The Best Way To Experience Athens And Its Cruise Port Piraeus

The Best Way To Experience Athens And Its Cruise Port Piraeus

If you’re seeking a Mediterranean cruise with time to explore the ancient sites of Athens or the idyllic Aegean Islands, your itinerary will likely include a stop in Piraeus. As one of the largest cruise ship docks in Europe, welcoming approximately 600 cruise ship calls a year, it is known as the gateway to the Greek capital and is highly popular in the spring and summer. 

We’ve created the guide below to help you make the most of your time when you stop here.

What to expect when you arrive at Piraeus cruise port

Piraeus has been a port for Athens since the 4th century B.C., acting as an important centre for trade links to the rest of the world. However, today’s cruise port has had a modern makeover, providing everything needed to accommodate the high volume of traffic it sees. In fact, in 2019, it was voted the “Best Cruise Port in the Eastern Mediterranean Region” by MedCruise.

The new cruise port has three terminals, Miaoulis A, Themistocles B and Alkimos C, each less than half a kilometre apart. Shuttle buses are provided, where needed, to ferry passengers between the terminals and main terminal buildings.

All terminal buildings have passenger facilities, including check-in and arrival facilities, free Wi-Fi, telephones, toilets and taxis. You’ll also find duty-free and souvenir shops in terminals A and B. If you need currency exchange or a café, these are just available in terminal A.

Terminal A is within walking distance from Piraeus centre, approximately a mile away. Terminal B Themistocles or Quay Themistocles are usually used for mega-ships and are located further from the centre in a gated area alongside Terminal C Alkimos.

Most cruise guests stopping at Piraeus will seek onward travel to Athens, which is around 7.5 miles northeast of the port. The metro (green and blue lines) is typically the fastest way to get there, with the station about half an hour’s walk from the port.

You can also take the bus, either the standard bus 040 or one of the two express buses X80 and X96 from Piraeus Port. Taxis, costing €25-30, are also available. However, heavy traffic can mean these journeys can take up to one hour. Shore excursions are also a good option, particularly if you are concerned about time.

Piraeus also offers ferry transfers to many of the larger Greek Islands. This option is definitely worth exploring if you are staying here for more than a day or two.

Things to do in Athens

Although Piraeus is a historical location itself, with museums, cafes and a pleasant harbour to explore, most visitors opt to visit Athens and explore the Greek capital and its UNESCO-listed Acropolis. 

Athens is easy to explore on foot. However, with its abundance of historical highlights and fascinating culture, it is impossible to see and do everything in one day. Therefore, it is worth doing your research ahead of time to select what interests you the most. 

Our top highlights include:

The Acropolis: An ancient Greek complex and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Acropolis is truly monumental. Spectacularly perched overlooking the city of Athens, these ruins, which include the Theatre of Dionysus, the Parthenon and the Odeon of Herodes, date back as early as 510 BC.

Plaka: The neighbourhood of Plaka offers a captivating blend of Old Town cobbled streets with pastel houses, small squares and intriguing places to shop, eat and drink, all at the base of the hill of the Acropolis. Don’t miss the chance to try some authentic Greek food here in one of the tavernas.

Ancient Agora: Now a major historical site, Agora, meaning market, was once the meeting place for Greek Philosophers, such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. It was where affairs of the state, business and religion were discussed and where people socialised. Here you can visit one of the best-preserved temples in Greece – the Temple of Hephaestus (415BC).

Shopping in Evripidou Street and Athens Central Market: Evripidou Street sells everything from spices and cured meats to antiques and souvenirs, a great place to sample local produce or buy gifts to take home. Next door, Athens Central Market is the largest of its kind in the city, showcasing genuine Greek culture with its stalls selling fish, vegetables and meat.

Other nearby places to visit

If you have more time when stopping in Piraeus or have explored Athens’ main attractions before, there is plenty more to explore close by. For example, ancient Corinth is just under 54 miles away. Once one of the largest and wealthiest cities in Greece, it has extensive archaeological remains and famous ruins. It’s also where you will find the man-made Corinth Canal, a route that links the Gulf of Corinth to the Saronic Gulf. Meanwhile, Cape Sounion is around 51 miles away and is where you’ll find the Temple of Poseidon, another beautiful and significant monument in Greek history.

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