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 7:05am) starting April 1 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, 2015.
The flight from Athens to Santorini takes 45 to 50 minutes. The first flight of the day departs Athens at 5:15am and the last flight at 22:15. 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. Tickets between Athens and Santorini cost between €30 and €150 depending on what’s available and how early you book. The cheapest tickets are on Ryanair.
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 to Santorini.
Ferry Schedule: Athens to Santorini for Summer 2015
These are the 3 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, Naxos, and Ios (doesn’t stop in Ios on Wednesday and Saturday). It takes about 8 hours from Athens to Santorini and the ferry arrives at Santorini at 14:50. The return trip from Santorini to Athens departs at 15:30 and arrives in Athens at 23:15. In the summer months there are evening Blue Star ferries 3 or 4 nights per week from Piraeus to Santorini. They arrive in Santorini just after midnight. Spending a few extra Euros and getting reserved seats (in economy class) is highly recommended.
- Hellenic Seaways Highspeed 4 or 6: For most days from April 8 to September 30, 2015 there is a morning highspeed ferry that departs from Piraeus between 7:15 and 7:30. It takes about 5 hours from Athens to Santorini. In July and August it will be a Highspeed 6 and only stop in Ios. In April, May, June, and September it will be a Highspeed 4 and also stop in Naxos and Paros (and not run on Sunday).
- SeaJet2: From April 3, 2015 to October 31, 2015 this catamaran departs at 7:00am and arrives in Santorini at 11:40 with stops in Mykonos and Naxos. From June 12 to September 5, 2015 there is also an afternoon ferry that departs Piraeus at 15:30 and arrives at Santorini at 21:10. This is the smallest of the ferries and will have the roughest ride. The seating inside is cramped. 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.
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 or 4 nights 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 4 or 5 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 lugging 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.
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.
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.
Both Aegean Airlines and Olympic Air have flights from Athens to Santorini.
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 economy, business, VIP, and Cabin classes on the ferry?
On Blue Star Ferries (and other large car ferries):
- Economy or deck class gives you access to inside and outside seatting 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.
On the Hellenic Highspeed 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.
Athens Airport to the Piraeus Ferry Port
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 are 5 to 10 minutes faster 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 at gates E6 and E7 (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 but does not run between Athens and Santorini. 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 E7 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. Both gates 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.