There are two places to leave for Mt. Athos:
- from Ouranopolis (common starting point)
- from Ierisos
If you want to start from Ierisos you have to make sure the office in Thessaloniki knows this! Leaving from Ierisos the boat goes around the north of the finger (all the way down to Megistis Lavra, I think), permitting to start at different monastaries than usual. In bad (stormy) weather the Ierisos boat might not go while the boat from Ouranopolis might still go. If you go from Thessaloniki you will get to know on the bus to Ierissos if the boat doesn't leave from there because of bad weather. Then you have to stay on the bus and leave from Ouranopolis.
Once arrived on Athos, there are several ways to get from one place to another:
- walk (Athos is small. By solely walking from one to the next monastary you can easily visit up to 8 monastaries in the 4 days if you are willing to take some half day hikes).
- take a boat from one monastery to the next. You can ask the monks what time boats are going. Sometimes there are additional private taxi boats that might take you and travellers might know more (especially Greeks) than monks about this sometimes.
- call a taxi car run by a monk (possible from some monastaries).
- take early in the morning the bus provided from many monastaries to the captial, Karyes.
If you don't have a reservation in a monastary and they don't want to let you stay, mention it if you have walked a long distance or for many hours, this might change their mind, as many travellers are lazy and always take the boats.
You can enered Athos only by ferry-boat from Greek village Ouranopolis. But, for visiting Athos or any monastery, YOU NEED separate visa even if you travel from EU or USA or any other country and you don't need visa for Greece.
You can get visa in The Ministry of Northern Greece (Ministry for Macedonia & Thrace), Directorate of Civil Affairs, Diktiriou Square, Thessaloniki. Mrs Pleso is in Room 222; phone +30.(0)31.257.030, Fax +30.(0)31.268 .488 and it coast about 10 Euros
contact Hilandar's office in Thessaloniki, 1, Komovunion Street (close to "Placas Hipodromiu"), phone: +30.(0)31.228.160
directly Monastery Hilandar, 630 86 Karyes, Mount Athos - Greece, phone: +30.(0)377.23.797.
There is Greek policeman on the ferry who is checking your visa and everything you want to bring on Athos.
Ferry-boat starts from Ouranopolis at 9.45 (local time) but it's better to be there before. Ferry-boat will take you to Hilandar's "port" Ivanjica. The Monastery is 20 km far from Ivanjica and you have to contact father Vasilije before and he will send a mini bus to pick you up.
There is only one (legal) way of reaching the monasteries and it is by ferry from Ouranopolis. It stops at different piers which dot the sides of the peninsula. From the debarcation point your feet become the only transport. Prepare some water for the longer treks. At least this was the case for Zograf monastery.
Daily ferry routes to Mount Athos:
1. Departing from Ouranoupolis at 08:45, 09:45 and 10:40.
Arrival time at Dafni 09:25, 11:45 and 11:30.
2. Departing from Dafni at 09:35, 12:00 and 12:10.
Arrival time at Ouranoupolis at 10:15, 12:50 and 14:10.
To both directions the ferry calls at Monastey of Zografou, Monastery of Konstamonitou,
Monastery of Dochiariou, Monastery of Xenofontos and the Russian Orthodox Monastery
of St. Panteleimon
More information: Ouranoupolis Port Authority tel. (+30) 2377071248
Dafni Port Authority tel. (+30) 2377023300
Seat Reservation: tel. (+30) 2377021041, fax (+30) 2377071016
3. Departing daily from Ierissos at 08:35
Arrival time at Monastery of Megisti Lavra: 10:30
Departing daily from Monastery of Megisti Lavra at 10:40
Arrival time at Ierissos: 13:00
To both directions the ferry calls at Monastery of Hiliandariou, Monastery of Esfigmenou,
Monastery of Vatopediou, Monastery of Pantokratoros, Monastery of Stavronikita,
Monastery of Iviron, Monastery of Filotheou, Monastery of Karakalou and Monastery of
Ierissos Port Authority tel. (+30) 2377022576