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Taking the Bus in Greece

Greek buses are a great alternative

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Photo of KTEL bus in Greece

KTEL buses parked against medieval wall in Heraklion, Crete

Photo of KTEL bus in Greece © deTraci Regula; licensed to About.com
Greece boasts an excellent long-distance bus service, but there is no central website in English, so finding out about routes and times ahead of time can be a challenge. Here's some help in figuring out the buses in Greece

KTEL Buses

KTEL is the name of the Greek inter-city bus system. The majority of KTEL buses are like modern tour buses, with comfortable seats and room for luggage underneath the bus and in racks inside. Seats are assigned, so match the ticket number to the number on your seat.

KTEL bus ticket offices usually have someone who understands English and other languages.

Things to Know about Greek buses

Some bus routes may be direct, while others to the same place may have extra stops or even require a bus change, which can be difficult with luggage and with the stress of not quite knowing where to get off. There is usually a posted schedule. If you see that the bus you want seems to be take longer to get to its destination than the buses to the same place listed above or below, it's a good hint that you may have extra stops or a bus change on that particular departure.

While you want to tell the driver where you are going, he may or may not remember to tell you at the crucial moment. A good strategy is to talk with your fellow passengers. If there is a language barrier, pointing to yourself and saying the name of the town you are going to may get you a helpful tap on the shoulder if you're about to miss getting off at your stop.

Official KTEL Websites - Each area's operator is actually a separate company. These websites seem to come and go, and sometimes only the Greek language pages will be available. You may find my Tips on Greek to English Automated Webpage Translation helpful. While the results won't be perfect, they may at least be understandable enough to help you plan your journey.
Volos (Greek)
Thessaloniki In English They also have a helpful page listing some of the other KTEL bus companies and they also list their buses to and from Turkey.

More KTEL Phone Numbers
Athens-Thessaloniki TimetableIn Greek. Athens sample timetables from the Ilisou/Liossion Street Terminal B and the Kifisou Terminal A Main Terminal, via Athens Guide.org.Please note - these bus schedules are not current, especially on prices, but may still help you figure out probable options ahead of your trip. The Athens KTEL offices do not print their schedules online in English, so this is about as good as it gets.Pelion Region Bus Schedules
Larisa-Trikala-Ioannina-Patras-Kozani-Lamia Timetable. In Greek, but gives a schedule.

How to Read a Greek Bus Schedule

Even when the site is in English, the schedules may still show Greek names for the days. At the bus station itself, it almost definitely will. Here's help: ΔΕΥΤΕΡΑ - Deftera - Monday
ΤΡΙΤΗ - Triti - Tuesday
ΤΕΤΑΡΤΗ - Tetarti - Wednesday
ΠΕΜΠΤΗ - Pempti - Thursday
ΠΑΡΑΣΚΕΥΗ - Paraskevi - Friday
ΣΑΒΒΑΤΟ - Sabato - Saturday
ΚΥΡΙΑΚΗ - Kyriaki - Sunday

The Greek days of the week are a classic case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing. If you see "Triti" and look at the root as "tria" or "three", the temptation is to think, ah, the third day of the week, must mean my bus leaves Wednesday. Wrong! Greeks count Sunday, Kyriaki, as the first day of the week - so Triti is Tuesday.

What Day is it? Um, What Month Is It?

No, this has nothing to do with how much raki or ouzo or Mythos you put away last night. Remember that Greece puts the day first, then the month, opposite to what is standard in the United States (except, oddly, on the customs forms you fill out coming back into the United States). While it's unlikely you'll think "18" or "23" stands for a month instead of a day, unfortunately, the summer months make perfect 'sense' when reversed, so please be careful when booking that ferry ticket that you want August 7th when you select 07/08.

What do you mean the 15th is a Tuesday? I checked the Calendar!

Glancing at the calendar on the wall of the Greek bus or ferry office - or at your hotel? Please remember that Greek calendars start with Sunday unless they are designed to be bought by tourists for use back home, and even that isn't a sure thing.
Greek bus and other schedules use a 24-hour day. Here's help with that,too.

Reading 24-Hour Timetables & Schedules in Greece

Midnight/12:00am = 00:00
1 am = 01:00
2 am = 02:00
3 am = 03:00
4 am = 04:00
5 am = 05:00
6 am = 06:00
7 am = 07:00
8 am = 08:00
9 am = 09:00
10 am = 10:00
11 am = 11:00
Noon/12:00pm = 12:00
1 pm = 13:00
2 pm = 14:00
3 pm = 15:00
4 pm = 16:00
5 pm = 17:00
6 pm = 18:00
7 pm = 19:00
8 pm = 20:00
9 pm = 21:00
10 pm = 22:00
11 pm = 23:00

The Zakynthos Bus Route will give you some handy practice figuring this out in a real-life enviroment: Zakynthos External Bus Routes

PM means AM and MM means PM

One last area for confusion, though the 24:00 time system makes this less frequent. In Greek, the abbreviation for "morning" is not AM for ante-meridian as it is in Latin, but PM for Pro Mesimbrias or πριν το μεσημέρι (prin to mesimeri) (before noon - think of the "pro" standing in for "prior to"). Afternoon and evening hours are MM for Meta Mesimbrias - if you like the candies, maybe you can think of M&Ms are chocolate and therefore MM means the "darker hours".

In speech, however, hours are used normally - for example, someone will arrange to meet you at 7 in the evening, not 19:00 hours.

Still not sure the bus is for you? Compare airfares to Greece here: Find Greek Airfares

You can also pre-book tours in and around Athens: Athens Tours you can Book Direct

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