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Bus

The bus network is comprehensive. All long-distance buses, on the mainland and the islands, are operated by regional collectives known as KTEL (www.ktelbus.com). Within towns and cities, different companies run interurban services. The fares are fixed by the government; bus travel is reasonably priced. All have good safety records.

Services

Every prefecture on the mainland has a KTEL, which operates local services within it and to the main towns of other prefectures. With the exception of towns in Thrace, which are serviced by Thessaloniki, all major towns on the mainland have frequent connections to Athens. The islands of Corfu, Kefallonia and Zakynthos can also be reached directly from Athens by bus – often the fares include the price of the ferry ticket.

Most villages have a daily bus service of some sort, although remote areas may have only one or two buses a week. They operate for the benefit of people going to town to shop, rather than for tourists, and consequently leave the villages very early in the morning and return early in the afternoon.

Practicalities

  • It is important to note that big cities like Athens, Iraklio, Patra and Thessaloniki may have more than one bus station, each serving different regions. Make sure you find the correct station for your destination. In small towns and villages the 'bus station' may be no more than a bus stop outside a kafeneio (coffee house) or taverna that doubles as a booking office.
  • In remote areas, the timetable may be in Greek only, but most booking offices have timetables in both Greek and Roman script. KTEL, plus many local bus companies, post them online.
  • It's best to turn up at least 20 minutes before departure – buses have been known to leave a few minutes before their scheduled departure.
  • When you buy a ticket you may be allotted a seat number, printed on the ticket. (In some cases locals ignore these.)
  • You can board a bus without a ticket and pay on board, but on a popular route or during high season, you may have to stand.
  • The KTEL buses are safe, modern and air-conditioned. In more remote, rural areas they may be older and less comfortable. Frustratingly, buses often have toilets on board that are not used; instead, on longer journeys, they must stop every 2½ hours.
  • Smoking is prohibited on all buses in Greece.