Transportation in Greece
Updated: Jun 1
Planning a trip to Greece? Is it possible to travel without a car? What are the best transportation options while island hopping? Greek transportation differs based on location, but I will walk you through the best ways to travel around Athens and provide some tips for your island adventures.
Transportation in Athens
When traveling in Greece, the capital of Athens has the most options at your disposal. I would actually recommend NOT driving while in the city, as driving can be daunting and parking limited. You can take public transportation, taxis or even Uber. It is very reasonable to travel by metro, bus or tram with single tickets starting at €1.20 for 90 minutes. The Athens metro runs daily from 5 am to midnight. You can also purchase day passes or 3-day tourist tickets for €20 which includes round-trip transport from/to the Athens Airport.
Tickets are sold in automatic vending machines at all metro stations and some tramway stations. You can also buy them in some stores and kiosks next to bus stops. Tickets must be validated when you travel. At the metro, you validate at the entrance and again when leaving your final station (so don’t lose your ticket en route). On buses and trams, validation is done onboard. If you don’t validate your ticket for each ride, you can be charged a fine. Validity on a 90-minute ticket begins at first validation and is good for buses, trams and metro lines 1-3.
Public Transportation from the Airport
You can travel from the Athens Airport into the city center by metro or express bus. Metro line 3 connects to the airport and takes about 45 minutes to Syntagma Square, with trains departing every 30 minutes. You can purchase one-way tickets for €9 or round-trip tickets for €16. The metro runs from 6:30 am to 11:30 pm. If you are looking for a cheaper option, or are trying to catch an early morning flight, then the 24-hour express bus is the better option. There are four express bus routes that connect to various areas in the city and to the cruise port.
Χ93: Airport - Kifissos Station (Estimated journey time: 65 minutes)
X95: Airport - Syntagma Square (Estimated journey time: 60 minutes)
Χ96: Airport - Piraeus port (Estimated journey time: 90 minutes)
Χ97: Airport - Elliniko (Estimated journey time: 45 minutes)
Airport express bus tickets are €5.50 one way and can be purchased from the ticket booth at the airport. All buses depart from the airport through the arrivals level (look for the sign posting with each express route labeled).
Public Transportation from the Port
The main port of Athens is about 10 km from city center – Piraeus. You can transfer from the port to the airport via metro line 3, which takes about an hour. Leaving from Piraeus port, you can take bus 40 to Syntagma Square 24 hours/day or the X80 express bus every 30 mins from May to October between 7 am and 9:30 pm.
Taxis in Athens
All taxis should be metered and charge by the distance and hour. You can also use the Free Now transportation app to call a taxi or your Uber app. Taxis from the airport should be a flat rate of €40 to city center.
If you stay within 10-20 minutes of the Acropolis, most of your tourist attractions will be within easy walking distance. We took the metro a handful of times and found individual tickets were cheaper for us than a day pass (€4.10/day).
Temple of Poseidon Day Trip
If you are in Athens for a few days, you may want to head down to the Temple of Poseidon, which is at Cape Sounion. It can be reached by the local KTEL bus, which leaves Athens every day at 10:30, 2:30 or 4:30. It takes ~2 hours to reach Sounion. Return buses leave from the Temple at 1:45, 5:30 and 8 pm. Tickets are €13 round trip. CASH ONLY and paid onboard. In Athens, the bus leaves from Pedion tou Areos, close to Victoria Station and Green Park. The exact coordinates are 37°59’30.8”N 23°43’55.5”E. Don’t miss the last bus back! If public transportation is not your thing, consider taking a half-day trip that includes sunset! There are small hikes around the hill and a cafe outside the entrance gates. Entrance to the temple ruins is €10 for adults and €5 for reduced tickets.
Transportation TO the Islands
During our travels, we decided to visit Crete and Santorini. We took an overnight ferry from Athens (Piraeus Port) to Crete’s Heraklion port, which is in the center of the island. If you know you only plan to be on the west side of the island, it may be better for you to come into the Chania port instead. We found the cheapest tickets through Anek Line, which offered two twin beds in an internal room for €84 per person (in April 2023). We loved the overnight option as it saved us one night in the hotel room and offered a pleasant journey on the sea.
Traveling from Crete to Santorini we took another ferry. This one was just under 2 hours long on SeaJets. In the off season, they offer one trip a day, but I believe the summertime has more frequent ferry crossings. Tickets for us were €98 per person. Definitely more expensive than our overnight ferry to Crete. You could decide to fly, or pricing will be different if coming directly from Athens or another island.
Transportation ON the Islands
I would strongly recommend renting a car in both Santorini and Crete. Crete, for one, is quite a large island and if you are planning to see more than the Chania town (and have a few days to explore), this is definitely your best option. Public transportation is available, but bus schedules are a little unreliable and we didn’t want to waste our limited time on the island waiting for a bus. You can also schedule pick up at the airport or ferry terminal, which makes it a very convenient option.
In Santorini, there are limited taxis on the island and public transport all stems from Fira. As such, you have to walk to the nearest bus station from the ferry port and usually change buses in Fira to your final destination. We decided to save on accommodation and booked a place on the southeast side of the island, near Perissa beach (which I strongly suggest visiting). But that distance meant that a one-way taxi from the ferry port was €40-€60. We were able to rent a car through Car Hub for €50 for our 2 days. They were significantly cheaper than any other rental car company we found, especially for automatic (sadly, I can NOT drive a stick shift). I will caveat that it was a 10-year-old car but drove just fine and got us everywhere we needed to go. We were able to drive up to the top of the mountain to visit the monastery and all the way to the coast of Oia and back again. This was definitely the best decision for us in April. I know driving in the peak season of July or August can have you sitting in traffic, so judge wisely how much distance you plan to cover and act accordingly. Also, parking can be limited in Oia during the high season. We didn’t have any trouble finding street parking, but again – it was April!
Hopefully this helps you determine the best ways to get around the islands, as well as the capital city of Athens. There transportation options in Greece, but it’s great to have so many public transport systems in Athens.