Strikes in Greece and how they might affect you

Last updated on March 13th, 2020 at 01:24 pm

You’ve probably heard about it, and it’s absolutely true. Strikes sometimes happen in Greece, and they can affect your Greek vacation. There is no reason to worry though. Here is all the information you need to know about strikes in Greece.

Strikes in Greece

For people living in Greece, strikes are a fairly frequent occurrence. Looking back on a strike calendar (available only in Greek), you can see that, on average, there are at least 3-4 strikes a month. Don’t worry though, as the majority of those strikes in Greece are very unlikely to affect visitors.

By the way, the fact that someone in Greece decided to create a dedicated strike calendar, must surely mean something to you!

Who goes on strikes in Greece?

There are several categories of professions that can be on strike, and this depends on the profession, and to a certain degree on which union they are affiliated with.

The main categories of people who are likely to go on strike in Greece are the doctors, nurses, teachers, cleaners, museum employees, bank employees, customs employees, garbage collection employees, journalists, and everyone working for the wider public sector.

Strikes in Greece - A banner

These unions generally go on strike for a day or two at a time, apart from extreme cases, when a 3-day strike, or longer, is announced. This is more common for people working in public hospitals, though in practice hospitals never really close down.

Public transportation strikes in Greece

So far so good though, as those professions are generally not related to tourism, apart from museum employees. Right? Wrong!

Strikes in Greece

If you are visiting Greece, you can be affected by transportation strikes. Ferries, trains, airport traffic controllers, the Athens metro, taxis, trolleys, buses and the tram, all these people go on strike from time to time. Sometimes the strikes last for 24 hours, and sometimes there are work stoppages for a few hours. This is fairly common for the transportation in Athens.

It would be fair to say that the strikes in Greece most frequently affect transportation within the Athens area, as well as the trains and suburban railway. Taxis and air traffic controllers are very rarely on strike in Greece. If they are, your hotel should be able to help you find a taxi even on a strike day, or you could use the Beat App. We also recommend Welcome Taxis.

What happens on a transportation strike day in Greece?

There are a few different ways you can be affected during transportation strikes in Greece.

Train strike in Greece

Trains around Greece won’t run, neither will the suburban railway within the Athens area. Confusingly, the blue metro line, which connects the airport to central Athens, will only work partially. This is because part of the line used by the metro is owned by the train company.

Strikes in Greece - Trains

If you need to get to the airport, you can use the Express airport bus – but make sure buses aren’t on strike as well, and leave early. Alternatively, you can get a Welcome taxi to the airport.

Metro strike in Athens

The Athens metro consists of three lines. The green line is owned by one company, and the red and blue lines are owned by another company – yes, we know, it’s weird! The two companies don’t necessarily go on strike on the same days, so the green line might be running when the others don’t, and vice versa.

Strikes in Greece - Metro strikes in Greece

When there is a metro strike in Athens, be prepared for some serious traffic jams, and if you are going to the airport make sure you leave much earlier than you had planned.

Bus and trolley strike in Athens

In our experience, few visitors use those means of transport. Finding the exact route information can be complicated for a non-Athenian – not that it’s always easy for Athenians!  However, if both the airport metro / suburban railway and the airport bus are on strike, your only solution is to take a taxi.

Strikes in Athens - Trolleys

Tram strike in Athens

The tram is a famously slow means of transportation, so not too many visitors use it – your best bet if the tram is on strike is to get a taxi.

Ferry strikes in Greece

This is probably the strike that will affect you the most. When there is a ferry strike, ferries don’t run. Right? Yes, in theory. In practice, some of these ferries might actually depart, and you won’t necessarily know it well in advance. If a ferry strike is announced, make sure you get in touch with your travel agent, ferry company or the local port authorities.

Strikes in Greece - Ferry strike in Greece

You should also know that if your trip is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund. So, if the island where you are has an airport, you could always fly back to Athens – though unfortunately a last minute ticket is likely to be very expensive. If you are travelling between Greek islands and your ferry is cancelled, get in touch with your next accommodation as soon as possible – they might be nice and not charge you for the room.

Greek air traffic controllers on strike

These strikes really don’t happen all that often. So far in 2019, the air traffic controllers only had one three-hour work stoppage. In case of a delayed flight, check the EU regulations for any compensation that you might be able to claim.

How often do strikes happen?

This is the billion euro question! Seriously, there is not answer to this. In general, public transportation employees strike when the government suggests significant changes and reforms to their collective labour agreements.

At the same time, it’s not like strikes happen every day. This is a nerdy table for strikes in Greece, showing number of strike days for each month 2019. A figure of 0.5 means that the means of transportation was only on strike for a few hours.All strikes Greece 2019

You will notice that there were only four ferry strikes throughout the year, so they are not really all that frequent.

There is one piece of advice we can give you for certain. There is ALWAYS a massive strike on the 1st of May, which affects pretty much everything. The means of transportation less likely to be affected are airplanes and taxis, but we strongly advise against planning to travel within Greece on May 1st.

Is there anything else I need to know about strikes in Greece?

If you are in a big city like Athens or Thessaloniki on a strike day, chances are there will be some marches or demonstrations. These will generally be peaceful, but you never know what might happen or if any of them will get violent.

Strikes in Greece - Metro banner

We should also mention here that there are certain other days of the year when demonstrations occur. The 17th November and the 6th December are important dates for Greece’s recent history, and they are always followed by demonstrations and riots. You might want to avoid certain areas of downtown Athens on those days, and you should also know that certain metro stations will be closed.

How do I find out about strikes in Greece? 

If you can read Greek, you can visit the dedicated strike website for updated information. If you can’t read Greek however, follow our Facebook page and join our Facebook group, where we post updated information about strikes in Greece.

Strikes in Greece - A banner

Please note that strikes can be announced pretty last minute, so no one will necessarily know in advance. Furthermore, sometimes strike information is announced, and then changes, possibly more than once.

If you have heard any announcements about a strike, make sure you follow the news. You can also check with your hotel, inside the metro station, train station or at the port.

Strikes in Greece

Have you been affected by one of the strikes in Greece? What did you do? Let us know in the comments!

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