How To Get To Limnos
Now that I'm back in Athens, I'm reflecting a bit about this trip I took. Limnos (or Lemnos as the English speaking sometimes write it), had a lot of tourism this year, almost more than the island is prepared for. 97% booked out hotels, 100% booked out planes (waiting lists closed because of overbooking) and ferry boats. Tourism may increase as people get to know and like the island. Up to now this tourism is mostly Greek tourism, but soon the foreigners may get to know Limnos as a non-typical Greek island too.
But transport to and from the island is still a problem: It's hard to travel to Limnos and even harder to come back. I had recommended the island to a few friends, but only the very interested ones persist enough to actually get there. This August, nobody had visited me, mainly for this reason. Some thoughts about getting to Limnos:...
Olympic Airways will fly you in and out of Limnos to Athens, Thessaloniki and Mytilini (maybe others too, I'm not that up-to-date on the planes). Provided that you get a ticket of course: In summer and sometimes on other occasions getting a seat can be a real problem. The plane is of course more expensive compared to the ferry boat, but travel time from Athens (Eleftherios Venizelos Airport) is less than an hour. There are roughly 2 flights a day to and from Limnos to Athens. I've been told that a ticket one way costs around 90 Euro, but I can't confirm that really. (Nor do I know about airport taxes.)
If you fly in from outside Greece, you will have to change planes in Athens. Flights with the Greek airline Olympic are timed to give you a short waiting time for connections to the islands, while with other airlines you will unfortunately (in my experience) have to hang around the transit area for something like 5 hours sometimes. There are bound to be charter flights too, but I don't know anything about these, besides that I have known someone who got a ticket on one of them.
Still that may be faster and less tiresome than the ferry boat. Ferry boats reach Limnos from the ports of Pireus, Thessaloniki, Lavrio, Kymi, Kavala, Moudania. Plus the islands, where the ferry boat stops, e.g. Samothraki, Mytilini (Lesvos), Agios Efstratios, etc.. Check out the schedules and timetables at openseas.gr.
There are some hypermodern ships that are fast and expensive (the ones going to Limnos are named after the Greek sprinter-ex-star Kenteris, the one who is under thick suspicion of having been doped, so you can consider those ships to run like on steroids). Downside: The seats are numbered and you can't get out. The price is almost as much as for the plane (I've heard about 70 Euro to Pireus and I've been quoted 48 Euro to Thessaloniki). Personally I avoid these and prefer the old-fashioned, cheaper boats, where you can take in a bit of sun and sea breeze, and roll out your sleeping bag to doze in a corner. No matter which you prefer, you will have to check them out in advance, there is not bound to be a boat every day for each of these destinations.
Getting to the port
All ports have bus connections to and from the big cities. Traveling to and from Thessaloniki, you will look at the ports of Thessaloniki itself, Moudania, and Kavala. For Athens you want Pireus (but keep a good look at ship travel times, because the "steamer" has to take all the way around Attika), Kymi, but most common currently Lavrio. Ships to and from Lavrio typically take 9 hours. Busses from Athens to Lavrio are stationed at the "Pedio tou Ares", you can take the Metro to the station "Victoria", then walk 3 minutes to the bus station. Calculate at least 1.5 hours bus travel time and be early enough because busses leave about each half hour, but you can't rely on all this. Last time I took that bus, the ticket was 3.60 Euro. You pay your ticket in the bus, after the bus started the cashier comes around. It's good but not absolutely necessary if you have change.
(Public) Transport on the island
Obviously if you have your own car, you can bring it with the ferry boat. The roads on Limnos are fine, the drivers are not too crazy or dangerous. If you want to go to special places or to the beach with the car, be prepared to drive a few kilometers on dirt roads. On the island, public transport consists of overland busses (in Myrina from the "Platia ton KTEL", the "KTEL-bus plaza" so to speak, on the upper end of the "agora", the market street). About once a day each destination is serviced.
Then there are overland taxis, in Myrina either waiting at the port when a ship comes in, or else at their own "platia" in the upper part of the "agora". Taxis (but no busses) are also waiting at the airport when a flight comes in. Prices: For example the 42km to Panagia (at the far end of the island) cost me 3.40 Euro by bus and 25 Euro by taxi. I can recommend Manolis from Moudros (697 2008388) and Giorgos from Panagia (693 7632372), just in case there is noone there when you arrive at the airport and you have to go in that direction (of course none speaks anything but Greek). In general, Limnos taxi drivers are nice people.
The airport is located in the center of the island, about 20km from the capital and port Myrina. You can rent a car in Myrina or at the airport. Cost is about 30 Euro a day, plus 10 Euro for full insurance. In the main season be sure to book your car well in advance. Out of season it might be a good idea to arrange for a car especially at the airport, because noone might be at the booth if they don't know you are coming. I recommend Europcar, Mr. Hatzoglou (694 5495104, 22540 23777), I've had a couple of times good experiences with him when I rented cars for a few days.
Important: Price information
Prices are approximate and current as of about August 2005, sometimes even older. I don't plan to keep them updated.