Buses, Santorini Island
Public transportation is Santorini is good, efficient and affordable. KTEL Buses run to/from Thira to several popular tourist destinations, including Perissa (aka Black Beach), Kamari Beach, Akrotiri (Red Beach), Oia, as well as the Athenios Port and the Airport. the ticket price depends on the destination, ranging from 1.20 to 2 euros.
the only down side of the bus system is that there are no direct busses from any of the mentioned above destinations to each other. so you either have to go to Thira, or to get out a half way (Perissa-Akrotiri) to catch a bus from Thira.
Santorini has a well-organised bus system which connects the main towns and villages to Fira. However, the organisation can be difficult to understand ! Timetables change with the seasons, and the best place to look for them is, of course, at the bus station in Fira, which is the terminus for all routes. The main routes to Oia, Perissa and Kamari operate at least once an hour, more frequently on high season.
Fares are pretty cheap too, Fira to Oia was 1.20 euros single, and the top fare to anywhere appears to be 1.80 euros (2007). Tickets were sold by a conductor, either outside the bus at Fira, or actually on the bus.
Note that buses to Oia can be pretty crowded, especially around sunset, and it is worth getting to the bus-station early, and working out which (if any) queue is which.
Public Buses (KTEL) are reasonably priced and efficient and the bus station was a short walk from our Hotel. Friday night we wanted to get to Oia, for the VT get-together, so Hans and I, along with Nancy (Cnango) and Jeff, got on the bus to Oia. After we boarded, the conductor came and collected the fare (1.20 Euros) and issued us a ticket. Be sure to keep your ticket until the end of your ride. Along the way the bus driver picked up an inspector who came aboard and checked our tickets - No kidding!!! The route from Fira to Oia took about 30 minutes.
Getting around Santorini isn't really tough.
Public buses are available and the bus terminal in Fira is always packed with tourists on the go.
Check the bus schedules pasted up on the board next to the ticket booth. The folks inside the booth are of no help - they will merely shrug and point you to the board.
Make sure you don't miss your bus. Hunt for your bus by checking out the destination showing up on the electronic signage board at the front of each bus. Before you board the bus or in some cases, after you had boarded the bus, conductor(s) will come and collect money from you and issue you with a ticket. Keep the ticket till the end of your journey.
(NOTE: Different Greek isles practice different style of ticketing)
The buses are mercifully air-conditioned and most of them have luggage compartments.
Circa Sep 2006,
Fare 1 way to Akrotiri & The Red Beach from Fira: 1.10 Euros
Fare 1 way to Oia from Fira: 1.50 Euros
The buses on Santorini are cheap, and the best way to get around the Island.
All buses go to, and from Fira, the price to anywhere and everywhere is about €1:10 or €1:70 on the express bus. They do get busy and often there is standing room only.
It's the first time I have ever been on a bus that has called into a filling station to fill up with petrol !
Fira is perhaps the prettiest place on Santorini Island and should not be missed. The most interesting beach is Red Beach located on the other side of the island. Practically all the cities and towns on Santorini offer bus service to Fira and Fira offers service to Perissa Beach. Unfortunately there is no direct bus from Perissa Beach to Red Beach. I started in Perissa Beach. After walking a few hours south along the beach I arrived at Akrotiri and Red Beach. After laying out and swimming at this famous beach with red sand, I caught a bus from Red Beach to Fira where I saw the most beautiful sunset in the world. Later that night, I caught a bus from Fira to Perissa Beach and got off at a stop on Perissa Beach near Youth Hostel Anna where I was staying. The bus was crowded but it was fun and a lot cheaper then a ride by a taxi. I would reccomend bus travel for those who wish to travel at the cost of a few Euro.
The bus system for travelling around the island seems remarkably good with most of the services radiating from the main bus station in Fira . The timetables are posted beside the information booth and the buses run pretty much on time. So far so good. But this of course is Greece and so it ain't gonna be that simple!
Having worked out the bus you want to catch and the time it is due to leave you arrive at the bus station to find 2 or 3 driverless buses sitting in the bay with no signs as to their respective destinations. Your fellow passengers will be milling around asking each other if they know which bus is which, and as to the guy in the so-called "information booth", forget it unless you are fluent in Greek, as every enquiry seems to be met with the reply, "Yes, Bus Here!" with varying degrees of vehemence depending on how many people are asking the same question simultaneously.
But the chaos does become order, the buses do run on time and when a driver appears at about the time your bus is due to leave then that is in all probability the bus you need, though check with the driver first! When I was last there it was fairly quiet and the driver had only opened his door and was selling tickets himself but I believe that when it gets busy it becomes a bit of a "free-for-all" and the trick is just to get on the bus at any open door and someone will be around to check or sell tickets during the journey.
Website below has all the necessary info re schedules and contact no's:
Buses around the island are very good value. We styed at a hotel about 2 minutes drive out of the main town, Fira. Whenever we wanted to catch the bus into town, it always arrived on time and the cost (1.10 euros summer 2006) was very reasonable. At popular times - such as just before sunset - the bus becomes very full, so you will probably have to stand up, so either go a little earlier or later if you don't like that idea. In the evening the frequency drops to just 2 an hour so make sure you have a timetable to check at your hotel.
Our rep told us that busses in Greece run to GMT, that's "Greek Maybe Time". In other words they're unreliable. Well, compared to Switzerland maybe, compared to here in the UK they positively run like clockwork. In fact no, they do run like clockwork, no comparisons needed.
And they run a proper service too, for the convenience of people and not themselves. Most destinations in Santorini that you, as a tourist, would care to visit are covered by a bus service that runs very regularly throughout the day. This includes Oia (every 30 minutes), Kamari (every 30 minutes), Perissa (every hour give or take), Akrotiri (roughly every hour) and a variety of places that are on those routes (Megalahori, Emborio, Pyrgos, Imerovigli and so on). Fares are cheap being 1.1 Euro for near destinations (Oia) rising to 1.7 for destinations further afield (Perissa). The busses always left on time, and at busy periods (especially Oia sunsets and last busses back to Kamari/Perissa) they doubled up to cope with demand.
Arriva/Stagecoach should take note.
Fira - Oia, every 1/2 hour, takes 30 minutes and costs E1.10. Passes Imerovigli.
Fira - Kamari, every 1/2 hour, takes 15 minutes and costs E1.10. Passes through Messaria.
Fira - Perissa, every 1 to 1 1/14 hours, takes 35 minutes and costs E1.70. Passes through Messaria, Vothonas, Pyrgos, Megalahori and Emborio. A very useful bus route.
Fira - Akrotiri, every 1 1/2 hours or so.
There are also routes to other destinations, such as the airport and ferry port (Athenios). The buses to the port are not on a regular schedule, but rather are timed to coincide with ferry arrivals. A (handwritten) timetable is posted daily.
Buses (operated by KTEL Santorini) connect all the major settlements on Santorini.
The island is not particularly large, so no journey will take very long. The most popular route (and the only route that I undertook) is between the capital, Fira, and Oia in the north of the island.
The journey between Fira and Oia takes about 15 minutes and (at September 2005) costs 1 Euro each way. Buses generally run every 30 minutes or so and tickets are purchased from the driver.
The buses can become full, particularly on this route, and the driver will have no qualms about cramming as many people in as possible (even though this means dozens of people standing in the aisle).
it is very easy to travel around santorini on the bus as all buses head for fira were you can catch the bus you need they all line up at the bus station with the village name on the front .
at night if heading back they can get crowded
The buses circulate mostly every hour and are very comfortable. The tickets cost from 1 to 1.50 Euro and can be purchased from the ticket collector. If you go from the south to the north or in opposite direction you have to change in Fira
Most, if not all, bus connection are made from Fira. Be aware that there is no enclosed waiting area, and the fellow who sits in the booth has no social skills what so ever, in fact may not even be an employee. Who knows?? We did find out that he does not sell tickets for the bus though. A wave of his arm indicated where the tickets were to be purchased, but he waved in Greek, so we couldn't understand.
There are usually two or three buses parked on this tiny lot, but no drivers that we could see. When a bus does pull in, there is a mad dash by all tourists to find a seat, and the bus does a little back and forth motion, kind of like settling in your easy chair, and people moved with it. Consequently, just when you think you are first in line, the bus moves five feet forward. Now you are last. All three doors open, so people scramble madly for seats from three points. Don't be shy...push, and claim your rightful seat. I'm convinced that the drivers use this shuttle movement to amuse themselves, because it happened every time.
The people keep coming, the crowd gets thicker, jam packed, then an employee gets on...a pusher, who literally pushes people together. More tourists enter. Stand your ground...be tough, don't give way.
The bus takes off, and you are now worried, thinking you have no ticket, but feeling a bit glib, because you haven't paid. Fear not, because a skinny little pasty faced kid materializes, and demands payment from 'everybody' on board. Employee...? Lets hope so. Somehow this kid reaches everybody, and collects the fares. He even gives change, kind of. Be wary of this guy.
The ride proves to be uncomfortable, hot, and a tad smelly. This seems to be every bus ride we took on Santorini BTW.
Watch your belongings, keep your hand on your wallet. Even with the cattle car as full as it is, the travellers never seem to lose their cool. Everyone continues to be upbeat, even when trod upon, poked and prodded. Just go with the flow. Enjoy the experience...
The buses are so much nicer then I thought. I was expecting some dingy, rattly-old, schoolbus-type. But I was pleasantly surprised with the airconditioned, comfortable touring bus. The seats are comfy, the windows are huge. It is so worth taking the bus around the island. Although it can be tricky getting off at a stop outside of the main ones.
It is a unique experince to ride in one of these coaches, especially in the spiral roads that lead to port. Drivers manage to siftly turn in every steep corner while you fell you are about to fly out the window. Buses are very comfortable and have A/C.
Every little town in the island is served by a bus route from the main town of Thira. Go to the main bus station (located at the entrance of the town) and you will find schedules print in a black board.
You are most likely to always find a coach that leaves to the port when you are going to catch a ferrry as they need to pick up passengers that arrive. Still, allow plenty time as sometimes it can get crowded.
Fare is between 1 and 2 euros depending on where you are going. You can only pay at the bus. So don't buy any "advance" ticket at any agency as this will not be valid.