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Guide to Greece

 

First Timers to Greece should go to Greece Primer

2013 Update:  It is relatively easy to avoid any political turmoil in Athens and escape to the islands--they are insulated!  You will never be more welcomed in Greece.

Ferry Schedules

The most common question that we are asked about travel involves ferry schedules.  Ferries are subject to a great many more variables than trains, for instance, so they are seen as "unreliable".  To me, rather, it is just part of the Greek island experience to be more relaxed and tolerant of the uncertainties caused by wind, water, holidays and even labour strikes.

Rather than list all the possibilities for ferry travel here I will just state that it is very easy to island hop, but it does cost a lot of time and a little money.  Browse the links below, then if you don't find what you are looking for E-mail me with your particulars of preferred dates and islands and I will respond with the best information available.  Keep in mind, however, that the summer routes are not complete before mid-May each year.

For details my favourite link is:  Greek Travel Pages   

Kathimerini News has a quick look at current sailings from Pireaus, Rafina and Lavrio.

Every year it gets easier to transfer between the Athens airport and the ferry ports.  Search our blog for the latest reports on underground (Metro), suburban railway and express busses.



Car Rental

Car Hire by CarTrawler is well represented through out Greece--and internationally.  They have a lowest price guarantee.  Click on the banner for details.  In my experience you can only do better if you are bargaining on the spot face to face, and you are good at negotiating.

Athens

Athens is difficult to write about.  There is a lot to see and do, but a big city is a big city.  Most people are happier spending their time at other mainland sites or on the islands.  So we recommend two days, including arrival and departure, at the end of your vacation to take in the Acropolis and other essential antiquities.  This builds in some safety time in case of unforeseen delays.

We have a difficult time recommending hotels for Athens and Piraeus.  Prices are relatively high and all have pros and cons for location and facilities.  Here is a good place to search by price and/or by location:   http://www.athensshortstay.com/  The site also includes attractions, dining and transportation in Athens.

Note:  There are no reasonably priced hotels anywhere near the airport, but it doesn't matter because there are dedicated express busses to Athens, Pireaus and Rafina.  Email for specific prices and schedules.  The only hitch is to allow plenty of time for traffic; the fastest is 1 hour travel time and busses every 20 minutes; the slowest . . . . 

Athene Hotels: GoedBegin.nl - A comprehensive site for accommodations in English and Dutch.

For more on Athens Matt Barratt's web site does a great job.   If you want to know more about ancient Athens visit this quality site:  Visit-Ancient-Greece.com



Flights

2014 Update:  Flight horizons for this season are changing constantly.  Aegean took over Olympic and is offering very reduced costs for adding this leg to your long haul flight to Greece.  Norwegian Air is also entering the market with greatly reduced fares.  Search carefully or email me with any specific questions.

If you are flying long haul from the US, Australia or the like, don't search for Paros.  Locate your flights to Athens and then buy the Paros leg separately from Olympic.  It is much cheaper that way unless flying with Aegean as above.  Our economy travel site is a good source for lowest price flights from standard airlines as well as deep discounts for restricted tickets.

If you prefer working with a travel agent, find one willing to work with consolidators(bucket shops in the UK) or seats only charters.

Also, we have found, in general the most economical way to fly is to find a direct flight from your nearest gateway city to a European gateway.  Then a "no frills" or charter flight to Athens or one of the islands.  Most European cities, including several within the U.K. have direct flights, both charter and scheduled to nearby Mykonos, Santorini and Iraklion on Crete.  Paros is easily reached by ferry from all of these.     easyJet usually has the lowest fares from the U.K.  Check out Ryanair seasonal flights as well.

    Fly Budget by Fwoggie - A very useful site for anyone taking the economy route, including a guide to where to sleep in major airports and all European discount airlines.

Use CheapOair to check most possibilities in one go:

Oh yeah, you can fly to Paros from Athens for under 80 Euro each way.  A beautiful flight over the Greek islands, but not quite the experience of a ferry ride.  Contact Olympic Air for availability but don't rely on the flights for tight schedules as they are commonly cancelled for many reasons, some of which are legitimate.  This may improve under Aegean management.



Trains

A few people do come to Greece by train, the intrepid few.  The most common way is to choose a route to an Italian ferry port, then a long ferry trip, usually overnight, to Patras, then on again to anywhere in Greece.  The last couple of years, however, it has been possible to bring the train all the way to Thessalonica or Athens. The Man in Seat Sixty-One tells how it is done in great detail and reliability.  This is a thoroughly great site for train travel.

February 2011 Alert:  As a budget cutting measure Greece has halted all international train connections.  So double check everything before using the train to and from Greece.

Read about our 2008 train misadventure here:  Prelude to Adventure

Links:  European rail lines and Greek railways.


Camping

Camping in Greece, like most places in Europe, I think, is more about socialising than about saving money.  Especially on the Greek islands the camp grounds are full of young people having a great time interacting with each other.  During the summer that is.  They are not open otherwise in most cases.

From what I hear and read the main land campgrounds they are mostly full of the older generation in motor homes and camper vans.  Everyone sharing their recent experiences over a drink or coffee and looking for tips for the next day's activities.

www.Camping.gr provides an extensive list and description of campgrounds through out Greece.  They are not comprehensive though--for instance only including 2 of Paros' 8 or so campgrounds.  So search elsewhere as well.

Media

Kathimerini - English edition inside International Herald Tribune.

ANA - semi-official Athens News Agency

 

Was there something Greek that you wanted to buy but didn't?    We have set up an Amazon U.K. Store with a selection of     Greece Stuff

For lower shipping costs in USA and Canada please use this link:  Think Greek

Just like browsing the Plaka in Athens without the air fare.  

Crete

Crete is a big island with plenty of everything, including the incomparable Knossis.  During the summer it is easy and quick to ferry to and from Paros, but it is also easy to fill up a week on Crete.  If you are looking for longer term accommodations with added luxury check out timeshares in Crete like the Grand Lioniki resort located in Platanes, Crete.  The gorgeous resort offers pools, bars, restaurants and the accommodations are spacious enough for large families; it's a very fun place to stay.

Ephesus

One of the most preserved cities of ancient Greece is in Turkey.  Everybody who goes there raves about it, but it is complicated to cross the Greece-Turkey border.  The best site I have seen for information--and a great place nearby to stay--is Atilla's Getaway

Since it was closed when we were there in late September we stayed at Hotel Bella and enjoyed it very much.  The owners were helpful and friendly and yes, we bought a rug from them.

National Tourist Organization (GNTO) - The Official Site

Greece Index, hand-selected information about Greece

Heavenly Greek Islands - an attractive and informative site for all the Greek islands.

Seniority U.K. - a community for United Kingdom over 50's, including travel.

A most excellent site for well written feature articles is Greece for Visitors in the About Network by deTraci Regula

Greek Links - A directory with all the links you could ever want on everything and anything Greek.

   Delmare Yachts offers everything you need for the ultimate sailing or luxury yachting throughout the whole country. 

Visiting Crete?  Custom holidays for individuals or groups in eastern Crete. Apartments for up to 6 persons in beautiful Agios NikolaosVisit Steve and Viki at the Mantraki!

Greece Passion - A fun site for the mainland and the islands by two travelers with plentiful photos.

WebGreece - Ditto the above; browse for the fun of it.

Travel Greece - Travel guide with information about the popular destinations in mainland Greece and the Greek islands.

Greek Island Postcards - Holiday travel guides to the Greek islands

GreekVillage.com - A site for bringing Greeks dispersed around the world back to a virtual village.  Perfect for the Greekophile.

Robby for Greece search engine.

Pictures of Greece - Ancient Greece Pictures Photos galleries of pictures of Greece Greek islands & ancient Greece.

I have never been to Cyprus. Know before you go by visiting The Real Cyprus

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