To get from Athens to Santorini you have two options: make the journey by boat, or make the journey by plane. Of course, each choice has its pros and cons, but whichever is most suitable for you may well depend on your travel budget and your personal preferences.
The lovely Cycladic island of Santorini is one of the most popular places to visit in Greece. Adventurers from across the world daydream of navigating their way through the cobbled streets of Fira, and of watching a magnificent sunset from atop a blue and white Cycladic house that is oh so quintessentially Greek.
How to Get from Athens to Santorini
As is perhaps to be expected with such a popular destination, transportation links from Athens to Santorini are plentiful – especially during the peak summer months. Both ferries and planes depart daily from Athens to Santorini all year round. Between June to September, there are approximately 15-20 flights departing every day, in addition to 4-5 ferries sailing out each day from the port at Piraeus.
Athens to Santorini by Plane
It takes 45 minutes to fly from Athens to Santorini via Athens’ Eleftherios Venizelos International airport. A number of budget airlines service this flight route, including Olympic Airlines, Volotea, and RyanAir.
As you may expect, flight prices vary depending on the season in which you are travelling. However, with that in mind, tickets are pretty reasonably priced even in the height of summer! A ticket from Athens to Santorini via RyanAir can be purchased for as little as 25 euros offpeak (October onwards), while you can expect to pay between 75-100 euros one way between June and September.
Finding the Cheapest Flight Deals to Santorini
If you want to fly to Santorini rather than take the ferry, I’d advise you to use Skyscanner to check for the best deals. (You can also use another flight search engine to cross reference against if you like).
You can search across the entire month which brings up a little grid displaying the different prices on every individual day. I’d advise checking a broad range of dates like this as prices can fluctuate a lot on a day-to-day basis.
Getting to Santorini Without Stopping in Athens
Up until this point, I’ve kind of assumed that the main reason you are getting from Athens to Santorini is because you’ve already been hanging out in Athens as part of a wider Greece itinerary. If you have no intention of stopping by Athens then rest assured, you can also find direct flights to Santorini from other parts of Europe and the world.
From mainland Europe, Olympic Air, Easyjet, and RyanAir all serve routes to Santorini from places like the UK, France, the Netherlands, etc. If you are travelling from the United States, it generally seems to work out cheaper to fly first to Athens.
Getting from Athens City to Eleftherios Venizelos International
Getting from Athens city to the airport and vice versa is easy. You can either take the X95 bus from the city (or X96 from Piraeus), or hop on board the blue line metro to its final stop. Both the X95 bus and the metro depart at frequent intervals from Athens’ Syntagma central square.
It’s worth keeping in mind that some metro services only run as far as Doukissis Plakentias station. At this point you need to get off the train, and wait for the train that continues onwards to the airport.
Transferring from the Airport in Santorini
Santorini airport is situated just 15 minutes outside of Fira. Despite servicing millions of travellers every year, this airport is pretty tiny. During the summer months, it gets incredibly crowded and it can be nightmarish waiting for your luggage/an airport transfer. I don’t want to be negative, but just to manage your expectations and mentally prepare you!
Public KTEL buses run from Santorini airport to Fira at regular intervals. Buses are spacious, air conditioned, and a one-way ticket costs just €1.70. Unfortunately, buses do not run directly from Santorini airport to Oia or other destinations around the island. You must first take the bus to Fira (25-minute journey), and then transfer to the bus for Oia/Firostefani/Imerovigli/etc.
Most people prefer the comfort of taking a cab or organising a private transfer to take them from Santorini airport to their destination. Cabs to Fira cost €35 flat rate. From the airport to Oia, you can expect to pay €47.
Athens to Santorini by Ferry
Taking the ferry is a popular way to get from Athens to Santorini. It’s important to note that there are two different ferries that service this route: the overnight ferry, and the “fast boat”. While it may seem like a no-brainer to choose the faster option – beware! The speedy little boat that makes this journey is notorious for making people seasick.
During the summer months, more than 5 ferries depart from Athens to Santorini every day. Prices range between €40 and €80. The Blue star ferry is cheaper and slower (though taking overnight omits one night’s accommodation cost at least!). The “fast boat” is the SeaJet and typically costs more.
Getting to Piraeus Port from Athens Airport
It’s fairly straightforward to reach Piraeus port from Athens airport. From the airport, you can take the X96 bus (schedule here). Tickets cost 6 euros per person, one way. Buses depart every 20-40 minutes depending on the season and the journey should take 90 minutes.
If there are a lot of you, and you are travelling with bulky luggage, you may prefer to take a cab to Piraeus port. The standard day rate for this is €54, and the night rate is €70. You can find airport taxis lined up outside of Arrivals 24/7.
Getting to Piraeus Port from Downtown Athens
From downtown Athens, you can join the X96 bus from Syntagma square, or take the metro to Piraeus. To reach Piraeus by Metro, you should take the green line from Omonoia or Monastiraki, and follow it along to its final destination (Piraeus). Piraeus metro station is situated a five-minute walk away from the port.
Taking a cab from downtown Athens to Piraeus costs between 15 and 20 euros. While you can easily hail a cab from the city centre, or from the taxi ranks at Syntagma and Monastiraki, I’d advise you to download the BEAT taxi app. This way, you can ensure that you are charged the correct fare.
How Far in Advance Should I Buy My Ferry Tickets?
You can check ferry timetables here. You are generally okay to purchase your tickets on the day of travel, however to give yourself peace of mind, I would advise you to book them a day or two in advance – particularly if you are travelling during the summer months, or if there is a specific boat that you absolutely must take.
Where Can I Buy My Ferry Tickets?
Ferry tickets from Athens to Santorini can be purchased online, at the ticket office at Piraeus port, or at one of the kiosks at Athens airport. If purchasing a ticket upon arrival at Athens airport is the most convenient choice for you, head to the Blue star ferries kiosk in the Arrivals area.
There are several travel companies here that sell tickets for various boats. Generally, the prices are all more or less the same, and the travel companies do not charge exorbitant commissions or something.
Navigating Piraeus Port
Piraeus port is Athens’ largest port. To take the boat to Santorini, you need to get to gate E7. In my experience, the station staff are very accommodating and if you have a little wait before your ferry departure time, they generally let you leave your bags there so that you can head out to explore Piraeus a little, or grab a quick freddo espresso at one of the nearby coffee places.
Services on Board the Ferries
All ferries that run between Athens and Santorini offer some form of service where passengers can purchase snacks and refreshments. The blue star ferries are arguably better in this sense – the large boats offer ample options for having light snacks or dinner and have plenty of space to walk around or sit outside on the upper decks of the boat.
The seajets and small hydrofoils do offer small snack stores where you can purchase sandwiches or beverages, however, the seating onboard is airplane style and you cannot sit outside or walk around the boat.
Economy Class on Greek Ferries
If you opt to take the Blue star ferry from Athens to Santorini, you will have a selection of options in terms of what class ticket you want to buy. You can purchase tickets for the economy class, business class, or VIP class. Typically, the prices for the business and VIP classes are only slightly more than for economy, making it worthwhile to pay for the additional comfort.
If you purchase an economy ticket, you can sit anywhere inside or outside the boat. Of course, you can also access the restaurants on the boat with this ticket. If you want to reserve seats, it’s an additional €4 per person. Honestly, travelling on Greek ferries between June and September is often a mad free-for-all so it’s worthwhile to pay extra for a reserved seat.
Business Class and Private Cabins on Greek Ferries
If you travel business class on a greek ferry, you have access to a spacious lounge with comfortable seats and table-service. You can also reserve a private cabin on your Athens to Santorini journey. If you are taking a night ferry, I’d strongly recommend this.
Arriving in Santorini
One nice thing about opting to take the boat rather than the plane is the scenery – especially as you approach Santorini port. As you pull in to shore, you have incredible views of the volcanic caldera, and Santorini’s iconic blue and white houses.
Ferries arrive at Santorini’s Athinios port. This is a little out of the way and is NOT located close to Oia or Fira. Athinios is on the western side of Santorini island and is 9km away from Fira, and 19km away from Oia respectively.
Reaching Your Santorini Hotel from Athinios Port
From Athinios port, the only form of public transportation available is the KTEL bus which runs between the port and Fira at frequent intervals. Those staying in Oia, or other areas across the island need to transfer to another bus at Fira central station. Bus schedules run in accordance with boat arrivals and generally, you will find that a bus runs to Fira 15 minutes or so after a boat arrives.
Alternatively, you can organise a taxi to take you from the port to your hotel. Taxis are often waiting outside the port area, though many have been booked in advance. To avoid any stress upon arrival, I’d advise you to book this in advance also. From Athinios port to Fira, the taxi fare costs just €15 per passenger.
Ferry Versus Plane:
Which is the Best Choice?
My personal preference for getting from Athens to Santorini is to do so by plane. That’s just my opinion, but opting to fly rather than take the boat means that you can get to Santorini faster. It also omits any risk of seasickness.
Generally speaking, the prices are not vastly different between taking the plane and taking the boat. The only thing to be mindful of is that opting to take a checked-bag can make flight prices higher.
Subsidised Transport in Athens
If you are travelling to Greece with people who are over 65 years of age or those who are under the age of six, you will be entitled to subsidised fares for those people on certain transport services. Passengers that fit within these age groups are entitled to half-price fare on buses and metros within Athens.
Have any further questions on how to get from Athens to Santorini, or about crafting a Greece travel itinerary in general? As I mentioned, I’ve been living in Pagrati in Athens for the last two and a half years and would be happy to assist with any queries you may have.
Feel free to drop me a comment below and I’ll get back to you ASAP. In the meantime, have a fabulous time in Santorini! Yiassou! Melissa xo