Planning your trip

Getting to Greece

The closest airport is Thessaloniki International Airport (SKG). You can then drive / take a taxi / take the bus into the city.

We recommend hiring a car, which will make your stay in Greece much easier. Most of the major car rental agencies have offices at the airport. Taxis costs approximately 20€ to the city centre.

Bus number 78 runs from the airport through to the city all day and night. You can buy a ticket at the kiosk in front of the airport or directly on the bus. Tickets to/from the airport cost 2€ – make sure you have the exact change ready as the machine does not give change. If you have a smartphone, we recommend downloading the app OASTH which will help you track the routes and timetables of buses operating around Thessaloniki.

You can also get a flight to Athens and take the train up north, which takes approximately 6 hours.

 Transport

We recommend renting your own car if at all possible. The cheapest place to rent a car is in Thessaloniki and most of the major car rental agencies have offices at the airport. We recommend looking at www.rentalcars.com.  All long-term volunteers working in the camps / outside Thessaloniki either need a car to transport themselves or to carpool to get to one place or another. If you do not drive, please note that you might spend a lot of time running after lifts.

If you are volunteering short-term (under 2 weeks) public transport should be adequate for travelling in and around Thessaloniki and the various warehouses. However, having a car will make your stay in Greece much easier, and help you make the most of your time here as well!

The public buses are quite affordable, 1.10€ for a single and 1.30€ for a double journey (if you have to change buses – not a return) if you buy tickets on the bus. Remember to have the exact coins because THEY DO NOT GIVE CHANGE. You can buy discounted tickets from a kiosk at the KTEL bus station, or from mini-newsagents / kiosks around the city as well. If you have a smartphone, we recommend downloading the app OASTH which will help you track the routes and timetables of buses operating around Thessaloniki.

There are also a Facebook group you can use for organising lifts and car-pooling. Otherwise, ask your volunteer coordinator if there are any other platforms or WhatsApp groups you can join to organise transport.

Accommodation

We apologize that we don’t have the capacity to provide accommodation for all of our volunteers.  Most grassroots groups operating in Northern Greece are based in and around Thessaloniki, so we usually recommend staying in the city itself unless you know you will be working at one of the camps outside Thessaloniki.

Little Big House, Arabas and Crossroads are all hostels popular with our volunteers based in Thessaloniki, and are often the easiest option for those staying for under two weeks. The estimated price of accommodation is from 10€ per night for shared rooms / hostels and 30€ for private rooms. You can also find good deals on Airbnb, and many of our long-term volunteers organise flat-sharing options together. There are also a couple of camping sites around Thessaloniki, although it will be difficult to get around without a car.

If you have a placement with one of the groups, they will sometimes have a house / apartment available for their volunteers at a lower cost, particularly those working directly with camps. They will discuss this with you directly.

There is also a Facebook group you can use to organize accommodation here. Otherwise, ask your volunteer coordinator if there are any other platforms or Whatsapp groups you can join to organise accommodation.

What to pack

Please pack comfortable clothing and shoes, and a pair of heavy duty / hiking boots as we do help with construction projects, etc. During the summer it does not rain often, but do pack a light raincoat in case you get caught in the rain. Please remember to be culturally sensitive with what you bring, and wear clothes that cover your knees, chest and shoulders.

Bring a small backpack or waist bag as sometimes there won’t be anywhere for you to leave your belongings. You will need 2-pin adaptors for all electric items if you are travelling from outside / other parts of Europe. We would also recommend bringing a hat, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, and any prescribed medication of course.

Please download WhatsApp if you have a smartphone, which will make all communication easier with your team and coordinators. If you would like to buy a Greek sim card, remember to have your phone unlocked before you come out.

Deciding your budget outside of accommodation, we would recommend around 80-100€ per week as an average, but of course this depends on your lifestyle… eating out, going for coffee/drinks, going on trips, shopping, etc. will of course add up eventually, but generally it is a very affordable place to live!

Otherwise, Thessaloniki has it all! Please remember this wonderful city has a number of local shops and international supermarkets, and should be able to cater for most things while you’re here.

Stay informed

A key piece of trip preparation is informing yourself about the situation on the ground. Get background information and keep up-to-date with news and updates. We recommend the following sites: