How to Take the Ferry in Greece

Greece is a beautiful country and while it was one of the easier places we traveled in, we were a bit confused when it came to the ferries. We thought we’d share with you what we learned. 

How to Book Tickets

If you have Internet access, check GTP as a first step. This website lists dates and departure times so you can figure out which ferry you want to take.

Travel agencies like this one in Rhodes are easy to spot.

Next, walk into one of the many travel agencies you will find in Greece and tell them which ferry you want to take. Purchase and pick up your tickets there. There is no point in buying them online because you are still required to go to a travel agency to pick them up (you can’t print the tickets yourself). Also, remember to bring your passport. 

Booking On-Season vs. Off-Season

We traveled to Greece in the off-season. In the on-season (esp. July-August) there are more ferries, but also more people traveling so you should book your ticket earlier to ensure you get the exact date/time you want. Otherwise, you can walk into a travel agency a day or two before you intend to travel and you should be fine. 

Don’t assume there will be a ferry on any given day – there may only be one on a certain day of the week for your desired route – especially in the off-season.

The ferry we took from Santorini to Rhodes.

Overnight Ferries

The longest ferry we took was from Santorini to Rhodes – approximately nine hours. It left around midnight and arrived in the morning. We thought we’d be able to sleep and save some money by not having to get accommodation that night. Big mistake. Between the noise and mild seasickness, we didn’t really sleep and the trip left us exhausted for a couple days. If we did this again we’d consider spending the money on a sleeper cabin.

The ferry we took from Rhodes to Marmaris.

Slow vs. Fast Ferries

The smaller boats are faster than the huge, cruise-like ships. There are also special high speed ferries you can book such as Superfast. I imagine these are more expensive and more seasick inducing, but I don’t know from experience. If you do go on a high speed ferry, sit towards the back to experience less bouncing.

Reserved (airplane-style) seating.

Deciding Which Class to Book 

The larger ferries will give you a choice of seats. We got economy mostly, except for the overnight ferry we got reserved seating but it wasn’t worth it.

Economy – sit in a regular seat or at one of the cafes in the larger ferries.

Reserved seating – the advantage here is you are guaranteed a seat and an assigned seat.

Business Class – gets you access to a roped-off lounge area in the front of the boat with waiter service.

Sleeping Cabins – your own private room and bathroom; usually 2 or 4 beds in a room.

The Ferry Experience

On the two Blue Star Ferries we took, I was surprised by how much it was like taking a cruise. These ships are huge and have cafes, fast food and gift shops, along with decent bathrooms. The food can be expensive, so you may want to bring your own on board.

The larger ships will have you drop off your luggage on the lower level of the ferry on your way in. Your bags will be put in a specific area based on your destination. The smaller ferries will have luggage areas on the same floors as your seats (similar to trains) so you can drop off your big bags there. Just make sure to also have a smaller bag with you that contains any valuables and things you need for the journey.

If you’re prone to sea sickness, bring some sea sickness pills with you. We both suffered a bit on these rides and some things that really help are stepping outside for fresh air, fixing your eyes on the horizon line, and sitting towards the back and near a window.

The Four Ferries We Took

It’s been around 5 months but we included below all of the details we could remember about each of the ferries we took.

Athens (a.k.a. Piraeus) to Mykonos
COST: 34 euro each
TICKET TYPE: economy
DURATION: approx 6 hours
BOAT TYPE: Blue Star Ferries (big)
HOW WE GOT TICKETS: online and then picked up

Mykonos to Santorini (a.k.a. Thiria)
COST: don’t remember
TICKET TYPE: economy
DURATION: approx 2 hours
BOAT TYPE: Sea Jets (small, high speed)
HOW WE GOT TICKETS: online and then picked up

Santorini to Rhodes
COST: don’t remember
TICKET TYPE: reserved seating
DURATION: approx 9 hours
BOAT TYPE: Blue Star Ferries (very big)
HOW WE GOT TICKETS: travel agency in town

Rhodes to Marmaris, Turkey
COST: 28 euro each + 12 euro each in taxes (so 40)
TICKET TYPE: economy
DURATION: approx 1.5 hours
BOAT TYPE: Yesil Marmaris (small, high speed)
HOW WE GOT TICKETS: travel agency in town

More Information

Here are a couple other sites with more great tips and information.

Santorini Dave
http://santorinidave.com/athens-to-santorini

Matt Barrett’s Athens Survival Guide
http://www.athensguide.com/ferries.html