Greece's Postal Services and Telecoms are a remnant of Greece's earlier period of socialism and has left the country's utilities structure in a patchwork process of gradual change. In the PTT area, the national telephone company, OTE still dominates the house phone market, while international and mobile services are well de-regulated, competitive and provide efficient service. An aggressive programme by the Greek Government in Athens to cable up the country with high speed broadband services during 2007-2009 has brought greater competition while the Greek Post Office, known as Hellenic Post (ELTA) continues to be a monopoly. When living in Crete, British and Irish ex-pats will find dealing with OTE an early test for patience and stamina in dealing ith Greek bureaucracy to have a simple telephone house phone connection. If there are already available lines in your area it can be a fast and fairly stress free process or a waiting list nightmare if lines are restricted.
Fixed line service through the national telephone company, OTE (Οργανισμός Τηλεπικοινωνιών της Ελλάδος - the Telecomms Organisation of Greece) can have your new phone line installed in a week or in a year, sometimes two, depending on your location and available lines.
There is a choice in telecoms provider in the fixed line business. The market leadership is between OTE and Forthnet. Sales Packages should be researched as there can be special offers at bargain rates for long distance/overseas calls. If you have little need for long distance/overseas calls it is probably a better bet to buy pre-paid "pay-as-you-go" telephone cards from about 10 euros from "peripteros" (tobacco kiosks) at street corners and other outlets, including mini marts. Make sure they can be used from a house phone as well as telephone boxes and your mobile. Most cards are in Greek and English
The subject of mobile phones and Internet is covered at length in our FAQ page. Needless to say, OTE (majority owned by Deutsche Telekom) offers through its Otenet subsidiary many sales packages that often revised in gace of intense competition from new broadband providers WIND and CYTA that offer, low cost long distance/overseas, along with their broadband and mobile phones offers. These newcomers use the basic OTE hardware infrastructure and lease capacity for their own services.
Otenet lowest nominal access speed was enhanced from 768/192 kbps to 1024/256 kbps in 2007 - major breakthrough. At the right time it its techonology advancement, Greece upgraded its telecoms to become one of the best phone infrastructures in Europe and mobile is universally used across the country. There are still a few mountainous areas with a weak signal but they are few and far between.
Sometimes ELTA postal deliveries can be erratic but basically a reliable service whether you are located in the village or big town. Many locations have poor numbering of houses, and many times no street name at all. The solution for the Hellenic Post has been to focus on the main local kafeneio where mail is dropped off. It actually can turn out to be a very personal service where mail gets delivered, perhaps by unorthodox means, but it does work.
Depending on the time of day, time of year or other extraneous reasons, the postman may or may not get further than the chosen kafeneio in a village. As a result, the authorities are trying to bring services to a higher standard of delivery efficiency with the introduction of P O Boxes grouped at strategic locations - easy for the postman and easy for the residents to use.
Postal service between UK or Eire and Crete and vice versa takes between 2 and 7 days for letters and small packets to arrive depending on 1st Class delivery or 2nd class delivery - and of course within Greece festivals and holidays. There is no customs between EU countries but there are certain limitations such as the number of cigarettes sent through the mail. Mail deliveries are generally good. Registered items are fast and safe both inside Greece and to and from external destinations.
Useful Tip: Greeks can be very practical. It seems that to send gifts through the mail attract little attention if sent in a shoe box, or shoe box size and shape package. The same applies to using the postal services own boxes and "giffy" bags with pre-set weight limits for contents.
The Greek Post Office provides ELTA's EMS Courier offers the Express Mail Service - EMS, and Special Priority Mail - SPM, domestic and international next day and 2-day delivery services (Speedpost). Nationwide toll free telephone number is +30 800 11 83000 for more information. These services are operated by: TACHIMETAFORES ELTA S.A., the ELTA Courier division of Hellenic Post. They are excellent and reliable. They tend to cost less than other commercial courier companies with same time frame deliveries.
Tachimetafores ELTA Regional Sorting Centres on Crete are located at:
For some reason, courier companies such as DHL Greece and Federal Express Greece have designated Crete to be outside their normal 'service area' - resulting in premium charges. TNT Express also operates in Crete on a similar basis.
DHL Greece nationwide telephone for customer service is +30 210 9890 000.
DHL Hellas is handled by ACS Courier Services on the island of Crete. Telephone numbers by Prefecture (Nomos) :
HERAKLION: Mires +30 28920 291 47, Iraklio +30 2810 333 639, Hersonissos +30 28970 250 67.
LASITHI: Aghios Nikolaos +30 28410 242 52, Ierapetra +30 28420 266 26, Sitia +30 28430 244 14.
RETHYMNON: Rethymno +30 28310 355 35.
XANIA (CHANIA): Xanion (Hania) +30 28210 925 20.
FedEx is handled in Greece by Orbit Couriers S.A. telephone: +30 210 6620 222. (Orbit Couriers website is only in Greek).
Such is the volume of traffic that there is a regular courier cargo flight between Heraklion and Athens to cope with increasing demand.
Schools for Foreign Children
Being part of the EU, Greece through state organisations has sponsored Schools for Foreign Children, including the EU, European School Heraklion. A true experience of bringing the kids over in "Making the Leap with Kids".
Public Utilities - Electricity and water. Explanation of billing.
Living in Winter is Different
Crete - you know the weather is good that is why you come to Southern Greece but Crete also has a winter climate and its house heating implications.
Healthcare and Medical Services
Essential reading, including the private Cretan Medicare Centres.
Retaining language and customs yet making foreigners feel inclusive along with choices in local TV Viewing.
Cost of Living 2011 Update
More important direct feedback from those experiencing settling in Greece or who have been there awhile. In the chatter, they mention the differences in supermarket prices and where to obtain favourite goodies, edibles and household products from "back home". All in all, it is a good barometer of the cost of living when on a fixed monthly income when resident in Greece.
Save Water When Staying on A Greek Island Water is a scarce resource that dwindles each year. Our helpful page on conservation of water lists a number of invaluable tips, ones that are common sense in reality. These tips show how easy it is to make the water that you use go further without investment or extra effort. The tips go a long way to help keep your garden and plants well watered thus ensuring they are green and healthy in a Mediterranean setting.
Stores and Supermarkets Grocery Shopping
From small village stores, to large supermarket chains, like Carrefour and Lidl, Crete has it all. A Quick guide to what is available.
Citizens Advice Bureaus in Greece (K.E.P.)
Your short cut to the Ministries and who is responsible for what.