There is supposedly no smoking indoors on the ferryboats. The first class lounges on the large ferries are really nice but there is actually not that much difference between them and the economy lounges. Even on the Greece-Italy ferries. Plus you won't need to buy ferry tickets in advance except for certain days.
Its 40 days after orthodox Easter. Getting out of Athens can be a miserable experience if you don't have a ferry ticket and sometimes even if you do. The boats are packed. Again this is a good time to be in Athens. Two important things to think about. And a warning to Mykonos travelers. That's because the island of Tinos is the Lourdes of Greece and it is on the same ferry route as Mykonos.
For those going to Lesvos I have bad news for you. The second holiest place is Agiassos and the ferries are filled with pilgrims preceding those holidays. You can get tickets if you book in advance but if you meander down to Pireaus and expect to get on a boat you may find yourself back on the metro looking for a hotel for your weekend in Athens. There is also an option for Business Class and Deluxe on these boats and that means you are in a lounge with a handful of people who are either anti-social or have money to waste.
I have gone business class on the High Speed Catamaran a couple times and the main difference I could see was that there were waitresses that dressed like airline hostesses taking orders even though the snack bar as only about 5 feet away from our seats, and there was free bowls of candy scattered around.
There were also people wearing ties who were smoking cigarettes. I guess they were businessmen. But if you are taking an overnight ferry getting a Lux cabin is not that much more than a normal first class and they are larger and much nicer. I usually go for Lux traveling to or from Lesvos. The cabins on the new ferries are really nice. They have doubles and four bed cabins and some boats may have a few three bed cabins and they have private baths with a shower. But here is something you should know about. Let us say you are three women traveling to Crete and you book your tickets in a four bed actually they call them berths cabin.
The ferry company can put another woman with you in that fourth bed. They do it with men too. The point is that they can put someone of the same sex in your cabin with you if there is an extra berth. So what people do in this situation is buy the three tickets and then buy a half price child ticket for the 4th berth. But you want First Class or Lux. Some boats have Second Class cabins and I booked one once and it was below the garage and smelled like carbon monoxide. Whether you are booking a package or just using the agency to book your hotels for you they will handle your ferry tickets for you.
Travel agents on the internet have no incentive to book just ferry tickets alone because they don't make any money on them. It is a service they provide to their customers who book hotels and tours. Most likely they will say they don't sell tickets. There are ticket agencies in Pireaus when you get to the boats in the big old buildings at Platia Kariaskaki by the bus station sort of across from the metro. There are also ticket booths by many of the boats and there is even one right in the metro station and on the street outside.
In Athens there are a couple agencies on Nikis street that sell ferry tickets but beware that there are agencies that send hustlers out to track down confused looking tourists and bring them in to sell them packages. If you walk into an agency for ferry tickets and you leave with a cruise you have not been ripped off. It's like if you went to buy a used Chevy and left the used car lot with a Porsche.
The reason you wanted a Chevy is because that is what you could afford but the salesman used all his tricks to get you to buy the Porsche. They may say there are no more ferry tickets, or the island is full, or whatever it takes to get you to do what they want you to do. Anyway the point is that if you want a cabin or want to be sure of a seat on a high-speed then buy your tickets in advance and the best way to do that is by booking your hotels with a RELIABLE Greek Travel Agency. You won't pay more than by booking directly with the hotels and you won't have to worry about the tickets or the schedules.
Don't bother trying to get ferry tickets through your local travel agents because they will just e-mail me and ask me how they can get ferry tickets and I will tell them what I just told you. You can also use my Create-an-itinerary Form to book hotels and ferry tickets. The other option is to use on-line ferry booking companies.
Be sure you understand the terms and try several before settling on one. Make sure there is not a surcharge. Try using the Dolphin Hellas Ferry Booking Page which is easy to use and if you have any problems at least you can contact the agency who are reputable. I have also found the website Ferryhopper. You can get maps of Athens at most hotels and some will have the very helpful map of Greece that EOT so generously provides for free.
The good news is that if you are working with a travel agency in Athens it won't matter because they can book your hotels and ferries and make the changes if they have to by making endless phone calls. The bad news is that if you are one of those proud people who do their own bookings directly with the hotels or with on-line hotel sites you can find yourself on one island, booked in a hotel on the next, and no ferry to get between them. You can also use Ferryhopper.
You can e-mail me for help. If you decide to book ferries on your own then you can book hotels through Matt's Booking. For those backpackers who plan to wing it you should at the very least book your Athens Hotel before arriving.
This is the kind of section I don't like because if I forget about it and don't update it then things may have changed. Ferry tickets are cheap if you are going deck. Once you go by high-speed or get a cabin then the price starts going up dramatically. You can figure that if a deck or 3rd class ticket to Mykonos costs 27 euro then the high-speed will cost almost double that.
Overnight ferries like those going to Crete, Rhodes and Lesvos will cost around 35 euro for deck economy and double that for a cabin. That's per person for the cheapest cabin. Ferries that go to Aegina are like buses that come and go all day and cost about 4 euro and 8 or 10 for the Flying Dolphins. There are ferry passes but I don't know anyone who has used them. Yes people think like that.
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Ferries are cheap enough so that when you make up your budget you can off-set the cost of a ferry by skipping a meal or getting a tiropita cheese pie. You can also check Ferryhopper. Back in the old days when Greece was dirt cheap and people had a month or more to wander around the islands and little old ladies would meet the ferry to offer the handful of travelers who got off a room in their homes, island hopping was fun and sort of charming.
But let us face the fact that Greece has been discovered and when that happens the little old ladies are shoved aside by guys with signs for their fancy hotels, or the little old ladies themselves have built fancy hotels and hired guys to bring them customers. More critical though to the difficulty in island hopping is the monopoly of the ferry boat companies who fight over the popular routes and leave the smaller islands with connections to Pireaus and maybe a few islands surrounding them.
No longer can you make a list of islands you want to visit and hop on the boat to the first one and make connections to the rest. In some cases an island that you can see from your hotel window in Sifnos like Paros for example won't have a connection, except by going back to Pireaus. You can still island-hop but it now requires some planning. That is why I made up the Create-An-Itinerary-Page which allows you to decide which islands you want to visit and then send in the form and the agency will tell you if it is possible and send you an itinerary with hotels and ferries. You tell them what your budget is and they find the best places to suit it and all you have to do is show up on time for the boats.
For me the best way to visit the Greek Islands is to pick one or two that are convenient to each other, experience those and come back next year. Getting to the Ferry Boats Any taxi should know exactly where your boat is and should take you right up to the gang-plank and even help you with your luggage if you booked him on-line or through your travel agent. The port of Pireaus is now organized by gate and there are signs that tell you which gate to go to for whatever island you are going to. I use George the Famous Taxi Driver to go to and from Pireaus but you can also ask your hotel concierge to call a radio taxi.
Mykonos, Syros and Tinos boats are on your left. The high-speed catamaran is there too. To the right of the Cyclades ferries are the boats to Crete, followed by the boats to Lesvos, Chios, and Lemnos on the very end. There is a shuttle bus that you can ride to the more distant boats. For supplies there are shops in the area and a few working class restaurants and fast food places.
There is also a big cafeteria to hang out at on the dock near the Cyclades boats behind where all the city buses park and the ticket agencies are. This is great for people who arrive in the morning from one island to connect to an afternoon or evening boat. You can dump your stuff and take the metr o to Thission and walk up to the Acropolis. There is luggage storage too. You can leave your bags and go back into Athens on the metro and visit the Acropolis if you have a few hours to kill get off at Thission and walk. There are two more of these cafes, one by the Dodecanese and Sifnos ferries that has luggage storage and another by the Crete and Lesvos ferries which may also have luggage storage.
I know that I am supposed to know this but maybe someone can check it out and let me know before I go back next summer. It is across from the cruise ship terminal at Akti Miaouli The port gates are numbered and have the names of the islands those boats go to. The whole port is wireless by the way so if you have your laptop you can plop down in one of the cafe chairs and research your next island or send e-mails home.
Almost every island has a daily ferry, even in the winter. Usually there is a regular ferry and a high-speed or two leaving at Then sometimes there is a high-speed in the early afternoon and another at and a ferry at about 10pm. Overnight boats leave late in the afternoon with the Rhodes and Dodecanesos boats leaving earliest because the trip is longest 17 hours to Rhodes.
You have a better chance of there being a late afternoon or night boat to the Cyclades on a Friday for weekenders. As for returning, any boat that goes to an island will come back. Finding when is easier on the islands. There is an exception to these and this is called the Agonia Route. The word means fruitless or unprofitable. This is the boat that hits all the islands including the ones that the only people who go there are those who live there.
In some cases you will have to take this boat to get from one island to another. When you look at the ferry schedule pay attention to the islands that your boat is going to. If your island is the last of fifteen or so then this is the Agoni Grammi and you may be in a little agony yourself by the time you reach your island. But for those who love ferries and can afford a cabin the Agonia can be like a multi-island cruise. You can usually catch it once or twice a week in Lavrion too. But if you have bought a round trip ticket which many people do then you know when you are leaving.
Many of the ferries that go to the islands are very modern with carpets, air-conditioned cabins, lounges, bars, restaurants, video-game parlors and so on. Not in Worldwide?
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Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. Chapter from Blue Guide Greece the Aegean Islands: what to see, where to stay and eat, history, archaeology, art, culture, leisure. With superb, award-winning maps.
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Richard Wright. The Traveler's Guide to Greek Archaeology. Gregory A. Grant John Lamont. Central Anatolia. The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Peter A Clayton. Thrace Greece. Jerry Mason. Clara Erskine Clement Waters. Lesser Cyclades. Nigel McGilchrist. Mykonos - Blue Guide Chapter. Ikaria - Blue Guide Chapter. Santorini and Therasia - Blue Guide Chapter. Karpathos and Saria - Blue Guide Chapter. Skiathos - Blue Guide Chapter. Lesbos - Blue Guide Chapter. Naxos - Blue Guide Chapter. Skopelos - Blue Guide Chapter.