How Do People Travel in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, travel played a significant role in the lives of its people. Whether for trade, diplomacy, or leisure, the Greeks employed various modes of transportation to navigate their vast landscapes. Let’s explore how people traveled in ancient Greece.

Walking and Footwear

Walking was the most common form of travel for ancient Greeks. They walked for short distances within their city-states or between neighboring towns and villages. Footwear played a crucial role in making long journeys comfortable and safe.

Ancient Greek footwear included sandals made from leather or woven fibers. These sandals protected the feet from rough terrain while providing breathability in the warm Mediterranean climate.

Horseback Riding

Horses were highly valued in ancient Greece for their speed and endurance. Horseback riding was reserved for the elite and those with access to horses. This mode of travel allowed individuals to cover long distances quickly.

The Greeks used various types of saddles, including ones with high pommels and cantles to provide stability during fast rides. Horses were also used extensively for military purposes, allowing armies to move swiftly across different regions.

Sea Travel

Given Greece’s extensive coastline and numerous islands, sea travel was an essential aspect of transportation in ancient times. The Greeks were skilled sailors who relied on boats and ships for both trade and exploration.

They built various types of vessels, including triremes – warships with three rows of oars – which played a vital role during naval battles. Merchant ships called “naukrates” were used to transport goods across the Mediterranean Sea.

Navigational Tools

To navigate the open seas, ancient Greek sailors relied on celestial navigation using stars like Polaris as reference points. They also used a device known as the astrolabe to determine latitude based on the angle between the sun and the horizon.

Traveling by Chariots

Chariots were primarily used for warfare in ancient Greece, but they were occasionally utilized for travel, especially during special events or races. Chariot races were popular forms of entertainment and often took place during festivals like the Olympic Games.

Ancient Greek chariots featured two or four wheels and were pulled by horses. The charioteer stood behind the horses, directing them with reins.


Ancient Greeks employed various modes of transportation to travel within their city-states and beyond. From walking and horseback riding to sea travel and chariot racing, each method had its purpose and significance. These modes of transportation helped shape the culture, trade, and exploration that characterized ancient Greece.