Q. How do I get to Santorini by ferry?
Up to 8 ferries a day sail the route from the Athens’ port (Piraeus) to Santorini. The ferry from Piraeus to Santorini takes 5 hours by high speed ferry or catamaran (cost: 60 euros) and 8 hours by the slower car ferries (cost: 34 euros).
During rough seas and windy weather the large car ferries (e.g. the Blue Star ferry) provide a much smoother ride than the high speed ferries. If you’re sensitive to seasickness then avoid the high speed ferries (and definitely avoid the flying cat and flying dolpin).
Ferry Schedule: Athens to Santorini for 2016
These are the 2 most popular routes from Athens (Piraeus) to Santorini:
- Blue Star Ferry
Leaves Athens at 7:25 every morning with stops in Paros, Naxos, and Ios (doesn’t stop in Ios on Wednesday and Saturday). Return trip from Santorini to Athens leaves at 19:00.
- Highspeed 6 (these times are for 2016, I’ll update when the new schedule comes out for 2017)
Dates 30th June to 7th September: Daily from Athens (departs 7:15) to Ios and Santorini. Return Santorini (departs 12:00) to Ios and Athens.
Dates 16th June to 29th June: Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: Athens (07:15) to Ios and Santorini. Santorini (12:00) to Ios and Athens (*except Sundays when departure is at 17:00).
Highspeed ferries are more likely to sell out than the large conventional ferries. Buying tickets a few days in advance should be enough to secure a 2nd class seat on most high speed ferries (airplane style seating) – but there are no guarantees in July and August so if you’re on a tight schedule then buy in advance. Tickets for the Blue Star ferry rarely sell out so you should be fine buying a ticket the day before or even the morning of your trip. (The days before and after the national holiday of August 15th are one time all ferries can be full.) Book several weeks in advance if you want a cabin or need to take a vehicle.
The highspeed ferries between Crete and Santorini do regularly sell out in July and August so this is one route that should be purchased in advance.
Buying tickets online in advance is a pain (routes aren’t officially published until 2 or 3 weeks before the date, the websites are confusing, and you need to visit 3 or more websites to see all the available ferries) – but you’ll sometimes need to book in advance (or want to for peace of mind). You’ll rarely, if ever, need advance tickets for ferries to Santorini from other Cycladic islands so just purchase these a day or 2 before sailing at a travel agent on whatever island you happen to be on. When you do need to buy tickets in advance these are the most useful websites:
- Pelican Travel – If you need help from a travel agency to book your ferry tickets then Pelican can do it for you (with added fees). Then pick up your tickets after you arrive in Santorini. Their office is in central Fira.
- Greek Travel Pages – This is the single best page for finding routes and timetables for all Greek ferries – but it is still challenging to use.
- Hellenic Seaways – The fastest ferries to Santorini from Piraeus but only one departure a day, usually in the early morning. Also have ferries from Santorini to Heraklion, Paros, and Ios and the only service between Mykonos and Santorini.
- Blue Star Ferries – Departures everyday from Piraeus. Also ferries from Santorini to Naxos and Santorini to Rhodes.
- Anek Ferries – Departures most days from Piraeus. Also ferries from Heraklion, Crete and Rhodes to Santorini.
- SeaJets – Runs from Santorini to Crete and several Cycladic islands. These are the smaller catamarans and the route to Crete can be especially rough.
Q. What is the Santorini ferry schedule?
The most important ferries to and from Santorini are:
- Blue Star – Daily ferries to Santorini from Piraeus, Naxos, Paros, and Ios. And from Santorini to Ios, Paros, Naxos, Piraeus and Rhodes (summer only). If you’re prone to seasickness this is the best ferry to take..
- Flying Cat 4 – From Heraklion (Crete) to Santorini continuing on to Paros and Mykonos.
- Sea Jets – High speed catamarans between Santorini and Heraklion, Ios, Paros, Naxos, and Mykonos.
- Anek Ferries – The only year-round ferry from Santorini to Rhodes. Also service to Heraklion, Karpathos, and Piraeus.
Santorini Ferry Schedule, Summer 2016
- Heraklion (Iraklio), Crete
1 to 2 highspeed ferries per day: 2 hours, 56€. Also 1 large ferry per week.
2 large ferries weekly: 3.5 hours, 17€. 1 highspeed daily: 2 hours, 40€.
2 highspeed daily: 2.5 hours, 50€.
2 highspeed ferries daily: 40 minutes, 18€. 4 weekly large ferries: 1.5 hours, 8€.
2 highspeed ferries dayily: 1.5 hours 37€. 5 large ferries daily: 2 hours, 17€.
2 highspeed ferries daily: 2.5 hours, 45€. 5 large ferries daily: 3 to 4 hours, 19€.
- Piraeus (Athens)
3 highspeed ferries daily: 5 hours, 60€. 4 large ferries: 9 hours, 34€.
2 to 4 large ferries weekly: 9 to 18 hours (Blue Star is faster than ANEK), 36€ (cabins are more expensive but recommended).
2 ferries weekly: 5 hours, 30€.
1 to 4 large ferries daily: 3 hour, 14€.
High speed ferries are about twice as fast as conventional car ferries and cost about twice as much. During rough seas high speed ferries are canceled much more frequently than the slower conventional ferries. When they do run during rough or windy conditions life on board can be brutal for those prone to seasickness.
If you want to avoid taking a highspeed ferry from Santorini to Mykonos (or vice versa) take the Blue Star ferry to Paros and then switch to a high speed ferry for the short trip to Mykonos.
Q. Should I book my ferry ticket in advance?
If you have a car and need a spot on the ferry for your vehicle then yes, you need to book your ferry in advance.
If you are traveling overnight to Rhodes, Crete, or Athens and want a cabin then yes, booking in advance is a good idea as well.
Otherwise, the large ferries almost never sell out. Occasionally the high speed ferries will sell out but usually buying a few days in advance is fine. Purchasing ferry tickets from outside the country is a pain and if you can avoid doing so you should.
Once again (repeating myself here), booking ferry tickets in advance from outside the country is frustrating. But in-person, and in-country, it’s pretty easy. Ferries rarely sell out so if you can buy a few days in advance you’ll be fine most of the time. On the popular routes there will be more than one ferry a day (e.g. Athens to Santorini) so even if a ferry did sell out, as long as you have a flexible schedule, you can jump on a later ferry, or at worse, one the next day.
Oh, and ferries can be cancelled due to rough seas, high winds, and strikes. (It’s always a good idea to arrive in Athens a full day before your flight home to allow for any ferry cancellations.)
But, all in all, traveling by ferry is fun and an authentic way of seeing the country. Just be flexible and patient.