The Athens to Santorini journey takes quite a while by ferry, but fortunately, there are many pleasant and safe options to choose from. All ferries depart from the Piraeus Port and provide travellers with A/C, washrooms, WiFi. Make sure to arrive at least an hour before in order to avoid any issues at boarding.
Santorini is an impossibly pretty island in the Southern Aegean, known for blue and white painted churches and panoramic views. The scenery was created thousands of years ago during a volcanic eruption, when the middle of the island sank into the sea, leaving behind dramatic cliffs, and a few smaller islands over which the sun sets. With lots of good restaurants, beaches, and hotels with lovely views, it’s a worthwhile stop on any Greek island-hopping trip, or for a longer stay.
Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia have the best views, and Kamari and Perissa are good for beaches. Watch the sunset from Oia, or hop on a cruise around the island. Hiking is a good way to find quieter beaches and villages where the authentic Cycladic way of life is still lived. Also worth visiting are the island's vineyards, and Akrotiri, an ancient Minoan city.
Santorini is a good base for exploring the rest of the Greek islands. Islands you can get to include Ios, Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Tinos, Syros, Milos, and Folegrandos, as well as Crete, Rhodes, Chalki, and Kos. Departure days and times vary. You can fly from Santorini Airport to the mainland, Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, and Zante, and to cities in Europe and the United Kingdom.
Ferries between Santorini and Athens are large modern boats with AC, several options for grabbing a bite to eat, Wi-Fi, and business lounges. There’s a choice of seating classes including economy seats on deck, allocated seating and business-class seating. If you want to see the view during the trip, take a Blue Star ferry - the Seajet ferry doesn’t have an outside deck.
If you want to enjoy the view, take a Blue Star Ferry, so you can go out on deck. Taking this slower ferry can be a nice and scenic experience. You'll get good views of Athens as you leave Piraeus, of several other islands along the way and of the volcanic cliffs of Santorini as you arrive. On the High Speed Ferry, there are small windows, but you won’t really see much of the view.
You have a choice of ferries depending on whether you want to get to Santorini quickly or not. Blue Star ferries take 7 - 8 hours, and leave in the morning and in the late afternoon but be aware that if you take the later boat you won't arrive on Santorini until the early hours of the morning. The High Speed Ferry by Seajet takes 4 - 5 hours and leaves in the morning.
With Blue Star Ferries, an economy ticket is an unallocated seat on deck. In high season, this means you might be looking around for a seat. Allocated seating is inside the boat in comfy airline-style seats. You can upgrade your seat or buy a business class seat in the business lounge for more comfort. With Seajet, the ride can be a little bumpier. You can’t go outside for fresh air, and it can get crowded in the seating areas with people and luggage. On the plus side, the journey is faster.
Ferries to Santorini can be crowded, especially in summer, so book early to ensure you get a seat and be aware that ferries are busiest around greek public holidays including August 15 and June 9 and on weekends. There may be occasional strikes in Athens.
You can get to Piraeus from the city center by Metro (Line 1), bus, train or taxi. You can also get from Athens airport to the port by Metro, bus and taxi.
Piraeus is a huge port and not easy to find your way around. Ferries for Santorini usually leave from port gates E1, E2, E6, E7, and E9, but if in doubt, check the electronic display boards. There are some excellent seafood restaurants and cafes and at the ferry terminal itself, you'll find ATMs and shops where you can buy food and drink for the ride.
Be at the ferry port with plenty of time to spare and make sure you have your ID or passport to hand. Passengers can each take one 20 KG bag and a 7 KG piece of hand luggage on board.
Arriving in Santorini
Ferries arrive at Athinios port on the west coast of Santorini. From here, it’s around a 15-minute taxi ride to the main town of Thira. Taxis wait at the port for the ferry to arrive, but if the boat is busy, you may have to wait a while. A good option is to ask your accommodation to send a taxi for you, or book one in advance. You can also take a bus from the port to Thira, but they also get crowded.