The Greek telephone service is maintained by the public corporation OTE (pronounced o-teh; Organismos Tilepikoinonion Ellados). Public telephones are ubiquitous but sometimes out of order, a result of the decline in demand with the proliferation of mobile phones. The phones are easy to operate, take phonecards, not coins, and can be used for local, long-distance and international calls. The ‘i’ at the top left of the push-button dialing panel brings up the operating instructions in English.
All phone numbers have 10 digits. Landline numbers start with ‘2’, mobile numbers start with ‘6’.
Local SIM cards can be used in European and Australian phones. Most other phones can be set to roaming. US/Canadian phones need to have a dual- or tri-band system.
- Mobile (cell) phones operate on GSM900/1800.
- Check with your service provider about roaming charges – charges for calls to a mobile phone from a landline or another mobile can be exorbitant.
- If you have an unlocked multiband phone, getting a prepaid SIM card with a local number might work out cheaper than using your own network. Cards are available from Greece’s three mobile phone service providers – Vodafone, Cosmote and Wind. These automatically revert to global roaming when you leave Greece. Top up cards are sold at supermarkets, kiosks and newsagents.
- Cosmote tends to have the best coverage in remote areas. All offer 3G connectivity.
- Use of a mobile phone while driving is prohibited, unless using a headset.
Calling Crete from abroad Dial your country’s international access code, then 30 (Greece’s country code) followed by the 10-digit local number.
Calling internationally from Crete Dial 00 (the international access code), the country code, and the local number.
Reverse-charge (collect) calls Dial the operator (domestic 129; international 139) to get the number in the country you wish to call.
- Public phones take OTE phonecards (telekarta), not coins. These cards are sold at kiosks, corner shops and tourist shops. A local call costs around €0.30 for three minutes.
- Don’t remove your card before you are told to do so or you could wipe out the remaining credit.
- You can also buy a range of prepaid international calling cards (hronokarta) with good rates. This involves dialling an access code, then punching in your card number. Cards come with instructions in Greek and English.