A flight between Athens and Crete takes around 50 minutes, while an Athens to Crete ferry can take over 8 hours.
There's two ways to travel from Athens to Crete which are flights and ferry. While flying is by far the quickest means of transport between Athens and Crete, an overnight ferry can be a good choice depending on your circumstances.
In this guide, we'll look at all possible ways to get from Athens to Crete, so you can determine what would be the best way to travel for you.
Flying from Athens International Airport to Crete
If you plan to arrive in Greece at Athens Airport and want to go straight out to Crete, then honestly, flying is easily your best choice. All you need to do is arrange a connecting flight between Athens and one of the airports in Crete.
The flight time for Athens to Heraklion or Athens to Chania is less than an hour. This means that flying to Crete from Athens is by far the fastest way to travel.
Airlines that fly from Athens to Crete vary year on year, although Sky Express and Aegean Airlines are the most consistent. You may also find other airlines offer a direct flight between Athens and Crete on a seasonal basis such as Volotea.
I last flew from Athen to Chania in Crete with Sky Express on a propeller plane shown in the photo. The flight was scheduled to last 50 minutes, but it arrived quicker than that taking just 45 minutes.
The best place to start looking for flight options is at Skyscanner.
You should note that flights from Athens go to both Heraklion Airport and Chania Airport on the island of Crete. When planning your Crete travel itinerary, keep in mind that the distance between Heraklion and Chania is 142 kms.
If you do need to get from one to the other, here's my guide on getting from Chania to Heraklion.
Athens Crete Flights Travel Tips
When planning to fly out of Athens to Crete, you should leave yourself plenty of time between connecting flights. Personally, I would consider anything less than 3 hours to be a bit risky if arriving on an international flight.
As you look for tickets, keep in mind that there may be surcharges for baggage. Even if your luggage was included as part of your international flight, you may need to pay extra for the domestic flight from Athens to Crete.
Finally, although flying is the fastest way to get to Crete from Athens, you may need to factor in time taken at check in and any travel to and from the airport into your overall travel plans.
The price of a flight to Crete ranges anywhere from 50 Euro to 120 Euro. You can expect to pay more in the summer months than during the low season.
Landing at an awkward time in Athens and need to stay near the airport? Take a look at my guide to hotels near Athens airport.
How to get to Athens Airport from Athens City Center
If you're planning to spend a few days in Athens sightseeing, and then want to fly to Crete, you'll need to make your way back to the airport. You've got three choices here, which are to take the bus, the metro, or a taxi.
Taking the metro is the easiest way for most people. Just be aware of your luggage and your surroundings, particularly if you need to use the Akropolis Metro Station at any point. Athens is generally safe, but as with any tourist destination, bad people can be around.
If you are two or more people, then taking a taxi might be the most hassle free way to travel to the airport from the center. You can pre-book a tax here: Welcome Taxis.
I've a more complete guide here on how to get from Athens Airport to the city center and vice versa.
Athens to Crete Ferry Routes
Taking a ferry from Athens to Crete is the most popular way to get from one place to the other. This is because traveling to Crete by ferry has several advantages.
Firstly, the ticket prices are a lot cheaper when compared to direct flights. Secondly, the baggage allowances are more generous. Thirdly, if you decide to take an overnight ferry, you'll save yourself the cost of a hotel for the night.
Ferries from Athens sailing to Crete leave from the main port of Athens at Piraeus.
These ferries arrive at one of the two main ports in Crete, which are Heraklion and Chania.
The Piraeus to Chania ferry is normally the quicker of the two. The Piraeus to Heraklion ferry is usually a bit cheaper.
I've seen the very cheapest ticket prices on the Athens Crete route go from 23.00 Euro (it's a long 10 hour journey though). Expecting to pay around 40 Euro is probably more realistic though.
Check out up to date timetables and look for the best ticket price at Ferryhopper.
Also read: Is Chania or Heraklion better?
Ferry Companies Traveling To Crete
During the summer months you'll find the most ferries sailing from Athens to Crete. There may be five ferries a day, or sometimes even more.
Outside of the high season, the frequency of ferries reduces, but you'll still find at least two ferries per day heading from Athens to the island of Crete.
Ferry companies that sail this route include Minoan Lines, Blue Star Ferries, SeaJets, and Anek Lines.
I'd recommend taking one of the overnight ferries from Athens to Crete so you maximize your time when on vacation. If you're hardcore enough, you won't need to book a cabin – just fall asleep in your chair or if you are backpacking, find somewhere to put your sleeping bag somewhere out of the way!
If you do decide to take a cabin, it will bump up your Crete ferry prices significantly. Check Ferryhopper for journey times and ticket information.
How to get to Piraeus Port
To get from Athens International Airport to Piraeus, use the X96 bus. Alternatively, you can pre-book a taxi with Welcome Pickups. If you've never used buses in Greece before, my guide to public transport in Greece might be a useful read.
To get from Athens Center to Piraeus Port you have a few options which include the bus, metro, and taxi services. Allow at least an hour travel time no matter what option you choose.
How to buy Ferry Tickets in Greece
Life has been made a lot easier in the last few years thanks to Ferryhopper, as you can now buy your ferry tickets to the Greek islands online. There's no extra charge, and you'll pay the same price as if you use a ticket agency or go direct to a ferry company website.
Ferry tickets can also be bought at the main ports such as Piraeus, and at local travel agencies in Athens and on the islands. Trust me though, Ferryhopper is going to make checking your ferry schedules and buying tickets a whole lot easier.
Planning Your Time In Crete
Crete is the largest island in Greece, and also one of the top destinations in Europe. Located in the Mediterranean Sea, there's plenty to see and do here, from visiting historic sites to relaxing on stunning beaches.
I've got a few destination guides that might be good reading before planning out your itinerary in Crete:
- Crete Travel Guide
- Best time to visit Crete
- Transfers from Heraklion airport
- Best things to do in Heraklion
- Heraklion tours and day trips
- The Palace of Knossos (near Heraklion)
- Chania tours and day trips
- Plan a road trip in Crete
How to get from Athens to Crete FAQ
Readers planning to travel between Athens and Crete often have some questions about travel at this point.
Let's take a look at the frequently asked questions to help you better plan your trip:
How long is ferry ride from Crete to Athens?
During the summer you may find a fast ferry that will get to Crete from Athens in 6 hours. On average though, the ferry trip will take around 9 hours from Piraeus Port to Heraklion Port.
How much does it cost to take a ferry from Athens to Crete?
Traveling by ferry between Athens and Crete is quite affordable, with ferry ticket prices for passengers starting at around 30.00 Euros. The faster boats that travel in peak season may have higher prices.
What is the best way to get to Crete?
If time is important to you, the best way to get to Crete is by plane. If your budget is more important, taking one of the daily ferries is the cheapest way to travel.
Is there an overnight ferry from Athens to Crete?
Both Minoan Lines and Blue Star Ferries offer an overnight ferry to Crete. Depending on which ferry company you use, the journey can be between 8.5 and 12.5 hours.
Dave is a travel writer from the UK who's been living in Athens, Greece since 2015. As well as creating this travel blog on how to get from Athens to Crete, he's also created hundreds more guides and itineraries for travel destinations all over Greece. Follow Dave on social media for travel inspiration from Greece and beyond: