Many of the ferries to the Greek islands leave from Piraeus Port near Athens. Here's a guide to taking the ferries from Piraeus Greece to the islands.
Ferries from Piraeus Greece
Many people often ask how to get to the Greek islands from Athens. While some of the islands have airports, the vast majority do not, and the only way to get there is by ferry.In this article we are going to give you the definitive guide for ferries from Pireaus Greece to the Greek islands.
Where is Piraeus?
Piraeus municipality is on the coast, 10 kms away from central Athens. Piraeus has the biggest port of Greece, and also one of the busiest in Europe.
It is an interesting, self-contained area, though most visitors use it as a transit hub to go to the islands, and for others it is only a short cruise stop.
Many people refer to Piraeus as “the Athens ferry port”, though technically Athens has two more ports, Rafina and Lavrio.
Navigating Piraeus Port
The port of Piraeus is massive and chaotic. It has ten gates where boats depart from and arrive at, and two gates where cruise boats dock for a few hours.
If you are taking a ferry from Piraeus to go to one of the islands, you will need to know which gate you are departing from, and plan your time accordingly.
This link has a map of Piraeus port, and explains which gate you need to be at to get your ferry.
How do I get to Piraeus ferry port?
To get to Piraeus ferry port, you can either take public transportation or a taxi.
If you want to get to Piraeus from the Eleftherios Venizelos airport, you can take the Express bus X96. Tickets cost 6 euro, and the bus will take an hour to an hour and a half, depending on traffic.
Alternatively, you can take the metro or the suburban railway that will take about the same time and cost 10 euro. Remember to keep an eye on your belongings, as a few incidents of theft have been reported in recent months.
To get to Piraeus from central Athens, the easiest way is to get the green metro line from Monastiraki. It takes about 25 minutes, and will drop you off at Piraeus metro station, which is close to gates E5 and E6.
You will then need to walk to your gate, or take the free shuttle bus which runs inside the port.
Note that some gates are a good 15-20 minute walk from the metro station, so make sure you arrive with plenty of time, as the shuttle bus can often be quite full.
If you have an early departure or late arrival, you might consider staying at a hotel near Piraeus port.
Taxis to Piraeus Port
An easier way to get to Piraeus, especially if you have to catch a ferry departing from a far away gate, like the Athens to Crete ferry, is to take a taxi. The taxi driver should know where to drop you off, but make sure you check your gate at the time of ferry booking.
Similarly, if you are looking to get from Pireaus to Athens, you can take either a taxi or the metro back into the centre.
More information: How to get from Piraeus to Athens.
Where do Greek ferries from Piraeus go?
Ferries depart from Piraeus port to most of the Greek islands, with the exception of the Ionian Islands on the west of the mainland, the Sporades islands on the east of the mainland, and a few islands in North Greece.
The main groups of Greek islands where you can get to from Piraeus are the following:
- The Cyclades – a group of 33 islands and several smaller ones, of which the most famous are Santorini, Mykonos, Milos, Ios, Paros and Naxos
- The Dodecanese – Rhodes, Kos, Patmos and other nearby islands
- The North Aegean islands – Chios, Lesbos / Lesvos, Ikaria, Samos and Lemnos
- The Argosaronic islands – Hydra, Aegina, Poros, Spetses and a few smaller ones
- Crete, Greece’s biggest island
- Kythira / Kythera, an island to the south of the Peloponnese
On most months, there are also cruise boats coming in and out of Piraeus on a daily basis. Those boats dock at a separate area at the far end of the port.
Which ferry companies operate from Piraeus port?
There are several ferry companies operating on a daily basis from Piraeus port. The biggest companies, that own the majority of Greek ferries, are Blue Star Ferries and their partner ANEK Lines, SeaJets, Minoan Lines and Golden Star Ferries.
An easy way to look at Greek ferry schedules, cost and time taken to travel from Piraeus to the Greek islands, is the Ferryhopper website. It's the one we use when planning trips to the Greek islands.
What are Greek island ferries like?
Greek island ferries vary a lot in terms of size, capacity, luxury, comfort and speed. There are bigger ferries that carry passengers and vehicles, and smaller, faster ferries that only take passengers.
Some of the above companies only have large ferries, while others have a combination of slower boats and highspeed ferries on different routes. There are also the so-called flying dolphins that might remind you of a bus or coach.
As an example, the Minoan Lines ferry Piraeus – Chania called Mykonos Palace is 214 metres long, and is one of the biggest and most luxurious ferries in Greece.
Greek Summer Ferries
As a general rule, faster boats are more expensive, and the faster and smaller the boat the bumpier the ride. If you really don’t like travelling by sea, your best option is to take the bigger ferries, but be prepared for a longer journey. For example, a ferry from Piraeus to Santorini can take anywhere between about 4.5 and 8 hours.
Another thing to note is that summer ferry routes are different from winter ferry routes. Service in summer is a lot more frequent and there is generally more choice, while many of the highspeed ferries stop running in winter.
Seats on Greek Ferries
Most ferries have various types of seating arrangements. In general, high-speed ferries might have one, two or three types of seats at different prices, offering varying levels of comfort.
The bigger boats that serve longer routes normally offer an unassigned seat (deck) option, an assigned seat option, and several types of cabins, which are ideal for overnight trips.
Not all cabins are the same. In general, try to choose the ones with windows, as the ones without might be a little claustrophobic.
If you are on a budget, you can just go for the deck option and sleep on the floor, like many locals do. Just bring a sleeping bag as it can get quite cold due to the air-condition.
In terms of entertainment, again it varies a lot between ferries. All of them will have TVs, cafes and restaurants and bigger ones will even have shops in case you’ve forgotten your sunglasses or sunblock. The best activity on a slow boat might be to sit out on the deck, watch people go by, and check out the ports before you arrive at your destination.
Ferry strikes in Greece
One last thing you should know: a few times a year there are ferry strikes, sometimes announced well in advance and sometimes announced last minute.
A word of caution: don’t plan to return to Athens on the day of your outward flight back home – or if you do, make sure you have travel insurance.
The 1st of May is always a strike for ferries in Greece, so don’t plan to travel on that day.
How much does it cost to travel to the Greek islands?
As you can imagine, this depends on your destination, type of ferry and type of seat. If you are on a budget, it’s best to do some research before your trip.
In general, the highspeed ferries are more expensive than the slower boats. For example, the Flying Cat ferry from Piraeus to Hydra, costs 59 euro return, for just an hour’s journey.
Another popular ferry, the Athens to Mykonos ferry called Worldchampion Jet, can reach a whopping 170 euro return, which makes it more expensive than a flight booked a couple of months in advance or a cabin in a slower boat. That said, if you are on a budget you might want to avoid Mykonos anyway – but that’s another topic altogether.
The slower boats are much better value overall. There are often discounts for children and students with an ISIC card, as well as for return tickets.
As an example, a return ticket on the ferry Piraeus to Crete starts from 52 euro per person. In fact, the Athens – Crete ferry price is quite low, considering that it’s several hours.
If you know the dates you are planning to travel in advance, you could check if any companies run any special offers.
These would generally be non-transferable and non-returnable tickets, but if you know that you are travelling on a certain day, there is no reason why you shouldn’t book them.
When should I book my ferry tickets to the Greek islands?
This depends a lot on where you are going, but also on what time of year you are travelling. If you want to catch the Piraeus to Mykonos ferry on a Friday evening in August, you should really book in advance.
If you are travelling off-season, or if you are going to any of the less popular islands, you might be able to find tickets last minute.
Remember, though, that some of the less popular islands might be on the same route with the most popular islands. All in all, if you know the exact dates that you want to travel, there is no reason not to book your tickets in advance.
Although a few companies offer the option to print your tickets online, this is unfortunately not possible for all routes.
In this case, you will need to pick up your tickets from the port before you depart.
Alternatively, if you book your tickets on Ferryhopper, they can deliver the tickets to your hotel in Athens for a small fee.
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