Expats should find transport and driving in Greece fairly easy to navigate. The country has a developed transport infrastructure that continues to improve. Public transport is fairly comprehensive, especially in major cities such as Athens. Buses and trains are popular ways to get around within cities, while ferries are often used to move between islands. Driving is also an option, and many of Greek's cities are very walkable.
Public transport in Greece
Expats can take advantage of regional railway lines which link most of the country, as well as the urban rail networks in some larger cities. The majority of the rail network is efficient and expats shouldn’t have too many problems.
The country's only operational subway system is the Athens Metro, which runs along three lines and links the city centre to the surrounding suburbs and the Athens International Airport.
Since 2006, the construction of a metro system in Thessaloniki has been underway, with construction due to be completed in 2023. The system's completion has been repeatedly delayed due to the Greek financial crisis, as well as the archaeological discoveries unearthed during the construction.
The Athens Tram is the only public tram network in Greece. The network began as a horse-drawn tramway in the 19th century, and has developed into a modern system that is reliable and convenient, running from early in the morning to late at night.
Buses are the primary form of public transport on land in Greece. With a network that connects large cities like Athens and Thessaloniki to small villages, expats should be able to explore Greece with relative ease. The majority of the mainland is linked to Athens or, alternatively, Thessaloniki. Islands such as Corfu can also be accessed by bus from the Greek capital.
Greek buses are most often modern, safe and affordable. While they are reliable most of the time, as with other modes of transport, they may face delays and cancellations as a result of sporadic strikes, especially in Athens and Thessaloniki. Expats are advised to arrive early to catch a bus since they have a tendency to run off schedule.
Greece's ferry services are a popular mode of transport. From June to September, ferry services are very frequent, while only limited services are offered from March to May. It can be very difficult to get around using the ferry between December and February, as very few routes remain operational. During this period, it's usually preferable to go by plane if one needs to get to one of Greece's outlying islands.
Taxis in Greece
Taxis come in various colours depending on the city they are located in. Taxis in Athens are yellow, and those in Thessaloniki are blue and white. Each taxi is fitted with a meter, and expats should ensure that the driver has switched it on before embarking on their journey.
Popular ride-hailing apps like Uber and Lyft are technically not operational in Greece due to taxi regulations. Despite this, it is possible to use the Uber app to request and pay for a local taxi.
Driving in Greece
In Greece, cars drive on the right-hand side of the road. Driving in Greece can be a harrowing experience – the country is infamous for having some of the worst drivers in Europe. That said, the roads in Greece are generally well maintained and many regional roads that used to be dirt tracks have been tarred over in the last few years.
Driving is a good way to explore some of Greece's more remote areas. Expats may, however, want to consider public transport if they aren't prepared to become masters of defensive driving. Another option may be using a motorcycle for its manoeuvrability, though this too should be done with caution.
Holders of driving licences from EU countries or Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein are in luck: they can drive with their current driving licence until it expires. Expats from the US, Australia, Canada, South Africa, South Korea and Japan must convert their licences after 185 days, and other expats will probably have to apply for new licences from scratch.
Air travel in Greece
With numerous international airports and a good domestic network, flying is an easy and convenient way to travel. Various Greek islands and cities on the mainland are all very accessible via plane.
►To learn about life in Greece's capital city, see moving to Athens
"I live in the suburbs, so I do need a car, but when I did live in more central areas of Athens, I was OK getting to most places by taking public transit. The public transit system has much improved since the new metro lines began running. But buses, trolleys and the tram also help to get you where you're going." Canadian expat Eleni shares her experience living in Greece.
"The metro is clean, convenient, on time and is my favourite way to get around. Public transport is cheap whether you use a day ticket or a weekly or monthly pass. You can also check the routes online." Read more of Marissa's interview as an American expat living in Greece.
Are you an expat living in Greece?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Greece. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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