Given its reputation as a tourist destination, it’s perhaps surprising that groundhopping in Greece isn’t bigger than it is.
Despite the Greek domestic game’s troubled recent history (think crowd violence, match fixing scandals, and Ivan Savvidis), there are some incredible and characterful grounds on offer, housing some of Europe’s most historic clubs. If passion, pyro, and a whole lot of noise are your thing, then Greece should be at the top of your groundhopping list.
Here’s what you need to know.
Cities / Regions I Have Visited:
Football in Greece
The Greek football pyramid consists of a national top tier, followed by two regional tiers. Following an extensive and controversial restructure in 2021, it is currently set up as follows:
- Super League (16 clubs)
- Super League 2 (North Group) (17 clubs)
- Super League 2 (South Group) (17 clubs)
- Gamma Ethniki Group 1 (12 clubs)
- Gamma Ethniki Group 2 (12 clubs)
- Gamma Ethniki Group 3 (12 clubs)
- Gamma Ethniki Group 4 (13 clubs)
- Gamma Ethniki Group 5 (11 clubs)
- Gamma Ethniki Group 6 (11 clubs)
- Gamma Ethniki Group 7 (10 clubs)
Below the Gamma Ethniki, Greek football consists of several amateur tiers under the jurisdiction of 14 regional football clubs associations.
Unfortunately, it can often be tricky to buy tickets in Greece – especially for high-profile games and derbies. Tickets are released for general sale around 3-4 days before the game itself (and can sometimes be held for even longer).
It’s possible in most cases to buy tickets online or on the gate, although online tickets are usually cheaper. Note that when purchasing online, you will need to provide a Greek social security number. You can use an ID number (such as a passport number), but in my experience this system is hit and miss, and you may have to take your chances on the day.
It’s also worth noting that bigger clubs require the purchase of a club membership (usually around €10) in order to buy tickets (if you’re buying on the day, you can usually purchase this card alongside your ticket). It is described as a fan card, but in reality, it is a “donation” to the other sporting departments of the club.
In terms of attendances, matches – even derbies – rarely sell out. Attendances have decreased in Greek football over the last decade for a wide number of reasons, including financial problems, fan violence, and perceived corruption. For instance, according to 2021/22 figures, top flight stadiums are, on average, less than a quarter full:
|AEK Athens||Olympic Stadium||69,618||13,916||20%|
|Aris Thessaloniki||Gipedo “Kleanthis Vikelidis”||22,800||7,971||35%|
|OFI Crete||Gipedo Theodoros Vardinogiannis||9,088||2,664||29%|
|PAS Giannina||Stadio Zosimades||7,652||1,600||21%|
|Ionikos||Dimotiko Gipedo Neapolis||5,500||991||18%|
|Asteras Tripolis||Gipedo Theodoros Kolokotronis||7,423||712||10%|
|Apollon Smyrnis||Gipedo Rizoupolis “Georgios Kamaras”||14,200||664||5%|
|PAS Lamia||Stadio Lamia “Athanasios Diakos”||5,500||567||10%|
|Atromitos Athens||Stadio Peristeriou||9,050||723||8%|
Information on average ticket prices is difficult to ascertain, but the big clubs in Athens and Thessaloniki tend to charge between €10 and €40 for a ticket (excluding discounts and concessions).
Useful Resources for Groundhopping in Greece
There’s not a lot of groundhopping coverage for Greece as, assumably, it’s a little off the beaten track football-wise. However, The Stadium Trotter’s excellent account of his 2016 visit to the Olympic Stadium is worth a read, as are Pitchd’s photo essays of grounds in Rhodes and Crete.
As always, the country’s official tourism portal is the place to go to learn more about travelling to Greece.