Taking the Bus in Greece

Greek buses are a great alternative

Passengers on bus in Greece

Milos Bicanski / Getty Images

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.

Many travelers will take buses from Athens; KTEL operates two terminals serving different locations (and located far apart from each other). Make sure you know which terminal you need for your destination.

ΚΤΕL Athens number: (011-30) 210 5129432

Terminal A: Leoforos Kifisou 100
Athina, Greece
+30 801 114 4000

Terminal B: Kotsika 2
Athina, Greece
+30 21 0880 8000

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 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

  1. 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 if you are stuck with a Greek-only website. While the results won't be perfect, they may at least be understandable enough to help you plan your journey.
  2. Volos (Greek)
  3. 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.
  4. More KTEL Phone Numbers
  5. 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.
  6. Pelion Region Bus Schedules
  7. 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 of June (06), July (07), and August (08) make perfect 'sense' when reversed, so please be careful when booking that ferry ticket that you want for August 7th - you'll want 07/08, not 08/07.

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. We are so used to our calendars that most travelers will not notice this difference.

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

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 and used in the U.S. and elsewhere, 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". So there is no "AM" in Greece.

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

Athens International Airport code is ATH.

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