How to Get From Athens to Crete

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Written By: Pavlos Inglesis

There are basically two ways to get from Athens to Crete: by ferry or by plane. I am explaining in full detail what is the best way depending on your situation and your budget as not every ferry and flight is the same.

athens to crete
Minoan Lines has the biggest and most comfortable ferries from Athens to Crete.

Here are the 2 options you have basically:

How Long It TakesCost*
Ferry
(from Piraeus port to Heraklion, Chania, Kissamos, Sitia)
8.5 to 13 hours36 to 70 euros
Flight
(from Athens Intl. Airport to Chania)
1 hour120 to 300 euros
*Obviously the cost fluctuates a lot and may differ; always check Ferryhopper for ferry costs and Expedia for flights

ON THIS PAGE:

  • Ferryhopper is the largest and most safe website in Greece to book your ferry tickets from Athens to Crete, but you can also use it just for checking timetables and prices between Athens and all greek islands.
  • Expedia has all the available options for flights from Athens to Crete (CHQ is Chania’s airport code and HER for Heraklion) with all possible airlines (Aegean, Ryanair, Easyjet, TUI, Olympic, British Airways, Sky Express, Volotea etc)

In my honest opinion, the absolute Best Way to get from Athens to Crete is by plane (taking a 1 hour flight from Athens to Heraklion or Chania airport).

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The ferry from Athens to Crete (Chania or Heraklion) takes approx. 8-13 hrs (depending on which ferry you take) and in my opinion you should take it only if you cannot find a flight ticket (sold out or not good times) or you want to take your car with you (yes, in Crete you need a car unless you are staying in an all-inclusive hotel and you are not planning to get out at all (I personally hate these holidays but it might be your thing).

athens to crete ferry

Keep reading…

VERY IMPORTANT TO KNOW:

  • You basically have 2 options of getting from Athens to Crete: by ferry or by plane.
  • Best way To get From Athens to Crete: By Plane (45mins), especially if you are visiting Crete for 2-3 days only because it’s simply faster; the ferry is only worth taking if you are planning to get your own car from Athens to Crete
  • Best Website for Ferry Prices & Timetables to Crete: Ferryhopper
  • The ferries to Crete only depart from Piraeus port; Rafina Port is not an option for Crete
  • Between April-October there are more than 2 ferries a day from Athens to Heraklion and 2 more ferries a day from Athens to Chania (from Pireas port) ; there are fewer ferry options in the winter (November-March) 
  • How long is the ferry ride from Athens to Crete: it varies from 4.5hrs (fast-Seajet Ferry) to 9 hrs (slow-Minoan Lines, ANEK or Fast Ferries companies) 
  • How much does it cost to take a ferry from Athens to Crete: the slowest ferry (Minoan Lines Ferries – usually overnight) costs around 45 euros and the fast ferry (Seajet Ferries) can cost up to 80 euros
  • You can book your ferry online but you always have to get the ticket printout from the ferry kiosk in Piraeus/Rafina port or any other greek travel agency (it’s the greek law unfortunately) – AKTINA TRAVEL AGENCY is in Athens Airport
  • Best Way to go from Athens Airport to Athens main port (Piraeus) to take any ferry to Crtete is by taking the Athens Airport Bus X96 (X96 Bus Route – X96 Bus runs every 20-30 mins) – X96 Bus ticket costs 6 euros (adult) and 3 euros (kids) or buy an ATH.ENA Card
  • Direct International Flights from Athens to Crete: only from major european cities and only between April-October

Ok, so let’s see all the available options from Athens to Crete:

1. Flights from Athens to Crete (Chania or Heraklion)

santorini flight plane
Flying to Crete (Chania or Heraklion – 1 hour on the air) is the best option in my opinion (especially if you are only going to be staying on Crete for less than 5 days); Aegean is the best greek airline to fly with

Flying to Crete is obviously the quickest and most expensive option (in the high season) but I highly recommended it if you are staying on the island for anything less than 5 days as you won’t be wasting time on the ferry boats.

The best and cheapest website to book or search for flights from Athens to Crete is Expedia as it has all the available options (including the low-cost airlines like Ryanair and Easyjet).

Aegean Air is the best greek airline that can take you to Crete but you also get many more option these days like SkyExpress (equally good).

There are only 2 main airports on Crete: Heraklion (HER) and Chania (CHQ)

Here is a few useful info to have in mind when booking your flight to Crete:

  • Heraklion Aiport Official website (HER)
  • Chania Airport Official Website (CHQ)
  • Athens Airport Code is : ATH  (Athens)
  • If you are looking to get from Crete to Santorini then I would suggest this excellent daytrip from Chania or this one from Heraklion.
  • Every plane that lands at Chania or Heraklion takes off after bout 1 hour to fly back to Athens
  • The exact times of the flights change and they are not the same throughout the year, so make sure you get the right times from Expedia as it will give you all the available flights immediately.
  • There are more flights from Athens to Crete between April – October (high season) but in general there are plenty of flights throughout the year
  • If you book your tickets well in advance (6 months) you could probably find some very good deals with return tickets. I have flown to Heraklion with just 50 euros (especially in low season)
  • The cost of the flight from Athens to Crete may come up to 200 euros during the high season (April-October) 
  • if you are staying close to Heraklion it’s wiser to get a flight to Heraklion but if the times are not working out then you can still get a flight to Chania and take the bus or drive to your hotel or villa

The airlines that fly from Athens to Crete (April-October) usually are:

PROs OF FLYING FROM ATHENS TO CRETE

  • So much faster than the ferry (45 mins on the air)…you can literally save a whole day and spend it on the island instead
  • If you have just landed at the Athens airport, you can wait there till your connecting flight to Heraklion or Chania departs (usually 2 hours between connecting flights should be ok even though Athens Airport is not that big )

CONs OF FLYING FROM ATHENS TO CRETE:

  • It can be much more expensive (especially in the high season)
  • The flight times to Crete may not be convenient and you might have to spend some boring hours at the Athens airport.
  • You don’t get to see any other Greek islands ( you can get a glimpse of them by taking the ferry, which is like a mini cruise in a way…see below)
  • You cannot get your car with you (yes, you need a car in Crete)

The airlines that fly directly to Crete from major European cities (April-October) are:

  • Laudamotion , Eurowings, Austrian Airlines (from Vienna)
  • Thomas Cook (from Birmingham, Gatwick, Manchester, Brussels)
  • Thomson (from Birmingham, Gatwick, Manchester, Bristol)
  • Volotea , Blue Panorama, Iberia (from Venice, Bari, Naples, Palermo)
  • Germanwings (from Cologne)
  • Norwegian (from Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm)
  • Transavia (from Paris, Amsterdam)
  • British Airways (from London Heathrow, London City)
  • Condor (from Munich, Hamburg, Stuttgard, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt)
  • Aegean (from Russia, Italy, Cyprus)
  • Easyjet (from Rome, Milan, Geneva, Manchester, Gatwick)
  • Vueling (from Barcelona, Bilbao)
  • Jetairfly (from Brussels)
  • HolidayJet (from Zurich)

2. Ferries from Athens to Crete

ferry to crete
Minoan Lines Ferries are the best to go to Crete and usually the most stable.

Going to Crete by ferry is the second option you have and it can be a very nice experience if you are visitng the island for any more than 5 days and if it’s your first time in Greece. but i am not going to lie to you: it can be a tiring and boring experience as well as you would have to stay on the ferry for 8-9 hours.

A few important things to know about the ferries from Athens to Crete:

  • Ferries from Athens to Crete depart only from the port of Piraeus.
  • The slow ferry from Athens (Piraeus)  to Chania or Heraklion takes approx. 13 hours to arrive (Minoan line Ferries) – check timetables here
  • The quick ferry from Athens (Piraeus to Crete) takes 8.5 hours to arrive (Seajets Ferries) – check timetables here
  • Slow Ferry ticket to Santorini costs ~45 euros (depending on the seat you chose)
  • Fast Ferry ticket to Santorini costs ~70 euros (depending on the seat you chose)
  • Minoan Lines Ferries are the biggest you can take to go to Crete and are the most stable but also the slowest (9-10 hours to arrive). No matter how bumpy or windy it is, you won’t feel much with these ones.

Here is an example Ferry Schedule from Athens to Crete:

athens to crete ferries timetable
This is a typical Ferry Schedule from Athens to Crete in the summer months (May, June, July, August, and September) but not everyday has 7 ferries to Crete!
athens to crete ferries timetable
Notice there are only 4 ferries from Athens to Crete on a Wednesday (compared to 7 for a Friday)!
ferry ticket greek islands blue star ferry highspeed
If you book your ticket through Ferryhopper you are going to get a link through email where you can download the tickets with the barcode that looks like this (it will open up in your browser, and you can just screenshot it); this ticket will have your seat number as well, and it is individual for every passenger, so kids and vehicles will have their own barcodes and separate tickets

FERRIES FROM ATHENS TO CRETE

Before deciding which ferry to take (and also to check timetables and prices for all ferries) you should head over to Ferryhopper and simply put your desirable dates. Ferries pricing and times change literally every year and every month!

You basically have the following options for ferry boats from Athens to Crete:

minoan ferry to crete inside
Inside the Minoan Lines there is a large living room seating area (this is the cheapest ticket that also allows you to go outside if they allow it).

ferry to crete inside snacks cafe
There are many snack bars and cafes inside the Minoan lines Ferries

airport style seats ferry to crete chania heraklion
if you have paid for an airport-style seat (usually a bit more expensive), then you will have your own numbered seat

vip seats ferry to crete minoan lines chania heraklion
If you pay a bit extra for your seats at Minoan lines, you get your own tv screen and definitely more space for your bags and stuff. These are the VIP seats on the ferry to Crete.

inside cabin ferry to crete
This is the interior of a 4 persons cabin at Minoan Lines Ferries which you may need if you are getting an overnight ferry to Crete (these ones depart around 9pm from Piraeus and arrive at around 6am the next day at Heraklion or Chania

restaurant ferry to crete
There is a proper restaurant on board the Minoan Ferries where you can have a proper meal, not just snacks.

HOW TO GET FROM ATHENS AIRPORT TO PIRAEUS PORT

x96 bus athens airport

X96 is the Athens bus that will take you from Athens Airport to Piraeus ferry port

The easiest and cheapest option to get to Athens ferry port called Piraeus is by taking the bus X96 that stops just outside of the Athens airport.

X96 bus takes between 50 mins to 80 mins (depending on the traffic) to go to the Athens ferry port (Piraeus) and the X96 bus route to Piraeus ferry port is the following:

This is how to get from the Athens Aiport Exit to the X96 and X95 bus stops just outside of the airport:

Crete Ferries depart from E3 Port Gate so you have to stop at the bus station which is called: STATION ISAP (this is also a metro station).

Or in greek : ΣΤΑΘΜΟΣ ΗΣΑΠ

In case you feel lost you can ask the bus driver (yes, in English).

But in reality you will find some brand new GPS screens showing you where you actually are:

x96 bus athens airport inside

There are GPS screens showing you where you are on the X96 Athens bus

The X96 bus runs 24/7 and there is a bus every 30 mins roughly (in Greece time runs in a very strange way…so never expect something to be on time…that’s just a small tip from greeks…you’d better get used to that unfortunately).

But there is a X96 bus every 20-30 minutes, so there will be one for you too!

Click here to see all the stops of X96 Bus (from Athens Airport to Piraeus Ferry port to Crete) and the live timetables

For the X96 bus, you have to buy tickets from a kiosk which is just outside of the bus stop (and also just outside of the airport, follow the “Bus” signs in the airport).

For adults the Athens bus ticket (called “ATH.ENA) costs 6 euros and for kids (under 6) it costs 3 euros.

athens bus ticket

The Athens Bus Ticket for X96 Bus (and X95 bus that goes to the center of Athens – Syntagma Square)__is called ATH.ENA ticket

You can also take a taxi from the Athens airport to the Piraeus Ferry port which costs 50-60 euros but it’s really not recommended because it doesn’t worth it in my opinion…

The X96 bus is pretty fast and it costs only 6 euros!

Also, BE CAREFUL:

Sometimes the X96 Athens Airport Buses say: “AEROLIMENAS-PEIRAIAS”

Don’t get confused.

This is a greek version of saying: “Airport – Pireaus” , so it’s the same really…

HOW TO GET FROM ATHENS AIRPORT TO CENTRAL ATHENS

athens bus

X95 is the bus that will take you from Athens Aiport to Syntagma Square (central Athens) but you also have the option of taking the metro

To go from Athens Airport to Syntagma Square (the most central point in Athens), you have to take either the metro from the airport (it’s actually overground for some stations and then it goes underground) or the bus X95 which will take you to Syntagma Square within 30-40 mins.

The X95 bus stop is next to the X96 bus stop and the tickets are exactly the same and are sold from the same kiosk.

This is Bus X95 route (from Athens airport to Syntagma square – central Athens):

You can also take the metro line 3 to get to Syntagma Square from the Athens Airport.

Check on this link the timetables for Athens metro lines

These are the timetables of Athens Metro Line 3:

athens metro 1

Athens metro timetables Syntagma Square to Athens (it stops at other stations too…)

athens metro 2

Athens metro timetables Airport to Syntagma square (it stops at other stations too…)

CONCLUSION

You basically have 2 options to get from Athens to Crete: by ferry or by plane.  

My honest recommendation is to take the ferry only if it’s your first time in Greece and only if you are going to spend more than 5 days in Crete because it just takes so much time and you will basically be wasting a whole day in the sea. a flights is much quicker and convenient overall.

For me, the best way to check timetables and even book your ferry tickets online has been Ferryhopper for the last years and I highly recommend it to everyone looking to get a ferry to Crete.

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AUTHOR
Pavlos Inglesis
Greek, born and raised in Athens. I have been to almost every greek island and pretty much in every region of mainland Greece. I have also been eating souvlaki and gyros since the 80s. I love being a dad to my 2 beautiful daughters and also taking great photos of the places I visit. This is my blog to help you out explore the places I have visited with my inside tips as a Greek, knowing the ins and outs of my country and culture. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section under the post you are interested in and I wIll try my best to respond asap.

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