Inexpensive & plenty of companies to choose between in Pythagorion & other resorts.
The cost did vary quite a bit & some had good deals if you booked for more than about 4 days, so a few minutes spent shopping around will prove worthwhile.
We had our little car for 3 days & this was adequate to cover most of the island comfortably. You don't need anything with a big engine as the mountainous roads are really not too steep & are quite passable - but a 4x4 would be useful if you want to venture 'off the beaten path'! We paid about 90 Euros which included full insurance & unlimited mileage; the petrol was just a few Euros more - of course it seemed so much cheaper than filling up in the UK!!
We intended to get a good map but quite honestly, the freebie one we were given by our rep was good enough so we didn't bother. All major resorts & villages are signposted - you'd find it difficult to get lost on such a small island!! There really are some beautiful views all around Samos so don't forget to pull over & take some pics (for VT!)
A necesseity if you are staying on the outskirts of Pythagorio as we were as not once in 2 weeks did we see a local bus go by!
Inexpensive at 3 Euro for a 6 or 7 minute journey, (but what would take over half an hour to walk!) They do use the meters but unless you actually ask 'how much?' they just wait for you to hand over the expected fare - you get used to this after a few journeys!
The cars are all very clean & it's a frequent service (we never waited more than a minute). 'Some' of the drivers were even friendly! The taxi rank is conveniently situated right near the T junction as the main road meets the harbour. A mini supermarket is next to it too, so stock up on water, provisions etc. & carry home easily!
Finally, don't be surprised to find someone hop in as you are about to depart, or even already in your taxi. It's an accepted local custom!
Most of us (tourists) will arrive and leave by plane to/from Samos. The island has an international airport called: Airport "Aristarchos of Samos". It was named after the Greek astronomer Aristarchos. The airport code for Samos is SMI.
The airport of Samos was opened in 1963 and after the runway extension it is classified as International cat. B. There are daily flights (Olympic Airways and Aegean Airlines) to/from Athens and weekly flights to Thessaloniki and some other Greek islands. During the summer season charter flights from a lot of countries are available. Beside an increasing number of budget airlines do have Samos as a destination (see for instance: www.flylc.com or www.whichbudget.com).
The airport, built on one of the few plains of the island, is located 4 km’s west of the town of Pythagorio and accessible by taxi’s and rental cars (there is no public bus transportation). The departure hall of the airport is rather small and you should be aware of ‘some’ queuing at the check in desk, especially when more planes are leaving more or less on the same time.
Samos is accessible by many ferries from a lot of Greek islands and the mainland (Piraeus/Athens) and also can be part of the famous ‘island hopping’ in the Aegean Sea. Most of these ferries will arrive in Karlovasi or Vathi (Samos City). For more info and schedules take a look at: www.openseas.gr / www.gtp.gr or www.greekferries.gr
There is also a smaller ferry, operating between some Dodecanese islands (Kalymnos, Leros, Lipsi, Patmos, Arki, Agathonissi) and the harbour of Pythagorio. We travelled from Patmos to Samos and used this ‘old’ ferry boat ‘Nisos Kalymnos’. This ferry is more reliable than the flying dolphins, because it is sailing the whole year and does have just a few cancellations, due to weather conditions.
Our crossing was very pleasant, having nice sunny and warm weather. We could sit on deck and enjoy the boat ride with two stops at the small islands of Arki and Agathonisi. These are both almost inhabited and bare rocks, surrounded by turquoise sea and beautiful bays. The crossing takes about 3 hours. A one way ticket from Patmos to Samos was € 7.- (May 2007).
Some tips for your ferry crossing:
- ‘Nisos Kalymnos’ is only sailing on Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
- Leaving from Patmos 11.00 am (Sunday 11.50 am)
- You have to buy your ticket at their agency in Skala (Patmos)
- Schedules about this ferry: www.openseas.gr
- always check the schedules with your host/accommodation. Or ask one of the travel agencies on Patmos, for instance Astoria Travel (email@example.com)
After arriving by plane on the airport of Samos we had to go to the harbour to catch the ferry to Patmos. Because there is no public bus transportation to/from the airport and the village of Pythagorio we had to use a taxi.
Just outside the arrival hall is a taxi stand and after waiting a couple of minutes some taxis were arriving.
The harbour of Pythagorio is just 5 km’s away and we had to pay € 8,- for this ride.
The other time we used a taxi was to go back to our hotel Villa Kambos after having diner in Agios Konstantinos, a small village with some local taverns. We paid just a couple of euros for just a couple of kilometres.
We intended to discover as much as possible during our (too) short stay on Patmos. If you also want to see more ‘than just a beach’ and want to explore the far corners of the island, a rental car is a must and a very convenient way of travelling. Traffic on the roads is very limited, roads are well maintained, all villages and sights are signposted (in English !!).
We rented the car through our hotel (Villa Kambos) from Memory rentals in Kokkari. But you will find a rental car office almost on every corner of the main tourist resorts of Samos.
We had a small Chevrolet Matiz, but there is no need for a bigger car. Distances and hills are limited and on some narrow roads I was quite happy with my small car.
We paid € 120,- for a four days rental period with unlimited kilometres, full insurance and taxes. They delivered the car at our hotel, about 10 km's from their office.
The funniest thing of our rental was the (free) drop off of the car at the airport. The company didn’t have an office and we could leave our Matiz on one of the car parks with the key somewhere on an agreed place in the car. We left without any check !!
The most comfortable way to get to Samos is coming from Kusadasi in Turkey. (Getting to Kusadasi itself may be a bit of a fuss, as it is almost an hour's drive from the nearest airport, Izmir.) The boat trip lasts 90 minutes and is usually pleasant. A bit difficult to find boats that can also accommodate your car. Also, no regular schedules in wintertime. Summertime departures from Kusadasi are at 8:30 and 17:00 (same times also in the reverse direction).
Coming from Western Europe, you should search for a charter flight directly to Samos (there are several).
Coming from Athens, there are some tiny planes of Olympic Airlines (and since 2006 also Aegean Airlines - try it!) providing regular services throughout the year. Flight time about 1 hour.
If you have a lot of patience, you can also try the boat from Piraeus (daily service) or elsewhere in Greece (varies). At best it is a 10-12 hour trip.
I highly recommend renting a convertible or open-top 4x4 to cruise around the island and still enjoy the sunshine. Some of the towns on Samos are more than an hour apart. The drives along the coast are always scenic. Mopeds can be dangerous due to the narrow and very twisty roads. I also recommend getting the map of Samos produced by the Army as it is by far the most accurate and up-to-date!
It´s not expensive to rent a car or moped on Samos so please take the time and get away from the beach. It´s a really beautiful place and easy to get around.
Since we stayed in Pithagorio during our stay, it was very convenient to get to and from Samos airport. It was only a 3 km drive from the airport to our hotel.