Updated: November 1, 2017
On This Page
- Athens to Santorini Tour
- Flights from Athens to Santorini
- Ferries from Athens to Santorini
- What is the best ferry to take from Athens to Santorini?
- Should I book my ferry tickets in advance?
- The difference between economy, business, VIP, and Cabin ferry classes
- Athens Airport to the Ferry Port
- Downtown Athens to Ferry Port
- Map of Piraeus Ferry Port
- Essentials to Know about Greek Ferries
- Recommended Hotels near the Athens Ferry Port
Athens to Santorini in 2018
- Athens-Santorini Ferries in 2018: The ferry schedule for 2018 will not be finalized until January, 2018. But there will be a Blue Star ferry going between Athens and Santorini every day, year round. It usually leaves Athens at 7:30am. Starting in late March or early April Hellenic Seaways and SeaJets Ferries begin high speed service from Athens to Santorini. In summer there will be 4 or more ferries per day from Athens to Santorini. Ferry tickets can be booked in advance but there is no need to worry about ferries selling out early in 2018. Mark your calendars and remember to book sometime after the schedule is released in 2018.
- Athens-Santorini Flights in 2018: Not all airlines have released their schedules for 2018 but it is certain that there will be daily flights year round from Athens to Santorini. For the months June to September there will be over a 15 flights per day. The primary airlines for the Athens-Santorini route are Ryan Air, EasyJet, Aegean Airlines, and Olympic Air. Flights sell out much earlier than ferries so if you see a flight that works for your itinerary then book as soon as possible.
Athens to Santorini Tour
This is a cheap, easy, and well-run tour that gets you from Athens to Santorini. It includes hotel pickup and drop-off in both Athens and Santorini. You’ll stay in a 3-star hotel (included in the price) in Santorini for one night with free breakfast. You’ll have about 24 hours to explore Santorini which is plenty enough time to see Fira, Oia, Imerovigli, the Akrotiri historical site, and a couple of wineries depending on your interests. The tour price includes hotel transfers, ferry tickets on the Blue Star ferry from Athens to Santorini and return, and one night in a nice hotel on the Santorini beach (usually Kamari – a nice relaxed beach town with lots of restaurants, some nightlife, and a few shops.)
This is a good tour if you want an inexpensive and hassle-free way to see Santorini from Athens. But if you have more time or don’t require a tour then it’s fairly simple to book ferries and hotels yourself. Below I offer my advice for getting from Athens to Santorini on your own.
Flights from Athens to Santorini
There are more than 20 flights per day from Athens to Santorini in the summer months. Airfare for Athens to Santorini flights will cost between $40 and $175 and flying time from Athens to Santorini is 45 minutes. Flights depart from the Athens International airport 30 minutes outside of central Athens, and arrive at Santorini International Airport which is located 10 minutes from the town of Fira and 25 from Oia.
Kayak.com is the best website to search for flights from Athens to Santorini.
Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air have 9 flights per day (in high season) from Athens to Santorini. They are essentially the same airline (Olympic recently bought Aegean) and you can book flights for either airline on both websites (and at the same price). Flights with an Aegean flight code use a Airbus 320 (168 passengers). Flights with an Olympic code use a Dash 8 prop plane (70 passengers).
Ryanair has 1 flight per day (at 7:15am) starting March 26, 2017 and 2 flights a day (the other flight at 11:10pm) starting June 1. The evening flight runs until September 30 and the morning flight until October 24, 2017.
The first flight of the day departs Athens at 5:15am and the last flight at 23:15. Flights leave about every 2 hours throughout the day. For every flight to Santorini there is a return flight to Athens that takes off from Santorini about 40 minutes after it lands. The cheapest flights from Athens to Santorini are with Ryan Air.
If you don’t have any interest in staying in Athens there are direct flights to Santorini from London, Paris, Rome, Frankfurt, Dublin, Amsterdam, and many other European cities. Search Kayak.com for available flights. EasyJet and Ryan Air have the cheapest flights from western Europe to Santorini.
In winter there are no direct flights from western Europe to Santorini and flights from Athens to Santorini are reduced to 2 or 3 per day.
Ferries from Athens to Santorini
- There are more than 4 ferries per day from Athens to Santorini in the summer months. Fares for Athens to Santorini ferries cost from 20€ to 76€ and the journey takes between 5 and 8 hours. The cheapest ferry from Athens to Santorini is the Blue Star. The fastest ferry is the Hellenic Seaways Highspeed 4.
- Ferries depart from the Piraeus ferry port located 20 minutes by train outside of central Athens, and arrive in Santorini at the Athinios port, 15 minutes from the town of Fira.
- The best ferry between Athens and Santorini is the Blue Star. It’s the most stable comfortable ride – but it takes almost 8 hours. The Hellenic Seaways ferries take about 5 hours but the ride can be bumpier. If you’re worried about seasickness then take the Blue Star.
- GTP.gr is the best place to search for ferry routes and times.
- But when you want to book a ferry go directly to the ferry company’s website: Blue Star, Hellenic Seaways, or SeaJets.
- Most ferries do not sell out and you can usually buy an economy class ticket the day of sailing. But there is never a guarantee. If you absolutely must be on a specific ferry then buy in advance online.
Ferry Times from Athens to Santorini for 2017
These are the most popular ferry routes from Athens (Piraeus) to Santorini. The Blue Star ferry is my favorite way to get from Athens to Santorini and the best choice by far if you’re prone to seasickness as it’s the largest ferry with the least bumpy ride.
- Blue Star Ferry: Departs Athens at 7:25 every morning (365 days a year) with stops in Paros and Naxos (and sometimes Ios). It takes about 8 hours from Athens to Santorini and the ferry arrives in Santorini at 14:55. The return trip from Santorini to Athens departs at 15:30 and arrives in Athens at 23:15. From June 25 to September 3, 2017 there are evening Blue Star ferries 3 nights per week from Athens to Santorini. They leave Athens at around 5:30pm on Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday and arrive in Santorini between 1am and 2am. For any Blue Star ferry spending a few extra Euros and getting reserved seats “aircraft type seats” is highly recommended.
- Hellenic Seaways Highspeed 4 or 6: Every day from April 7 to October 1, 2017 there is a morning highspeed ferry that departs from Athens at 7:15am and arrives in Santorini between 12pm and 1pm. In April it will be a Highspeed 6 and arrive at 1:05pm. In May, June, July, August, and September it will be a Highspeed 4 and arrive at 12pm (noon). From June 16 to September 10, 2017 Hellenic also has a night ferry. The Nissos Samos car ferry (similar to the the Blue Star) departs Athens at 11:30pm and arrives in Santorini at 8am.
- SeaJet: From March 24 to October 31, 2017 this small catamaran departs at 7:00am and arrives in Santorini at 11:20 (usually with stops in Mykonos and Naxos). From May 19 to September 24, 2017 there is also an afternoon ferry that departs Athens at 3:45pm and arrives at Santorini at 9:25pm. This is the fastest ferry from Athens to Santorini but also the smallest and will have the roughest ride. The seating inside is cramped (unless you get business class which I recommend). It’s also the most likely to be cancelled due to rough seas. With a little bad luck a trip on a SeaJet can turn into a terrible experience. Take the Blue Star or Hellenic Highspeed if you can. The SeaJet and similar smaller catamarans (like the Mega Jet and Super Jet) are OK for short hops between islands but I would not recommend taking them for the 5 hour journey from Athens to Santorini.
- Rafina to Santorini Ferries: Rafina is a second ferry port near Athens and closer than Piraeus to the Athens International Airport. From Apri 24 to September 24, 2017 there is a Hellenic Highspeed ferry that departs at 7:20am and gets to Santorini at 1:25pm. It runs 7 days a week for these dates except from April 24 to June 11 when it doesn’t run on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. There is also a SeaJet that runs 6 days per week at 3:45pm and gets to Santorini at 9:25pm starting from May 19, 2017 until September or October (not sure on the final day yet).
Ferry Times from Santorini to Athens for 2017
The outbound ferry times for Santorini to Athens ferries usually corresponds to the inbound ferries, as most ships drop their passengers, get new passengers, and do the the same trip back to Athens.
- Blue Star Ferry: Santorini to Athens ferries depart at 3:30pm and arrives in Athens at 11:25pm 365 days a year. From June to September there are a few ferries a week that leave Santorini early in the morning and arrive in Athens around 3pm.
- Hellenic Seaways Highspeed 4 or 6: Every day from May 26 to October 1, 2017 there is a Hellenic ferry (Highspeed 4 or 6) that departs Santorini between 12:15pm and 1:30pm and arrives in Athens between 5pm and 9pm.
- SeaJet: From March 24 to October 31, 2017 it departs Santorini at sometime between 12:15pm and 1pm and arrives in Athens between 5pm and 7pm. From June 1 to September 18, 2017 there is also a morning ferry that departs Santorini at 8:00am and arrives in Athens at 2:05pm.
- Santorini to Rafina Ferries: From Apri 24 to September 24, 2017 there is a Hellenic Highspeed ferry that departs Santorini at 1:40pm and gets to Rafina at 7:45pm. It runs 7 days a week for these dates except from April 24 to June 11 when it doesn’t run on Tuesday and Wednesday. There is also a SeaJet that runs 7 days per week leaving Santorini at 9:00am and gets to Rafina at 2:45pm starting from May 20, 2017 until September or October (not sure on the final day yet).
What is the best ferry to take from Athens to Santorini?
The best way to get from Athens to Santorini is by the Blue Star ferry. It departs the Athens’ ferry port every day at 7:25am. This is obviously early. To get the ferry you need to be on the metro train from downtown Athens to Piraeus by 6:30am. During summer there is also a later Blue Star ferry in the afternoon/evening 3 days per week – usually departing at 17:30 and arriving in Santorini after midnight.
On the Blue Star ferry you are able to walk around on the deck and enjoy the scenery and the sea air. It does take 8 hours on the Blue Star from Athens to Santorini. The beginning and end of the trip are exciting but the 6 hours in between can be pretty boring.
The Highspeed ferries that go from Athens to Santorini do not have open-air decks so you’re not able to see the scenery in the same way. You sit inside in airplane style seats and are unable to go outside except when a stop is made at a port. The windows are usually covered with salt and sea spray and don’t allow for much in the way of views. The Highspeed ferries do get you to Santorini in a little over half the time (5 hours instead of 8) so there is that advantage.
Pre-booking for the Blue Star is usually not necessary but if you do book directly with Blue Star. Highspeed ferries do sell out (especially in July and August) so pre-booking those tickets is usually a good idea if you’re on a set schedule.
If you’re already in Greece or planning to spend time in Athens then buying ferry tickets is very easy. Walk into any travel agent a day or two before your intended ferry trip and ask about ferry times and tickets. You can buy the tickets right there. Ferry prices are set by the government so there’s no need to shop around or compare prices: they’re all the same. Ferries rarely sell out so booking far in advance is not usually necessary (though there are times when you should buy Greek ferry tickets in advance). Since the Highspeed Ferries are smaller and have assigned seating they are more likely to sell out in high season. The Blue Star ferry very rarely sells out.
Boarding the ferry will require carrying your bags onto the ferry and occasionally (depending on the ferry) up several flights of narrow stairs. With most ships there’s usually plenty of luggage storage as you first board the ferry.
What is the cheapest way of getting from Athens to Santorini?
The cheapest way of getting to Santorini from Athens is the conventional car ferries (like Blue Star) followed by high speed ferries. Flights will be the most expensive but if you book early a cheap flight might be close in cost to a high speed ferry.
What is the fastest way from Athens to Santorini?
Of course, flying is the fastest way from Athens to Santorini. But … if you’re already in central Athens and would need to get all the way back out to the airport and make your way through security then a high speed ferry might only take 2 or 3 hours longer than a flight.
If you’ll be flying into Athens but do not intend to spend any time in the city then it’s easiest to hop on a flight directly to Santorini and save yourself the trouble of getting from the Athens airport to Piraeus for a ferry.
Should I book my ferry ticket from Athens to Santorini in advance?
Most of the time buying tickets in advance is not necessary and you can purchase tickets at any travel agency after you arrive in Greece.
In July and August it’s certainly not a bad a idea to buy Blue Star tickets 2 or 3 days in advance (but after you arrive in Greece as it’s much easier buying at a travel agency in Athens than pre-buying over the internet). Highspeed ferries sell out more often and for July and August I would recommend pre-booking tickets at least a week in advance.
If you do book in advance go through the websites for the individual ferry companies Blue Star, Hellenic Seaways, or SeaJets as opposed to purchasing through a travel agent which will charge an extra fee.
There are 3 situations when you definitely should book ferry tickets in advance:
- If you’re traveling on the week of August 15th. This is a huge holiday in Greece when Greeks return to their hometowns and islands. Ferries are packed so buy tickets at least a few days in advance. (Full disclosure: I’ve traveled during this week and never booked tickets in advance and got on every ferry that I needed to.)
- If you have a car and need to take it on the ferry. Automobile spots are few and sell out in advance.
- If you want a sleeping cabin then you’ll (often) need to book tickets in advance.
What is the difference between the economy, business, VIP, and cabin classes on a Greek ferry?
Seating On Blue Star Ferries (and other large car ferries)
- Economy or deck class gives you access to inside and outside seating as well as all restaurants and cafes. For €4 you can upgrade to reservable airplane-style seats. If you don’t get a reserved seat you can be left searching for a seat throughout the trip or anytime you want to stand up. In July and August I would definitely get the reserved airplane-style seats.
- Business Class gives you access to a lounge with comfortable seats and sofas, waiter service, and a less noisy and crowded environment. Some people enjoy the added comfort, but I prefer the airplane-style seating found in economy.
- Cabins have beds and usually come in 2-berth and 4-berth arrangements. Inside cabins are inside the ship with no window. Outside cabins are on the exterior and have a window.
Seating on Hellenic Highspeed Ferries
On the Hellenic ferries there isn’t a huge difference between the classes:
- Economy is at the rear half of the ferry.
- Business is in front of that with a bit more room to each seat.
- VIP is at the front of the ferry and has windows looking straight forward or is on the floor above (depending on the ferry). It will usually have leather seats. It also has waiter service at your table.
Seating Onboard a SeaJet Ferry
I recommend getting business class seating on the smaller SeaJet ferries which are small and crowded. (This advice doesn’t apply to the SeaJet Terajet ferry that runs between Crete and Santorini. That ferry is much bigger and very different than the SeaJet catamarans that run from Athens to Santorini.)
- Economy seating on SeaJet ferry to Santorini. Hot and crowded.
- Business-class seating on SeaJet ferry to Santorini. Recommended.
Athens Airport to the Piraeus Ferry Port
Ferries from Athens depart from the Piraeus ferry port about 20 minutes south of central Athens. If you’re going directly from the airport to a ferry then bus X96 is the best and fastest way to get to the port. It runs 24 hours a day, costs €5, and the trip takes between 50 and 90 minutes depending on traffic.
Taxis from the Athens airport to Piraeus take 40 to 70 minutes and cost between €50 and €60.
Downtown Athens to Ferry Port
If you’re already in central Athens then the metro that departs from Monastiraki or Omonia stations will get you to Piraeus in 20 to 30 minutes. Metro tickets cost €1.20. Metro runs from 5:30am until about midnight. If your ferry leaves at 7:30am (like many do) leaving downtown Athens at 6:30am should give you plenty of time.
Taxis take 20 to 30 minutes from Syntagma, Plaka, or Monastiraki area and cost €25 to €30.
Remember to Validate Tickets
If you buy a ticket but fail to validate (with the machines below) you can be fined up to 60 times the price of the fare.
Map of Piraeus Ferry Port
Essentials to Know about Greek Ferries
- Ferry time from Athens to Santorini: 5 hours by highspeed ferry, 8 hours by car ferry.
- Tickets can NOT be bought on board the ferry. Buy your tickets before boarding the ferry preferably a few days before at a travel agent in downtown Athens. Ticket agents are found beside gates E7 which is a short walk from the Athens metro station and the bus stop for the X96 bus from the Athens airport.
- Ferry tickets can be bought at the Aktina Travel Agency on the arrivals level of the Athens International Airport when you arrive in Greece. This is a good compromise between pre-booking and buying the day-of-travel. If you’ll be in Athens a few days and buy the tickets immediately upon arrival then you’ll get to reserve tickets a few days in advance but not have the burden of booking online and arranging where to pickup the tickets.
- Ferry tickets are one-way and point-to-point. You can not purchase a return ticket (you buy them as 2 one-way tickets) and you can not purchase a multi-stop ticket (e.g. Athens to Mykonos to Santorini) you buy them as individual one-way tickets.
- Cost of ferry from Athens to Santorini: On the Blue Star ferry it costs €38 for economy, €53 for VIP, and €69 for a cabin berth. On the Highspeed ferry it’s €60 for economy, €63 for business, and €76 for VIP. And about 10% more for Piraeus departures on Friday and Saturday and Piraeus arrivals on Sunday and Monday.
- Best website for Greek ferry schedules: GTP.GR – but booking is usually easiest through individual companies (e.g. Blue Star or Hellenic Seaways).
- Piraeus – The Athens ferry port. Connected by metro to central Athens. It takes 30 minutes to get from central Athens to the ferry port by metro. The ferries to Santorini and the rest of the Cyclades are directly across the street from the metro station between gates E6 and E8 (ahead and slightly to your left). Don’t stress – it’s obvious, easy to find, and everyone is heading in the same direction. Just follow the crowd. Metro timetable and ticket info • Map of Piraeus ferry port.
- Rafina – A second ferry port outside of Athens. It does not have as many ferries as Piraeus. There’s little reason to use it if you’re already in central Athens. But if you plan to go directly from the airport to the ferry then Rafina can save you the hassle of going into Athens. Mykonos, in particular, has good connections from Rafina. There is a direct bus from the Athens airport to the Rafina port. The bus from the airport to Rafina takes 30 minutes. It departs from just opposite the Sofitel Hotel not from the marked bus area where the X93, X95, and X96 depart from. You do not buy tickets from the kiosk booth adjacent to the X buses but instead pay the €3 fare on the bus.
- Thira – The name of Santorini in Greek. You’ll see this name on some schedules so it’s good to remember.
- Car Ferries – Also called Conventional Ferries or Slow Ferries. The most regular route to Santorini is run by Blue Star Ferries. It runs every day, all year, leaving Athens at 7:25am. There can also be a later ferry by Blue Star and other similar sized ferries run by Anek Ferries. They take automobiles and have large decks that are fun to walk about – especially as you pull into an island. The Blue Star ferry is large and the most stable in rough seas.
- Highspeed Ferries – Also called by different ferry types: Highspeed4, Highspeed5, Highspeed6 by Hellenic Seaways and the NEL Highspeed. These are huge double-hulled catamarans that are faster than the car ferries but cost twice as much. They are fully enclosed with airplane-style seating and large windows but there is no deck to walk about and observe the surroundings like the car ferries. The windows get covered in salt and seawater and don’t provide much visibility either. More bumpy than the Blue Star ferry in rough seas.
- Flying Cat – Also called Cat4, Cat5, Cat6. The Cat4 goes between Santorini and Mykonos and sometimes between Athens and the Cyclades. More bumpy in rough seas than the Highspeed Ferries.
- SuperJets and SeaJets – Smaller than the highspeed ferries, more bumpy during rough seas, and also less reliable. Stick with the Car Ferries and Highspeed Ferries.
- Sea Sickness – If you’re prone to seasickness then only ride the large Blue Star car ferry. The Highspeed and SeaJets ferries can be very bumpy during rough seas.
- Rough Seas and Cancellations – August is the windiest month and ferries can be canceled for 1 or 2 days in a row. The Blue Star ferries are the least likely to be canceled due to rough seas.
- Food on Board the Athens-Santorini Ferry – All ferries have lounges, snack bars, and restaurants to buy food. There are several fast food/cafe/deli shops across from gate E6 that are open 24 hours and sell some pretty tasty sandwiches and pastries.
- Boarding the Ferry in Athens (Piraeus port)
The Blue Star ferry to Santorini departs from gate E6. The Highspeed 6 leaves from Gate E7/E8. Both areas are directly across the street from the Piraeus metro station. (More pictures of the Blue Star ferry and the port in Piraeus.)
- Arriving in Santorini – It’s very busy when a ferry arrives in Santorini. There is a bus that meets every ferry arrival so you’ll never be without a way into Fira. There are usually taxis too but these can be snatched up quickly. Ferries do not stay in port long – sometimes just a few minutes, so don’t slowly make your way down the stairs to the exit deck. Have your bags ready to go and be in line as the ferry approaches the island.
- On booking sites you might see the follow abbreviations:
IJ=SeaJets (SuperJet and MegaJet)
ST=BlueStar Ferry Company (Large Car Ferries)
MF=Hellenic Seaways (Large Car Ferries and Highspeed Catamarans)
More Photos About Ferries to Santorini
Recommended Hotels near the Athens Ferry Port
The ferry port is in Piraeus about 20 minutes by metro from central Athens. Many ferries leave early in the morning (between 7am and 8am) so it’s tempting to want to stay the night in Piraeus. But it’s not necessary. The metro starts running at 5:30am which gives travelers plenty of time to get to Piraeus. The Monastiraki station in central Athens has direct trains to the Piraeus port so staying close to it is recommended. (It’s also a fun neighborhood and close to the Plaka and Acropolis. Outdoor dining floods the small alleys around the Monastiraki Square late into the evening so you’ll be happy you stayed here for the night.) Piraeus on the other hand is not a place you want to spend a lot of time. The only way I’d recommend staying in Piraeus is if you arrived by plane so late that you wanted to go straight to bed and had an early ferry in the morning. In that case take the X96 bus straight to Piraeus and don’t bother going into central Athens.
- A for Athens Hotel (Central Athens • moderate) – Great hotel directly across from the Monastiraki Square. 1 minute to Monastiraki metro station.
- Plaka Hotel (Central Athens • moderate) – Very similar to A for Athens. Inside they’re very close in quality. Plaka has a nicer appearance from the outside and is on a quieter street. A for Athens is closer to the metro. Plaka Hotel is 3 minutes from Monastiraki metro station.
- Triton Hotel Piraeus (Piraeus • budget) – There are some cheaper hotels directly across from the ferry but I prefer going a block or 2 away from the port and getting a little better hotel (though rooms and bathrooms are still very small). The Triton is a 3 minute walk to the Santorini ferries.
- Piraeus Theoxenia Hotel (Piraeus • moderate) – A block farther from the port than the Triton and the nicest hotel in Piraeus. 5 minutes to the Santorini ferries.