Besides its mainland, Greece is also made up of thousands of islands, a few hundred of which are inhabited. The Greek Islands can be accessed from Athens either by flying or by taking a ferry. Ferries leave from Piraeus port in Athens. Distances and travel times can vary widely, depending on your destination.  

Each of Greece’s islands is unique, and they all have a lot to offer. You can experience the popular islands of Crete, Mykonos, and Santorini with this 10-day itinerary

For more information, see How to Get to the Greek Islands (from multiple starting points) and How to Get from Athens to the Cycladic Islands.

By Plane

Duration: 1 hour

Flying from Athens to any of the Greek islands takes about forty minutes to an hour. Most of the larger Greek islands have airports—a few (like Crete) even have multiple airports. However, some of the smaller Greek islands are only accessible by ferry.

Direct flights leave regularly from Athens Airport to popular destinations like Paros, Rhodes, Naxos, and Corfu, among many others. 

By Ferry

Duration: 1 hour to 1 day

To get to the Greek islands by ferry, you will first have to reach Piraeus, a port city located within the Athens urban area.

The easiest way to get from Athens to Piraeus is by booking a private transfer. The ride takes about 30 minutes from downtown Athens, or an hour from the airport. You also have the option of taking a taxi—to get the correct price, insist that the driver use the meter.

If you prefer renting a car, getting from central Athens to Piraeus is a straightforward drive along highways 91 or 56. Avoid traveling during the evening rush hour, when commuters will be leaving Athens. On many (but not all) ferries, you will be able to bring your rental car with you to your destination.

You can also 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.

Ferries leave regularly from Piraeus to most Greek islands. Traveling to a Greek island on the ferry can take anywhere from 40 minutes (to get to Aegina) to 31 hours (to reach Rhodes). Ferries can be booked in advance, or at the port. On some lines, high-speed ferries are available, which can significantly cut down your travel time.  

It is worth noting that some islands, like the Ionian Islands, are not served by direct ferries from Athens. To access the Ionian islands by ferry, you can travel overland from Athens to a port further to the west, such as Patras.