Biking in and out of Greek cities is a nightmare. On our first visit to Athens we tried to avoid the traffic and put our bikes on a bus a few towns away but the Athens bus station was still in the 'burbs and we rode miles through difficult traffic. If you do arrive at the bus station, take the main streets into the city rather than the back streets. In 2005 we rode the main streets out of town to the station and it went much better. The bus station is moving, so things may improve. Try to make your biking entrance and exits into Greek cities early on Sunday morning for the safest conditions. We took our cues from the motor scooters as to when to launch into traffic, which lanes to be in and how to make difficult turns.
Bikes can travel for free on most, if not, all ferries. Always mention your bike when buying tickets but we were never turned down. You just roll them on with the cars and the crew will usually tie them down for you. It's a wonderful way to move loaded bikes around on public transportation.
All of the hotels in Athens that we suggest below will stash bicycles indoors, as is often the case in Greece.
The Thessaloniki ferry terminal building has free Wifi internet access for laptop owners at one end of the building.
We haven't camped it Greece as we have only been there in winter when it was often cold, windy and occasionally snowed.
Indoor lodging is always a bit frustrating in Greece as it is difficult to find pleasant accommodations in our preferred price range of $40-60 for 2. Lodging from $25 to $60 is often very similar, with a stripped-down, institutional look that often feels like indoor camping. The mattresses are often low quality, the hot water limited to what the winter sun and the other guests allow. The dwellings often are not 'tight,' resulting in us battling to keep mosquitoes, cigarette smoke or cold drafts out of the room. The rooms often have a "this will do for the night" quality instead of fostering relaxation and tempting us to extend our stay. Heat may or may not be available in the winter and if it is available, it may not boost the temperature in the room much past the low 60's. A room with a kitchenette or a refrigerator is often available, especially outside the cities.
Hotels (the following prices were for double rooms in low season, November
2005, and in Euros, with 1 E = $1.20)
We've always felt held-hostage by the lodging in Athens as it is on the expensive side and not a good value. In prior years we took Lonely Planet's recommendations and stayed at the well situated Plaka district at:
Hotel Adonis, 3 Kodrou Str. & Voulis, Tel: 2103249737, 52 Euro and
Acropolis House, 6-8 Kodrou & Voulis Str 0030.210.32.22.344, 57 Euro (perhaps more for private bathroom)
Both these hotels have quite basic rooms with a good location but they didn't make us want to come back. A shower at the Adonis means soaking down the entire bathroom and heat and hot water weren't free flowing. When we were at the Acropolis House in 2002, the bathrooms were shared but in 2005 we were told they were private. At both places we felt like we were paying enough money that we should have been getting more than was delivered. So, in November of 2005 we including serious hotel shopping in our sightseeing one day and found a number of better value hotels. Fortunately, almost all of the hotels in Athens renovated to some extent in 2003 or 2004 for the 2004 Olympics.
Hotel Economy was our top pick and where we'll stay the next time we are in Athens. The clean, smallish double room was 60E and had CNN on the TV, a small frig, firm mattresses (without the grid-pattern surface that drives me nuts), ample closet space, AC and heat, a fresh bathroom, and a small balcony. Our bikes would be stored in the basement. It has a very central location in the Omonia area but is a block away from the noisy main street behind the City Hall. Former guests submitting reviews to TripAdvisor.com were happy with their experience and will all stay there again. 5 Klisthenous Str, http://athens.hotel-economy.tobook.com, tel: 0030.210.52.20.520.
Hotel Parnon also at 60E looks like another good choice in the central Onomia Square district at #20 3rd Septemvriou. The small room had a freshly redone bathroom with an enclosed shower, good beds, a tiny balcony, and CNN on the TV. The room we saw was well soundproofed against the noisy street though would get noise from the tiled floor in the hall. There was no frig. We got a "Yes" on the bikes but didn't press to know where they would be stashed. www.parnon-hotel.gr, tel 0030.210.52.30.013.
Aristoteles Hotel at 40E is an excellent value: it would have you
spending a lot less and only giving up a little. The standard smallish room had
a balcony, good beds, and a dated but clean bathroom with a tiny tub. There was
no frig and only local stations on the TV. The carpeting in the hallway would
keep the interior noise down and the hotel is situated on a relatively quiet
street. The hotel has central heat and probably AC. Bikes can be stored in the
basement. It is a few minutes walk from both the Archeological Museum and
Omonia Square and is just off Vathis Square at 15 Acharnon.
Novotel Athens at 71-75 E was our choice in 2005, as it was the best we could reserve sight-unseen with confidence. It delivered a very comfortable stay for the extra price. The large room had double bed and a day bed, a frig, and BBC on the TV. The full-sized bathtub with ample hot water was an unexpected treat. There were no less than 3 telephones in the room and wifi was available for a fee. Given the list price for 2 was 148E, we had expected a lovely room, which it was not. It was spacious, functional, clean, and quiet but definitely not cute. (Sound proofing included 2 pairs of double-paned windows and carpeting in the room and in the hall.) But the cheery and helpful English speaking staff graciously kept our bikes in the locked luggage room as promised on the phone. We declined breakfast at 15E per person. There was a good supermarket around the corner and it was only a short walk to the Archeology Museum (which we visited on 3 different days). However it wasn't as handy to the open air markets and the Acropolis as the hotels around Omonia and Plaka. It's considered "near Omonia" at Mihail Voda 4-6, but we circled around several times before locating its understated facade. We'd happily stay here again if the price were lower but will settle for less elbow room at Hotel Economy next time. www.accorhotels.com, tel 0030.210.82.00.700.
Hotel Fivos at 40E would do in a pinch, though you don't get nearly as much for your 40E here as you do at Aristoteles Hotel. In comparison, Fivos is like a rickety youth hostel with double and single rooms, whereas Aristoteles is a solid old hotel. But Fivos is well located at 23 Athinas St. in the Monastiraki area, between Plaka and Omonia Square but it is very basic. They have made an effort with the small, spare rooms: the furniture is new, the rooms have AC & heat, but the showers in the private bathrooms will soak down the room. There was no phone with outside line in the room, nor did the room have a TV. CNN was on the common room TV and they will accommodate bikes. Their mattresses had the ropey surface feel that keeps me awake at night though don't bother Bill. www.consolas.gr, tel 0030.210.322.6657.