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Piraeus, Athens: Cruise port guide – what to see, do and eat

Piraeus Port Athens is the major terminal for cruises to Greece and its capital. Here’s what you need to know about the Athens port.

Words by Nick Dalton

Athens by any other name. Greece’s capital is only 12km away and the tendency is to rush for the big city but that means missing out Piraeus itself, a city itself and a relaxed sea port.

Piraeus Port is one of Europe’s biggest passenger ports; cruise ships are served by three terminals – A, B and C – all within walking distance of each other (although with C more out on a limb) and seemingly surrounded by ferries to the Greek islands.

This Athens cruise port, where ships are docked close to a lively city center street, is within easy walking distance of shops and restaurants. The harbor is enclosed and Piraeus Port sits on a headland: walk through the streets and you find an ancient port that’s now a yacht marina, impressive museums and seafront vistas, while a short, pleasing promenade stroll gets you to a small beach.

The Metro, a small, modern train using the line of an 1869 steam train that was electrified in 1904, runs into Athens (there’s a stop near the Acropolis) while trams shadow the holiday resort beaches to the south before turning towards the bright lights.

Piraeus Port Athens Guide

How to get from Athens Airport to Piraeus Port
How to get from Piraeus Port to Athens city center
Things to do in Piraeus
What to do near Piraeus
Food & drink in Piraeus
Where to stay in Piraeus

How do I get from Athens Airport to Piraeus Port?

By bus

Even though Athens airport is on the far side of the city, Piraeus Port Athens is easy to get to – just hop on the X96 bus. It runs from a simple stop outside the arrivals hall and takes about an hour (via the beach road and passing the Olympiacos football stadium) to Piraeus Port. Your cruise ship is maybe a 20-minute harbourside stroll away, easy with a suitcase on wheels.

How regular is the bus from Athens airport to Piraeus Port?

The bus runs as frequently as every 20 minutes and even through the winter the all-night service is every 40 minutes.

How much is the bus from Athens airport to Piraeus Port?

Tickets available from the kiosk or driver, €6 single, half-price students, under 19s and 65 and up.

By metro

Metro (blue line) trains run from the airport and involve a change to the green line at Monastiraki in the heart of Athens to get to Piraeus Electric Railway Station, perfect if heading for a pre-cruise stay but a little farther to walk to your ship – built in the 1920s and with a grandiose glass and metal roof, it’s an attraction in itself with a museum including fabulous old trains.

How much is the metro from Athens airport to Piraeus Port?

Metro tickets from Piraeus Port to Athens airport and vice versa cost €10, half-price for concessions.

By taxi

A taxi from Athens airport to Piraeus takes about 45 minutes and costs £40-45.

How do I get from Piraeus Port to Athens city center?

Athens is roughly 7km from Piraeus Port and is easily accessible by public transportation – metro, train, bus and tram – as well as private transfer. The best route into town is via the metro which will take 18 minutes, with trains running every 10 minutes. For the Acropolis, take the green line and get off at Monastiraki station – the ancient wonder is then a 10-minute or so walk (well, climb) away.

How much is a taxi from Athens city center to Piraeus Port to Athens?

The drive between Athens center and Piraeus takes around 12 minutes and costs between €13 and €16.

Is there a free shuttle from Piraeus Port?

Yes, Athens port operates a free shuttle bus that takes cruisers between Terminal A and B and runs every 10 or 15 minutes. Piraeus train station is a 20-minute walk from Terminal A.

Your cruise line may well also provide free shuttle buses to the city centre.

Can you walk from a cruise ship into Athens?

Walking is inadvisable, it would take you around two hours to get from Athens Piraeus Port to the Acropolis and the capital’s major sights.

How do you spend a day in Piraeus?

Piraeus is one of the largest ports in Europe so there’s plenty to keep you busy nearby if you have time before or after your cruise and don’t wish to schlep into Athens proper or have already visited the vaunted city.

Things to do in Piraeus

Votsalakia Beach

A 30-minute stroll from the cruise port (less if you are staying over in a hotel here), across the city peninsula and around Marina Zeas, is this low-key, pebbly beach running eastward. Pleasingly relaxed and with bars and places to grab a bite nearby.

Freatida Beach

On the other side of town, to the south of the entrance to Marina Zeas and near Hellenic Maritime Museum, there’s a little sand, lots of rocks and a few shaded sun-loungers for hire.

Hellenic Maritime Museum

A treasure trove near the harbor with 2,500 items tracing Greek seafaring from prehistoric times, through classical antiquity and the Roman era up to modern cruise days. A highlight is the Aristotle Onassis Collection featuring nautical instruments, weapons, furniture and art dating back to the 17th century, relics that once filled his famed yacht Christina.

Archaeological Museum of Piraeus

A wonder world of stone and marble, a huge collection of excavated statues from the city’s time as Athens’ naval dockyard and a major trading hub of the Eastern Med. The buildings bookend the grand, classical Theatre of Zea, which is being turned into a sculpture garden.

Olympiacos Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium

Home of Olympiacos, one of Athens’ famed football teams, a 30-minute city center walk from the cruise port. It’s Greece’s biggest football-only stadium (capacity 33,000), was built to host football in the 2004 Olympics, and hosted the 2023 UEFA Super Cup between Manchester City and Sevilla. There’s a museum, glossy club shop and stadium tours.

Hidden treasures from Athens Piraeus Port

Piraeus Tower

A 1970s port-side 22-storey tower block redeveloped with green credentials and only finally completed – and elegantly illuminated – in December 2023. A world of shops, restaurants and stirring 360-degree views are promised. Watch this space!

City walls

Not something you’d stumble on unless you go looking. Free to walk, these ancient walls were started in 493 BC. Once the double walls with road and living area in between connected Piraeus and Athens; now only a 2.5km stretch remains, hugging the coast.

Agia Triada

A Byzantine cathedral [above left] with a magnificent interior – finally completed in the late 1970s. It’s the replacement for one built in the mid-1800s, that was destroyed in the Second World War, with construction starting in the 1950s and a 1964 inauguration. There’s room for 3,000 people and brass, marble and wood details culminate in a dome with 40 windows. Almost on the port but tucked away around a corner.

What to do near Piraeus

Athens Riviera

The stretch of beaches and resort towns heading southeast from Piraeus. Lively and accessible – because the airport is on the far side of Athens, the X96 bus comes along here and so avoids the center. Kalamaki, Glyfada, Voula… all pebbly but tending to get less so the farther you get. From Voula, where the bus turns from the sea, the Riviera stretches another 400km to Sounion where the Temple of Poseidon, sitting above the sea, is a major attraction.

Athens itself

Piraeus is the relaxed option when it comes to a hotel for a stopover, cheaper too. It also puts you in line for the Metro into the center. Given the heat and the fact that it’s not near the sea, many people find that a day here is enough.

Monastiraki station gives an easy stroll up the back of the hill to the Acropolis (the complex of ancient buildings that includes the Parthenon), the best place to start the day; after the majestic hilltop temples everything is downhill, literally.

Other delights include the stunning, contemporary Acropolis Museum, the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896, and the nearby National Gardens, almost 200 years old, a lush, calm oasis in the bustling city.

Just across the road is a historical park featuring the remains of the huge 6th-century BC Temple of Zeus [below] as well as the Temple of Kronos and Rhea and the Temple of Apollo Delphinium. As well as a collection of museums, there are colorful markets and plenty of smart shops.

Where to eat and drink in Piraeus


Seafood restaurant boasting a terrace with views to the Acropolis as well as yacht marinas, beaches and enclosed Mikrolimano Bay. Opened in 1957, it’s now run by the founder’s grandson and is a cool, white, understated spot. Octopus, squid and a host of fish – bream, mullet, grouper – feature on a menu alongside Greek salads and baklava for dessert.


Tavern-like retreat, on the same spot since 1944, in the streets close to the cruise terminals and by the entrance to the Naval Academy, run by the grandchildren of the founder, Margero herself. A café-like feel with a terrace and open until midnight. More fish, along with a specialty of langoustines, bought daily from the isle of Symi, mostly with a light battering.


Hip bar with rooftop terrace on the rocky cliffs of the promontory at the entrance to Mikrolimano Bay; look one way and there are sunset views over the sea, look the other and there’s a world of yachts. Great for a lazy drink but excellent Mediterranean food too.

Marina Zeas

A small, circular city centre harbour now both a yacht marina and hub for sightseeing trips. It is surrounded by bars and small restaurants, some a lively cluster of pavement tables overlooking the water, some more traditional. Only a 15-minute walk through pretty streets from the nearest cruise dock.

After more?

Other local-recommended eateries include: Italida (cosy Italian), Hams & Clams (views and seafood), Piscis (modern seafood) and Kitchen Dim Sum Bar (Asian) while Paleo is a great place for wine lovers.

Hotels near Piraeus Port Athens

Piraeus Port Hotel

Roomy, modern place with Scandi white-and-wood decor close to ships, Metro station and bus stop. All rooms, many with balconies, have city views, some over to the Acropolis. The breakfast buffet is highly rated and there’s a pleasing bar.

Faros I

Colourful, modern, budget hotel only a couple of streets back from the cruise port. A pale tangerine frontage is filled with balconies and the restaurant tables on the ground floor spill on to the pavement. Lots of tangerine inside too and good Greek food.

Royal Olympic

Should you choose to stay in Athens itself, this is a treat. The grandiose hotel sits across the road from the Temple of Zeus and varied other temples in their parkland; rooms (well, many of them) overlook not only the temple but gaze up at the city’s mini mountain, 277m church-topped Lycabettus Hill, spectacular after dark. It’s around the corner from the Acropolis Museum and the promenade past historic sights up the Acropolis itself. Breakfast is wonderful in the Roof Garden with those same views, a space that becomes an awe-inspiring restaurant and bar.

Published 05.29.24