Located near the Turkish coast, the Dodecanese and Northern Aegean islands are some of the furthest islands from Athens. They can be accessed either by flying, or by taking a ferry from Piraeus port. Distances and travel times vary, depending on your specific destination.
Popular islands from these island groups include Rhodes, Kos, Lesbos, and Chios, among many others. You can get an in-depth look at the history of medieval Rhodes with this five-day itinerary, or experience a few different Dodecanese islands by sailboat on this seven-day tour.
Duration: 1 hour
Flying is the quickest way to get to the Dodecanese and Northern Aegean islands; most flights only take about an hour. Direct flights leave regularly from Athens Airport.
Note that some of the smaller islands do not have an airport, and are only accessible by ferry. Some Dodecanese islands with airports include Rhodes, Kos, Karpathos, and Kalymnos, while some Northern Aegean islands with airports include Chios, Lesbos, Lemnos, Samos, and Ikaria.
Duration: 1 day
Most of the islands in these groups are accessible by ferry from Athens. However, to access some of the northernmost islands, like Thassos and Samothraki, you will have to leave from cities in northern Greece.
To catch a ferry from Athens, you will first have to reach the port city of Piraeus. The easiest and most comfortable way to get from Athens to Piraeus is by booking a private transfer, which will take about 30 minutes from downtown Athens, or an hour from the airport.
You also have the option of renting a car. Note that on many (but not all) ferries, you will be able to bring your rental car with you to your destination. It is a good idea to try and avoid driving to Piraeus during the evening rush hour, when commuters will be leaving Athens. Be careful when driving in Greece, as not all drivers follow road rules.
If you are looking to beat the traffic, you can get from Athens to Piraeus on the Athens Metro. Take the M1 (green line) from any central metro stop to the “Piraeus” stop at the end of the line.
Ferry times vary widely, from 9 hours to reach Astypalea to 31 hours on the slowest ferry to Rhodes. On many routes, high-speed ferries are available, which can significantly reduce your travel time.
While the journey to these island groups is long, the ferry can be an enjoyable mode of travel. You will often have the option of booking a comfortable reserved seat, shared cabin, or private cabin. There is also typically a standing-room deck, where you can enjoy beautiful views of the Aegean Sea.