Buses, Santorini Island
Be patient first of all.....
Bus timetables and frequencies changed regularly depending on the season.
1. Winter every one hour - maximum every 90 minutes.
2. Mid season buses run every hour to most areas.
3. Summer frequency - every half an hour to most areas.
The main bus station is near the central square of Fira on the lower side road.
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.
During the middle of high season, express buses go to Perissa and Perivolos villages.
On the way to the up side they skip out some of the villages and arrive faster.
There are times however when on the downside the express buses can be cancelled although advertised that they will do the route faster!
Buses to Athinios port are timed to leave Fira from the main station and get the people on time to the ship 1 hour to 90 minutes prior departure.
Routes and pick-up points vary according to the number of buses that are being deployed.
The traditional route is via Farterados, Messaria, Vothonas, and Pyrgos.
During the high season in summer some bus routes operate as late as 3:00 a.m.
There are no buses travelling across the island, going from one side of the island to the other.
Every bus goes to the main bus station at Fira and any changeovers for the next bus destination must be made from the main station only.
Santorini has an efficient mode of public transport.
Have in mind that busses stop running at midnight every night.
They start running again after five in the morning so if you plan to use the buses you should plan accordingly.
Get update information if you are going to be using the local buses.
The main bus station is located in Fira near the main square. It should be noted that there are no busses which run directly from one side of Santorini to the other so visitors who expect to travel to both sides of Santorini will likely become very familiar with the main bus station which is where major bus transfers will occur. There are seven main bus routes used by tourists.
The public transport can drive you to the whole island and is cheap. The buses are not the state of the art, but you dont need it just for a 15 minutes or less trip. Only one observation, last bus departs at 10 pm more o less, and the first starts at 7 am.
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).
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...
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.
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:
I took the bus everywhere on the island, except when I went on my tour and got my superfast moto... Ok, not so fast, barely get up the hills moto. The bus stops at all the major "cities, " you just have to find the bus stop sign. Just ask a local.
The main service from Fira to Ia for the sunsets is available every 30 minutes in the high season and every hour in the low.
Fira to Perissa and all places along the way (Messaria-Pyrgos-Megalohori-Emporio) available every hour.
Fira to Kamari, every 15 minutes in the high season, every 30 in the low.
First things – first. The Bus Station does not look like a Bus Station. It is just a big parking area for the busses in Fira. It is just South of the main Square and on a one-way side street. Schedules are in English and posted to the right-hand side near where the benches are to sit on. Most routes are served every hour or half-hour from 7am to 11pm during the high season. You pay the conductor on board and prices range up to 3 Euros.
• Athinios (ferry pier)
• Ia (or Oia)
• Monolithos (airport)
• Perissa (beach)
• Perivolas (beach)
The buses are modern and air-conditioned.
Please note: Sunset is the busiest time on buses and you will likely have to stand.
Santorini has an extensive bus system used by locals and tourists alike to get around the island. The main bus terminal is in Fira, and although it's a small and congested little terminal, finding the right bus is easy and tickets are pretty cheap. If it's too crowded, you can always take a cab, but of course you'll end up paying quite a bit more.