On the first days of our family trip to Athens, we visited the Acropolis and Anafiotika, followed by Monastiraki and the Roman vestiges in Plaka. But this was Greece, and I just couldn’t bear being there without seeing the sea. So I convinced everyone to go on a visit to Piraeus!
Once a separate city, Piraeus is now part of Athens. The capital city of Greece is growing more horizontally than vertically, covering 39 km² in 2016. (And Greater Athens covers 583 km²!)
I was truly excited about finally getting to one of Europe’s most important harbors throughout history and I had no idea it was going to be that easy to get to Piraeus!
Is it worth visiting Piraeus?
As a travel blogger and expert in all things Greece, I am delighted that you’re considering a visit to Piraeus! Piraeus is situated right next to Athens and is admired as the largest port in Greece.
Piraeus possesses an impeccable mix of modernity and tradition, making it worth visiting for tourists interested in Greek history and culture. The splendid neoclassical architecture of buildings like the Municipal Theater, Archeological Museum of Piraeus, and Peace & Friendship Stadium could provide insight into Piraeus ancient Greece’s lifestyle.
Beyond its valuable historical heritage, Piraeus also offers excellent leisure opportunities with its beautiful beaches like Votsalakia Beach, Kastella Beach, and Piraiki Beach attracting many beach lovers looking for seaside resorts and sunsets. Moreover, Bridge Coffee Roasters πειραιάσ provides an authentic experience that travelers rave about.
If you’re a shipping enthusiast who wonders what happens inside docks and ships post-transit then visiting the Port of Piraeus can be an incredible opportunity to see one of Europe’s busiest commercial ports in action.
Getting around from Piraeus is pretty easy since it has access through various means including buses (Line 040), suburban railway station (Piraeus Station – ISAP) which serves freight trains as well along with commercial trains between Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos, Athens City Centre (Monastiraki Station), Kiato as well Corinth via Ancient Epidaurus. And the Athens metro offers even more connections, so accessibility or transportation will never be much of a concern if you plan accordingly before arriving there.
Therefore, I think Piraeu is definitely worth visiting whether traveling solo or with family/friends.
What you should know before a visit to Piraeus
Piraeus, also known as Peiraeus or Piraeus, is a town situated in the prefecture of Attica, on the south side of Athens. The main appeal of a visit to Piraeus is based on the fact that it was used as the main port of Athens in ancient Greece, and thus played a very important part in the life of the city.
Besides being the port of ancient Athens, Piraeus has also been the port of modern Athens since 1834. Nowadays, this port can be seen in operation, and while it doesn’t look as it used to in ancient Greece, it still displays some of the antique features that make it a very fascinating and peculiar place to meet.
The name of this town means Place over the Passage, a meaning that is very important to its history. In its beginnings as a settled place, Piraeus was a tiny island joined to the ground by a narrow strip of land. Although the area received other denominations at first, this geographical feature finally inspired the actual name.
While its main port is the most popular, Piraeus also has two smaller ports that have also helped to turn this place into a very active one. The advantages of this location and its harbor were not found until the decade of 490 BC when Themistocles built a fortification here, intending to conveniently use the ports and defend the people of Athens from attacks from the Persians.
How do you spend a day in Piraeus?
Piraeus is a notable port town that draws visitors due to its numerous attractions and activities available throughout the year. If you want to maximize your visit to Piraeus for just one day, it’s recommended that your early morning and head straight to the Port of Piraeus – known as one of the most significant ports globally linking mainland Greece with its islands.
Afterward, you can head over to Marina Zeas where you’ll discover breathtaking yachts and enjoy scenic views overlooking Pasalimani Bay. You can easily tour around on foot or rent bikes if you wish.
If Greek history interests you then The Archaeological Museum of Piraeus should make it onto your day plan. During your visit, you will get to admire centuries-old exhibits dating back from ancient Greek times but also artifacts from the Roman and Byzantine empires era.
After undergoing mild history lessons, people usually prefer beaches as their next stop and fortunately, long sandy coastal areas are not far off!
Areas like Mikrolimano offer picturesque postcard scenery along with many local taverns serving delectable seafood dishes. Then, the best coffee in Piraeus is served at Bridge Coffee Roasters but not everyone knows about this hidden gem cafe.
One cannot miss out on shopping as they travel Piraeus. A good portion of your time can be spent window-shopping around Market Pavlou Mela area before heading towards the central district on traditional alleys. On Sunday mornings, foreign shoppers and locals alike gather here to buy spices, bread, clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry, etc.
Also, don’t forget to capture panoramic photos from the Hill of Kastella, the highest point in Piraeus which offers a panoramic view across Attika and Aegina islands.
Lastly, an outing in Piraeus remains incomplete without tasting authentic Greek cuisines consisting of mezze plates from the Mastella restaurant offered with Ouzo, followed by the freshly-made local dessert Loukoumades, available to buy near Passalimani.
This completes your fantastic 1-day visit trip to Piraeus, the city known as the Gateway to Greece!
Arriving at the Piraeus train station
If you want to go on a visit to Piraeus, all you have to do is get on the subway. The train will leave you right in the train station of Piraeus, close to the cruise ship gates. (Also, if you’re on a cruise, the subway is a fast way to get to Athens from the port!)
When we got off the train, I was surprised by the beautiful train station ceiling. It didn’t feel like a Balkan station, but rather a British one. I loved it!
Is there a free shuttle to Piraeus port?
While it would be great if there were a free shuttle service available directly to the port, unfortunately, there isn’t one that operates as of now.
But don’t worry! There are many convenient and affordable transportation options available between Athens city center (including Syntagma Square) and Piraeus Port. One such option is taking Line 1 (Green line) of the metro system directly from Monastiraki station in Athens to Piraeus station which takes approximately 25 mins. Another option will be taking the suburban railway which can take you quite closer than the Metro or other buses in central points like Faliro Railway Station.
If you prefer buses as your mode of transport then two main lines cover different parts of the Atheneo-Pireas area while starting/ending their journey at the port gate: X80 bus runs through central Pireaus until Glyfada beach area through major hotspots including Petralona, Tavros, and Elliniko, whereas the E22 bus from Ag. Paraskevi suburb via the seaside until Sounio is more reachable from downtown, with night operation feasible too.
In case you wish for door-to-door transfer from your hotel, residence, or any location in Athens directly to the ferry terminal or cruise ship disembarking point, then booking transfer taxis could suit you, depending upon the number of people traveling with you, along with the availability of service.
Breakfast at Bridge Coffee Roasters πειραιάσ
We were really hungry at the beginning of our visit to Piraeus. We wanted to change the usual bougatsa and lakror we had for breakfast near the apartment, so we opted for eating in Piraeus, as soon as we arrived.
It took us a while, but we ended up in a café fit for The Travel Bunny! The menus of Bridge Coffee Roasters feature the image of a white rabbit being pulled out of a steaming cup of coffee.
Not only that, but the coffee was delicious, and we had a great range of sweet and savory options to choose from for our breakfast. In the end, we barely managed to eat everything. It was a good meal to get all the strength we needed for our visit to Piraeus!
Church of St. Nicholas of Piraeus
After breakfast, we started moving toward the city. The first imposing building we came across was the Church of St. Nicholas of Piraeus. Located just a short walk from the Piraeus train station, this ancient Greek Orthodox church is a must-see for anyone interested in history and culture. Its exterior boasts intricate stonework and iconic blue domes that make for postcard-worthy photos.
But it’s not just about the facade – the interior of St. Nicholas is equally impressive, with vibrant murals depicting scenes from Greek mythology and Christianity adorning every inch of wall space.
After visiting this church, we split up for the rest of our Piraeus travel experience. My parents wanted to go to the Athens coastal tram, while we wanted to just walk around the town. The scenic tram route offers breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea coastline as it passes through charming neighborhoods like Faliro, Glyfada, and Voula. Aside from the stunning scenery, riding the coastal tram is a convenient and eco-friendly way to explore Athens’ southern suburbs without worrying about traffic or parking.
Visit to Piraeus or San Francisco?
From the Church of St. Nicholas, we decided to go east to the sea, by cutting through the city. Little did we know that this implied a lot of going up and down hills. It was a long and tiring way to get to where wanted, but we got to see some interesting things, such as some of Piraeus’s street art:
I was really out of shape and it was hot, so I didn’t enjoy this part of our visit to Piraeus. I do have some lively memories of the orange trees on the road we took. There were so many, and they had so much fruit that lots of them kept falling and rolling down the hill.
The sea, at last!
I must say I was a bit disappointed by the beaches we found in Piraeus. I have this idea of Greek beaches being all lovely, clean, and next to bright blue waters, from my previous experiences. And I wanted Mathieu to get to see that on his first holiday to Greece. Instead, we ended up on this dirty little beach, which had nothing special about it.
I had also dreamed about sinking my feet into the sea for the first time that year. And nope, it was still too cold for any such things. But even so, my heart lifted a bit because I was finally seeing some sea for the first time that year.
Our life-changing decision on our visit to Piraeus
After we reached the sea, we walked along the coast. It was hot outside and Mathieu proposed to stop for some refreshments. Remembering a romantic afternoon from our Rome holiday, I started checking the menu for Sangria. And they had some!
So there we were, sitting by the sea, slowly fishing fruit from our Sangrias. We were looking at the marina with yachts of all sizes, who came on a visit to Piraeus from all over the world. Our eyes stopped at a grandmother getting off a yacht to welcome her granddaughter and son/son-in-law on the docks.
And I just said it must be great to have such a life, to sail the world and discover new places by the sea. To this, Mathieu replied that it would be a great retirement plan. But I told him something my parents kept telling me: when you’re young, you have energy, but not a lot of time; when you retire, you have a lot of time, but not so much energy left to do all that you wanted. So he said we should go sailing sooner and immediately started checking out sailboat prices on his phone. And it turns out the boat isn’t that expensive.
I felt very excited. At that time, it was before the two of us got engaged. And I remember I thought to myself this was better than a marriage proposal!
That’s how we ended up planning to take some sailing courses and get permits this year. Next year we’re planning to sail the Mediterranean, and as soon as we’re done with the courses, I’m going to plan it all.
I’m telling you: Sangrias by the sea = the best decision ever!
Holy Trinity Church
When we had enough walking, we started heading back to the train station in Piraeus. On the way, we stopped to admire the beautifully decorated Holy Trinity Church. It was very difficult to take a decent photo of it, as there was this girl taking selfie after selfie in various positions in front of it.
But anyway, with this our visit to Piraeus ended. We went back to Athens by train, and, a bit later, we met with my parents for dinner.
As an experienced travel blogger, Mirela Letailleur has taken a keen interest in exploring Piraeus, one of the largest ports in Europe. Whether you’re looking to plan a holiday trip or just want to know more about this charming Greek town, Mirela’s blog The Travel Bunny is the perfect guide for you.
Mirela has extensively researched and written on several topics related to Piraeus and her blog provides insightful information on the hidden gems of this beautiful Greek town and explores its rich culture and history.
Plan your next visit with confidence by referring to her articles discussing Piraeus Greece and covering important tips about important landmarks and attractions in the city. As an expert travel consultant, she can help you get the best Piraeus holiday packages and solve any problem that a tourist might face during their visit to Piraeus!
Other articles you should read on The Travel Bunny after your visit to Piraeus
How to get to Athens from the port
12 amazing day trips from Athens worth every cent
Guide to sailing the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea