Cycling in Greece
I have been cycling in Greece for about 5 weeks or so. It all started at Corfu, where I arrived when I came from Italy by boat. My journey would bring me via Meteora to the Peloponnesus, Corinth and Athens to the ferry to Rhodes.
At the time I had some severe problems with my bicycle which I had to solve first. I had asked to let me send some materials to Corfu. After a week I went to the Greek mainland, well rested and full of energy to explore Greece.
This pages is an introduction into cycling in Greece, what to expect and what to prepare.
Accommodation in the form of hotels and campings is everywhere available except in the more remote areas (like when I cycled from Meteora to Atra, where I had to do some wild camping in the mountains).
If you don't want to stay in hotels and have no tent with you, the cheapest options, typically, are the Youth Hostels.
Food and eating out
Eating out in Greece is not really cheap. Many travelers choose to camp out and cook themselves. However, it's worth to check out the Greek cuisine.
The Greek cuisine typically makes use of olive oil, veggie and herbs, grains, bread, (feta) cheese and yogurt.
Popular dishes include the Greek Salad, Bourou-bourou (soup from Corfu), Gyros (meat roasted) and Moussaka (oven-baked layer dish) which is a must try. The Greeks love their food!
Beer, wine and coffee are also part of the Greek cuisine.
For many travelers, Athens is the prime entry port. Athens has excellent connections to almost everywhere in Europe and many other main cities world wide.
Many islands like Corfu have their own international airports serving to and from prime European cities.
Greece is connected to Italy, Albany, Crete and Turkey. Many islands of Greece like Kos, Lesbos, Rhodes, Santorini and many more Dodecanese Islands are served by ferry from Piraeus, the port of Athens.
Bus and train
Greece has an extensive network, connecting big cities and small towns within Greece as well as other Balkan countries.
There are for example trains from Athens to Thessaloniki and the Turkish border, Nafplion, Tripoli and further into the Peloponnesus. And there are trains to Skopje in Macedonia.
The bus system is extensive. Some of the intercity buses are willing to take your bicycle, but you have to take the wheels out.
Cycling in Greece is popular. Especially in the Peloponnesus. In the northern mountains of Meteora you will find less cycling activities.
All over Greece you can find bicycle shops.
The main cities of Greece all have proper bike shops, so there's no need to bring extensive spare materials. And in case you get in trouble somewhere in the countryside without spares, just hop on the bus to the next major city.
Visas and money
Greece is part of the European Union (EC). The same visa regulations for all EC countries apply for Greece too. Like the rest of the EC countries, currency is the Euro. Coins you have used in other EC countries are valid in Greece too.
Business hours from Monday to Thursday 08.00-14.00 hrs and Fridays 08.00 to 13.30 hrs (closed on Public Holidays). In tourist areas shops will be open in the afternoon too until 21.00 hrs. Outside the tourist areas, expect most shops being closed.
When I was cycling in Greece I found little problems with any dressing code despite the more conservative dressing code for especially the older Greek generation.
They do not seem to like people without wearing shirts on the city streets or in restaurants. I was usually wearing cycling shorts and t-shirt which was fine.
Greece is an easy country to travel/cycle on your own. That said, it might be worth to take day tours to explore certain attractions to get the fullest out of it.
Good examples are the ancient ruin sites of the Acropolis, Olympia, Epidaurus, Delphi and Mycenae. It's worth to check these one or two days tours out if you don't want to explore it all by yourself.
Typically tours can be arranged from Athens but it's also possible to join tours in other cities and islands.
What to bring?
Depending on the time of the year you have to bring either very little or warm clothes. Summers are in general warm to very hot with temperatures over 30C. In the winter temperature can drop to around 10C. In tourist areas and larger cities you will be to find anything you probably need.
If you come with tent, you can do your cooking on camping gaz which is widely available. However, if you are on your way east, you want to bring a fuel stove which uses petroleum or petrol as in Turkey and further east, camping gaz is no longer available.
My own bike ride in Greece
I found cycling in Greece extremely rewarding. There is much to see, Greece, like Italy is at many places a kind of open air museum. It's never boring, the roads are in general in excellent condition and the people are friendly.
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The road to Olympia
North Peloponnesus is worth exploring. Of course Olympia, where the original Olympic Games were held is an obvious must visit sight but on the whole, I found Peloponnesus a very pleasant experience.
Open Air Museum Italy
There is no country like Italy. The country is so full of history, it's sometimes hard to imagine people live in the 21st century! Rome, Florence, Naples, Geneva, Pisa and ... and ... and...
The great lost city of Mycenae is worth the effort to go deep into the Peloponnesus.
One of the spectacular sights of Northern Greece is Meteora, a series of cliffs on which monasteries are build. This is a wonderful place to visit.