If you are planning on Greek Island Hopping, chances are you will take at least one Greek ferry. Before Greek Island hopping, I had a lot of questions about navigating the ferry system. I didn’t know what to expect when taking Greek ferries. Are Greek ferries safe? How do you book a ferry and should you book in advance? Are the Greek ferries reliable? In this post, I am going to try and answer questions you may have to help you plan your trip and know what to expect when taking Greek ferries.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I get compensated a small amount if purchased through one of these links at no extra cost to you. I always only link products I truly love and any profit goes to running this blog. I appreciate your support! For more on my disclaimers, you can click here.
What to Expect When Taking Greek Ferries
Overview of the Greek Ferry System
When visiting the Greek Islands, you can either travel by plane or ferry. Ferries tend to be a bit cheaper and go to more of the destinations since not every island has an airport. They can often take longer since they are making multiple stops, but they are a great way to get around.
The ferries are notorious for being chaotic, making you seasick, and being late. However, overall we had a great experience when we were Greek Island Hopping! Once you get the hang of taking ferries, they are much better to navigate.
Types of Ferries
If you are traveling by ferry, you can either take a high-speed ferry or normal. The high-speed ferries tend to be a bit more expensive and can cause more seasickness. The normal ferries tend to hold cars and be much bigger.
There are many different ferry lines that you can take. Some of the most popular are:
- Blue Star Ferries
- SeaJet Ferries
- Minoan Lines
- Hellenic Seaways
Ferries can vary widely in how nice they are and the amenities they provide. Most of the ferries have a counter where you can get snacks, pastries, and drinks. Some of the ferries offer a full bar, and the larger ferries have cafeterias. In the ferries with cafeterias, tables are first-come-first-serve. If you want one I would recommend going right to them as many people camp out during the entire ride at the tables.
How to Purchase Tickets
You can purchase tickets at the port, ahead of time on the ferry line’s website, or a third-party service like FerryHopper. We purchased tickets both directly from the ferry line’s website and on FerryHopper. I recommend purchasing tickets ahead of time as the ferries can sell out, especially during the high season. After purchasing directly from the website and through a third party, I recommend using FerryHopper.
If you use FerryHopper, you do pay a small service fee. However, all of your tickets will be in one place so that you don’t need to search through your email, you can track your ferry much more easily, and you can view the routes for all ferries going to your destination. If you want to track your ferry, you can go to the FerryHopper app or website and find your ferry. It provides live updates so you can see where it is if it is running late. We didn’t use this feature during our first ferry and ended up getting on the wrong one! They luckily transferred our ticket for no charge and the ferry arrived at our destination sooner than it would have otherwise.
What are the Greek Ferries Like?
They can be chaotic! From our experience, once you get to the port there are several different stalls for different ferry lines. They may not be labeled clearly. There are often ferry offices for whichever line you are taking at the port. You can talk with them to be sure you are in the correct stall. You can also check with others standing in the stall, but oftentimes many people are confused about which stall they are in and it’s not uncommon to realize you have been waiting in the wrong area.
Once the ferries arrive, the worker at the stall will open the gate. Either the worker scans your ticket at the gate, or once you have boarded on to the ferry. All at once after the gate opens, people rush towards the ferry. On the ferry, you will find the designated area for luggage before going to the upper decks to find your seat.
Often seats or areas are assigned. There are often open areas to sit in if the ferry isn’t full. After the ferry reaches your stop, you go back to the lower decks to grab your luggage and then disembark. There will be a voice over the speaker announcing in both Greek and English the stop once the land is approaching. It is chaotic getting off the ferry as well since everyone rushes to the lower decks to grab their belongings and line up at the ferry doors.
Are Greek Ferries Safe?
I felt very safe when taking ferries in Greece. Before boarding a ferry, you will be in tight quarters with others who will be boarding. As always, take precautions when you are traveling. Keep important documents on you and be aware of your surroundings. Don’t keep things in your back pocket and keep your luggage close by. While on the ferry, I had no problems with people approaching me.
As far as whether Greek ferries are safe as a transportation method, I would say they are! Of course, weather conditions in the Aegean can impact your experiences. If there are high winds, it might be a little rough out on the water. At times I felt nauseous, especially when taking the fast ferries in high winds. Overall, I didn’t feel like I was in danger or like the ferry might sink. Many of the ferries are huge and do well no matter the weather conditions. In extreme conditions, ferries can be canceled if it is unsafe.
Are Greek Ferries Reliable?
For the most part, the Greek ferries are reliable. They can be late, so I would plan accordingly. Be sure to arrive at the port early. Don’t schedule anything (such as a flight) for right after you are supposed to arrive at your destination in case there are hold-ups or it is running late.
As I mentioned above, in very windy conditions or rough seas the ferries can be canceled. There are also times when ferries are canceled due to workers going on strike. I would research backup options during your trip (such as flight) and be sure to check the status of your ferry during the morning of your trip.
Other Tips for Greek Ferries
- Plan your transportation from the port ahead of time. Since so many people are trying to get from the port to the rest of the island at once, there isn’t always enough transportation. There are typically buses, private drives, car or ATV rentals, and taxi drivers at the port to get you to your hotel or Airbnb. Most of the time, the taxis only accept cash, so it is good to keep some on hand. If you want a private driver for your group, be sure to arrange this ahead of time. Most hotels or Airbnb hosts can arrange this service.
- While we did not have an experience where people around us were throwing up, this is not uncommon. If you get seasick, bring Dramamine or ginger pills and take them 30 minutes before you board. You can also try sea bands.
- Arrive at the ferry port at least 30 minutes before the ferry departure time. Once the ferries arrive at the port, you only have a few minutes to board before it sets off. There isn’t much need to arrive too early since you don’t need to go through a security process. However, you will want to have enough time to navigate to find the correct stall or gate to stand at.
- If you arrive to the port earlier, you can often check your luggage for a small fee at one of the nearby restaurants and walk around. You can also sit at a table for a coffee and it is a bit nicer than standing in the stall.
- You can typically purchase wifi on Greek Ferries. I also recommend getting an eSim for data during your trip to Greece.
What to Expect When Taking Greek Ferries
I hope this guide was helpful for what to expect when taking Greek ferries. I know that many people have different experiences taking the Greek ferries and it can be overwhelming if you have not previously navigated transportation in a country foreign to you. Your first ferry can be a bit more difficult to navigate, but they get easier the more you take them.
If you have navigated the Greek ferries and have more recommendations, I would love to read about them below in the comments, so feel free to share! As always, you can find me on Instagram @maddie_deer here, or can follow me on my Facebook page to be alerted of any new posts here. Thanks for reading! 🙂