northern Greece, and stops in between. It is also here that you will find the international services, as well as the domestic ones. Departing from "Larisis" station, you will find a daily train to Istanbul in Turkey, which travels via Thessaloniko and Alexandroupolis. Also traveling via Thessaloniki is a daily train to Sofia, Bulgaria. At Thessaloniki you will be able to take a train for your journey to Skopia.
There are also services to other parts of Europe, though these can be quite expensive, and it is probably more economical, as well as timesaving, if you use another form of transportation.
Useful Resources for Rail Travel in Greece
www.ose.gr - Official site for the OSE Rail Service
www.ametro.gr - Official site for Athens Metro
Coach and Bus Travel
As with the railway stations, Athens has 2 main bus stations for intercity travel, both located near the center of Athens. Terminal A, which is located at 100 Kifissou is where you would depart or arrive from the Peloponnese, western Greece and the Ionian Islands. Terminal B, located on Liossion is where you would arrive or depart for central and northern Greece.
The national bus service is run by KTEL, and they provide routes for all over Greece. For more detailed information about where exactly these coaches travel to and the times of their arrival and departure, it is best to either contact the National Tourist Organization, or even head to the bus terminals themselves and find out the information there.
Again, it is advisable to purchase your tickets in advance, as during the summer or other busy times such as Christmas, these services are very busy and you may have trouble finding the ticket that you want.
Useful Resources for Coach and Bus Travel in Greece
www.ktelbus.com - Official site for KTEL bus/coach service
www.oasa.gr - Official site for OASA Blue Buses in Athens
Travelling around Greece is probably best done with a car, as there are many times when you could pass something that looks of interest to you, and simply make a short stop - something that you can't really do if travelling by coach or train.
There are many car hire offices all over Greece, and in Athens, it is hard to miss them. Syngrou Avenue, near the top end in Athens is literally filled with them, one after the other. For more information, head to our car rentals section.
Seasonal rates usually apply to car rental, so be prepared to pay more during the high season in the summer. Also, even though the minimum driving age is 18 in Greece, most car firms rarely hire out vehicles to anyone under the age of 21. However, most will insist on the driver being at least 23, so you may need to check around to find yourself a vehicle if you are a young driver. Road conditions throughout Greece are very varied, so you must take precautions when driving on some stretches of road. And always wear your seatbelts.
If you would like to see a selection of various travel routes to destinations all over Greece, simply head to our Greece Route Planner section, where you can see road plans and routes to popular towns, cities and resorts around Greece.