Piraeus is the port of Athens from where many ferries to the Greek islands depart, and it also has an Archaeological Museum and the Hellenic Maritime Museum.

Piraeus SunrisePiraeus Sunrise

For some visitors, Piraeus is all that they see of Athens. They fly into the airport, take a bus or taxi direct to Piraeus, and board a ferry straight to one of the islands. Yet Piraeus has a cosmopolitan character and rough charm of its own, typical of ports around the world. Alongside the traffic and general chaos there are some handsome buildings, good fish restaurants, and two enjoyable museums. It has been a major port since about 500BC, and is still one of the largest in the Mediterranean.

Piraeus Metro StationPiraeus Metro Station

Getting to Piraeus

Piraeus is the last stop at the southern end of the Green Line, Line One, on the Athens Metro. If you're going to or from central Athens then the line connects with major stations including Monastiraki and Omonia. It's by far the best way to get to and from Piraeus, as buses and taxis can get bogged down in traffic.

If you have heavy luggage then a taxi may be your only option but allow plenty of time. The harbour at Piraeus is huge and if you're catching a ferry then you have to know beforehand where the departure point is, no matter how you get there. 


Piraeus Port Map

For example, here's a link to a map of Piraeus port from Blue Star Ferries, who have eight different departure points, depending on the destination. If you're departing from Gate E1, for instance, where Blue Star's boats to the Cyclades and Dodecanese currently leave from, then it's over a mile from the metro station, with lots of busy streets to walk along and cross over.


Piraeus Port Layout

The layout of Piraeus can be confusing, partly because of how busy it is and also because of the indentations made by the various harbours, and it's easy to become disorientated. Kentriko Limani is the name of the main harbour with upscale shops and restaurants close by. There are also twelve gates, numbered E1-E12, and this number is what you need to know in order to find your ferry. Even then, once you get to the gate, it could still take you a while to find your particular ferry's departure point.

Piraeus at NightPiraeus at Night

Piraeus to Athens and the Airport

If you're returning from the islands and would prefer to take a taxi rather than the metro, there are taxi ranks close to most of the gates. It should take about 20-30 minutes into the city centre, which will be metered, or 45 minutes to the airport, where fixed rates apply, with a more expensive rate at night.

You can get from Piraeus to Athens Airport on the metro, with one change at Monastiraki. There is also a direct overground train service, which goes straight to Athens Airport in about an hour. The train station is next to the metro station.

The X96 bus links Piraeus with the airport, and is a 24-hour service. It's the cheapest way at just a few euros, but also the slowest at about 90 minutes. It can also be tiring if you're unlucky and have to stand all the way. 


Never on Sunday

The bustle of life in Piraeus was well illustrated in the 1959 movie, Never on Sunday, which featured Melina Mercouri (later to become Greek Minister of Culture) as a Piraeus prostitute. This side of Piraeus life is also described in some of the rembetika songs, which originated here and can still be heard in the late-night clubs that flourish in the back streets, a world away from the tourist areas of central Athens.

Piraeus Museums

Piraeus has its cultural highlights too, with a small but rewarding Archaeological Museum and the Hellenic Maritime Museum.

Piraeus Archaeological Museum

The prize exhibits in the Archaeological Museum were all found in the harbours around here. In 1930, a collection of stone statues was discovered in a sunken ship that was being used to transport the pieces from a Greek workshop to Italy. In 1939 the harbour also yielded up huge, magnificent bronze statues of Artemis, Athena, and Apollo.

Hellenic Maritime Museum

The Hellenic Maritime Museum, previously known as the Greek Naval Museum, overlooks the Zea Marina Harbour and is easily recognised because of the old submarine that stands in front of it. 

Greece has an illustrious maritime history, of course, and this collection of over 2,000 items covers a great deal of it, from the early days of the elegant triremes with their three levels of rowers, to the lone fisherman with his little caique, to the vast luxury liners and yachts of the immensely wealthy shipping dynasties.

Trireme cross-sectionHow a Trireme Works

The whole story is told in a rich mix of paintings, photographs, maps, flags, uniforms, artifacts, and fascinating scale models of ships and boats.

Part of the museum is made from remains of the so-called Long Walls, or Long Legs, which were barriers built between 493 and 456BC to fortify the harbours at Piraeus, but which were largely destroyed in 86BC. The walls, which also connected Piraeus with Athens, were begun by the Athenian statesman and soldier Themistocles (circa 523-468BC) and were enhanced by Pericles during the Golden Age of Athens, when Piraeus was already a major port.

PiraeusThe Quiet Side of Piraeus

Piraeus Restaurants

Piraeus has a number of upscale restaurants, especially around the smaller harbour of Mikrolimano, where luxurious yachts tie up alongside fishing caiques. Fresh fish is the dish to have, but it won't be cheap. The harbour makes a great place for an al fresco lunch, and those are especially popular on Sundays, or for a romantic evening meal any time, with a view of the bobbing yachts, twinkling lights, and the blue Aegean Sea beyond. For a few recommendations, see our page on Where to Eat in Athens and Piraeus.


Where to Stay in Athens

Some other Athens pages

  • A Drive around Attica

    This drive around Attica offers visitors high hills, beach resorts, small villages and classical sites like Marathon and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion.

  • Athens to Santorini

    There are lots of flights from Athens to Santorini as well as a ferry service from Piraeus, with flights to Santorini leaving from Athens International Airport.

  • Where to Eat in Athens and Piraeus

    If you're wondering where to eat in Athens and Piraeus we have a few suggestions including some favorites around the Acropolis, Omonia Square, and Syntagma.

  • Ten Fun Things to Do in Athens

    Ten Fun Things to Do in Athens include eating in the Central Market, watching the sun set over the Acropolis and seeing one of the world's oldest theatres.

  • Marathon

    The ancient site of Marathon and the site of the Battle of Marathon are in Attica and naturally about 26 miles or 42 kilometres from the centre of Athens.

  • Cape Sounion and the East Coast

    The beach resorts of Athens are easily reached from the city and also close are Cape Sounion with the Temple of Poseidon, ancient Marathon and Rafina's port.

  • Pictures of Athens

    Pictures of Athens from the Greece Travel Secrets website

  • National Archaeological Museum

    The National Archaeological Museum is one of the best things to see in Athens, and the best museum in the world for seeing Greece's archaeological treasures.

  • My Athens: a Portrait by Travel Writer Mike Gerrard

    In My Athens on Greece Travel Secrets travel writer Mike Gerrard describes what he loves about Athens including the Acropolis and eating!

  • Monastiraki Flea Market

    Greece Travel Secrets visits the Monastiraki Flea Market, followed by Sunday lunch at Sigalas on Monastiraki Square

  • Monastiraki and Around

    Around Monastiraki is the flea market, Athens cathedral, Kerameikos Cemetery, the Benaki Museum of Islamic Art and the Psirri and Gazi nightlife districts.

  • A History of Athens

    A History of Athens from the first people to live on the Acropolis through the Golden Age of Pericles and Alexander the Great to the military junta.

  • Greek Architecture

    This beginner's guide to Greek architecture explains how to tell your Ionic from your Doric columns, and what to look for in temples and Byzantine churches.

  • Entertainment in Athens

    There's all kinds of entertainment in Athens whether you're interested in theatre, dance, classical music, jazz, Greek music, rock music, disco, opera or movies.

  • Easter in Athens

    Easter in Athens is, like everywhere in Greece, the biggest religious celebration of the year and this page tells you what to expect over the Easter weekend.

  • The Best Things to Do in Athens

    The best things to do in Athens, Greece, include top archaeological sites like the Acropolis and must-see attractions such as the National Archaeological Museum

  • Best Cocktail Bars in Athens

    Two of the best cocktail bars in Athens, MoMix Kerameikos and The Clumsies, are making creative cocktails using that most Greek of Greek spirits, Metaxa.

  • Athens: Travel Information and Advice about Athens, Greece

    Athens is a top vacation destination. The Greece Travel Secrets Athensguide has information on hotels, museums, Athens airport and all the best things to do.

  • Athens Weather and the Best Time to Visit

    The Greece Travel Secrets website looks at the Athens weather, the chance of rain, the climate in summer and winter and the best time to visit Athens.

  • Athens Walking Tours and Other Experiences

    Athens walking tours and other experiences like cookery lessons, ceramics workshops, dining with a family, and street art are available from Alternative Athens

  • Athens International Airport

    Athens International Airport is east of Athens city centre with its own Metro train station, buses to Athens and Piraeus, taxis and car rental offices.

  • Athens in the Rain

    Athens in the rain isn’t something you’re likely to experience but here are suggestions for things to do in the rain in Athens including museums and shopping

  • Athens Food Tours

    Athens Food Tours are being introduced by new company The Greek Fork, and will include tours of the Central Market, and the best street food.

  • Athens Events and Public Holidays

    If visiting Athens it helps to know when major events and public holidays take place, as some shops and attractions may be closed, but to be there at times like Easter can make for a magical trip.

  • Athens Eaters Guide

    Athens, an Eater's Guide to the City, is published by Culinary Backstreets, who do walking food tours in Athens and the book recommends the best places to eat.

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