- Where to fly to
- Athens International Airport
- Car rental at Athens International Airport
- Athens City
- Piraeus Port
- Rafina Port
- Lavrio Port
- Mykonos Airport
- Santorini Airport
- Heraklion Airport (Crete)
Where to fly to
Where you fly to in Greece will very much depend upon where home is. If you’re travelling intercontinental, you’ll probably have no choice other than Athens. If you’re flying from within Europe, you may be able choose an airport closer to your destination since several of the islands have airports which serve European flights.
As well as scheduled flights, you might be able to book a seat-only deal on a package tour airline that may compare favourably with the no-frills carriers and may go to an island that the scheduled airlines don’t.
We’ve included Athens, of course, and 3 island airports that are good for the Cyclades; there are airports in other island groups which take international flights that may suit you if you have plans to visit places outside of the Cyclades.
If you have to fly to Athens, or if you prefer to, you’ll then need to get to and from the Cyclades. You may find a convenient domestic flight to take you to your destination island as discussed in the section below. Otherwise, you’ll need to take a ferry from one of the 3 ports serving Athens.
View the interactive map of the locations of Athens city, the airport and the ports of Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
The Number-One Island-Hopping Rule
No matter how efficient the ferry system might seem, keep in mind that the ferries are running in something of a ‘hostile’ environment. The weather can change quickly in the Aegean and ferries can be delayed or cancelled. Mechanical breakdowns can also occur.
We have a rule that says “Get back to base camp with at least one ferry in-hand, and preferably two” – if you miss your flight home – it will cost you dear. Much better to spend the night before your flight in a hotel within predictable, land-based travelling time from the airport. Having said that, most of the time, tight schedules will work — but be warned!
Flying back to your departure airport from one of the islands is usually more reliable, however, even flights have their delays so ensure you build in a long enough interchange/transit time. If your flight from the island and your homeward flight is on the same airline, there will usually be no problem if you miss your intended flight as a result of delay or cancellation.
Athens International Airport
Greece’s main international airport is Athens International Airport, Eleftherios Venizelos, located 30kms by road east of the centre of Athens. It’s relatively easy to get between the airport and the three mainland ports serving the Cyclades – Piraeus, Rafina and Lavrio.
A few of the Cyclades islands have airports, so you may have the choice of continuing to your destination island by ferry or by a domestic internal flight, otherwise, it’s down to the ferry.
Most ferries for the Cyclades operate from and to the port of Piraeus. The islands of Kea and Kythnos are served by the eastern mainland port of Lavrio. Andros, Tinos and Mykonos are served mostly by ferries from the eastern mainland port of Rafina. Mykonos is also served by some ferries from Piraeus. The western Cyclades islands of Serifos, Sifnos, Kimolos and Milos also have links to Rafina. See the sections below for information on the mainland ports and browse the ferry schedules for each to determine which is the most suitable for your itinerary. You can also go to the section for each island and browse ferries for that island alone.
If you arrive late, or you need to be up early to catch a flight, you might consider staying at the only hotel within the airport complex. The Sofitel is a couple of minutes walk from the terminal and is consistently highly-rated by travellers. The metro station for travelling into Athens and the bus stop for Piraeus are a couple of minutes walk away. The bus stop for Rafina and Lavrio is just across the road from the hotel.
The airport has free wifi for up to 45 minutes. If you need more, just disconnect and log in again. There is no limitation on access to the airport’s website for flight status etc. There are also 20+ Internet Access Points throughout the airport where you can get 15 minutes for free or choose to pay for longer.
Taxis are available at the taxi rank at Exit 3 on the Arrivals Level.
The Metro station is within the airport complex.
Car rental at Athens International Airport
You might want to explore the mainland of Greece before departing for the islands and renting a car will get you to places that might be difficult by public transport. Like most major cities, driving in Athens can be stressful, but once outside the metropolis, driving in Greece is safe and enjoyable – you’ll find Greek drivers are generally polite and non-aggressive. Some car rental companies will allow you to take the car onto ferries to the islands but you should always check first. You should also weigh up the cost of the car ferry as opposed to going as a foot passenger and renting a car at your destination island.
Of course, Athens is a destination in its own right so you may want to spend a few days exploring the fabulous sights of this exciting city at the start or end of your trip — visit the ancient monuments — immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle — eat some marvellous food in atmospheric tavernas.
A full guide to Athens is beyond the scope of The Cyclades website but you can click and read this very good overview of the city.
Athens has no shortage of hotels and you’ll usually have no problem finding somewhere centrally located even at the height of the holiday season.
E-tickets were introduced across the Athens transport system during 2017. There are different types of e-tickets which you might consider depending on your length of stay in the city and how often you think you’ll be using public transport. Read more about the Athens e-tickets.
Most ferries for the Cyclades, and most of the other island groups, operate from the main port of Piraeus, about 14 kms, by road, south west of the centre of Athens. It’s easily accessible from the centre and from Athens International Airport either by metro or bus – see the sections below. By the quickest road route, it’s 55 kms from the airport.
The islands of Kea and Kythnos are served from the easterly mainland port of Lavrio.
Andros, Tinos and Mykonos are served mostly by ferries from the easterly mainland port of Rafina, although some ferries also operate from Piraeus.
If you need to overnight between your flight and the ferry, Piraeus has plenty of hotel accommodation, although it can be a bit of a struggle finding somewhere decent at a reasonable price.
Our recommended hotel is the Phidias Piraeus Hotel – great rooms and friendly people at a good price – plus, they’ll pick you up and drop you to/from the hotel, the ferry port gates and the metro station for free. It’s just a minute’s walk from Zea Marina with its bars and restaurants and a 5-minute walk to the restaurants and bars of Plateia Korai and the pedestrian street of Karaiskou. It’s a 3-minute walk to Plateia Terpsitheas for the X96 bus-stop TO the airport.
You might also consider the lower-budget, very good value, Hotel Anemoni, which is a 10 to 15 minute walk from the port, and a 5-minute walk to Plateia Korai and Karaiskou. It’s a 5-minute walk to Venizelou for the X96 bus-stop TO the airport and a 2-minute walk from the X96 Dimotiko bus-stop on Politechniou coming FROM the airport.
View the interactive map of Piraeus showing the port gate for the Cyclades, the X96 bus stops to/from the airport, the metro station and the Phidias and Anemoni Hotels. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
Getting between Piraeus and Athens Airport by metro
The airport’s metro station is on metro line M3, the Blue Line, and trains run every half hour from around 06:30 until around 10:30. Monastiraki is where you must change and is on line M1, the Green Line, to and from Piraeus. Piraeus metro station is within walking distance of the ferry gates. Overall, it takes around an hour and a half to travel between Piraeus and the airport and will cost you 10 euros. There’s a half-price ticket for over-65s which has to be bought at a manned ticket window. E-tickets were introduced across the Athens transport system during 2017. There are different types of e-tickets but, for airport transfers, the pre-loadable and rechargeable paper Ath.enaTicket is probably the best option. Read more about the Athens e-tickets.
View the interactive map of Piraeus showing the port gate for the Cyclades and the metro station. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
Getting between Piraeus and Athens Airport by bus
A reliable, easy option is to take the X96 bus which runs between the airport and Piraeus port in less than one and a half hours. It’s less hassle than having to change metro lines and is a cheaper. The buses drop passengers at the Departures Level and pick up from the Arrivals Level, between Exits 4 and 5. Check the X96 timetable. Between the hours of 20:30 and 04:30, at Piraeus, the X96 starts and terminates at the bus-stops near port gate E8 at Karaiskaki Square. There’s a half-price ticket for over-65s which has to be bought at a manned ticket window – there’s one at the airport and at the Piraeus metro station. At the airport, unless you already have a previously purchased e-ticket, you must buy one at the ticket window by the bus-stop. E-tickets were introduced across the Athens transport system during 2017. There are different types of e-tickets but for airport transfers, the pre-loadable and rechargeable paper Ath.enaTicket is probably the best option. Read more about the Athens e-tickets.
View the interactive map of Piraeus showing the port gates and the X96 bus stops to/from the airport. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
Getting between Piraeus and Athens Airport by taxi or private transfer
You can find a taxi to take you to Piraeus at the taxi rank at Exit 3 on the Arrivals Level. The taxi fare will vary between €50 and €75 depending on the time of day/night.
You might prefer pre-booking a private transfer in advance, especially if your schedules are tight. The prices can be quite reasonable, particularly for larger groups. Browse a private transfer from Athens Airport to Piraeus or from Piraeus to Athens Airport
Getting between Piraeus and the Centre of Athens
Metro line M1, the Green Line, runs from the north of the city, stopping at Omonoia, the main square in the centre of Athens, and continues on to deposit you right in the port 25 minutes later and vice versa. The service runs every 10 minutes or so from around 05:30 until midnight or later at weekends. Piraeus metro station is within walking distance of the ferry gates. E-tickets were introduced across the Athens transport system during 2017. There are different types of e-tickets which you might consider depending on your length of stay in the city and how often you think you’ll be using public transport. Read more about the Athens e-tickets.
A taxi between Athens Centre and Piraeus should cost between €20 and €25 depending on the time of day/night. At Piraeus you can take one of the taxis waiting inside the port gates, or just walk through the gates and pick up a taxi outside – they’re cheaper because they don’t have to pay the fee to wait inside the port gates.
Rafina is around 17km from Athens International Airport and serves the island of Evvia (also known as Evia or Euboea) and the northern Cyclades islands of Andros, Tinos and Mykonos. Mykonos is also served by some ferries from/to Piraeus.
It’s not too bad a town to overnight in if you arrive late or have an early morning ferry.
We recommend the Avra Hotel. It’s a short walk from the port gate and offers a free shuttle service to and from Athens International Airport (check the schedules at recption).
View the interactive map of Rafina showing the ferry port, the square with bars and restaurants and the Avra Hotel. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
Getting between Rafina and Athens Airport
A frequent KTEL (Regional Bus Service) bus departs from the Arrivals Level, opposite the Sofitel hotel in the airport and takes less than 30 minutes to get to Rafina port. On the return journey, the bus leaves from the port itself. You buy the ticket on the bus. Check the KTEL bus company timetable.
You should be able to find a a taxi at Athens Airport to take you to Rafina. The fare should be between €35 and €50 depending on the time of day/night.
The town of Lavrio is approximately 40 kms from Athens International Airport and serves the islands of Kea and Kythnos. There is also a Hellenic Seaways service that continues on to Syros, Paros and Naxos once or twice a week, depending on the season.
Lavrio is not over-endowed as far as hotels are concerned and, in all honesty, it’s not a particularly attractive town in which to spend more than just an overnight stay, unless you also plan to go to Cape Sounio to visit the Temple of Poseidon.
View the interactive map of Lavrio showing the port and the town. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
The ferries generally leave Lavrio early morning or late afternoon which might mean that you have to wait a number of hours at the port. There is not too much to occupy you at the port but it’s a flat, easy, 10-minute walk into the town where there are cafés and restaurants in the main square. Unfortunately, there is no secure place to leave your luggage at the port.
Getting between Lavrio and Athens Airport
A frequent KTEL (Regional Bus Service) bus runs between the airport and the ferry port at Lavrio passing through Lavrio town en-route. At the airport it departs from the Arrivals Level near exits 2 and 3 opposite the Sofitel hotel. Coming from Lavrio, the bus drops passengers at the Departures Level. Going in either direction, you need to change buses at the village of Markópoulo (Μαρκόπουλο) – note the stress on the 2nd syllable. Get off the first bus and wait at the same bus stop for the reasonably well-synchronised 2nd bus. Overall journey time is around one hour. You buy a single ticket for €4 on the first of the buses which is also valid for the 2nd bus from Markópoulo.
Check the KTEL bus company timetable for buses from the airport to Markópoulo. Check the KTEL bus company timetable for buses from Markópoulo to Lavrio. The KTEL website is a bit flaky and you may have to click on the Greek/English option at the top right of the page a couple of times to get the English version to display.
You should be able to find a a taxi at Athens Airport to take you to Lavrio. The fare should be between €50 and €75 depending on the time of day/night. You might have difficulty getting a taxi from Lavrio to the airport.
Mykonos airport serves international flights from within Europe and will land you right in the Cyclades themselves. While this may be very convenient, you also have to factor into your budget the probable additional cost of flying to/from Mykonos. You should also consider the cost of onward connections to the islands in your intended itinerary.
Athens International Airport is well-served to/from Mykonos but other domestic flight destinations are limited and, for the Cyclades, only Santorini is served in high season. See the ‘Mykonos – arriving and departing‘ section for details of domestic flights.
Choosing Mykonos as your arrival airport in Greece is good for the short ferry journeys to Tinos, Andros and Syros, however, most ferry connections going south to Paros, Naxos, Ios and Santorini entail taking quite expensive catamarans. See the ‘Mykonos – arriving and departing‘ section for details of ferry services to/from other islands.
There can be some confusion surrounding the name Mykonos Port. There are actually 2 ports in Mykonos – the Old Port and the New Port. Unfortunately, there is no distinction made between the two on the ferry ticket itself. If you’re not sure which you’re booked from/to, see the ‘Mykonos – arriving and departing‘ section, but always check with an agent for the ferry company if you possibly can.
You can view the interactive map showing the location of the airport, Mykonos Town and the old and new ports. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
There is a taxi rank outside the terminal at Mykonos airport but you can end up queuing for quite some time. Often the taxi drivers will try to double-up if there are a couple of groups going to roughly the same place – the fare generally won’t be any cheaper but at least you might get there quicker and – who knows? – your fellow travellers might become your first friends in Mykonos.
There is a bus that goes from the airport to to the Old Port and one that goes from the Old Port to the New Port but they’re not that regular and probably too much hassle if you’re in a rush to catch your ferry or flight. You can check the bus timetable on the KTEL bus company website.
Given all the uncertainties of whether you’ll get a taxi in time or whether the buses are right for your schedule, you might consider pre-booking a private transfer:
- Private transfer from the airport to the New Port
- Private transfer from the New Port to the airport
- Private transfer from the airport to the Old Port
- Private transfer from the Old Port to the airport
The section ‘Mykonos – arriving and departing’ discusses ways of getting between the 2 ports and the airport.
You may want to linger longer than just rushing between the port and the airport. Mykonos town is beautiful and there are some interesting sites to be seen. Of course, Mykonos’ legendary entertainment and beach scene may be one of the key reasons for you to visit. Take a look at the Mykonos WikiVoyage travel pages for more information on beaches, resorts and things to do in Mykonos.
You should certainly consider visiting nearby Delos, which you can only reach from Mykonos.
If you are just overnighting, or even spending a few days in Mykonos, we recommend the Olympia. It has very clean, modern rooms and is situated a couple of minutes’ walk from the Fabrika bus station where the Old Town pedestrian streets start.
If you’re staying in Mykonos for a few days, you might consider renting a car to get the most out of your stay.
Santorini airport serves flights from within Europe and will land you right in the Cyclades themselves.
Santorini has direct domestic flights between many places in Greece, however, there are generally no flights between other islands in the Cyclades unless you go via Athens. See the section on ‘Santorini arriving and departing‘ for details of domestic air connections.
Santorini is a must-see island with its dramatic volcanic scenery, medieval villages and ancient archaeological sites such as Akrotiri and Ancient Thira.
Santorini can be a good choice as your arrival airport in Greece since it has very good ferry connections and is a hub where several ferry routes intersect. See the page on ‘Santorini arriving and departing‘ for details on ferry services to other islands.
There is no direct connection by bus between the airport and the ferry port. You must take the bus between the airport terminal and the bus station at the island’s main town of Fira, and a separate bus between Fira bus station and the ferry port of Athinios. The journey time to/from the airport and Fira is about 10 minutes; to/from Fira and Athinios is about 20 minutes. However, the bus service to/from the airport and to/from Athinios is not particularly frequent so you should check the KTEL bus timetable.
View the interactive map of Santorini showing the airport, the ferry port of Athinios and the main town of Fira, with the bus station and Hotel Antonia marked. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
There is a taxi rank at the airport which can get busy at peak times. Taxis also meet ferries at the ferry port.
If you need to overnight in Santorini, or spend time exploring the island, we recommend the Antonia Hotel in the centre of Fira close to the bars, restaurants and shops. Lefteris is the perfect host and will arrange free transfers to/from the airport and the hotel, similarly for the ferry port. The complimentary half litre of his house wine is perfect after a long journey and there is always complimentary coffee available in reception. Fira is a good base for exploring the island since the bus routes all radiate from the main bus station, a 5-minute walk from the Antonia Hotel.
If you’re staying in Santorini for a few days, you might consider renting a car to get the most out of your stay.
Heraklion Airport (Crete)
The international airport at Heraklion in Crete is also a contender for access to the islands.
Heraklion has direct domestic flights between many places in Greece but, for the Cyclades, it only caters for Mykonos and Santorini. To fly between Heraklion and other islands in the Cyclades that have airports it’s probably best to go via Athens.
There are catamaran ferries that go from Heraklion to the Cyclades, generally stopping at Santorini, Ios, Naxos, Paros and Mykonos, all of which are interchange ports from where you can get to other islands. See the chapter on each island for connection information.
There is a taxi rank at Heraklion airport just outside the terminal.
Bus number 11, in less than half an hour, gets you to/from the airport bus stop 01534 (Terminal Station Airport) and bus stop 01545 (Terminal Station Port) which is within walking distance of the ferry port. You can view the timetable on the bus company website for route 11 (PORT-PEPAGNI-UNIVERSITY) and live bus arrivals can be viewed either from the airport or to the airport.
You can view the interactive map showing the location of Heraklion airport, the port and the bus stops. You can zoom in and out and click the pins or the menu icon in the top left of the map and flip between a map-view and a satellite-view.
If you plan to overnight in Heraklion, don’t miss the short trip out to see the ancient site of Knosssos.
Crete is a wonderful island with something to suit the taste of every visitor — bustling resorts, deserted beaches, ancient sites, beautiful Venetian towns, mountain villages, fantastic walking and so much more. Cretan cuisine is justly famous throughout the world.
A full travel guide to Crete is beyond the scope of The Cyclades website but you can read an overview of the island.
If you’re staying in Crete for a few days, you might consider renting a car to get the most out of your stay.