Did you know there’s Greek ferry pass worth considering if you’re planning on visiting two or more islands this summer? Great news for island-hoppers.
For 2019 the price of the Greek Island Ferry Pass (available through Interrail/Eurail) is under €100.
That means you can visit 4 Greek islands (and return to Athens) for just €90. Bargain!
Or is it?
Let’s have a closer look and figure out whether this ferry pass is worthwhile for you or not.
HOW MUCH DOES THE FERRY PASS COST?
The 5-trip domestic pass costs:
- Eurail (for non-EU citizens) – $107
- Interrail (for EU citizens) – €90
WHAT IS THE GREEK FERRY PASS?
If you’re thinking ‘huh, I haven’t heard of this pass before‘, that’s because it has only existed since 2016 and you’re unlikely to have come across it unless planning a pan-Europe rail trip.
That’s because the Attica Group Ferry Pass is also known as the Eurail or Interrail Greek Island Hopping pass. It’s all the same thing.
Before 2016, you technically could buy a Greece section for your Interrail/Eurail pass but it only included trains – which is not worth it in Greece (there are only a handful of lines and you’re unlikely to use them as a tourist).
But you don’t need to be travelling around Europe by rail to use this pass. In fact, you don’t need to go anywhere near a train.
WHO IS THE ATTICA GROUP?
This pass is offered by the Attica Group, a collection of several of the biggest Greek ferry companies.
- DOMESTIC – Blue Star or Hellenic Seaways ferries
- INTERNATIONAL – Superfast or ANEK Lines for ferries between Greece and Italy (see more on this below)
But is it worth it?
What does it cover?
Who does it work best for?
Or are you still better off paying for single tickets as you go?
WHAT DOES THE FERRY PASS COVER?
What does your €90 get you?
In a nutshell:
- 5 ferry trips within 1 month
- any ferry with Blue Star or Hellenic Seaways
- standard deck class tickets
- domestic Greek ferries only (there is a separate pass option if you’ll be using Greece-Italy ferries)
- foot passengers only – no vehicles
- discounts for those under 28, kids under 11 and the over 60s
WHAT DOES THE PASS NOT COVER?
- non-Attica Group ferries
- ferry routes in the Ionian islands
- transfers of any kind
Upgrades are available but these only refer to the type of ticket on the ferry, not to the type of ferry. For example, you can upgrade from a deck ticket to an airline-style seat or to a cabin on long overnight ferries.
HOWEVER for these long journeys, it can often be cheaper to fly than to upgrade to a cabin. I’ve found flights to popular airports likes Rhodes, Santorini and Heraklion for as little as 15 euros, which is less than the cabin upgrade will cost you. So I recommend checking Skyscanner for cheap flights first.
For more information on ferry types and the best way to get between islands, check out my comprehensive Guide to Greek Island Hopping
WHICH ISLANDS ARE INCLUDED?
The complete list of islands that you can visit using the pass is:
- AEGEAN ISLANDS – Chios, Mytilene, Psara, Inousses, Limnos, Agios Efstratios, Ikaria, Fourni, Samos
- CRETE – Heraklion, Chania
- CYCLADES – Paros, Naxos, Santorini, Anafi, Syros, Tinos, Mykonos, Iraklia, Schinoussa, Koufonissi, Donoussa, Amorgos, Ios, Kythnos, Andros, Sikinos, Folegandros, Kimolos, Milos, Serifos, Kea
- DODECANESE – Rhodes, Kos, Patmos, Keros, Tilos, Nisyros, Symi, Kastellorizo, Lipsi, Astypalea, Kalymnos, Karpathos
- SARONIC ISLANDS – Porto Heli, Aegina, Poros, Hydra, Hermioni, Spetses, Agistri
- SPORADES – Skopelos, Skiathos, Alonissos
This is most of the main ferry routes in the Aegean. The pass doesn’t cover any routes in the Ionian islands (Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, Lefkada, Paxos, Antipaxos).
Apart from that, the only destinations not covered are generally the tiny ones where you’ll need to take smaller local ferries instead. The ticket prices for these routes tend to be pretty cheap though.
Bear in mind that not all of the above routes are daily sailings. Frequencies vary by route and season.
PRICE COMPARISON WITH SINGLE TICKETS
Let’s look at some itineraries for comparison, comparing with point-to-point single tickets.*
I use the Ferries in Greece website for checking schedules as it has by far the easiest interface to use. Ticket prices are regulated by the government.
Piraeus – Mykonos – Santorini – Piraeus
- Piraeus – Mykonos €38
- Mykonos – Syros €12
- Syros – Santorini €31
- Santorini – Piraeus €41.50
- Total – €122.50
- Savings – €32.50
Piraeus – Kos – Rhodes – Patmos – Piraeus
- Piraeus – Rhodes €65.50
- Rhodes – €Kos 19
- Kos – Patmos €15.50
- Patmos – Pireaus €41.50
- Total = €141.50
- Saving = €51.50
*based on early 2019 prices and schedules and are for illustrative purposes only
THE BIG PROBLEM WITH THE FERRY PASS
Whilst the pass covers nearly all the islands you might want to visit, it doesn’t necessarily cover all the connections between them.
Particularly high-speed or hydrofoil connections.
So if you have a set itinerary in mind you will need to check to see if Blue Star or Hellenic Seaways can fulfil that itinerary.
For example, there is no direct connection between Santorini and Mykonos through the Attica Group. These are the two most popular islands in Greece. The only way to do this with the Pass is to go via another island (such as Syros).
There is also no Attica Group connection between Crete and Santorini.
You will find more frequent sailings if you don’t limit yourself to the companies in the group.
WHAT IF I WANT TO VISIT MORE THAN 5 ISLANDS?
Your pass entitles you to a 30% discount on extra journeys with the Attica Group within the month.
DOES THE PASS GUARANTEE ME A SEAT?
No. You must still make a reservation. This is free and you can do it by email or phone as well as at the port.
If you’re travelling in high summer (late July/August), over Greek public holidays (see this link), on really popular routes, or if you have a really inflexible schedule, then you may wish to reserve your tickets in advance. Otherwise, it’s not really necessary and you can do it at the port.
If you’re coming into Greece via ferry from Italy then check out the International version of the ticket.
With this pass you get:
- 2 trips to/from Italy on the Superfast Ferries or ANEK Lines
- 6 domestic ferry trips with Attica Group ferries
- transfer between Patras and Piraeus included
The international pass is priced at €176 (or $187).
High season prices for a one-way journey with Superfast in 2019 are looking something like this:
- Bari €81
- Ancona €85
- Venice €85
Are you likely to go to Italy and back? If you are then I definitely recommend getting the pass.
If not then I recommend doing the math on the individual ticket savings. Obviously it gives you an extra trip within Greece too. You can cover some big distances with this version of the pass!
IS IT WORTH IT?
To sum up – you should definitely consider getting the pass if you’re thinking of taking:
- 3 or more medium-length (4-8) hour ferry journeys
- 2 or more long/overnight (9+) ferry journeys
- 1 long plus two medium ferry journeys
Basically the longer the distances the bigger the savings for you.
THE FERRY PASS IS PERFECT FOR YOU IF:
- you’re on a budget
- you have a flexible schedule and itinerary
- you want to visit many islands in the Aegean
- you have your eye on some islands that involve long ferry journeys
THE FERRY PASS IS NOT FOR YOU IF:
- you want to travel on the fastest ferries
- you have a strict itinerary in mind
- you want to visit the Ionian islands
- you want to visit Santorini and Mykonos only
Oh, and passes MUST be validated by an Attica Group official before you set sail and you must write the date for each crossing in your pass. Don’t forget that bit – otherwise, you’re liable to pay full fare.
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