Greece in detail

Flights & getting there

Greece is easy to reach by air or sea – particularly in summer when it opens its arms (and schedules) wide. Getting to or from Greece overland takes more planning but isn't impossible. Flights, cars and tours can be booked online at lonelyplanet.com/bookings.

Air

Most visitors to Greece arrive by air, which tends to be the fastest and cheapest option, if not the most environmentally friendly.

Airports & Airlines

Greece has four main international airports that take chartered and scheduled flights. Other international airports across the country include Santorini (Thira), Kalamata, Karpathos, Samos, Skiathos, Hrysoupoli/Kavala, Aktion, Kefallonia and Zakynthos. These airports are most often used for charter flights from the UK, Germany and Scandinavia.

Eleftherios Venizelos International Airport Athens' international airport is near Spata, 27km east of the capital. It has all the modern conveniences, including 24-hour luggage storage and a children's play area.

Nikos Kazantzakis International Airport About 5km east of Iraklio (Crete). Has an ATM, duty-free shop and cafe-bar.

Diagoras Airport On the island of Rhodes.

Makedonia International Airport About 15km southeast of Thessaloniki.

Aegean Airlines and its subsidiary, Olympic Air, have flights between Athens and destinations throughout Europe, as well as to Cairo, İstanbul, Tel Aviv and Toronto. They also operate flights throughout Greece, many of which transfer in Athens. Both airlines have exemplary safety records.

Departure Tax

Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.

Tickets

If you're coming from outside Europe, consider a cheap flight to a European hub (eg London) and then an onward ticket with a budget or charter airline such as easyJet, which offers some of the cheapest tickets between Greece and the rest of Europe. Some airlines also offer cheap deals to students. If you're planning to travel between June and September, it's wise to book ahead.

Land

International train travel, in particular, has become much more feasible in recent years, with speedier trains and better connections. You can now travel from London to Athens by train and ferry in less than two days. By choosing to travel on the ground instead of the air, you'll also be reducing your carbon footprint.

Border Crossings

Make sure you have all of your visas sorted out before attempting to cross land borders into or out of Greece. Before travelling, also check the status of borders with the relevant embassies.

Overland from Western Europe

Overland enthusiasts can reach Greece by rail or bus through the Balkan peninsula, passing through Croatia, Serbia and North Macedonia. Or head to the eastern coast of Italy and then take a ferry to Greece. For example from Bari in Italy there's an overnight boat to Patra in the Peloponnese from where you can take a combination of bus and trains to Athens in around three hours. Not only will you be doing your bit for the earth, but you'll see some gorgeous scenery from your window.

Albania

Buses between Greece and Albania are run by Albtrans.

Kakavia The main border crossing, 56m northwest of Ioannina

Kapshtice/Krystallopigi 14km west of Kotas on the Florina–Kastoria road

Sopik/Drymades 57km west of Konitsa and for Greek passport holders only

Sagiada/Mavromati, 30km north of Igoumenitsa

Bulgaria

As Bulgaria is part of the EU, crossings are usually quick and hassle-free.

Exohi A 448m-tunnel border crossing 50km north of Drama

Ormenio in northeastern Thrace

Promahonas 110km northeast of Thessaloniki

North Macedonia

Doïrani 29km north of Kilkis

Evzoni 77km north of Thessaloniki

Niki 16km north of Florina

Turkey

Kipi is more convenient if you're heading for İstanbul. The route through Kastanies goes via Soufli and Didymotiho in Greece, and Edirne (ancient Adrianoupolis) in Turkey.

Kastanies 132km northeast of Alexandroupoli

Kipi The main border, 46km east of Alexandroupoli

Train

The railways organisation OSE runs a daily service connecting Thessaloniki with Sofia, although you'll have to transfer to a bus for the short section between Kulata on the Bulgarian side of the Greek border and Strimon on the Greek side.

From mid-June to mid-September there is also a train service between Belgrade and Thessaloniki via Skopje. In Belgrade you can connect to trains to other parts of Europe.

International Train Passes

Greece is part of the Eurail network (www.eurail.com). Eurail passes can only be bought by residents of non-European countries; they should be purchased before arriving in Europe, but can be bought in Europe if your passport proves that you've been there for less than six months. Greece is also part of the Inter-Rail Pass system (www.interrail.eu), available to those who have resided in Europe for six months or more, and the Rail Plus Balkan Flexipass (www.raileurope.com), which offers unlimited travel for five, 10 or 15 days within a month. See the websites for full details of passes and prices.

Sea

Ferries can get very crowded in summer. If you want to take a vehicle across it's wise to make a reservation beforehand. Port tax for departures to Turkey is around €10.

Another way to visit Greece by sea is to join one of the many cruises that ply the Aegean.

International Ferry Routes

The services indicated are for high season (July and August). For further information see www.openseas.gr.

DestinationDeparture PointArrival PointDurationFrequency
AlbaniaCorfuSaranda30-70min3 daily
ItalyPatraAncona20-22hrdaily
ItalyPatraBari16hrdaily
ItalyIgoumenitsaBari9½-11½hr2 daily
ItalyPatraBrindisi15hr3 weekly
ItalyPatraVenice31-32hr4-5 weekly
TurkeyChiosĊeşme20-30 min6 daily
TurkeyKosBodrum45mindaily
TurkeyLesvosAyvalik1½hr1 daily
TurkeyRhodesMarmaris50min2 daily
TurkeySamosKuşadası1½hr2 daily