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Ah, the Greek Island of Crete, or Creta, in Greek. It is a dream destination for many visiting Greece in the summer! Most travelers fly into Athens and then start island hopping from there.
And although flying is the fastest route to Crete, there is an efficient ferry option to consider. For the best route from Athens to Crete by ferry, read on.
This post will answer any questions about traveling from Crete to Athens by ferry. More specifically, travel between Athens to either Chania or Heraklion.
What is the best route from Athens to Crete by ferry?
Booking the overnight ferry from Athens to Crete is the best route by far. Athens to Crete is a long journey, so it is perfect for an overnighter. Taking the ferry trip also allows you to maximize your time in Athens.
Piraeus port is only 20-30 mins from the center of Athens vs. the airport, which can take up to an hour or more depending on traffic.
Instead of wasting time in the Athens airport to catch a flight, you can explore the historical sites in Athens city center. Don’t waste precious time on your trip to an airport, especially in the busy summer months.
Book Ferry Tickets Now
TIP: If you are traveling in the low season, buying tickets well in advance from November through March isn’t necessary.
In peak season, June through September, booking ferry tickets in advance is highly advisable.
Is it better to fly or ferry from Athens to Crete?
Direct flights are rather frequent and easily accessible for you to travel from Athens to Crete, but if it’s better really depends on how you want to structure your trip.
And although the flight time is short, getting to the airport 2 hours early and going through security is time-consuming.
Not to mention the cost via taxi to get from Athens to the airport. I recently paid 60 euros for a taxi from Athens to the Athens International Airport.
If you plan to fly, Aegean Airlines has a direct flight daily.
How far is Athens to Crete?
The main ferry port in Crete would be Chania or Heraklion. There is a smaller port in Sitia, and The distance to Athens from Chania in nautical miles is 149 or 276 kilometers, and Heraklion to Athens is 167 miles or 309 kilometers.
The difference in flight miles from Athens International Airport to Heraklion International Airport is 192 miles and to Chania Airport 172. The flight time is around 45 minutes.
How long is the ferry ride from Athens to Crete?
The journey times between Athens and Crete will depend on your chosen ferry route. Overnight ferries are slower and take around 11 hours, and the daytime fast ferry is around 8 hours.
Burning hours all day on a ferry isn’t my idea of a good time; this is why you should consider an overnight ferry. It is the best way to get there!
At times of peak summer, there are typically 5-8 daily crossings from Athens to Crete. The first-morning ferry leaves for Piraeus at 9:00 and arrives at Heraklion at 18:50.
The overnight ferries usually depart around 22:30, depending on the season and the sailing schedule. I use Ferry Hopper to check all the ferry timetables.
Overnight ferry from Athens to Crete benefits
There are a couple of reasons why taking the ferry might be the right choice for you.
- It might be the cheapest way to get there. The ferry ticket prices may be much lower than an airline ticket.
- An overnight ferry is also your hotel saving you money that you would have otherwise spent sleeping in Crete.
- Taking the ferry is a lot more of a low-key travel experience. Forget the stress of the airport and flying in general.
- It is a pretty cool experience to spend a night on a ferry sailing across the Aegean Sea.
Athens to Crete Ferry Routes
Ferries between Athens and Crete are frequent as Crete is highly populated year-round. When you are searching for ferry options, you should use sites like Ferry Hopper or Direct Ferries to compare routes, timetables, and prices.
Firstly, ticket prices will vary based on the travel season, but in general, are much less expensive when compared to flight prices. Taking a ferry from Athens to Crete is also easier when you have a lot of luggage. There is a higher baggage allowance, and you also save time by just leaving directly with your bag. You won’t be stuck waiting for your bag to arrive at the carousel.
In Crete, the most popular ports are Chania (the fastest route) and Heraklion. Both ferry routes leave from Piraeus port in Athens. The ferries from Piraeus to Chania or Heraklion are generally more efficient. Sitia is also an option, but there are fewer routes and much longer travel times.
When choosing your ferry route, you must first choose your port. An itinerary idea for you would be to arrive in Chania and then make your way up to Heraklion. Get your ferry tickets in advance to be safe.
What Ferry Companies Are The Best?
There are several ferry operators to take you to Crete. Since most ferries are all about the same quality of the ship, you are really choosing between the price and the timetable.
Remember, in high season, you want to book your ferry tickets in advance! Below are the ferry companies that frequent Crete from Athens.
Blue Star Ferries
Blue Star Ferries is a Greek ferry company operating Superfast Ferries, Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways, and Africa Morocco Link. A commonly booked ferry to get from Athens to Crete.
ANEK Lines was founded by Cretans. They offer high-quality transport service with a fleet of 9 ships. Based in Chania, they aim to boost tourism and strengthen the economy of Crete.
Minoan Lines is a ferry company based in Heraklion, Crete. The Heraklion ferry company offers many daily ferries between Athens to Crete. They are not exclusively sailing between the two but offer many options.
Sea Jets, based in Greece, offers service from Attica to the Cyclades islands and Crete. They have a large fleet of ferries in the Aegean seas. The high-speed ferry I took most recently was with Sea Jets, which has great service.
How to buy Ferry Tickets in Athens, Greece?
I really like using the Ferries in Greece to buy my ferry tickets. Check the ferry schedules here and easily book ferry tickets in advance.
You will get an email reminder a day before your trip that it is time to check in and the tickets will get sent directly to your inbox.
There are no extra fees charged with these apps, and the prices are the same as with ticket agents.
Tickets for ferries can be ordered through various travel agency sites in the capitals of Greece, such as Piraeus and the Greek Islands. But trust me, buy your tickets with Ferries in Greece! And get them months in advance if going in high season.
How much is the ferry from Athens (Piraeus) to Crete?
A ferry ticket costs will vary from season to season, but an overnight ferry to Crete costs from $48 – $150. Final ticket prices depend on the seats offered and the ferry company prices.
Crete Travel Information
Crete is one of the Greek islands with the most things to do! It is a highly visited destination during summer. The island of Crete offers beautiful beaches, ancient buildings, and vibrant old towns. There are many areas to stay in Crete, some bustling and others tranquil.
The best way to see the island of Crete would be by renting a car. But if you choose not to rent a car, you can go between the main cities of Chania and Heraklion easily by public transport. To see some stunning beaches like Vai Beach, Preveli Beach, or Elafoniss, rent a car.
In Heraklion, visit historical sites such as the Archeological Museum, Arkadian Monastery, and Knossos Palace. It is a super popular destination, so you might want to book your trip tickets and tours ahead of time.
My Favorite Travel Planning Resources
Many tourists start in Chania or Heraklion and then make their way to the other end of the island. Both ends of the island offer so much in the way of beaches and historical sites!
Chania is more picturesque than Heraklion and slightly more popular. Though in July and August, you can expect both places will be packed!
When you stay in Chania, I recommend staying in the old town. There are a few beaches that you can walk to from the center of Chania. If the center seems like it would be too busy for you, there are places to stay up along the coast.
There is a public bus that runs rather frequently. Or you can rent a car, and get around much easier. When I visit again, I will stay in the old town.
Best Hotels in Chania
Incredible location and GREAT prices! This is the perfect boutique hotel for anyone looking to stay right in the old town.
Only 11 minutes walk to the Nea Chora Beach! This boutique is very modern and spacious! A great choice for staying in old-town Chania.
This is your high-end luxury hotel in the center of old-town Chania! An impressive property with a must-try on-site restaurant.
Heraklion is the largest city on the island of Crete, with lots to see and do! I would say for the beauty you visit Chania, but for historical sites, you visit Heraklion.
The best area to stay in Heraklion again would be the old town unless you rent a car. The old town has so much to offer, with the port being so close.
Best Hotels in Heraklion
This highly reviewed hotel is located just a mile from the Venetian walls. Enjoyed a shared lounge and a la carte breakfast.
A lovely boutique hotel near everything you want to see in Heraklion.
Located in the center of Heraklion town this boutique hotel features a lovely terrace.
Just a 10-minute walk from the Venetian Walls. Enjoy the onsite restaurant and close proximity to everything you want to visit in Heraklion, Crete!
This hotel has rooms with incredible ocean views! Boutique vibes all throughout; it is a family-owned and run property.
Located just 650 feet from the Heraklion Archaeological Museum.
Packing List For Greece
Do you have everything you need to visit Greece? This packing list has some of the best suggestions for traveling to Greece.
Some additional items you might want to bring on the ferry would be:
The ferry port in Chania is the Port of Souda which is located 15 minutes by car from the old town. You can also take the public bus, which takes about 30 minutes.
There are typically a lot of taxis outside the ferry port, but to be safe, you can always arrange a pick-up ahead of time. Check with your accommodations if they offer this service.
When you arrive in Heraklion, you will arrive just minutes from the old town, which is very convenient. If you stay in the old town, you can likely walk from the ferry port.
Yes, but ferries leave from Heraklion, not Chania. There is a bus you can take from Chania to Heraklion, it takes about 2 hours and 45 mins.
If you would rather fly than take the ferry from Heraklion to Santorini it is possible. It would only be better if the time of the ferry wasn’t convenient and the flight was. Otherwise, the 2-hour ferry is better than flying.
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