Main Ports in
the primary port of Athens and the easiest way to get to most of the Aegean Islands. The ferries, high-speeds and the
Flying Dolphins leave from the main harbor
which people simply refer to as Pireaus. You
can take the metro and get off at the last
stop, cross the ever-busy street on the pedestrian bridge and the boats
are right there.
The Athens Metro and the Suburban Rail both go to Pireaus from the airport as does the X96 bus. (See my Athens Airport Page) By the time you read this the Coastal Tram will probably be going there as well. The 040 bus goes from the bottom of Syntagma square to Pireaus and the new X80 is an express version of the same route which goes to the
Pireaus Cruise Terminal. There is also a stop near the Acropolis museum on Vas Amalias Street near Hadrian's Arch on the Plaka side of the street. The 049 goes from Athinas Street at Omonia Square to Pireaus. Your hotel can also call you a radio taxi to get you to your ferry and when you return there is usually a whole line of taxis waiting for you. Do what I do,
take a taxi. It's cheap and easy and he will
take you right to your boat.
For a map of
where the boats to the different islands are
Athens Guide. There is a shuttle
bus that goes from one end of the harbor to
the other. There are signs that will point the way. Any other islands you can walk
to the boat.
There is a large cafeteria behind the ticket offices which are by the public bus terminal. In the cafeteria is internet access and a place to leave your luggage so you can wander around if you have a long wait for your boat. There are other such cafeterias near the boats to the different island chains too, though not all of them. There are some nice working-class restaurants on the back streets of Pireaus and lots of fast food places on the main street. I have a page you
might be interested in reading
Step-By-Step Guide to Visiting a Greek
Island which tells you how to take the metro to Pireaus, buy tickets and so on. There are ticket offices in Pireaus on the main street, by the bus station and even one in the Pireaus Metro station. If you want a cabin you should get your tickets in advance. If you are traveling in July and August or on Fridays in June and going on a high-speed you should probably get tickets in advance too. If you are booking hotels with a travel agency ask them to book your ferries too
because it is no extra charge. Most people stay in Athens and just take the metro or a taxi to Pireaus but some people do want to stay in the port. There are a number of good hotels of all category in Pireaus and if you use the Booking.com Pireaus Hotel Search you can find the ones within walking distance to the ferries. The economical Hotel
Delfini is the closest
to the metro, the airport bus and the ferries. The Hotel Acropole is close and inexpensive as well. The best of the hotels close to the port is the 5-Star Pireaus Theoxenia which has decent
prices for a hotel of its category.
I also have a page of Pireaus Hotels convenient to the port.
See Matt's Greek Island Ferry Page for more information about Pireaus and going to the islands.
For ferry schedules and tickets see Ferryhopper.com and to see the Pireaus map of the gates and which ferries depart from which gate see on Ferryhopper.com's Pireaus Page
you hate flying and don't fancy a ferry trip
then you will be happy to know that by leaving
from the port of Rafina rather then Pireaus,
you can shave off two hours from your time on the ship on trips to the Cyclades. However this only applies if you are going directly from the airport to the islands since it will take you as long to get from downtown Athens to Rafina and then to your island then it will to get from downtown Athens to Pireaus and to your island. In other words Rafina is closer to the airport and Athens is closer to Pireaus.
There's a high-speed
catamaran to Andros, Tinos, Mykonos and a few of the Cylades too. There are also boats to Marmari in Evia that go every 3 or 4 hours. If you don't
think you have time to visit an island, a
visit to Rafina will do. You can sit in the
harbor restaurants, eating fried Kalamaria,
watching the fishing boats and ferries sail in
and out. It's only 45 minutes from downtown
Athens. You can take a bus from Pedion Areos or go with
George the Famous Taxi Driver.
Avra Rafina is a 4-star
hotel convenient to the ferries to the
islands for those want to avoid Athens and go
straight to the islands and spend the first
night in Greece in a Greek-island-setting. Nearby the 3-star Hotel Akti also offers convenience for travelers to both the port and the airport.
For ferry schedules and tickets see Ferryhopper.com
For more about Rafina including restaurants, beaches and hotels see Matt's Rafina Page
For getting to the island of Kea as well as some of the Cyclades and even Chios, Thassos and northern Greece, Lavrion has become a ferry hub for Attica with the idea that in the future those who want to skip Athens altogether will be able to do it, taking a taxi or bus from the airport and being on your ferry in about half an hour.
I know because I do it all the time and even though I love Athens there is nothing like going straight to an island and pulling oneself together before coming back to the city after recovering from jet-lag. There are some nice ouzeries, fish taverns and psistarias and if you have enough time before your ferry sails you can take a swim or see the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion. If
you are not
renting a car in Athens there is a bus to Lavrion from Pedion Areos that stops at the airport and another that takes the coastal road and stops at Sounion. Or you can hire George the Famous Taxi Driverto take you. There are now a handful of hotels to stay at right in town, the best of which is probably the NJ Apartments. There are also several other apartments
available on Booking.com's Lavrion page.
If you have a car you can stay further out of town at the Hotel Aegeion Beach on the beach, right below the Temple of Poseidon at Sounion or if you don't have a car have the hotel arrange a taxi for you in the morning. For those with deeper pockets
you can stay at the Cape Sounion Grecotel Exclusive Resort.
See Matt's Guide to Lavrion
For ferry schedules and tickets see Ferryhopper.com
For many people the port city of Igoumenitsa is the first or the last stop in Greece. Located in the northwest corner of the country almost at the border with Albania, it is an important harbor for trucks transporting goods to and from Europe as well as tourists. There are ferries between Igoumenitsa and the Italian ports of Brindisi, Bari, Ancona and Venice as well as to the Greek Islands of Corfu and Paxi. Connected to the rest of Greece by the new system
of major highway known as the Egnatia Motorway the travel time for getting goods to Athens and Thessaloniki and even to Turkey has been reduced dramatically and the city is attracting the interest of developers who are suddenly realizing its potential as a commercial port and perhaps something more. Igoumenitsa is the second busiest passenger port after Pireaus and is able to service even the large cruise ships and in the not too distant future may become an international logistics center.
See Matt's Igoumenitsa Page
For ferry schedules and tickets see Ferryhopper.com
Patras in Western Peloponessos
the ports of Brindisi, Bari and Ancona in
Italy leave from the port city of Patras on
the northwestern coast of the Peleponnesos as well as a ferry to Ithaki and Kefalonia.
Tickets can be bought from your travel agent
in Athens or Ferryhopper.com and usually includes bus
service from Athens. The bus trip is about 2 to 3
hours. You can also take the train which is
more scenic but takes an hour longer. The boat
trip to Brindisi is about 15 hours. Ancona is
arond 24. If you can afford a cabin then go
for it but if you are young and adventurous a
sleeping bag and a spot on the deck is fine.
Especially with a few bottles of wine and a
couple guitars and some new friends. If you
are arriving here from Italy you can take a
train or bus to Athens. The train is slower
but leaves you close to the center. Your ferry
company may have buses to Syntagma near the
Plaka, so ask on board and if they do take it.
The regional buses leave you off in the middle of nowhere. There may be a couple ferries to Kefalonia leaving from Patras in the summer months but most leave now from Kilini which is about 45 minutes south of Patras.
See Matt's Patras Guide
For hotels in Patras see Booking.com's Patras page
For ferry schedules and tickets see Ferryhopper.com
This port in the Peloponnesos is where you catch the ferries to Zakynthos and Kefalonia and even to Ithaki on occasion. The town is a sort of hole in the wall place but there are hotels and rooms, restaurants and cafes, and if you miss your boat and have to spend the night here it is not the end of the world. You can take the KTEL bus here from Athens
Bus Terminal A or hire George the Famous Taxi Driver. But since you are going to want to have a car on any of those island you may as well rent a car in Athens and drive here.
For hotels in Kyllini see Booking.com's Kyllini page
For ferry schedules and tickets see Ferryhopper.com
This little seaside village on the coast of the Peloponnesos is actually the port for Olympia and since every cruise ship stops, or should stop here, it can get pretty crowded for a small village. But it is a town that has adjusted to the situation and there are loads of cafes, restaurants, shops and even a Museum of Ancient Greek Technology. There are buses and a train that take tourists to Ancient Olympia and you can even hire a licensed tour guide like Eleni Agelli Tours to give you or your group a personal tour and show you the surrounding area as well.
See Matt's Katakolon Page
Services and other
the Cyclades, Dodecanese, North Aegean, Saronic islands and Crete leave from
Pireaus. In many
cases you can buy your tickets at the port but
if you are traveling in the months of July and
August and even September, or you want a cabin, it is best to book in advance. Ferryhopper.com provides an easy way to find schedules to and between the islands, book the tickets and then either have them delivered to you or you can pick them up at ticket offices all over Greece and especially in the ports right by your boat. If you have booked your hotels in advance you
may as well book the ferry tickets as well. Most islands during the off season
you can just go to the port, buy a ticket, and get on the boat. But because booking on line is so easy why take a chance?
The summer is
a busy time in the Greek Islands. It is
recommended that you book your hotels well in
advance because many islands will be full. Keep
your trip uncomplicated by not trying to see every
island in the Aegean on your first visit to Greece
especially during July and August. One or two
islands with good connections to each other is
your best bet.
is run by George Gerassimidis and
his staff of multi-lingual travel experts. They have been #1 on Tripadvisor for almost as long as Tripadvisor has been around.
Specializing in the Cyclades, Crete, Rhodes cruises, and
combinations of islands where they put together your
itinerary and take care of all the details. They are also available 24 hours if you have any problems. I encourage you to visit
and in particular their Island Hopping Page and pick out
one of the island combinations that looks good to
you. They reserve a number of rooms on the most
popular islands so there is a possibility that
they will have a hotel that another agent or the
hotel itself told you was full. Also have a
look at their
dates, rates and itineraries. They also have unbeatable deals on their Special Offers page. Or you can create your own specialized itinerary using their Build Your Trip page.
Dolphin Hellas Travel
Hellas Travel Agency
in Athens is one of the most responsible and reliable in
Greece. They are one of the oldest agencies in
Greece and go out of their way to make sure their
clients have a problem-free holiday. They realize
that to be successful you have to have return
customers and can book hotels, cruises, tours,
transfers to and from the airport, hotels, ferries
and cruiseships in Greece and all the Greek
islands. See their
Aegean Thesaurus Travel Agency
What began as
Sifnos only travel agency has now become one of
the most respected and reliable full-service
agencies in the Cyclades. Not only can they
arrange your trip and accommodations in Sifnos but
they can take care of your hotel needs in Athens
and on any of the other Cycladic islands. They can
also do weddings on the island of Sifnos. For Info
and bookings visit their webpage
Everyone wants to 'island-hop' but how can you do it and feel secure that the islands you book your hotels on will have
ferries to get to them? Check out
Create Your Own Itinerary page
where you click to choose the islands and
the number of days you want to spend on each,
category of hotels, days in Athens, land tours
or whatever and submit it to the travel
agency. They come back with a price within 24
hours. Click on the box on the right.
Taxi Transfers and Tours with George the Famous TaxiDriver
For getting you to an early ferry this
service can't be beat and eliminates the anxiety
you get when you are waiting for the hotel
concierge to call a cab and there are none
people on cruises use George for day trips in
Athens as well as excursions to Delphi,
Nafplio, Meteora, Sounion and the
Peloponessos. If you are a group of four you
will find that sharing the cost of his cab is
cheaper than the tours the cruise ships offer
and you will see a lot more without 40 other
people to slow you down. George will also do transfers to the Western Peloponnessos for ferries to the Ionian Islands as well as driving all the way to Corfu and Lefkada. For information see George the Famous
Taxi driver and for drivers and guides in the islands see Private Tours by Taxi, Limo and Licensed Guides
Matt's Greek Island Hotel Search
You can find hotels in the Greek Islands by location, price, whether or not it has a swimming pool or is on the beach, and see photos, maps and customer reviews by using this link to Matt's Greece Hotel Search.
and many hotels
you can book and then cancel with no cancellation fee. For those who want to book without using a travel agency this is the best way to do it. For those who are looking for villas, holiday homes, self-catering apartments and Air BnB style accommodations see Matt's Villas in Greece.
Also I spent the first 3 months of 2021 totally redoing my Hotel pages at www.hotelsofgreece.com and I am very proud of it. (I am also almost blind from creating thumbnail photos for it). I think you will find it very useful since I basically looked at every hotel in Greece and chose the ones I would stay at if I was booking a trip to every islands, town, village or city in Greece. So if you need help booking a hotel or if you want to see if the hotel you are thinking about booking is on my list of the best hotels in Greece visit www.hotelsofgreece.com and remember that when you book from that page it helps support me and my Greece Travel Guides.
Yacht and Sailboat Charters in Greece
One of the best ways to do the Greek islands and
coast is on a sailboat. One summer I
took a 5-day cruise on a sailboat
with 6 cabins and plenty of room
and Captain Billy Joe Leck, a true
renaissance man from the UK,
skilled in the arts of sailing,
story-telling, guitar-playing and
baby-sitting who knew more about
the islands than I could learn in
a lifetime! I am not a sailor so I
was a little reluctant to go but
when the trip was over I wished I
had booked 10 days or a month. We
swam in sheltered coves in
incredibly clear sea and sailed
into ports in the late afternoon
for dinner and entertainment. (The
boat had AC but we never needed
it.) This is the best way to see
the islands, (like a cruise but
you choose your own itinerary). If
you like a particular island you
stay longer or even return to it.
The captain doubles as a
guide/host and knows the best
restaurants, bars, beaches and is
your private interpreter making
ordering in restaurants easy. The
surprising thing is that it can be cheaper then staying in a
hotel and a lot more interesting!
Be sure to read my article about
my experience sailing in Greece
on my Sailing in Greece page.
I also recommend sailing the Greek islands with comfortable traditional wooden sailing yachts on the Aegean and the Ionian Seas. Rent a cabin or the entire boat for you and your family and friends. See Greece Sail Cruises and Charters.
Greek Island Cruises
the Greek Islands
(and small) beautiful cruise ships which often
include stops in Istanbul, Turkey, Ephesus, Italy
and Egypt see
Matt's Cruise Page
or visit the
website of Fantasy Travel and visit their Cruise Page. Take a look at their Smart 7 Program
which allows you to get on the cruise ship after a few days in Mykonos, see a few islands and then get off in Santorini and stay a few days there before returning to Athens. It is the best of both worlds. Also their 8 Days / 7 Nights Cruise "Jewels of the Cyclades" with Galileo, a beautiful 48 meter motor sailboat that can visit islands and beaches that the big cruise ships can't get to. The itinerary includes Athens - Poros - Poliegos - Folegandros - Santorini - Antiparos - Paros - Delos - Mykonos
- Syros - Kythnos - Sounion. See Fantasy Travel's Jewels of the Cyclades.
Also see the Dolphin Hellas Special Cruise Offers page for bargain prices on selected cruises.
Greece Guidebooks and Tips
information on the Greek islands there are many
excellent books and guides. Buy the local
guidebooks that will be available to you on each
of the islands and in the English-language
bookstores in Athens. If you want to buy one Guide
book for all your needs in Greece and the Greek
islands I suggest the
Guide to Greece,
Rough Guide, Let's Go or National Geographic. You
can order these books from my
Books page. Keep in mind that the people who
write the books are not supermen and updating them
at the rate that things change is an impossible
task. They can also be opinionated
(like I'm not) and they have to be all things to
everybody (where I only have to write about what I
like). So you can do what many people do which is
print out the pages from my website you
need and put them together in a big loose-leaf
and toss them when you are finished. Or you can
give them to other travelers. And if you see
something I have written that is wrong, please let
me know because unlike a guidebook I don't have to
wait for the next printing to make changes. I can
add and subtract stuff every day (and I
do). By the way if you have a smart phone or ipad you can pretty much use my website as your guidebook wherever there is an internet hot-spot which is pretty much anywhere these days. The Greek Government announced plans to make the whole country wireless and free in 2014 so they must have finished by now.
By the way the above is a real book that you can read for free (some of it) at Spearfishing in Skatahori and if you like it you can order it on Amazon.
If you are
traveling in the summer months, it's a good
idea to book a room well in advance. Also
keep in mind that you can go through the
hassle of booking tours and accommodations
yourself but if you do it through a
Travel Agency you can actually save
money because of the special arrangements between
the hotels, cruise companies and the Greek
Travel agents who give them most of their
business. Plus they will save you the enormous
hassle of trying to figure out the ferry
schedules. Island-hopping is great when
you are young and flexible and don't want to
be tied down to a particular program. But it
becomes more difficult in the summer when
travel agents are scrambling to secure rooms
from anywhere they can. If you are young you
will be happy to know that there are campsites
on almost every island. They cost about 10
euros a night or so. Youth Hostels seem to
have disappeared on the islands but 3 or 4
people in a room at a c-catagory hotel can be
pretty cheap per person. You can search for hotels by category and find cheap ones by using my Matt's Greece Hotel Search. People used to sleep
on the beach but those days are over. If you
get caught you probably won't go to jail but
being awakened at 6am by the cops and told to
pack your stuff is not fun, and if they catch
you again they do get annoyed. If you think you are too poor to go through a travel agent think again and read Matt's Budget Travel page
opinion there is no need to see five islands
in the week you have to spend in Greece. Pick
one or two islands that you can book in
advance and get to know them. A rolling stone
gathers no moss, but it does not make many
friends either. You will have a richer
experience by experiencing all that one island
has to offer, in people, traditions, beaches,
scenary and even nightlife, then trying to see
every island and feeling like a stranger every
day. Greece is a beautiful place for sure. But
what makes any holiday special is the people
you meet and the new friends you make. See Matt's Itinerary Suggestions
What is the best way
to book your holiday to Greece? Can you really
save by using auto-booking systems or by
booking directly with the hotels? Are Travel
Agencies a thing of the past? Read my article
Endangered Species about the internet and
the disappearance of the small
personalized-service travel agency.
About Matt's Websites
website began as a hobby
in 1995 and since then it has grown in popularity and
size. 99% of the
material on my websites was written by myself.
I don't have a staff. I most of the photos. I update the site
continuously so unlike a guidebook I don't
have to wait for the next printing to fix a
mistake. People have been asking me how they
can contribute. First of all you can
contribute by using the travel agencies I recommend.
Without their support this site could not exist. You can also contribute by using Matt's Greece Hotel Search to book hotels in Greece, or anywhere in the world actually. If neither of these options appeal to you and you are really appreciative of all the free information you get on my websites you can send a donation through Paypal or Venmo
Remember if you have
any questions about services, itineraries,
problems or anything having to do with Greece
you can contact me
and I will respond
quickly. There is no fee. All info is
Free. You can also visit my other Greece websites . For daily photos and articles join Matt's Greece Travel on Facebook and make friends with lots of others interested
in Greece who can tell you about their trips.
I hope to see you in Greece! Matt Barrett