Many cyclists who are interested in bicycling Greece have heard of EuroVelo 8. Europe plays host to a sprawling network of bicycle trails. There are 14 long distance trails currently recognized. They are called EuroVelo Routes.
EuroVelo 8 (The Mediterranean Route) goes from Cadiz Spain to Athens, Greece. It follows the western coastline of Greece into Athens, but the route is still mostly on paper.
We had five months to cycle Europe; Greece was our starting point as the climate in May would be delightful. We didn’t want to cycle in mainland Europe too early in the season.
We had absolutely no interest in bicycling our way out of Athens; nor were we really interested in mainland Greece. Since the EuroVelo 8 route through Greece was still in the development stages, we decided to create our own route.
We were drawn to the Greek Islands; the Ionian Islands offered a marvelous opportunity to cycle northwards in combination with ferry rides. Beautiful beaches, turquoise seas, charming villages, delicious Greek food, friendly folk, and minimal vehicle traffic on paved roads all added up to an unbeatable bicycle adventure in the making.
The Ionian Islands hug the western shore off mainland Greece and are connected by ferries. Their geographical positioning blesses them with more abundant rainfall; the steep hilly landscape is smothered in cypress and fir trees. Villages influenced by Italian architecture dot the beaches and hillsides.
Planning Ideas for bicycling Greece
Average daily expenses came to $80 US per day.
Accommodation: We stayed in Pensions and private rooms (Sobes) throughout Greece; we did not camp.
Food: We ate our meals in restaurants the entire trip. We did no cooking of our own.
All our daily costs, including extras like ferry rides are included in this average daily expense.
Ferry schedules have been changing constantly over the past few years because of the economic crisis. What you read in our blog may well have changed by the time you get there. Even the tour companies in the travel agencies do not know the ferry schedule in advance. It is best to check just a couple days before you plan to go. In May, the schedule is particularly frustrating. They do not run as many ferries as in July and August. Some ferries have been discontinued for an indefinite period of time.
We recommend carrying two different credit cards even if they come from the same bank at home. We, and other travelers as well, had our credit card eaten by the ATM machine at a well established bank ATM. The bank would not return the card. It was policy.
Electrical outlets use 220 V. If you come from America, you will need a plug that is special for European electricity. For some items, you may need a small converter to convert from 220 to 110. Computers have a converter already built-in so that is not a problem. If you recharge your telephone and your Kindle and other small items off your computer that will not be a problem either. We have found in Greece there are only a few plugs in the rooms. Many of them are not particularly convenient for plugging in a computer. One needs to be inventive.
Buy a Sim card for Greece in a larger town. You must show your passport. Once you have a Sim card, you can buy minutes for telephone and/or internet. These cards are usually available at supermarkets, but in small towns, perhaps only one store will carry them.
You can purchase a Sim card for Greece for 5 euros in most larger towns. Look for a telephone or Internet store to buy it. Once the Sim card is inserted into your telephone, you can use it for a month. After you have the Sim card, you buy your minutes. You can buy telephone minutes by themselves, or you can buy Internet minutes, or you can buy a combination of both. There are many prepaid plans for any amount of minutes or data that you wish to buy.
One option is to purchase a little antenna for your computer. That antenna cost €40. It will work only in Greece. So you need to stay long enough to make it worthwhile. After you buy the little antenna and plug it into your computer, you can get Internet anywhere there is a tower. There are three Internet companies in Greece. Be careful which company you go with. One company services the small towns and the islands, another company services mainly Athens and big cities.
Internet in the hotels is very spotty. The buildings are built of concrete, making it very difficult for signals to move through the air to your computer. Most of the time, when we have stayed in accommodation, we have had to move to the lobby to get Internet. On the islands, they have not upgraded their lines so the service is like dial-up. There are few Internet cafés on the islands.
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