I have been using ferries in Greece for over 25 years now. They are an important, cost-effective and often even very convenient and efficient mode of transportation both for tourists and locals. Whether you go island hopping or just need to go from A to B. On many occasions, a ferry is the only way to get from one island to another. At least, without having to fly back to Athens. There are also convenient routes from multiple ports in Italy to Igoumenitsa and Patras in Greece. These are great for backpackers and roadtrippers exploring multiple countries in Europe!
With so many ferry routes available, it can be hard to know where to start and what to expect. Here’s a complete guide to ferries in Greece, with the answer to some of the most frequently asked questions about ferries in Greece, as well as some top tips for travelling by ferry.
The Greek ferry network connects hundreds of ports throughout the mainland and the Greek islands, as well as multiple cities in Italy and Greece. Major cities such as Athens, Thessaloniki, and Patras are connected with many of the islands. Additionally, there are routes connecting the islands within an island group (Ionian, Cyclades, Dodecanese etc.) and a few routes that connect the main islands of different island groups. Venice (& Triëste), Ancona, Bari and Brinsidi in Italy are connected to Igoumenitsa, Corfu (high season and low amount of sailings only) and Patras in Greece.
This map literally makes it SO easy to find out if there is a ferry connection between the islands of your choice. You can also use it to plan a multi-island trip with more than 2 destinations.
There are a lot of ferry companies that are operating the ferry routes in Greece. The easiest way to find the companies and schedules for the route(s) between the island(s) of your choice is using a ferry search engine, also called a ferry comparison website. As you can read above, my preferred choice is Ferryhopper. Not only do they have and interactive map on which you can build a route between different destinations, they also have an app that shows the location of the ferry you booked in realtime. This is called live tracking of your ferry. To make it easy for you, I’ve implemented their search engine into my website on a separate page (click here).
Alternatively, you can check the websites of the main ferry companies in Greece. You can find them below in the answer to the question ‘what are the main ferry companies in Greece’.
Booking a ferry in Greece is easy. It can be done safely, directly after searching on a comparison website such as Ferryhopper. This will make sure you can compare all companies and times available on one website before you book, instead of having to browse the website of different ferry companies. They have even implemented the bonus / loyalty programmes of the ferry companies into their platform. So you can save your points and miles even when booking through Ferryhopper.
All you need to do is select the route and date and follow the steps. It’s important to check the timetable of the specific route you’re taking as ferry times can change depending on the destination and the time of year. To make it easy for you, I’ve implemented their search engine into my website. You can start searching directly with the search engine below.
A ticket can also be booked online, over the phone or at a ticket counter in the port directly with the ferry company. Most ferry companies nowadays offer e-check in. If you use this service, you will get e-tickets in your e-mail and you can go straight to the ferry when leaving (for) an island. In case you still want or need to pick up a paper ticket, you can mostly do it in the port, where the ferry companies offices are located.
Yes, it might be cheaper to book your ferry tickets for Greece in advance. There are lots of earlybird discounts in the beginning of every year. So if you know your dates and route, why not book straight away? Later on in the year there might only be more expensive fares available and no discounts anymore.
In July and August, popular ferry routes (such as from and to Santorini and Mykonos) definitely do sell out. So for that reason it is also advised to pre-book.
However, definitely not all ferry tickets should be booked in advance. Some routes are operated by 10 to 20 vessels per day and you will always find a passenger spot. If you travel by car you can also best book as soon as you know your time and dates.
Ferry tickets in Greece vary in cost depending on the route and time of year. High season is more expensive than low season. Most ferry tickets are relatively inexpensive. The cheapest ferry I have taken in Greece was € 1 and the duration was 10 minutes only. For rides with the duration of one hour or more, single ticket prices start at € 5 with single tickets for slow ferries start at around 10 euros. But this can easily amount to € 100 for a single ticket on a 5-hour high speed ferry ride or a Greece to Italy ferry. But not necessarily 😊.
Who doesn’t want to save money in general? Ferries in Greece can be cheap but also very expensive, so it is good to know how you can find the cheapest tickets:
The main ferry companies in Greece are SeaJets, Blue Star Ferries, Fast Ferries, Hellenic Seaways, Minoan Lines (also on the Greece-Italy route) and Anek Lines (merged with Superfast Ferries for the Greece-Italy route). But there are countless other, smaller ferry companies such as Levante Ferries and Kerkyra Lines. Those ones offer very local and mostly shorter routes between a small amount of islands that are in near proximity of each other.
All companies together offer a different range of routes connecting the mainland and the Greek islands, with departures available throughout the year. They also operate different kind of vessels, on which you can read more in the answer to the question below this one.
|Blue Star Ferries||Ro/pax ferries|
|SeaJets||High speed catamarans, high speed monohull ferries, ro/pax ferries|
|Hellenic Seaways||High speed catamarans, high spead monohull ferries, ro/pax ferries and hydrofoils|
|Fast Ferries||Ro/pax ferries, except for the ‘Thunder’ high speed catamaran|
|Minoan Lines||All ro/pax ferries, except for the high speed catamaran ‘Santorini Palace’|
|Golden Star Ferries||One Ro/pax ferry: Superferry
High speed catamaran: SuperExpress
|Anek Lines||Ro/pax ferries|
Both high-speed ferries and slower ro/pax ferries are available in Greece.
Ro/pax ‘slow’ ferries are bigger, cheaper and generally won’t cause you motion sickness. But they are slower (10 to 30 knots – 18 to 50 km per hour). They have lots of space for cars and trucks and more facilities such as multiple bars, lounges and restaurants. Also they offer multiple ‘seating’ options, such as non-assigned seats (you can sit in the inside lounges or on deck), ‘airplane’ seats and cabins. These ferries also operate throughout the night and it can be convenient sometimes to sleep on board to save yourself a travel day!
High speed catamarans are faster (up to 50 knots or 90 km per hour), but mostly more expensive and less stable. Chances of motion sickness and cancellation in case of bad weather are higher. In most cases you will have a designated ‘airplane seat’ inside the ferry. There will be a bar, but walking around can be challenging. Also, highspeed ferries mostly do not have an outside seating space. Larger highspeed ferries do have space for cars, the smaller ones are passenger only ferries.
Greek ferries in general have lots of amenities to make sure you’re not hungry and thirsty, and to keep you entertained. They vary depending on the ferry type and class.
Yes there are. Night ferries in Greece actually are an efficient way to travel between the mainland and the Greek islands. Why? Because it saves you accommodation costs for one night – you don’t have to pay for a hotel (you were already going to pay for a ferry ticket). You will also maximize your time on the island. During the day it’s better to be on the beach than on a ferry.
If you spend the night on a ferry, you can choose to book a private basic or lux cabin or a shared basic cabin (including toilet and shower). You can also reserve an airplane seat. Or you can not book any type of ‘accommodation’ and sit in one of the lobbies all night.
Of course, when travelling between (North) Italy and Greece, you mostly spend at least one night on the ferry. These ferries have the option of camping on board (with a camper or caravan) and also of sleeping on deck using your own equipment such as an air mattress and sleeping bag.
The length of ferry journeys in Greece also varies according to the route. The shortest ferry I ever took was 10 minutes. Especially if islands are close to each other, you can reach some with a boat ride of less than 1 hour. But most ferries in Greece take anywhere between 1 and 20 hours. It also completely depends which type of vessel you are sailing on, a high-speed or slower ferry.
Just to give you an idea:
Every ferry company in Greece has its own pet policy. Having said that, most companies do allow pets. An overview of the policy per company can be found here.
Some ferries have special kennels for pets, some allow them in the cabins, some allow them to sit with you on deck (in a certain area or everywhere), some require them to be in a carrier. It also depends on the size of the pet.
Obviously when booking you have to let the ferry company know you are traveling with a pet.
Pet tickets do sell out, so if you’re travelling with a pet: book early.
Yes, many ferries (especially those of the larger companies) in Greece are accessible for disabled passengers. However, it’s important to always check with the ferry company of comparison website ahead of time to confirm their accessibility policies. Contact them directly! Some ferry companies may require a doctor’s note for disabled passengers, as well as additional documentation. So be sure to bring this on your holiday with you.
Most of the major ferry companies in Greece have wheelchair accessible cabins and accessible toilets, as well as elevators and ramps throughout the boat. This can make getting around the boat much easier and more convenient. Additionally, some ferry companies provide staff members who are trained to assist disabled passengers.
When you arrive at the port, make sure to let the port staff know of your disability and ask for assistance. This will help ensure that your journey is comfortable and stress-free. Additionally, you may wish to bring along a companion to help you with any tasks that may be difficult for you to complete on your own.
Disabled people in a lot of cases will receive a huge discount when booking a ferry ticket for a Greek ferry.
The most popular ferry routes within Greece include the routes from Piraeus to the Cyclades, from Piraeus to the Dodecanese, from Piraeus to the Saronic Islands, from Crete to Santorini, from Crete to the Cyclades, and from Crete to the Dodecanese. Other popular routes include the route between the Ionian Islands, and the route between the Cyclades and the Dodecanese.
What to Pack for Your Ferry Trip in Greece?
Below you will find a list of things to pack and not to pack for your ferry trip in Greece
When traveling with a large group on a ferry in Greece, book in advance (as early as possible). Otherwise, there might not be enough tickets available. Check for group discounts and reserve seats or accommodation if possible. If reserving a seat or cabin is not possible, make sure to be in the port early. This way you can board the ferry as early as possible and make sure the whole group can sit together.
Thanks for reading this complete guide to ferries in Greece. I hope it helped you and you will have a great time in Greece.
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