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Getting to Greece

By plane

Athens' Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport located near the Athens suburb of Spata is the country's largest, busiest airport and main hub, handling over 15 million passengers annually as of 2006. Other major international airports in terms of passenger traffic are, in order of passengers served per year, Heraklion (Nikos Kazantzakis Int'l), Thessaloniki (Makedonia Int'l), Rhodes (Diagoras), and Corfu (Ioannis Kapodistrias).

Athens and Thessaloniki handle the bulk of scheduled international flights. However, during tourism season, several charter and planned low-budget flights arrive daily from many European cities to many of the islands and smaller cities on the mainland.

Olympic Air (previously Olympic Airlines) is the nation's flag carrier, offering services to Greece from several cities in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and North America. Currently is a private company owned by Marfin Investment Group Aegean Airlines , which owns half the the domestic market and is generally a much better option than Olympic, also operates international routes to Greece from a growing number of European cities. Athens is also well-served by airlines from all over Europe, the Middle East, North America, and Southeast Asia, with flights to their respective hubs.

The presence of low-cost carriers in Greece's international market has increased tenfold within the past decade, offering service to Athens and Thessaloniki from several other European locations, such as Easyjet (from London Gatwick, London Luton, Manchester, Milan, Paris and Berlin), Virgin Express (flying from Brussels), Transavia (Copenhagen), German Wings (Cologne/Bonn and Stuttgart), Hemus Air (Sofia), Sterling (Copenhagen, Stockholm, Gothenburg and Oslo), LTU (Dusseldorf), MyAir (Venice), Norwegian Air (Warsaw, Katowice and Krakow), Wizzair (Katowice and Prague), FlyGlobeSpan (Glasgow), Clickair (Barcelona) and Vueling (Barcelona).

By train

Thessaloniki is Greece's hub for international rail service. Trains connect Thessaloniki to Sofia (3 daily), Bucharest (1 daily), Budapest (2 daily), Istanbul (2 daily), Belgrade via Skopje (2 daily), and other international cities. In summer there are direct services to Prague, Bratislava and Moscow. There are special fares as Rail travel in Europe#Balkan Flexipass and other offers e.g. the City-Star Ticket form Czech Republic to Greece.

By car

Greece can be entered by car from any of its land neighbors. From Italy, ferries will transport cars to Greece. From western Europe, the most popular route to Greece was through Yugoslavia. Following the troubles in the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s, most motorists from western Europe came overland by Italy, and then took a trans-Adriatic ferry from there. Although the countries of the former Yugoslavia have since stabilized, and Hungary-Romania-Bulgaria form another, albeit a much longer, alternative, the overland route through Italy now remains the most popular option.

By bus

There is some, albeit limited, international bus service to neighboring Albania, Bulgaria, and Turkey, as well as Georgia.

By boat

From Italy, several ferries depart for Greece daily. Ferries to Patras (Patra), Igoumenitsa, and Corfu (Kerkyra) leave throughout the year from the Italian port cities of Venice, Trieste, Ancona, Bari and Brindisi.


Get around

General considerations

A frequently asked question of travelers in Greece is whether they should rent a car. The primary advantage of having a car is that you can cover a lot more ground per day if you're traveling in rural areas or on the larger islands: you can get almost anywhere in Greece by bus, but some isolated villages may only have one or two buses per day, and having your own car means you don't have to wait in the summer heat for the bus to come. Almost all archeological sites are accessible by bus, but at some of the more remote, less famous, sites, the bus may drop you off up to a mile away from the site, while with a car you can almost always get right to the site via at least a rough road.

On the other hand, going car-free in Greece is not only possible, but offers significant advantages, while driving involves a number of disadvantages. Though many people find driving in Greece easy and even pleasant, others are concerned by the high accident rate (one of the highest in Europe), the national reputation for risky driving, and the presence of many twisty mountainous roads, sometimes hugging the side of a cliff. Gas is as expensive as anywhere. (For more on driving conditions in Greece see below.) Driving in Athens and other big cities can be a frustrating, and sometimes hair-raising, experience, and finding parking can be very difficult. And having a car greatly restricts your flexibility when island-hopping, since only the larger, and usually slower, ferries offer car transport, which must be paid for in addition to your passenger ticket. Traveling by bus is not only cheaper but offers a greater chance of striking up conversations with both locals and other travelers than going by car. Language is not usually a problem for English speakers in using public transit: wherever there is significant tourism in Greece bus schedules are posted in English, and bus drivers and conductors, as well as taxi drivers, will understand at least enough English to answer your questions

Public transit can be supplemented by taxis (see below), which in many places, especially the islands, offer fixed rates to various beaches, which can be affordable especially if the price is shared among several people. And on many islands it's possible to get places by walking, which can be a pleasant experience in itself.

By bus and train

Intercity buses are a very popular option for domestic travel. KTEL is the national government-subsidized network of independent businesses which cooperate together to form a dense route system serving almost the entire country. The system is efficient, reliable, and relatively inexpensive. It serves both long and short distances, including routes from major cities to islands near the mainland, such as Corfu and Cephalonia (in such cases, the ferry crossing is included in the price of the bus ticket).

Trains are a better and inexpensive way to get around, but the national rail system is extremely limited. This is due to neglect after the arrival of large scale automobile use and air travel, and also due to past technological difficulties in surmounting the country's difficult terrain. The importance of rail travel is now being rediscovered, and the national rail network is currently under major renovation. The project's completion is still a long way off, but visitors can already benefit from the first sections of the modernized rail system that have been inaugurated. An entirely new suburban/regional rail system, the Proastiakos, was opened in 2004 serving Attica and adjacent regions and is under further expansion. There has also been extensive (and continuing) modernization of the Athens-Thessaloniki (tickets from 15 EUR 2nd class) corridor, with travel times being slashed.

    Source: Wikitravel.org