The trip from Athens to the largest and southern-most Greek island of Crete is 250 miles (402 km), with both by-air and by-sea options.
The quickest way to travel from Athens to Crete is by plane. The Athens International Airport (AIA) is located just 12 miles (20 km) outside the center of Athens and is easy to reach via train, taxi, or rental vehicle. The Athens International Airport offers daily domestic flights to the Crete Heraklion Airport, the Crete Chania Airport, and the Crete Sitia Airport. The flight takes around 50 minutes.
Another option to travel from Athens to Crete is via ferry. The trip is long, certainly, but it allows you a glimpse of all the Cyclades islands as you sail across the stunning turquoise Aegean Sea (as long as you don’t travel by-night, that is). You have the option between slower, conventional ferries and faster ones, depending on your travel needs. Depending on which company you choose, your ferry might stop several times en route to Crete, which means you’ll arrive later than scheduled.
If you purchase your ferry online without a barcode, you may need to pick up your ferry ticket in-person when you arrive at the Piraeus or Rafina ports.
If luxury’s what you’re after, it’s also possible to rent your own yacht and embark across the Aegean yourself, stopping at any Greek island along the way that suits your fancy. Several companies feature different sizes of catamarans, suiting between eight to 12 people.
Consider our in-depth guide on How to Visit Athens Like a Local for the very best of Athens food, drink, and exploration, and remember that Crete is a marvelous place to visit, regardless of season. Create your itinerary with these useful tips.
Duration: 50 minutes
Crete offers three airports, all of which receive non-stop flights from Athens throughout the high and low travel seasons. Chania Airport (CHQ) is located on the west side of the island, Heraklion Airport (HER) is more central, on the norther coast, and Sitia Airport (JSH) is off to the west.
The Athens International Airport (AIA) is located 12 miles (20 km) east of central Athens. Flights to Chania, Heraklion, and Sitia last between 45 and 60 minutes.
Upon arrival, you can take a simple bus or taxi to the city center of the nearby town. Alternately, it’s simple and cheap to rent a car in Crete, allowing you to whip around the island at your leisure.
By Slow Ferry to Heraklion Port
Duration: Between 9 and 13 hours
Several ferry companies operate both direct and indirect ferry lines from Athens’ ports Piraeus and Rafina to Crete’s Heraklion Port.
Golden Star Ferries make multiple stops en route to Crete’s Heraklion Port, with pauses at Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini before a final arrival. Anek Superfast and Minoan Lines are direct, with no pauses across the Aegean before arriving at Heraklion.
All ferries accommodate vehicles and pets and feature bathrooms and onboard cafes for mid-ride eating and drinking. Due to the length of the trip, ferries feature economy seats, airplane-like seats, business class seats, along with several types of cabins, including some with private showers and bathrooms. Several of these cabins are also pet-friendly.
By Slow Ferry to Chania
Duration: Between 6 hours and 30 minutes and 9 hours
Two ferry companies operate between the Athens Piraeus Port and Crete’s Chania Port, located on the northwestern coast of Crete. Minoan Lines is faster than Anek Superfast, taking you across the Aegean in fewer than seven hours. Anek takes around nine hours. Neither ferry company makes any stops on the way to Crete.
All ferries accommodate pets and vehicles and feature onboard cafés and bathrooms. Ferries further offer cheaper economy seats, airplane-like assigned seats, business class seats, along with first-class cabins for between one and four people, cabins with showers and bathrooms, along with pet-friendly cabins for between one and four people.
By Private Yacht
Duration: Multiple days, or more
Luxury yachts are available for between eight and 12 passengers, and ordinarily come with their own crew of two or three people. Frequently, yacht rentals also include amenities like airport pick-ups and guided tours. For more information, check out our article on yacht trips in Greece.