Athens Islands Tours
Many visitors hop between islands during their visit in Greece. Traveling by Ferry is the best option to visit the islands in the summer because of the frequent itineraries. Note that the more popular the island, the more the itineraries and the connections.
1. ATHENS PORTS
Athens has 3 ports. “Piraeus”, “Rafina” and “Lavrion”
- PIRAEUS PORT, Location: Southwest of downtown Athens. It is the busiest port near Athens and the largest port in Greece. Most ferries, all cruise ships, nearly all ships for Crete and all ferries and dolphins to the Argosaronic islands use this port. You can reach it by the green metro line working from early morning till midnight, the suburban railway and many bus lines, along with direct bus and suburban rail link, (from the old Peloponnese station), even from the Athens airport.
When to choose this port: It’s the only one you can reach easily through public transportation. If you’re traveling to Crete, the Cycladic islands, Northern Aegean islands, Argosaronic islands. Trip duration to Athens downtown: 30 mins by metro. Trip duration to Athens airport: around 70 mins by metro / subway, 55 minutes by suburban rail.
- RAFINA PORT, Location: It is located on the coast Northeast of Athens. It’s the second busiest port of Athens. An excellent choice if travelling to the northern Cycladic islands. Choose this one: If you are going to Andros and maybe Tinos, Mykonos, it’s a better option providing shorter ferry times and is closer to the Athens airport, so it’s great if you are landing in Athens and leaving for the islands on the same day. Trip duration to Athens downtown: 45 mins by car / bus (depending. on traffic) Trip duration to Athens airport: 15 – 20 mins by taxi / bus.
- LAVRION PORT, Location: Southeast of Athens. Most remote, serving routes to Kea and Kythnos, as well as a once a week itinerary to Limnos and Ai-Stratis. It’s a one hour drive from downtown Athens.
2. PREBOOKING FERRIES, TO BOOK OR NOT TO BOOK, THAT IS THE QUESTION!
Prebooking ferry tickets is not ALWAYS a "must". Most ships have free tickets even on the last minute. So, many people just buy ferry tickets upon their arrival. NEVERTHELESS, this definitely doesn't apply for:
- Itineraries between mid-July and the end of August, since it is peak season with the majority of locals leaving for vacation in the same time as well. If you are visiting the islands during that period it is recommended that you book earlier.
- local short trips from Athens to Aegina, Hydra or other Saronic islands, especially on holidays, Friday evenings ( outbound from Athens ) and Sunday evenings ( inbound to Athens). Best thing to do if getting a side trip like this and buying your departure ticket is buying your return ticket too in the same time since some companies offer a small discount.
- Itineraries linking Santorini and/or Mykonos to Crete. These take place in the summer and are preferred by numerous foreign visitors.
- In general all routes between December 20th to December 26th since it's Christmas.
Most ferry or cat companies in Greece, announce their itinerary on a 2 month basis, while quite few do it even earlier. You should be able to have a comprehensive view of summer itineraries by the end of April, however, in case you visit an official site to book a trip, for August and bump on a message of "no seats availability" or "no itineraries on the specific date", don’t worry. Keep in mind that ferry travelling is something really common here, you can book tickets a a few weeks earlier, so wait a little more.