How to get from Athens to Crete

How to get from Athens to Crete

How to get from Athens to Crete

If you are looking on how to get from Athens to Crete island in Greece…look no further!

So…I am pretty sure you are lost and don’t know how to get from Athens to Crete island in Greece, right?

To make it easy for you I have written this guide to help you out.


  • You have 2 options to get from Athens to Crete: By Ferry or By Plane
  • Best Way To get From Athens to Crete: By Plane (about 55mins)
  • Good to Know for tickets to Crete: There are three (3) airports in Crete: Heraklion Airport (code: HER), Chania Airport (code: CHQ) and Sitia Airport (code: JSH)
  • Best Website to check ferry prices and Timetables: Let’s Ferry
  • Ferry to Heraklio or Chania takes between 6 hours, 30 minutes and 8 hours, depending on the type of ferry you are taking
  • Ferry to Rethymnon: the journey takes 12 hours and 3 minutes.
  • You can book your ferry online but you always have to get the ticket printout from the ferry kiosk in Piraeus port (Athens port) or any other greek travel agency (it’s the greek law)
  • Best Way to go from Athens Airport to Athens main port (Piraeus) to take any ferry 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 Flights from Athens to Crete: about 55 mins on the air
  • Heraklion Airport (or "Kazantzakis" airport - code: HER)
  • Chania Airport (or "Daskalogiannis" - code: CHQ)
  • Sitia Airport (code: JSH)
  • Cheapest flights from Athens to Crete: book plane let’s get started with all the travel options from Athens to Crete.

You really have 2 options to go from Athens to Crete:

But which one is really the Best Option?

My suggestion: go to Crete by plane.

Why: because it’s generally much faster and simpler than taking the ferry to Crete

However, you can also take the ferry which can be a very interesting alternative option for several reasons (see below Option 2).

OPTION 1: From Athens to Crete by Plane ( offers all the options)

That’s obviously the quickest and most expensive option.

It takes about 55 minutes by plane to be at any of Crete airports and it definitely worths it in our opinion.

heraklion airport
heraklion airport

Hearklion Airport official website is:

heraklion airport
heraklion airport
chania airport
chania airport

Chania Airport official website is:

chania airport
chania airport
sitia airport
sitia airport

Sitia Airport official website is:

sitia airport
sitia airport

The best and cheapest website to book or search for flights from Athens to Crete is:

Athens Airport Code is : ATH  (Athens)

Heraklion Airport (or "Kazantzakis" airport - code: HER)
Chania Airport (or "Daskalogiannis" - code: CHQ)
Sitia Airport (code: JSH)

If you book your tickets well in advance (3-6 months) you could probably find some very good deals with return tickets.

Crete is an extremely popular destination and probably the most popular in Greece, so everything has to be booked well in advance.

So…let’s see the pros and cons of getting to Crete (from Athens) by plane:

Pros (of going from Athens to Crete by Plane):

  • So much faster than the ferry (about 55 mins on the air)…you can literally save a whole day and spend it in Crete instead
  • If you have just landed at the Athens airport you can just wait there till your connection flight to Crete departs

Cons (of going from Athens to Crete by Plane):

  • it can be much more expensive
  • the flight times to Crete may not be convenient and you might have to spend some boring hours at the Athens airport

Direct flights to Crete (from other European cities):

There are direct flights from European cities to Crete in 2018

Bottom line:

If you plan it properly and you book your flight tickets to Crete well in advance, then that’s the best option. However, getting the ferry can also be a very good and interesting option (see below).

OPTION 2: From Athens to Crete by ferry

Going to Crete by ferry is the second option you have and it can be a very nice experience.

But before taking the ferry, you have to go to the Athens ferry port which is called Piraeus.

How do you go from Athens Airport to the Athens Ferry Port (called Piraeus or Pireus) ?

Athens Airport to the Athens Ferry Port Option 1 : bus X96

The easiest and cheapest option is by taking the bus X96 that stops just outside of the Athens airport:

x96 bus athens airport

It 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:

Ferries to Crete depart from Port Gate Ε2 and E3, so you have to stop at the bus station : STATION ISAP (which is also a metro station).

Or in greek : ΣΤΑΘΜΟΣ ΗΣΑΠ

In case you feel lost you can just ask the bus driver (they always speak english)

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

x96 bus athens airport inside

The X96 bus runs 24/7 and there is a bus every 30 mins roughly (however do not expect it to be always on time).

x96 bus athens airport timetables

Click here to see all the stops of X96 Bus (from Athens Airport to Piraeus Ferry port to Crete) and the 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, just follow the “Bus” signs in the airport).

This is actually how get to those bus ticket kiosks outside of the airport:

The bus ticket is a small piece of paper that you have to put in the orange slots which are inside the bus (you will hear a “click” noise once you put the ticket in…which is basically the printing/stamping of the date and time).

For adults the ticket costs 6 euros and for kids (under 6) it costs 3 euros:

X96 bus ticket
Validate your tickets once inside the X96 bus…the date and time will be printed on it and you can actually use the ticket for 70 mins


There is also a mobile application with which you can buy your bus tickets developed by Transport for Athens

tfa itunes

tfa play

Click here to download the Bus Tickets for Athens App for Android

Click here to download the Bus Tickets for Athens App for iOS

(you really don’t have to worry at all about the bus tickets if you do that…and you can pay by any card!)

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

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

Don’t get confused. This is a greek-lish version of saying: “Airport – Pireaus” so it’s the same really…

Here is a video showing how to get to the bus and when you arrive at the piraeus port

Athens Airport to the Athens Ferry Port Option 2 : taxi

Baggage cost you extra, there’s a surcharge for the airport and the journey takes at least 1 hour (30 km between the airport and the port) so the taxi fare can add up to a quite high amount. The taxi fare ads up to about €50, depending on the traffic. You also have to be careful to avoid the scams (you really don’t want to pay 10 times more than the regular fare).

Athens Airport to the Athens Ferry Port Option 3 : Metro (train)

Line 3 started operating in 2004 and links the airport to Monastiraki where you switch to Line 1, taking you to Piraeus. The journey time between the airport and the port is about 75 min. The metro fare for the entire length of the trip ads up to €6.

How do you go from Athens airport to Central Athens ?

First of all you have to go from the Athens Airport to Syntagma Square (the most central point in Athens) either by taking 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.

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

You can take the X95 Bus just outside from the airport.

If you want, you can also take the metro (blue line or line 3 to Aghia Marina):

Athens Metro map

Where can I check the Athens metro last trains and schedules?

Click here to check the timetables for Athens metro and see if you can catch the last one if your flight arrives too late!

How do you go from Central Athens to Piraeus ferry port ?

The easiest way is by taking the metro green line (or Line 1).

It takes about 30 mins from Monastiraki Square or Omonoia Square at central Athens to the metro station at Piraeus ferry port.

What are the available ferries from Athens to Crete

When you look up ferries between two places (mainland to islands or between islands), you are actually looking for a way to travel by ferry between two ports. While for the majority of islands, you’ll find the port name exactly the same of the island’s name, it is not Crete’s case.

The island is served by the following ports:

  • Heraklio (or Heraklion), port code HCR
  • Chania , port code CHC
  • Rethymnon (or Rethymno), port code RET
  • Kissamos , port code KIS
  • Sitia, port code SIT

To make it less confusing, Heraklio and Chania are served by the most ferries, so those two ports are the best choices for tourists. Price-wise, the tickets to Chania are cheaper than the tickets to Heraklio.

How long does it take to get from Athens to Crete?

The ferry journey between Athens (Piraeus, alt spelling Pireas) to Crete (Heraklio or Chania) takes between 6 hours, 30 minutes and 8 hours, depending on the type of ferry you are taking. If you travel between Athens and Rethymnon, the journey takes 12 hours and 3 minutes.

Is there a high speed ferry between Athens and Crete?

Yes, there’s a ferry which takes only 6 hours and 30 minutes to get from Athens to Crete.

How much does it cost to get from Athens to Crete by ferry?

The price depends on where you prefer to stay (deck seat, cabin, lounge) and the type of ferry you are taking, as well as the port you’ll be arriving in (although the differences are not significant). Also, you should consider that several ferry companies serve the route so there’s also a price difference between the same type of seat on ferries run by different companies.

Single adult tickets start at 46 euros (Minoan Lines, deck)

Single adult tickets start at 38 euros (Anek Superfast, deck)
Single adult tickets start at 46 euros (Minoan Lines, deck)

Single adult tickets start at 44 euros (Aegeon Pelagos, deck)

How many ferries per day depart from Athens to Crete during the low season?

During the low season 2017 (Mar -May , Sep-Dec ), there are the following connections between Athens and Crete:

To Heraklio

  • Fri 10 am, Apr 14
  • Thu, 10 am, Apr 6
  • Wed, 11 am, Apr 12
  • Thu, 11 am, Apr 13
  • Tue 11 am, Apr 18
  • Sat 11 am, Jul 1- Sep 2
  • Sun 11 am, Apr 23
  • Thu 5 pm, Apr 13
  • Fri 6 pm, until Apr 7, Apr 21 – Sep 6
  • Mon – Fri, Sun, 9 pm, until Apr 13, Apr 17 – May 31
  • Daily, 9 pm, until Apr 14, Apr 16 – Jun 30, Jun 1- Sep 30, Sep 1- Dec 24
  • Tue – Sat, 9 pm, Dec 26 – Dec 30

To Chania

  • Wed 12pm (noon), Apr 12
  • Thu 12 pm (noon), Apr 13
  • Tue 12 pm (noon)), Apr 18
  • Daily, 9 pm, until Apr 11, Apr 19- Jun 30, Sep 1 – Oct 31
  • Fri 9 pm, Apr 14
  • Mon, 9 pm, Apr 17
  • Wed 10 pm, Apr 12
  • Thu, 10 pm, Apr 13
  • Tue, 10 pm, Apr 18

To Kissamos

  • Mon 5 pm, until Apr 10, Apr 24 – May 1
  • Mon 5 pm, Jun 5 – Oct 30 (not officially approved yet)
  • Tue 5 pm, Apr 18
  • Fri 5 pm, until Apr 7, Apr 21 – May 5
  • Fri 5 pm, Jun 2- Oct 27 (not officially approved yet)
  • Thu 5 pm, Apr 13

To Sitia

  • Thu 5 pm, Apr 13
  • Fri 6 pm, until Apr 7, Apr 21 – Jun 9

How many ferries per day depart from Athens to Crete during the high season?

During the high season 2017 (Jun-Aug), there are the following connections between Athens and Crete:

To Heraklio

  • Sat 11 am, Jul 1- Sep 2
  • Sun 11 am, Jul 23 – Aug 6, Aug 20 – Aug 27
  • Fri 11 am, Jul 28 – Aug 25
  • Fri 6 pm, Apr 21 – Jun 9
  • Daily, 9 pm, Apr 16 – Jun 30, Jun 1- Sep 30
  • Daily 10 pm, Jul 1- Aug 31

To Chania

  • Daily, 9 pm, Apr 19 – Jun 30,
  • Daily 10 pm, Jul 1 – Aug 31

To Kissamos

  • Mon, 5 pm, Jun 5 – Oct 30 (not officially approved yet)
  • Fri 5 pm, Jun 1- Oct 27 (not officially approved yet)

To Sitia

  • Fri 6 pm, Apr 21 – Jun 9


Are there any overnight journeys between Athens and Crete?

Yes, there’s a ferry departing at 9 p.m. daily both during the high and low season. There are departures to both Heraklio and Chania. Also, during the low season there’s a ferry departing at 9:30 pm to Heraklio, almost daily.

Accommodation On Board Ship from Athens to Crete

Deluxe cabins are a treat (spacious, well furnished with TV and refrigerator) - some double beds available on the Knossos or Festos (Phaestos) Palace.

First class cabins are a notch down in decor and space, but still provide a good compact hotel-room-on-the-water.

There are outside cabins with windows (much to be preferred) or inside cabins (cheaper). Available with 2, 3 or 4 beds. Travelling alone, you can pay about 50% extra to have the cabin to yourself. All cabins have a shower and toilet.

Large or heavy pieces of luggage can be stored in a luggage room on the car deck - ask as you board (it's a good idea, avoiding carrying all your luggage to the cabin). Even though porters take you and luggage to your cabin, you do have to haul it - often up steps, escalator if you are lucky - to the equivalent of the second or third floor of a building, before you reach the reception.

If you choose a more economical fare you can buy a simple ticket and sleep wherever you find it most comfortable - or talk and play cards, watch TV with fellow travellers. Viewing passing ships from the decks or the occasional distant lights from an island, is another pastime. There are pullman style seats available. A simple ticket allows you to use and enjoy most of the ship (sometimes a bar area or two are reserved for first and deluxe class passengers) - there is no such thing however, as "deck class", so you do not have to spend the night out on deck!

Food on the ships is satisfactory. There are both self service and full service restaurants - pricing in each is similar [Price category D - 7 to 10 euros and up].

Where can you book ferry tickets from Athens to Crete?

Booking in advance a Ferry ticket to Crete is always good, especially during high season as ferries might become full (that’s the case in July and August).

It’s not that you won’t find a ticket but it is more of securing a good seat or a cabin or a vehicle spot (if you have a car).

But…you can always book them online (just to be sure) on the Let’s Ferry website (even if you don’t book it there you can always check the timetables of the ferries on the dates you want to travel).

Another option is to have your travel agent book them for you, but they will need to contact a Greek travel agency. So an easier option is to contact a reliable Greek travel agency yourself and book your tickets via them.

If you have some time available between your arrival in Athens and the time you planned to take the ferry to Crete, you can buy the tickets directly in the port of Piraeus, at Port Gate Ε1. Unless you are traveling during the peak season or national holiday weekends, you shouldn’t worry about booking in advance, especially if you plan to use a deck seat.

BE CAREFUL THOUGH: According to the law the tickets have to be printed out only by certified travel agencies or the Ferry companies , so even if you book it online you have to visit a travel agent or the kiosk at the ferry port to take the print outs anyways (not a big deal..everyone is doing that anyways).

However, the last years people tend to buy ferry tickets online for Crete.

You can always do that from Let’s ferry website or but as I said previously you always have to take the ticket printout from a travel agent in Greece or the kiosk which is usually outside of the ferry that you are boarding on.

Important note:

Sometimes the ferry schedules available online are not very accurate. It’s not the websites’ fault at all as the ferry companies submit their schedule to the Ministry of Merchant Marine weekly. Hence the ferry schedule might change from week to week. Your best bet is to check this link the day before departure (or the day of before) just to make sure things haven’t changed.

P.S. – If you’ve found this article helpful, please consider booking via the links here as it helps keep the website community supported and advertiser free. All the companies are ones we use ourselves in our own travels. If you have any questions, email us!

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