Getting connected to the internet in Greece may not be as easy as you think. Whilst there are many places to get on-line in the more popular tourist destinations, as soon as you go further outside of the cities the harder internet can be to obtain.
If you are staying in Greece for an extended period of time and wish to have access to the internet wherever you are then there are a few options available to you:
Buy an Internet Dongle (USB Modem)
As a travel writer this is essential for me as it allows me to conduct research whilst writing, it also means I don’t have to worry about finding a wi-fi hotspot (which can be a real pain at times) and don’t feel compelled to buy the obligatory coffee which is expected of you if you use a cafe’s internet facilities.
Internet speed can vary over Greece and the Greek islands; you often get acceptable speeds in major towns and cities. Though usually no-where close to broadband speeds, I have never had troubles checking my emails or finding good photographs for use in my articles – you would be pushing it to stream videos.
If you buy a standard internet dongle (around €30-€40 with a free months worth of internet (check here for latest prices from Vodafone), capped between 3GB and 5GB worth of data transfer) from any of the leading service providers you are more than likely going to be connecting via either 3G or GPRS (General Positioning Radio Service), 3G being considerably faster but limited availability.
If you have a permanent place of residency in Greece you will be able to get internet for much cheaper as you can sign up to a monthly contract. If however you do not have a regular place to live, and likely therefore cannot sign up to a (normally) 6-month contract then you’ll have to buy as a ‘PAYG’ Pay As You Go user which is considerably more expensive.
You do also have the option to buy a ‘broadband’ USB dongle and benefit from faster transfer speeds but prices are around €120, and although they will allow you to browse at faster speeds, you’ll eat through your data allowances much faster and it could end up costing you a lot more.
Where to Buy
On the Internet (Not Recommended)
Now you may think that ordering on-line is going to be quicker and easier, this would hold true if you were in the UK or America, but in Greece it’s different.
Firstly you can order a USB Dongle on-line from Wind Hellas, Cosmote or Vodafone, but it’s not until you have completed the checkout process and paid your money that they’ll tell you that you need to download, print and fill in numerous forms (in Greek!) that you are required to give to the courier company upon delivery prior to them connecting you. For me this process was a complete pain in the backside as I d didn’t have access to a printer, couldn’t read Greek and didn’t have a fixed abode so had to schedule for someone to accept it on my behalf (which requires another form to be filled in).
Caution: Wind Hellas will require that you pay upon invoice so you can go through the entire checkout process without having to enter in your payment details, it is only after the dongle has been delivered that you are required to pay. Vodafone has a similar process though you can select to pay on-line should you want to (I always do as it’s quicker and easier, especially if you are travelling around from place to place.)
You are also required to give the mobile operators proof of who you are, for me this meant giving them my passport number so make sure you have this handy before you start.
If you are ordering on-line through Wind Hellas then you’ll have to give a telephone number for which they can contact you on as after order completion a representative will call you to confirm when you will want to receive the order (a pointless step in my eyes).
Vodafone do not require this step, I cannot comment on Cosmote.
Via a High Street Branch (Highly Recommended)
I would recommend going to a service providers high street store and buying directly from there, the reason is that you are required by law to print and fill out a number of different documents prior to being connected, all of which are in Greek and should you not know the language then this can be a real pain, if ordering in-store then one of the sales reps can fill it in for you. Please note, these documents are in Greek and there is no English versions.
- The other benefits of ordering via a high-street store:
- You do not have to wait for a ‘confirmation call’ to arrange a suitable delivery date
- You do not have to wait for delivery
- You are connected instantly
- You can ask any questions directly to the staff at the store instead of sending emails and waiting for a reply (which is often generic and unhelpful)
- If you take in your laptop you can get the in-house sales reps to install on your machine and configure to your requirements.
Contract or Pre-Pay (Pay-as-you-go)
There are numerous different types of internet dongles you can buy both on contact and as Pay-as-You-go (also known as pre-pay).
You may find it difficult to sign up for a dongle on contract if you do not have any fixed residence, but if you are staying for 3 months or more then this would probably be a wise investment as rates are cheaper than the pre-pay option. Generally speaking you’ll be signing up for a 12 month contract, but you can find 6-month contracts at a slightly higher monthly rate.
There are many different internet tariffs available to suit most people’s needs, some are based on the amount of data you download, and some are charged per the amount of hours you are on the internet (with ‘Responsible Download’ conditions, ie. You will not be permitted to download movies 24 hours a day etc etc).
Finding a Wi-Fi Hotspot
Free Wi-Fi is becoming more and more popular around Greece as many people have Wi-Fi enabled electronic devices. The government do a relatively poor job of providing free to use public Wi-Fi spots in major cities in comparison to other EU countries but this is made up for the fact that more and more business owners are realising the benefits of offering free internet to paying customers.
Many cafe’s, restaurants and hotels offer free internet but few display it publicly so you’ll often have to ask a member of staff. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made is a portable key-fob that lights up and shows when Wi-Fi is available and the signal strength of it, when I find a nice place to do some work I’ll open up the laptop and see what networks are available (often the network is named after the establishment), after which go and grab a coffee and log on!
Mobile Internet Service Providers in Greece
There are 3 main service providers for internet and mobile telephones in Greece and they are, Vodafone, Wind Hellas and Cosmote.
Vodafone are the fastest in Greece and have the 2nd largest coverage (1st is Cosmote), Wind Hellas and Cosmote have similar internet download and upload speeds. Vodafone offer a 5gb download limit for €30/month (pre-pay, no contract) whilst for the same price you only get 3GB with Wind Hellas.
How to Top Up Internet (and telephone) in Greece (if on Pre-Pay)
Topping up your credit in Greece is very easy and can be done in many places both in the cities and in the rural areas. You can buy internet credit in ‘kiosks’, shops and many cafes, you’ll often see a flyer in the front of the store window that will outline that the shop handles internet/telephone credit processing. If buying internet credit, you’ll either be given a card similar to a phone card where you scratch off a code, ring a certain number and top-up via phone or via internet (the ISP’s website and top-up page are free to access and browse even if you have no credit left). If not, you’ll be presented with a printed ticket with instructions on how to top up. Very easy.
Internet Prices in Greece (as of June 2012)
Internet prices in Greece are very high in comparison to other European countries, the infrastructure and technology is also lagging behind many other EU countries.