The Greek telephone service is maintained by the public corporation OTE (pronounced o-teh; Organismos Tilepikoinonion Ellados). Public phones tend to be located in central locations (for example, near plazas) in both cities and villages, though as most people use mobile phones, these are on the decline. Public phones are easy to operate and can be used for local, long-distance and international calls. The 'i' at the top left of the push-button dialling panel brings up the operating instructions in English.

Note that in Greece the area code must always be dialled when making a call (ie all Greek phone numbers are 10-digit).

Mobile Phones

Local SIM cards can be used in European and Australian phones assuming they are unlocked (and can therefore accept cards of other providers). Most other phones can be set to roaming. US and Canadian phones need to have a dual- or tri-band system.

More Information

There are several mobile service providers in Greece, among which Cosmote, Vodafone and Wind are the best known. Of these three, Cosmote tends to have the best coverage in remote areas. All offer 2G connectivity and pay-as-you-talk services for which you can buy a rechargeable SIM card and have your own Greek mobile number. If you're buying a package, be sure to triple-check the fine print. There are restrictions on deals such as 'free minutes' only being available to phones using the same provider.

The use of a mobile phone while driving in Greece is prohibited, but the use of a Bluetooth headset is allowed.

Phonecards

All public phones use OTE phonecards, known as telekarta, not coins. These cards are available at periptera (street kiosks), and some corner shops and tourist shops.

It's also possible to use payphones with discount-card schemes. This involves dialling an access code and then punching in your card number. The OTE version of this card is known as 'Chronokarta'. The cards come with instructions in Greek and English and the talk time is enormous compared with the standard phonecard rates.