Greece Travel Guide


Greek Island Guide


Hotels of Greece



Getting to Greece

Flights to Athens from the USA and Canada

Athens viewThe easiest way to get to Athens from the USA and Canada is to fly. Actually it is the only way unless you can catch a cruise ship making the transition journey from the Caribbean to the Aegean Sea. If you are coming from the USA there are non-stop flights from New York by Delta Airlines and then a dozen other airlines that you have to connect somewhere in Europe. Starting in the summer Continental flies non-stop from Newark and US-Air which has now merged with American flies non-stop from Philadelphia to Athens. If you are coming from Canada you can fly Canada Air from Toronto and maybe Montreal. There are dozens of ways to fly to Greece and it is just a matter of finding the right flights and connections. What that means is the flights that don't have layovers that have you waiting for hours in an airport between your transatlantic flight to Europe and your short flight to Athens or Thessaloniki.

Flight to Athens, GreeceFrom personal experience I prefer to get to Athens as quickly as possible and I use websites like Kayak and CheapFlights to find a flight that combines a low fare with ease of travel. It is actually time consuming because the more you do it the more you see there is to learning how to do it and becoming better at it. Also sometimes a flight you were thinking of booking yesterday with a great fare may not be there today and you have to start all over again. More often than not I do the Delta, USAir-American flights if I can get a good price because it is the easiest. Occasionally I have done American direct from RDU to London however sometimes the return flight requires you to stay overnight because the flight from Athens gets to London after the flight to RDU has left. Of course you can turn this to your advantage and have a night in London. You can do the same with SAS and stay in Copenhagen or Stockholm or even better fly Turkish Air and spend the night in amazing Istanbul. The flight between Istanbul and Athens is shorter than flights from Athens to some of the Greek Islands. You can also book Air France or one of their partner airlines and spend a couple nights in Paris on the way there or back. I have done this several times and that is why I created A Paris Guide, for other people who want to do the same.

For those who are wondering whether they should make a connection and fly directly to the islands the answer is yes if you don't have to wait in the airport for more than three hours. But I have covered this subject in more detail on my E Venizelos Airport Page in the section The Greek Islands: To Fly or Not to Fly.

Read my Guide to Flying to Greece which will answer many of your questions and make you realise that any anxiety you have is normal.

Flights from Europe or Elsewhere

Flight to Athens, GreeceIf you are flying from the UK, Europe or Australia you can book through your local agency or else try looking for deals in the travel section of your local paper. Generally a travel agent won't spend a lot of time looking for a cheap flight for a customer because the airlines pay such low comissions, if at all so what is the point of finding a flight unless you can also sell the customer a package? But it can't hurt to ask. Dolphin Hellas Travel say they can get flights from anywhere to Greece at competitive rates so try them by going to Also check with Easy-Jet, Ryan-Air and the other European discount airlines. Aegean Air also has some really good deals and they offer connecting flights to the islands. Some charter companies sell their remaining seats for low prices rather than fly with them empty. I flew from London to Santorini once for about 180 euros round-trip. I have seen ads in the back of London's Time-Out magazine. You can also use the popular booking sites that I have mentioned above and which I complain about below.

Cheap Flights to Greece

Athens flightRemember The All Important Law of Flying: Book Early! The airplane tickets are broken up into groups. Each flight has for example a dozen low cost seats, twenty a bit more expensive, thirty even more expensive, and fifty a lot more expensive. The cheaper tickets are sold first and then the next. So you can find yourself sitting next to someone who paid $1000 for his ticket while you paid $1500! But he booked early and you didn't. So if you know you are going to Greece book now and rather then give an extra five-hundred dollars to the airlines you can spend it in Greece! There are great fares to Greece in the off-season and unless you are just going to lay in the sun and bake the weather can be pretty nice in November and even through the winter if you are lucky. Here's another secret. When the airlines are strapped for cash they have sales.

Travel Agents versus On-line Booking sites

Fantasy Travel LitsaMany on-line booking sites like Travelocity, Orbitz and even some of the airlines will offer you flights and also deals on hotels. I recommend not booking the hotels no matter how seductive the deal looks. I get more e-mail from people who booked hotels when they booked their flights and were frantic because they could not line up the ferries with the islands they were booked at or discovered the hotel price was so low because it was in a bad location. You may save a couple euros but then you are on your own. No ferry that day... You don't like the hotel or the location... Who are you going to call? With a reliable Greek Travel agency you not only get discounted rates on the hotels, they know the ferry schedules, can get your tickets, can make changes when necessary, and can give you advice and coaching. Plus they are familiar with the hotels and can let you know if the one that looks so great in the ad is suitable for you. For reliable travel agents in Greece see my Athens Travel Agency page and you can decide which agency is best for your particular trip. If you have a good idea of what you would like to see and how much time you have in Greece go to my Create-an-itinerary page where you can fill out the form and within hours get a reply from Litsa or one of the other professional agents at Fantasy Travel telling you whether your itinerary is possible, how much it will cost, and suggestions on how to improve it. It only takes a couple minutes and you are under no obligation to buy and unlike other websites your name is not put on a list that causes you to get junk mail for the rest of your life.

The Airlines: What Went Wrong?
A Matt Barrett Editorial

Matt BarrettWhile many of us were playing with our computers the airlines did their best to destroy the travel industry that had served it well for the last half a century. They first limited commissions travel agents could make selling airline tickets and then eliminated commissions altogether forcing agents to add fees or sir-charges to the ticket price just to break even. Meanwhile the airlines offered discounts to people who booked electronically on their system or through the large on-line booking companies whose names we are now all familiar with. People booked on-line not realizing that by saving a few dollars they were putting a large number of travel agents out of business. Just like shopping at Walmarts and then wondering what happened to the little guy who ran the local drugstore.

I have a friend who works for an American airline who was hired just before the 9/11 attacks. When people stopped flying I felt sure that she would lose her job and felt bad for her because it was something she had always wanted to do and of course they would let go of the new people first. She is still working. Who did they lay off? The people with seniority over her because they earned more and the company could save more by dumping them. How is that for loyalty? People who had been with the company for years got the axe while they kept my friend who was just learning her job. Speaking of loyalty why do airlines have frequent flyer programs? Because that is how they keep their customers. Consider it a bribe to keep you flying with the same airline. They can't win your loyalty with their service so they give you miles instead. How about when someone in your family dies or is about to and you need to fly to see them? The airlines have a 'bereavement fare'. This is a good example of their sympathy and understanding. The fare is half price. But it is half the price of their most expensive ticket and can be double the price of a 7 day advance. If the airline really cared why couldn't they just give you the same price as the 7 or 14 day advance even though you are booking on short notice? Because they know you have no choice and you will buy the tickets because after all someone you love is dead or dying. To add to the woes of travel agents the airlines now offer hotels on their websites and Delta actually offered me a taxi from the airport.... for a fee of course. It is bad enough that the airlines are getting commissions from hotels but from taxi drivers? Give me a break. If they spent more time thinking about the comfort of the passengers and less time thinking about how to make even more money off them they might be successful one day and not need government subsidies.

Anyway if you live in the USA there is an ocean between you and Greece and until they bring back the trans-Atlantic ocean liners, flying is the only way to go so we must make the best of the situation.

To Greece by Cruise Ship, Car, Train or Ferry

Cruise ship in GreeceAs you may have noticed the cruise industry in Greece has exploded. International cruise companies that barely gave the Greek islands a glance a few years ago have now made it the focus of their summer cruises, competing with the Greek cruise companies that have been doing the islands for decades. Cruises are great for seeing a lot of places in a short period of time. I see them as a sort of variety package like the little boxes of cereal I used to eat as a kid, that enabled me to find the one I liked best so my mom could buy the big box. But they are also for people who like being pampered or are afraid there won't be enough for them to do on one or two islands for a week or ten days. I think they are wrong but I accept that cruises are a popular way to travel so I have written a whole page about it so see my Greek Island Cruise Page. If I was going to recommend a cruise I would do the Fantasy Smart 7 Cruise Program because you get 3 nights in Mykonos, 3 nights in Santorini, and in between you visit Turkey and several other Greek islands so it is the best of both worlds.

Blue Star ferryMany people coming from Europe and Scandinavia drive or take a train to one of the coast cities of Italy where they can catch a ferry to Greece. Most of the Greek ferries, Minoan, ANEK-Superfast, and Blue Star are big modern comfortable ships, in many cases the pride of the fleet, with restaurants and cafes, nice cabins and if you pick the right boat even a pool. The shortest ferry trip is from Brindisi and that is where most of the boats leave from, sometimes six a day. A slow ferry will take about 15 hours to Patras and 8 hours to Igoumounitsa, the most northwest port in Greece, across from the island of Corfu. There are several boats a day. There are also ferries from Bari which take a little longer. The Ancona ferries take about 22 hours to Patras. There are ferries from Venice and Trieste too and these take about 36 hours. I have taken the ferries from Brindisi and Ancona. You can usually get tickets pretty easily if you are going deck but if you have a car or want a cabin you should book in advance. For ticket info try

Lesvos-Avalik ferryFrom Patras there is a bus and a train that leave from where the boats dock. The train is slower than the bus. There should be bus info on the ferry but if you book in advance ask for the info from the travel agency. If you get off the ferry in Igoumounitsa you can take the bus to Athens.

There was a ferry from Haifa, Israel but that ferry which used to come from Alexandria, Egypt has been discontinued. There is no ferry from Istanbul to anywhere in Greece so don't bother looking. If you want to come from Turkey you can fly to Athens and maybe one or two of the islands, take a train or bus to Athens or go from Avalik to the island of Lesvos, Cesme to Chios, Kusadasi (Ephesus) to Samos, Bodrun to Kos or Marmares to Rhodes. From any of these islands there is a daily boat to Pireaus, the port of Athens.

Travelers from Croatia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Austria and other European countries often drive. Most of them go to the Halkidiki Peninsula which is the reason that it is one of the most popular summer destinations in Greece despite the fact that you may not have ever heard of it.


Travel Insurance
People have been asking me about Travel Insurance Protection due to what appears to an airline industry lingering on the brink not to mention strikes, and the other things that are going on in Greece as well as the rest of the planet. With all the schedule changes and surcharges being added, things are evidently not going well with the airlines. Therefore, travel insurance just might not be a bad idea. It is pretty inexpensive and will take away some of the anxiety of travel. If you go to the page Should You Buy Travel Insurance there is a link to help you decide.

Read True Stories of Cheap International Flights and The Christmas in Athens That Wasn't about a couple of my experiences while flying to Greece.

Here's a helpful tip. Make photo-copies of all your travel documents like passports, tickets, visas etc. That way if you lose them it will be a lot easier to prove you had them in the first place.

Read my Guide to Flying to Greece which will answer many of your questions and make you realise that any anxiety you have is normal.

Join Matt Barrett's Greece Travel Guides Group on Facebook for comments, photos and other fun stuff. You can also e-mail Matt if you have any questions or comments. If you enjoy this website please share it with your friends on Facebook and Google+

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