Note: -- These prices were accurate at press time and may have (and probably will have) gone up by the time you arrive here.
Getting There -- By Metro -- The fastest and easiest way to Piraeus from central Athens is to take the Metro from Omonia Square, Monastiraki, or Thissio to the last stop (1.20€), then cross the footbridge to the domestic port.
By Bus -- From Syntagma Square, take the (very slow) Green Depot bus no. 40 from the corner of Filellinon; it will leave you a block from the international port, about a 10-minute walk along the water from the domestic port. From the airport, bus no. X96 goes to Piraeus; the fare is 5€.
By Taxi -- A taxi from Syntagma Square can cost up to 15€. The flat rate from Athens International Airport to the port is 35€ during the day and 50€ after midnight. For more info visit www.athenstaxi.info.
Returning to Athens -- The easiest way is to take the Metro to central Athens, to either Monastiraki, Thissio, or Omonia stations. Most taxi drivers waiting at the dock will try to overcharge tourists disembarking from the boats. They often offer a flat rate that's two or three times the legal fare. The options are to pay up, get a policeman to help you, or walk to a nearby street, hail a cab, and hope for a fair rate.
For boat schedules, transit information, and other tourist information 24 hours a day, dial tel. 171 or 1441. The Piraeus Port Authority can be reached at tel. 210/451-1311 to -1317 (www.olp.gr). The Athens News and the Kathimerini insert in the International Herald Tribune print major ferry schedules. The Greek National Tourism Organization (EOT) office (tel. 210/452-2591) is inconveniently located on the street above Zea Marina (the hydrofoil port), on the second floor of a shopping arcade stocked with yacht supplies. It's open Monday through Friday from 9am to 2:30pm, but its limited resources probably won't warrant the 20-minute walk from the ferry piers. The small tourist office (tel. 210/412-1181) in the Piraeus Metro station on Akti Poseidonos is open daily from 8am to 8pm. The numbers for the harbor police are tel. 210/412-2501 or 210/451-1311. Most conveniently, an Info-Point (tel. 210/325-3123; www.atedco.gr) is located at the port with city brochures, maps, and digital tours.
Because schedules depend on the weather, and sailings are often delayed or canceled, it's not a good idea to plan to return to Athens by boat less than 24 hours before your flight home. Also, as with most ports, this is not a good place to wander around in the wee hours -- unless you are looking for a walk on the wild side.
Tickets to the Islands -- The quay of the Main Harbor is lined with ticket agents, many concentrated in Plateia Karaiskaki; some sell tickets for one or two lines or destinations only, some for more. A sign in the window should tell you what the agent sells. Almost every agent will tell you that you're getting a good deal; almost no agent will give you one.
Ferries to the Islands -- You will be confused as to where to catch your boat; this is inevitable. Allow yourself plenty of time. Even the person you buy your ticket from may give you a bum steer. Tip: Information below may change at any moment. Sorry -- but we thought you should know the truth!
Ferry tickets can be purchased at a ticket office up to 1 hour before departure; after that they can usually be bought on the boat. To book first-class cabins or buy advance-sale tickets, see one of the harborside travel agents (around Karaiskaki Sq. by the domestic ferries and along Akti Miaouli, opposite the Crete ferries). Most open at 6am, and some will hold your baggage for the day (but without security). The Greek National Tourism Organization publishes a list of weekly sailings. The tourist police (tel. 171) or the Port Authority (tel. 210/451-1311 to -1317) can provide you with schedule information. Also check out the Central Travel Agency of Piraeus's website at www.athensferries.gr for schedules and info. As always it's the better and safer idea to book your tickets through a reputable local travel agency.
Boats for the eastern Cyclades (including Mykonos and Santorini) leave in the morning from Akti Tzelepi across from Plateia Karaiskaki. Aegina boats leave from Akti Poseidonos. Boats for Rhodes sail in the afternoon from Akti Miaouli. Boats for the western Cyclades (including Sifnos) sail in the early evening from Akti Kalimassioti near Plateia Karaiskaki. Boats for Crete sail in the early evening from Akti Kondyli. Many additional island boats leave from the quay opposite the Metro station. Boats heading out of Greece depart the quay on Akti Miaouli farthest away from the quays near the Metro and train stations. Boats for Aegina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, Peloponnesian ports, and Kithira depart from Zea Marina, which is across the Piraeus peninsula and opposite the Main Harbor; the walk there takes 30 minutes.
Preparing for Piraeus -- From mid-July through the end of August, boats leaving Piraeus for the islands are heavily booked, and often overbooked. It is sometimes possible to get deck passage without a reservation, but even that can be difficult when as many as 100,000 passengers leave the ports on a summer weekend (as often happens in July and Aug). Most ships will not allow passengers to board without a ticket, so buy your tickets in advance.