As the capital of Greece and one of Europe’s most bustling cities, Athens is powered by 5,000 years of history. At night, the city of Athens glows from afar, light reflecting off the ancient ruins. Today travelers flock from around the world to experience its history while on cruises from Athens. After all, the art, theatre, architecture, and philosophy of Athens had ripple effects through the fabric of entire civilizations.
Take in thousands of years of history through timeless excursions while on taking a cruise from Athens. The departure port of Piraeus is one of the busiest commercial ports in the world, servicing many Mediterranean cruises, and sits on a natural, sandy bay where local Athenians often relax on summer weekends. Piraeus offers travelers stopping through on their Greek island cruises from Athens opportunity to explore, shop, and eat traditional Greek dishes.
A Greek island cruise from Athens wouldn’t be complete without seeing the metropolis’ major sites—the unforgettable Acropolis, the Parthenon, a hike up Mount Lycabettus, or tours of museums containing antiquity’s greatest treasures dating back to the 5th century BC. Though Athens is a city of ruins, it’s the very essence of modern Greece.
Greek island cruises from Athens would be missing a critical piece of the city without a trip to the Acropolis. You’ll trek the 490 feet up into the Plaka District along narrow, paved streets surrounded by aromatic olive trees. At the Acropolis, the world-famous Parthenon stands apart from any other structure in the modern or ancient world—it’s instantly recognizable as a symbol for everything Athens, similar to Rome’s Colosseum or the Taj Mahal in Agra. Come see why its Doric columns have withstood war, invasion, destruction, and simply the test of time.
The Plaka district surrounds the Acropolis. Wander through this charming stretch of narrow paved streets into handcrafted shops, restaurants, countless cafes, and bars. In the 1970s, the district was a prime area for nightlife, but cracking down on the local noise ordinances turned the Plaka District into a quieter, more commercialized neighborhood. Shops and restaurants quickly boomed there, and now the Plaka is popular with tourists looking for shopping and leisure.
Athens is the birthplace of the Olympic Games, and it’s one of the biggest events in the world today, celebrating culture and peace among the world’s nations. Athens has hosted the modern Olympic Games in 1896, 1906, 2004, and most recently, the Special Olympics in 2011. The city’s Panathenaic Stadium, a 45,000-seat outdoor stadium, is instantly recognizable and centrally located in the heart of Athens. Don’t forget to take a look at which events are happening during your Greek island cruise from Athens.
Make it a point to visit the Acropolis Museum, a comprehensive catalogue of Greek art, culture, and philosophy dating back to the 5th century BC. You’ll find artifacts from the Bronze, Roman, and Byzantine ages as well. This joint effort between a Greek architect and an American architect opened in 2009, making it one of Athen’s youngest can’t-miss attractions for tourists and history buffs.
Athens is known for a hilly, rolling landscape. Its highest point is Mount Lycabettus, which ascends over 900 feet high. Getting to the stop is an adventure in and of itself. Start by taking a cable car toward the top of the mountain. Then, climb around 100 steps from the cable car station to the summit. There, you’ll find the terrace atop Mount Lycabettus promises breathtaking panoramic views not only of the metropolis of Athens but also the port of Piraeus and its many docked ships.
You’ll break a sweat getting there, but the view of these famed, ancient ruins including the Parthenon is well worth the climb. An unmissable activity for anyone visiting Athens. Treat yourself to Greek sweets in the Plaka District once you’re done taking in the sights.
While on your cruise from Athens, you can’t miss the chance to museum hop from one Greek masterwork to the next. Beyond the incredible ruins and sites available in Athens, their exhibits are unmatched. Take, for example, the Numismatic Museum of Athens, which has the largest collection of modern ancient coins in the world. Or see the National Archaeological Museum, which is home to antiquity’s greatest artifacts and a true display of the lasting effects of Greek civilization.
The Olympic Stadium is an iconic excursion for sports lovers and Olympic Game fans. Named for the 1896 Olympic marathon gold medalist Spyros Louis, the Olympic Stadium opened in 1982.
The National Garden is a large public park and is conveniently located near the Olympic Stadium. After your stop at the Stadium, take a long walk through the National Garden for a glimpse of Greece’s natural environment and plant life both native and exotic. The Garden is home to 7,000 trees, a getaway from the city even in the middle of Athens.
Soak up the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Temple of Hephaestus, and so many other ruins while you’re in Athens. If you think ruins are difficult to differentiate, you’re missing out on Athens, where each structures has its own style and historical significance. Thousands of years of civilization will starkly contrast with the modern Athenian cityscape.
Varoulko - Piraeus
Address: Akti Koumoundourou 52, Mikrolimano, Piraeus
This Michelin-rated restaurant serves a variety of fresh seafood dishes and main courses cooked expertly, like white fish served with zucchini cream and horseradish, or cuttlefish risotto, or delicious leek soup.
Strofi - Athens
Address: Rovertou Galli 25, 11742 Athens, Greece
Just steps from the Acropolis, you’ll find Strofi, a restaurant that has been open since 1957. Try lamb stuffed wrapped in vine leaves and stuffed with cheese, or octopus with olive oil and oregano. Enjoy the outdoor dining area, with views of the Acropolis in the near distance.
Orizontes - Athens
Address: Lycabettus Hill, Athens, Greece
Most of the novelty of Orizontes is the fact that it’s located on Mount Lycabettus, the highest peak in Athens. Talk about views. Come for homemade bread, an extensive wine list, and classically Mediterranean lamb and fish dishes.
Mama Psomi - Athens
Address: 42-44 Zacharitsa St, Koukaki
This family-owned bakery is a favorite, providing everything from pies with sweet filling to bulgur wheat bread or walnut bread. Find and quickly devour these at Mama Psomi’s.
Clues point to settlement in Athens dating as far back as the Neolithic period. In the 6th century BCE, Athens saw both geographic and cultural growth, where new structures and sculptures were built to replace more rudimentary, earlier works on the Acropolis. The Acropolis quickly became a symbol of the city. In the 5th century BC, Athens became the first democratic city-state, or polis, to be brought into existence, and its effects on history rippled well into the modern era.
During the Roman and Hellenistic periods, Athens saw an increase in its importance in trade and commerce, producing and shipping more oils and goods to Italy. As the Roman Empire saw its zenith, Athens was a particular favorite of Emperor Hadrian, who built Hadrian’s Library on the north side of the Acropolis in 132 AD. However, as the Roman Empire fell into decline, Greece’s global prominence sharply withdrew. Like many parts of Greece, Athens switched hands frequently throughout the centuries. In the 19th century, the Turks possessed the Acropolis until 1833, when Athens was selected as the capital of the kingdom of Greece. During World War II, Athens was thankfully spared of major destruction.
Ancient Greece had immense impact on the Romans and other European political structures as well. America’s Founding Fathers looked to Greek democracy as an inspiration for certain elements of the government of the United States. The spirit of Greece as a pioneer of progress and resilience in the face of endless occupations is marked in its enduring, preserved structures. Long after we’re gone, Athens will still stand. Experience Athens’ rich history for yourself with any number of guided tours or visit its incomparable museums.
Greek island cruises from Athens depart from the port of Piraeus. It’s one of the most serviced ports in the world and has three large cruise terminals (simply named Terminals A, B, and C). All terminals have air conditioning, free Wifi, and restrooms. Terminal A is walking distance to the city center of Piraeus, making it easy to shop for souvenirs or grab a bite to eat.
You have two options to get to Athens from the terminals: take a taxi, available from every terminal gate, for a 20-30 minute ride to Athens, or you can take a subway train from Piraeus.
The subway station is located at the very north of the Piraeus port gate, and you can get around on the Green, Red, and Blue subway lines depending on your destination. Ticket cost varies from €1 for a one-hour trip to €3 for a day pass.
Taxis are available at every cruise terminal gate and all over the city center. Most taxis are metered. You can typically find a taxi close to hotels or tourist spots like historical sites. Most taxis don’t accept credit cards, so be mindful to carry extra euros with you to cover your fare.
The port of Piraeus has an abundance of shops, making it easy to pick up a quick souvenir along the way. You’ll find a variety of shops along Sotiros Dios, which is a pedestrian shopping street lined with name-brand stores and smaller locally owned boutiques, as well as cafes and unfussy restaurants.
While in Greece, you’ll use the Euro as your primary form of currency. Smaller shops and businesses frequently don’t accept credit cards, so ask before using one. Tipping taxi drivers isn’t common, but rounding up to the nearest euro is polite, especially if you had a helpful driver. Leave some a 10% tip behind at a restaurant if there is no service charge included. Don’t forget to tip your tour guide! €5-€10 is polite when taking a guided tour in Athens.