All your bags are packed, you’re ready to go, but what about your phone? Sure, an analog vacation is one way to recharge, but another way is to ensure everything runs smoothly by customizing your app library for your destination. While Greece isn’t the most technologically advanced country, plenty of services are available through apps, making things like getting around, paying for things, and finding relevant information easier than ever.
Getting where you need to go
Perhaps the most useful apps throughout your vacation will be the ones that help you get around. As soon as that seatbelt sign and flight mode are turned off in Athens, you can use Athens airport’s own app, “ATH Airport,” to check the status of your connecting flights. It also includes the handy option to track your flight, and receive push notifications about any delays or other changes to the itinerary, gate information, and more – a possible lifesaver if you’ve purchased your flight tickets from different airlines independently.
If you’re heading to the islands, the “Ferryhopper” app offers the simplest search feature and booking page we’ve found for purchasing boat tickets. If you prefer to buy your tickets at the port, “OpenSeas” is another popular app used to check timetables.
If you plan on getting around using taxis, know that drivers on the islands and other smaller destinations still mostly rely on phone/radio taxi systems. However, an app is a useful tool if you’re planning to take cabs in the city. “Free Now,” which recently integrated Greek company Beat, is the most popular app used to hail a taxi in Athens and Thessaloniki. Using it gives you several advantages compared to grabbing one on the street; it immediately gives you a price estimate for your ride, and a choice of car category: taxi, “comfort taxi” (a car no older than 5 years old with a credit card reader) or “eco taxi” (an electric or hybrid car). You can also pay for your ride through PayPal. In the Athens area, you can also use “Uber,” which also ensures you can pay with a credit card as well as PayPal (although since ridesharing is not allowed in the country, you’ll only find the “Uber TAXI” service, i.e. regular taxis), and the Greek app “Taxiplon.”
There are also useful apps for getting around with public transport. To use buses in Athens, download “OASA Telematics,” which will show you lists of all bus lines, the stations near you, and how far away your bus is in real-time. In Thessaloniki, “OASTH Bus” features the same functions, as well as an audio announcement option.
The international “Citymapper,” which relies on information from Google maps, functions well for figuring out routes using various means of public transport in Athens, but lacks real-time updates.
The “Athens Metro” app features an adjustable map of the metro lines (type in your departure station and your destination and it shows you your route), while the more comprehensive “Athens Metro Guide and Planner” boasts maps for both metro and tram lines, and a clever augmented reality function which uses your phone’s camera to show you which direction to head in, and the exact distance to each station. As a bonus, it also includes flight information for the Athens International Airport.
You can also pay for public transport in Athens via an app, if you’ve purchased a rechargeable Ath.ena card, by downloading the “Ath.ena card” app. Similarly, you can pay for parking in Athens using “myAthensPass,” which also helps you find your car.
On a boating vacation, the “keeano” coastline guide application is an excellent companion, providing not only a great interactive map of anchorages, ports, restaurants, and beaches, but also the live and specific weather information you need, and an impressive amount of actual images of the Greek coast, so you can see exactly what you’re heading toward.
Paying for stuff
While in Greece cash is – if not king, certainly still royal – bank cards and cash apps have also become a standard way of paying for almost anything. You may want to carry some cash for things like kiosk purchases and taxis, but if you normally make payments via your phone or smartwatch, most places today also have contactless payment readers. Besides local apps, popular international options that will also work in Greece are “Google Wallet,” “Samsung Wallet,” and “Apple Wallet.”
Taking you by the hand…
Exploring Greece on your own has never been so easy, as there are literally hundreds of digital guides available for the country’s most popular destinations. Some come in app form, and some are more developed than others. They are too many to list here, but those visiting the capital should check out the Athens section from “Urbs: Smart City Guides” which boasts an extensive library of information, all of which you’ll find on an easily navigable map by clicking on “explore.” You can choose a category to see only what you’re interested in, such as ancient sites, galleries, restaurants, or good spots for city views, and create your own route with the stops you want to make during the day. The cultural site information comes with an audio option that runs at different speeds.
Greek audio and virtual tour company “Clio Muse,” meanwhile, offers a multitude of tours all over Greece, from Vergina and Epirus to the Cyclades, created by various certified guides and local experts. While you need to pay for most of them, they also offer a few tours (such as their virtual tour of the Acropolis) for free which you can try out online before purchasing (and downloading into the app) the ones you find most interesting.
Mask or no mask?
While most Covid-19 restrictions have been abolished, you may still need to get updated information. The app from Greek National Tourism Organisation, “Visit Greece,” is a good place for this. For example, if you are wondering whether or not you need to wear a face mask on public transport, click on the little heart, and you’ll find the answer here (at the time of writing: “It is mandatory to wear a double face mask [a cloth mask and a surgical mask] or a high filtration mask when using public city transport means, and onboard taxis. Boat passengers are required to wear a face mask in enclosed areas.”)
As everywhere in the world, the coronavirus pandemic inspired an explosion in the food delivery market which, in truth, was already pretty well-developed in Greek cities. The main difference today is the wide variety of food on offer, most of which can be ordered through “efood” or “Wolt.”
Another factor that lingers following the pandemic restrictions is the greater need to reserve a table where you wish to eat. Besides calling the establishment, you can also do so at any time of the day and night via a few apps, the most popular of which is “e-table,” which cooperates with restaurants all over the country, including 827 restaurants in Athens and 127 in Thessaloniki.
What are your favorite apps to use in Greece? Let us know on Instagram at @greece_is.