Skip to main content

Piraeus: Gateway to Athens


Arriving in Athens via the port city of Piraeus is much more interesting than arriving by air. Upon disembarking, you're greeted by the sights and sounds of a major transportation hub. The constant movement of people, the smell of the sea and the hum of engines fill the air. It's an unmistakable reminder that Piraeus is a working port, not a polished tourist attraction.

2_IMG_2963 - Copy3_IMG_29604_IMG_2962

Located just south-west of Athens, Piraeus serves as the gateway for countless travellers looking to explore the capital's treasures. Most visitors I know wouldn’t consider staying in Piraeus, they simply pass through it on the way to the capital. But for me Piraeus is a place to linger and a reminder of my early maritime career.


Piraeus is the largest seaport in Greece and in the Eastern Mediterranean and is ranked 4th in Europe in terms of container traffic. It is also one of Europe’s largest passenger ports, with about 20 million people disembarking annually. Its three cruise terminals are a short walk from the city of Piraeus. There are also lots of ferries to take people to the islands.


Navigating the labyrinthine streets of Piraeus, you'll find yourself surrounded by modest shops, small cafés, and simple apartments. There's an authenticity to the place that makes Piraeus a memorable part of the journey.


Piraeus eateries offer some of the freshest and tastiest seafood you’ll find anywhere, with many of the cafés and restaurants located on the waterfront providing sensational views. Here is a list of the best.

There are several quirky hotels in Piraeus, many in the 2-star category, but a more upmarket one is the Piraeus Theoxenia Hotel, a 5-star rated property. If you would prefer to be a little farther away from the hustle and bustle, try the 4-star Alex Monte Kastella, located near the smaller Microlimano port, about three kilometres from the main port.


From Piraeus, Athens is just a short drive away – 12 kilometres or 12 minutes – or you can catch a train if you want the cheapest option – only €1.40. It’s worth it just to see the architecturally attractive station with its sandstone walls crowned by metal and a latticed roof. It’s built on the site of Greece’s first Station that opened in 1869 and today it is the southern terminus for the Metro line (but with an extension planned).

As I have mentioned in a previous blog, I like to stay in the Plaka district of Athens. To get here by rail take a Line 1 (or green line) train from Piraeus and get off at Monastiraki Station.


Plaka is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Athens, located right below the Acropolis Hill. It is extremely beautiful and picturesque, standing out for its authentic character and traditional layout. The largest part of Plaka consists of neoclassical houses that date back to the 19th century, although archaeological findings suggest that the region has been continuously inhabited since ancient times.


All buildings in Plaka have been listed and this is the only part of Athens that has been untouched by modern urban development, allowing you to get a glimpse of the city's past. Not much has changed in Plaka for the past 100 years.


Plaka is clustered around the base of what is probably Athens' most recognisable site, the Acropolis. The Acropolis has been inhabited since the Neolithic period and is now so popular as a tourist attraction that visitor numbers have been capped at 20,000 a day since last month. Probably a good thing as the ruins seem to be crumbling more each time I see them, but that’s still a lot of people. The ever-present cranes and scaffolding don’t seem to put visitors off at all, but the installation of a lift and some concrete pathways in recent years has drawn local criticism.


The Parthenon is the principal ancient structure on the Acropolis. It is the symbol of Athens and the most famous of the surviving structures from the world of ancient Greece. The Parthenon was originally built in honour of the goddess Athena, the city's patron. Other structures include the Erechtheion Temple, the Propylaea gateway and the Temple of Athena Nike.


The Acropolis and its ancient structures represent the pinnacle of Greek civilisation, philosophy and art. Together they form a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Athens, despite its ancient roots, is also a modern metropolis. The city buzzes with energy, and the layers of history and progress coexist harmoniously. You'll find contemporary art galleries, vibrant street markets and modern infrastructure that sit alongside the historical ruins.

There are many, many more sights to see in Athens, but they’ll have to wait for another time.


Images (20)
  • 1_greece-1301655_1280
  • 2_IMG_2963 - Copy
  • 3_IMG_2960
  • 4_IMG_2962
  • 5_piraeus-1712115_1280
  • 6_IMG_2973
  • 7_IMG_2974
  • 8_greece-949489_1280
  • 9_IMG_3219
  • 10_train-station-183170_1280
  • 11_IMG_3022
  • 12_IMG_3025
  • 13_IMG_3026
  • 14_IMG_3027
  • 15_IMG_3238
  • 16_IMG_3063
  • 17_IMG_3048
  • 19_acropolis-2725914_1280
  • 20_greece-4396371_1280
  • 18_IMG_3210

Add Comment

Comments (0)

Link copied to your clipboard.