Whether you are meeting your cruise ship for a Greek island cruise, or you are vacationing anywhere in the Greek islands, you will most like find yourself in the port city of Piraeus.
Piraeus also makes a wonderful cruise ship port day. All the main historical sites are in the central part of the city, which you can reach by bus or metro, and you can walk from site to site.
Piraeus is located about 7 miles southwest of Athens, and was settled in the early 5th century BC. It has served as the main port of Athens since then. Piraeus is the largest passenger port in Europe, and can be a very confusing place to be due to its sheer size, and the number of vessels that pass through here.
You have three options to get to the port from the Athens airport–taxi, bus, and metro.
A taxi directly from the airport to the port will cost about 50-55E. If you are staying overnight in Athens, and want to go directly into the city from the airport the rate is 35E during the day and 50E at night. The airport-city route is a fixed fare, so just make sure the cab driver knows you are aware of these set rates. A taxi from downtown Athens to Piraeus port should run about 15-20E.
Bus X96 goes from the airport directly to the Port of Piraeus. It costs 5E and takes about 90 minutes depending on traffic. It is shown as the lime green line on the map.
Bus X95 goes from the airport into Athens city center and drops you off right at Syntagma Square. It also costs 5E but takes from 45 minutes to an hour. The X95 route is the brown line on the map
Bus x80 is a newer route not shown on the map. It is not a route from the airport, but it gets you from the cruise ship terminals into downtown Athens. The cost is 4E, but this is for a one-day pass that can also be used for your return trip, as well as on other routes. You can buy the ticket from the driver, or from the kiosk in front of terminal E12.
You take the Blue Line (number 3) from the airport into Athens until you get to the Monastiraki Station (which is the end of the line). Here you will change to the Green Line (number 1) to the end of the line at Piraeus. Tickets are 8E. This route takes about an hour.
Navigating the Port
If you are exiting the metro station or have arrived from the airport bus you are dropped off into the very thick of things. This central area will have a great selection of cafes and tavernas, so if you want to eat before you board this is a good place to do it.
If you are taking a ferry to one of the islands, you will need to find out which area of the port your ferry leaves from. By the way, you do not need to use the ticket counter or booking office of your specific ferry company. Ferry tickets can be bought with no surcharge at any travel agency. Here is a general map of where ferries dock at Piraeus.
The dotted red line shows the route of the free shuttle bus that takes you to your dock.
If you are on a cruise ship you will be at Terminal A or B (see below.) Sometimes there is a free shuttle that goes from gate E12 to the metro station. You can also catch city buses 827, 828, 831, 843 & 859 to the metro station. Tickets are E1.4 and can also be used on the metro. These tickets are not sold on the bus, but can be bought from kiosks and newstands. If you have many bags you can catch a taxi for 8-10E.
I suggest you have a Plan A and a Plan B for getting from place to place. Transportation options in Greece are in a constant change of flux. Taking a taxi can always be your Plan C. Don’t be afraid to ask the friendly Greeks for directions or information. When we were there looking for our ferry to Chios, we asked for directions about 4 or 5 times! The port is that big and confusing!
An invaluable guide for navigating Piraeus and Athens is Matt Barrett’s website www.athensguide.com. He also has lots of information on Greek ferries and the islands.
Another hat tip to www.cruiseportwiki.com, from which I copied a photo.