You are planning your trip to Greece. You have booked your plane tickets, and now all you want to know is how to get from the mainland to the Greek islands.
You do a quick google search, and you realize that Greece has 227 inhabited islands and about 150 ports. Sounds overwhelming?
Well, there is no need to worry. I gathered all the information about ferries in Greece and how to arrange your trip to the islands.
Fast Facts about travelling by ferry boat
Travelling on a boat is a unique and soothing experience. You can sit at the deck and look at the sea, have interesting conversations with other passengers, take the best Instagram pictures and stories to send to your friends back home.
Want to know more about travelling by ferry boat?
Here are some fast facts to start with:
- The busiest port of Greece is Piraeus port. It is the main port of Athens. Every day hundreds of ships depart from here to the Greek islands.
- During the summer, there are more itineraries as there is a higher demand for transportation to the islands.
- Due to covid-19, there are specific requirements for traveling to the islands. Your ticket provider should inform you about the rules.
- You can take your car on the ferry. There is a parking space in the lower part of the ship, but you need a special ticket to bring a vehicle onboard.
- If you plan to travel in July or August, book all the ferry tickets in advance because they usually sell out in these months.
- The crew of all ferries in Greece is trained for emergencies that might occur during the voyage.
Book your ferry tickets
You can buy ferry boat tickets from your local travel agent or online. With a quick google search, you find many online agencies which sell ferry boat tickets.
I always use Ferryscanner to book the ferry tickets! They have done a fantastic job, and it is very user-friendly. Also, if you are thinking of island hopping, there is a specific option that you can use and navigate and book on different routes!
Local agents can also help you book a ferry ticket. All agents in Greece offer similar prices as the shipping company.
However, agents in other countries might get extra fees, and you might end up paying more for your tickets.
The price for the ticket depends on the company and the length of the trip. In general, tickets are more expensive from June to September, when the demand is high. There are discounts for young children but no group tickets or other kinds of special prices.
If you are not sure about the exact days of your trip, buy an open ticket, which you can use whenever you want. It is very convenient, especially if the schedule of your trip is not clear.
Prepare for your ferry trip
Get at the port 45′ – 60′ earlier to have enough time to arrange everything, find the gate from which your ship departs, have your tickets checked on time, and find the best seat on the boat. If you have your car with you, people in charge will guide you to park it inside.
You will need to print your tickets or have the QR code on your phone – depending on the ferry company.
You should also have a valid passport or id in case they want to check it. Due to covid-19, you might need to have other documents like a vaccination passport or negative test.
I advise you to have comfortable clothes and a jacket or quilt with you.
The air-conditioning in the ship can drop the temperature quite a lot, and you might feel cold.
But also going out at the deck when the ferry is at full speed is very windy, so it is good to have a jacket. If you plan to spend the trip on the deck, it is good to have with you sunscreen and a hat.
Get to the port of Piraeus
Many visitors who land in Athens depart from this port to get to the islands. There is a good connection from different parts of Athens to Piraeus.
Piraeus is the biggest port in Greece. It has 12 Gates that cover a big area, which means that getting from one part of the port to the other takes time.
You can walk, but if you have luggage, you might need to take a bus or a cab to the gate. Every 20 minutes there is a shuttle bus that connects gateways E7 to E1, E2, and E3.
If you are in the city of Athens, take the metro line 1 from Monastiraki to Piraeus. The trip takes about 20 minutes. The train leaves you opposite gates E5 and E6. Another alternative is bus 040 from Syntagma Square, which stops close to gate E12 and the ride takes 50 minutes.
If you want to go directly from the airport to Piraeus port, take the metro or bus x96. The ride will take about an hour. Metro is maybe more convenient because you avoid the possibility of getting stuck in traffic, so you can be sure you of getting to the port on time.
Greek Ferry App for Maps and Routes
Marine Traffic app is an app that shows you in real-time the position of all ferries in Greece. The app is very convenient because by checking it, you can avoid long waiting hours at the port in case your ferry runs late.
Amenities in Ferry Boats
Ferry boats offer convenient trips. When you book your ticket, you can choose between a seat at the deck (the cheapest option) or a numbered seat inside.
Some ships offer a business class area for a more expensive ticket. Bigger ships going longer trips offer cabins with beds, toilets, and showers, where you can spend the night.
If you get hungry, you can buy snacks, drinks, fruits or coffee from the canteen of the boat. They are usually quite pricy, but it is a good solution if you do not have time to prepare a snack for the trip. Some bigger boats have a restaurant where you can get a proper meal.
Many boats have a shop. These are usually small boutiques that sell gifts, books, souvenirs, jewellery, and clothes. You can buy a last moment gift or a little souvenir from your trip to Greece.
There are men and women toilets in the boats. There is usually extra room for taking care of babies, changing diapers, etc.
In the lounge area of the ferry, there are screens with movies, tv shows, or the latest information for the trip.
All ferry boats in Greece comply with strict regulations about the safety of the passengers, and they have reliable safety systems. They are a very safe means for travelling.
If you get easily sick, you can get a sickness pill from the reception of the boat. As soon as you enter the vessel, go to the reception, and ask for one. They give it for free, and it will save you from a lot of trouble from nausea.
In most boats, the deck has more than one level, and you can choose the spot with the best view of the sea.
Rescheduling or cancellation of Ferry tickets
It is not the ideal scenario but rescheduling or cancellation might occur.
There can be many reasons for rescheduling, such as bad weather, a strike at the port, or just a change in the company’s program. Unless it is a last-moment problem, you get a notification on your email a few days before, and you can prepare for the changes.
If your trip gets cancelled, the shipping company will offer you a refund in the form of monetary compensation or a voucher for your next trip with them.
Ferry Connections to the Greek Islands
Piraeus port connects Athens to Crete, and the islands complexes of Cyclades, Dodekanisa, Argosaronikos, and a few islands of eastern Aegean like Mytilene, Chios, and Samos. The most famous islands you can travel to, from Piraeus’ port are Santorini, Mykonos, Rhodes, Naxos, Milos, Kos, and Crete.
Piraeus is not the only port close to Athens. There is also the port of Rafina, from where depart ferries to Cyclades islands, like Andros and Tinos.
You can get to the island of the Ionian Sea, like Corfu, Kefalonia, and Ithaki, from the ports of Patra and Cyllene.
The port of Agios Konstantinos connects the Greek mainland with the complex of islands called the Sporades, which includes Skiathos, Skopelos, Skyros, and Alonnisos. You can also get to these islands from the port of Volos.
On the north of Greece, the main ports are in Thessaloniki and Kavala, and they have ferry itineraries to the islands of eastern Aegean like Lemnos, Ikaria, Chios, etc.
Ferries on the island ports
All islands have ports where the boats come to pick up passengers. The bigger islands have busier ports, and police regulate the traffic.
Every island has a local agency, where you can buy ferry boat tickets, get informed about itineraries, and arrange your travel documents.
Among the most popular island destinations is Mykonos. More than 70 ferryboats stop at Mykonos every day. Crazy, right? Santorini is also a common destination, and at its port, in Fera arrive more than 30 boats every day. However, in smaller islands, there are fewer connections. Nisyros, for example, has less than ten boats a day, and during winter, the number is even smaller.
If you plan to travel to more isolated islands, you need to schedule in advance and buy your tickets early, or you might end up not finding any tickets to get there or come back.
Islands hopping is a term for going from island to island by ferry. All islands are connected.
The concept of island hopping is that you take some time off (let’s say 2-3 weeks), and you go from island to island, spending as much time as you want to each of them.
It is a fun way to discover more than one Greek island, meet people and have a fun experience.
Here is our dedicated post about greek island hopping with routes, maps, tips and photos!
I am a big fan of island hopping, and every summer try to jump to at least three islands. However, I like to have everything planned. I do not like last-minute surprises, so I make sure that all tickets and rooms are booked beforehand.
My favourite island-hopping combinations so far have been:
- Serifos- Sifnos- Kimolos- Milos- Folegandros
- Naxos- Sxoinousa- Heraklia
- Zante-Lefkada- Ithaki
They were all fun experiences, and I returned from these trips refreshed and full of long-lasting memories.
Greek islands are the best destination for your summer holidays. Traveling by ferry boat is an experience that you cannot forget. When planning your trip, look at the steps and advice of this article, and your trip will be perfect!
This was our travel guide about ferries in Greece.
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