How to Get from Athens to Crete: 7 Reasons to Choose the Ferry or the Plane

How to Get from Athens to Crete

Wondering how to get from Athens to Crete? Or maybe you’re not sure whether to use the ferry or plane?

This detailed comparison has you covered.

Here is everything you need to know to decide between a boat or plane for your trip to Crete from Athens!

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From Athens to Crete: All the Alternatives

from athens to crete

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📍 Top tours I recommend on the island:
Boat cruise to Balos Lagoon & Gramvousa
Ticket to Knossos Archaeological Site

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Let’s discuss all the advantages and disadvantages of getting to Crete by plane or ferry from Athens…

Flying from Athens to Crete is Way Faster than Taking the Ferry

from athens to crete

In short, a plane will take you to Crete three to six times faster than a ferry. And that includes the time you need to go through security in Athens and exit the arrival airport. 

If you want specifics, expect 2 hours at Athens airport, less than 1 hour in the air, and a few minutes at Crete’s airport. In contrast, the ferry can last anywhere from 8 hours to 12 hours on a slow overnight ferry.

from athens to crete
Chania Port of Souda, Anek Lines ferry to Athens.

Hence, a flight to Crete is a no-brainer if you’re short on time. You’ll travel for fewer hours and thus maximize your time on the island. That means you can make the most of your itinerary on the island, even if you’re there for a few days.

Ferry Prices from Athens to Crete are Stable and Usually Lower than Flight Fares 

from athens to crete

Generally, the ferry from Athens to Crete costs less than choosing the plane. However, that’s not necessarily the case, especially if you book well in advance. 

For example, you could find a summer plane ticket at just €50 if you buy it in fall or winter. If you decide not to book and get a ferry instead, you could pay around the same for a regular seat and about double (if not more) for a cabin. 

Of course, for an average estimate, expect the flight ticket to range from €50 to €200 plus, while the ferry crossing will usually be between €40 to €60.

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As for the lowest price, you can find a boat ticket in the €20-50 range for the 11-hour-long overnight ferry. This basic ticket will get you a standard seat, but you can upgrade to a cabin, which will cost around €160. 

As you know, the earlier you book a ticket, the better the deal, while prices are higher for June to September.

And although the above applies to both ferries and planes, sea crossing fares are relatively stable and don’t climb as fast or as high. If you travel from Athens to Crete in the next few days, a ferry is the logical option. 

The Port and the Airport are 50 Minutes Away by Car, so Consider your Starting Point in Athens 

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A significant factor to consider when evaluating your options is where in Athens you start your journey to Crete. If you’re landing by air in the Greek capital and want to get to Crete the same day, flying is the way to go. 

Instead, if you want to spend a few nights in Athens, the ferry port of Piraeus may be closer and easier to reach. Then, the choice boils down to how fast you want to arrive in Crete and how much you’re willing to spend.

from athens to crete

If you want to get from Athens City Centre to Athens Airport, the taxi is the fastest and most expensive option, followed by the easy-to-navigate metro.

Arriving in town late at night?

If you arrive in a new city late at night, are unsure about taxi fares, have heavy luggage, and no local currency, Welcome Pickups comes to the rescue! Welcome Pickups is a 5-star airport taxi company with local English-speaking drivers, flight monitoring for delays, and a flat pre-paid fee. It offers its travelers a great experience and safety.

Finally, you can take the Athens Airport Bus X96, which runs every 20-30 minutes and connects the airport with the main Athens port.

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Note that Piraeus is the only port with direct ferries to Crete.

The port of Rafina, which is closer to the airport, serves mainly the Cyclades islands. So head that way only if you want to spend a few nights before Crete in other Greek islands such as Mykonos, Santorini, or Naxos.

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Alternatively, you can reach Piraeus port within 30-45 minutes from the city center. If you take the bus there, you’ll find the kiosk to purchase or print your ticket right in front of the bus station.

To avoid that hustle and head straight into the boat, buy your ticket online through Ferryhopper

The price will be the same whether you book on the website or at the port, so I’d advise you to make a reservation online if you know your departure date.

Finally, remember to print your boarding pass since you’re required by law to hold it before hopping on a ferry.

Flights are More Frequent than Ferry Connections

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Surprisingly, there usually are more flights than ferries between Athens and Crete. For example, on any given day in summer, you will find at least five direct flights from Athens to Chania and five more for Heraklion.

Compare that with the three or four direct boats from Piraeus to Chania or Heraklion, and you see the difference. 

In winter, the gap is even more significant, with airlines usually sticking to the same flight number while ferry companies are at least halving their itinerary.

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In short, this shows that locals prefer traveling to the mainland by air, so consider this fact when choosing.

If you’re wondering which companies you can use, Aegean and Sky Express are two airlines with consistent flights to Chania and Heraklion daily.

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In addition, you’ll find occasional connections from low-cost airlines such as RyanAir and Volotea. Traveling by sea, you’ll board a ferry from Minoan Lines and Anek Lines, with eventual rides on Blue Star Ferries and SeaJet Ferries in summer.

✈️ Search for cheap flights with CheapOAir.

Ferry Companies are More Generous with Baggage Allowances

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If there is a big caveat with Athens to Crete flights, that boils down to the baggage constraints.

If you book a standard ticket, you can only bring carry-on baggage plus a small item that fits below your seat. You must pay extra to check a big suitcase.

On the other hand, Greek ferries offer a generous baggage allowance that sometimes looks limitless. After all, you can bring your car on every boat other than the high-speed ferry from Athens to Crete.

Chania and Heraklion will Always be your Landing Points in Crete

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Whether you travel by air or sea, you can only reach two towns from Athens to Crete: Chania or Heraklion.

Although the difference in flight time between the two options is negligible, if you go by ferry, expect to stay on board for one more hour to reach Heraklion.  Strangely, the pricing is usually better if you choose to go to Heraklion instead of Chania.

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Ferry port, Heraklion.

If you’re wondering why, I’d guess there is more demand among visitors for the picturesque town of Chania than for the capital of Crete.

No matter where you land on the island, remember that getting from Chania to Heraklion or the reverse is relatively easy. You could even land in one town and depart from the other. 

Overnight Ferry Crossings from Athens to Crete could Save you a Night’s Worth of Accommodation 

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If you visit Greece and Crete on a tight budget, catching an overnight ferry from Athens makes sense.

You’ll have to compromise some comfort since you’ll be sitting upright, but you’ll save a ton. Of course, you could rent a cabin instead, a great option if your wallet allows it.

How to get from Athens to Crete: By Boat or By Plane

from athens to crete

If you ask me, the best way to get from Athens to Crete is by plane. It’s fast, reliable, and accessible.

On the other hand, picking the ferry is wiser if you have time to spare, are on a tight budget, or want a sample of the Greek ferry experience.

I publish new content about Crete almost every day! Bookmark my Crete and Practical Guides pages to learn more before your trip.

Are you dreaming of a getaway to Crete but feeling overwhelmed with planning?

  • You can join my Facebook Group, Things to Do in Crete, a friendly gathering of Crete enthusiasts.
  • With my consultation call services, I have assisted countless travelers in crafting the perfect Crete experience. Email me for more information!

Don’t forget travel insurance!

Although Crete is a safe destination, consider purchasing travel insurance to protect yourself and your loved ones from unexpected situations.

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More resources to enhance your Crete adventure

Start by checking out my guide to planning your trip to Crete, packed with helpful essential information. Explore the articles on prices in Crete, common mistakes to avoid, and insider secrets. You can also get one of the digital travel guides I’ve written about Crete. They are affordable and practical to check from your mobile.

When it’s time to plan, explore the best places to visit on Crete Island, discover my tours and activities, and be amazed at Crete’s incredible beaches. If you are exploring specific areas like Heraklion, Rethymnon, Lasithi, and Chania, I’ve got detailed guides to help you make the most of your time.

Suggested accommodation in Crete

No time to read all my accommodation guides? Check out these places to stay:

from athens to crete

Written by Dimitrios Tsevremes
Passionate about travel, spirituality, and sports, Dimi divides his time between Chania (Crete) and other countries. Writing is a way for him to express himself and his creativity. You can find out more about him and his work here.

Pin this Guide to Ferry and Plane Travel from Athens to Crete!

from Athens to Crete

About me:

Gabi Ancarola | The Tiny Book

Gabi Ancarola

I have lived in Chania, Crete, since 2016. As a local, I have an intimate knowledge of the Crete. I host culinary and concierge tours and experiences in Crete and write about the island for several travel media. During the last five years, I have helped many travelers plan the perfect holiday in Crete. I co-authored DK Eyewitness Top 10 Crete and had more glasses of frappe than any regular person could ever handle.

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