Home Writing Artwork Photography About News Contact Links
Tips for Travelling in Greece
These are just a few things that we've found out and we'll add to them as time goes by:-
If the island has a bus service, check out the timetable - usually posted by the main stops. See this page to help with Greek language bus timetables. Try to have the right change (usually Euro coins) we've seen people offer a 50 Euro note for a 1 Euro fare!
When they run (which is most of the time) you can set your watch by them! Make sure you're at the harbour about 15 minutes before the departure time on your ticket, because they don't hang about, especially the hydrofoils. The Hi-Speeds/hydrofoils usually go twice as fast as the ferries and cost roughly twice as much. There are some places where you really want to enter the harbour by ferry, eg. Santorini.
Don't rely on sea transport to always run. Winds can get up quickly in the Aegean and you can find your self stranded - always try to get back to island you're flying from at least a day before you need to go (if you're travelling on a package holiday, then that's their problem, but if you're doing it yourself you could miss the flight and have to pay for another). Also, if you're island hopping, it's probably best to wait until you get to your next destination before booking a room - that way you won't have to worry if the ferry doesn't go. Having said that, there are some islands that get fully booked in high season, so check out websites/travel books/travel agents for advice.
Take your driving licence, you'll only be allowed to hire a vehicle if you can present it.
Well worth it on the larger islands, or if public transport is limited.
Agree the price before you set off.
Find out the telephone number for the local taxi firm and make a note of it (pop it in your mobile phone with 0030 and the local area code). That way, if you get stuck somewhere you've got a fall back plan.
If you need to catch a flight, book a taxi the night before you leave, as they'll get busy when the flights come in.
Matt Barrett's Step-by-step guide on How to Visit a Greek Island
You can get phone cards from kiosks and many of the supermarkets/shops, queues used to form by the phone booths in the evenings, but less so since the advent of mobiles.
The Greeks really love their mobile phones - I have heard that it works out cheaper for them to buy a mobile than to have a landline connected. Whatever, it means that you usually get a pretty good signal, although not on a ferry in the middle of the Aegean and also not if you're on the wrong side of a mountain.
When you put your address book together, why not set it up so that you have the International Dialing code in front of all of your numbers? They'll still work in your own country, but you don't have to think about it when you're using a foreign network.
You'll have to check with your network for availabilty abroad, but with Vodaphone you connect automatically to the Greek Vodaphone network. If there are any "Happy Hours" for phoning your home country, you'll probably get a welcome text message from the network to advise you.
It's handy to add useful numbers into your
address book eg.
Local Taxi Company
Local Travel Agency
Travellers cheques office
Credit card emergency number
Add 0030 in front of all Greek numbers and remember to drop the first 0 on the area dialling code.
If you're travelling with a package tour, then it's done and dusted. However, if you do your own thing you can get to places where the tour operators don't go, plus a little bit of a sense of adventure.
A bit of pre-trip internet research can tell you about particularly good locations and accommodation - so maybe print a list out before you go.
The local travel agents on the island know the hotels and rooms better than anyone, so it is often best to go through them.
If you pre-book accommodation over the internet and have paid up front, then the travel rep'/booking company should send you an e-mail attachment which prints out as a prepaid voucher to give to the hotel manager on arrival. This system usually works fine, but in case of quibbles, take print outs of any e-mails between you and the booking company as further evidence and be confident, but friendly.
If you've only paid a deposit, or nothing, until check-out, then the reception will ask to hold a passport (which they will return when you've paid) which is fine, unless you're changing travellers cheques at a bank, in which case they'll want to see your passport; so if you're a couple, make sure the passport you give reception doesn't belong to the person who signs for the travellers cheques.
You will, of course, be approached by room touts at the dock, so you could always stay in the harbour town for a night while you get your bearings. Ask how far away the room is and how much it is, before you start lugging your rucksack after them; and ask if you have any special requirements eg. Air con.
Doing it yourself makes it a movable feast...talking of which,
If you're travelling as a couple or with friends, have different things to eat, that way (in the unlikely situation) if one of you gets food poisoning, the other will be able to look after you. Be prepared to try new and exciting food though, as Anthony Bourdaine says "Your body is not so much a temple as an amusement park."
If you've opened some crackers/breakfast cereal/crisps etc., stick them in the fridge (if your room has one). We had some very keen ants find their way into a room once and we had them in our breakfast cereal as a result.
Matt Barrett's guide to Greek food
Travellers cheques are fine, and safe, but you can end up paying a lot on commission at both ends.
ATM's are available on many of the islands these days (although those on the smaller islands may not always have any cash in them) so a credit card can work out to be a good way of managing cash. Shop around on the internet and find the best rates on currency conversion/commission for an individual card. Withdrawing really small sums can work out more expensive, but generally it's a good value way of going about things.
Take some Euro's with you (the UK may have gone over to Euro's by the time you read this, but as of 2004 we still have to convert) as you'll need some for the journey for food, drink, ferries, taxis, buses etc.
The Greeks are incredible linguists, so you won't have too much difficulty in areas where tourists are found, but in more remote areas (& when conversing with the older generation) English may not be spoken very well - if at all.
It's nice to learn a few words to show willing, we've found both the Rough Guide and the Lonely Planet phrasebooks to be very useful.
If you're really keen there are courses/books/CD Roms etc. - Take a look here
Any other stuff to take with me?
Travel plug - indispensable.
Swiss Army knife - comes in handy on a daily basis (don't pack it in your hand luggage).
Universal sink plug - not really a problem in Greece these days.
Compass - if you're planning on doing some serious walking it can come in useful (especially if your sense of direction is as bad as mine).
Walkman radio - it's great fun to tune around and see what's out there in another country, and Greece is no exception.
Bulldog clips - a couple of these can really help in high winds if you're trying to write cards/read a book on the beach or on a ferry.
Chargers - don't forget your chargers if you're taking a digital camera/mobile phone.
Driving Licence - you'll need it if you want to hire a vehicle.
Check out Matt Barrett's Travel Tips Here
& Matt's reliable and entertaining information page Here
RETURN TO GREEK ISLAND INDEX