Piraeus Greece 2021 Travel Guide: Finding the Charm Beneath the Grit

Piraeus, Greece
Piraeus, Greece

Piraeus, Greece is a bustling portside city in Southern Greece. It sits adjacent to Athens. As such, it can be confusing to identify precisely where Piraeus ends and Athens beginds.

A lot of people that travel to Athens will find themselves in Piraeus at some point or another during their itinerary. However, it’s not that they purposely venture to Piraeus because they really want to spend time exploring it.

The area is usually considered something of a necessary evil in order to board the boats that depart from Athens to the Greek islands. This perception is unfortunate. There is actually much more to Piraeus than initially meets the eye.

Piraeus

At first glance, Piraeus is something of a chaotic, intimidating beast.  The narrow streets here are filled with ramshackle buildings and laden with graffiti.

They do not exactly exude the same kind of beauty and atmosphere as the islands of the Cyclades or the Saronic Gulf do. That said, Piraeus does have a certain je ne sais quoi about it.

Many of Piraeus’ historic neighbourhoods have a charming feel that is so typically Greek. Behind the gritty exteriors, they house eclectic coffee shops, themed bars, and exquisite tavernas.

Owing to its seafront location, certain points of Piraeus also boast beautiful views over the waters. Many of the area’s restaurants serve exquisite seafood dishes using fish sourced from nearby waters that same day.

You do not necessarily need to bump Piraeus right up to the top of your Athenian itinerary. There are a plethora of other Greek landmarks that you should prioritise during your trip first.

However, if you do find yourself in Piraeus – whether because you have time to kill while waiting for a boat to the islands, or because you find a cheap hotel deal there, you may be pleasantly surprised. You deserve to spend your time in Piraeus experiencing the best restaurants and coffee hangouts like a local.

This comprehensive Piraeus Greece guide aims to help you do just that. Feel free to use the Table of Contents in order to navigate your way to the most relevant sections.

Things to Do in Piraeus, Greece

There are several interesting things to do in Piraeus if you have a little more time on your hands. Additionally, you will find a range of excellent restaurants here. Piraeus has everything from homely tavernas to chic, contemporary eateries.

Stroll Around Marina Zea (Pasalimani)

Marina Zea is perhaps the most elegant place in Piraeus. It dates back hundreds of years and in fact, this marina once harboured warships. Today Zea accommodates luxury yachts.

The restaurants and bars that border Marina Zea are every bit as glamorous as you would imagine for a yachting location. “Pisina” is one spot that is well worth stopping by. It features elegant outdoor seating with a pool and sea views.

Wander the Streets of the Peaceful Kastella Neighbourhood

Kastella is about as quintessentially Greek as it gets. The port of Mikrolimano marks your arrival at Kastella. As you follow the narrow streets that twist and turn uphill, you bypass neoclassical mansions and beautiful pastel-coloured buildings.

When you approach the top of the hill, you are greeted with the Veakeio Theatre. This is an open-air theatre that was constructed according to the ancient Greek style.

From the Profitis Ilias Orthodox church at the top, you are rewarded for your efforts with breathtaking views over Piraeus and the Saronic islands. Stop for a strong cup of Greek coffee with a view at the top before making your way back down towards the sea.

Browse the Bric a Brac Stalls of Piraeus Flea Market

If you happen to find yourself in Piraeus on a Sunday morning, you can stop by the Piraeus flea market for an insight into local life. The Piraeus market may not quite be the romantic ideal of a flea market that you envisage, but it’s still worth a look at. Replace your romantic ideals of trinkets and antiques with a grittier alternative.

At the Piraeus market, expect to see second-hand clothes, knock-off designer bags, and improv street food stands. Here, locals sell corn on the cob, souvlaki, and coffee over portable grills.

It’s gritty, yes, but also interesting to see. This is a great place to sample Greek traditional street food.

Explore the Mikrolimano Port Area

Mikrolimano Port, Piraeus
Mikrolimano Port

The Mikrolimano port awaits at the foot of Piraeus’ Kastella neighbourhood. A pleasant way to pass the time in Piraeus is to embark on the thirty-minute walk from Marina Zea to Mikrolimano. This leads you along a scenic coastal road and is enjoyable, wahtever the season.

Mikrolimano boasts beautiful views over the sea. The panoramas are particularly magical as the sun sets. There are a plethora of excellent fish tavernas and chic nightlife options here.  

Go Swimming at Votsalakia Beach

Beaches of Piraeus
Piraeus beaches

There are lots of wonderful beaches around Athens and the Piraeus area. Votsalakia beach may not quite be a secluded cove that exudes desert island vibes. However, is a popular spot in Piraeus.

It does get incredibly hot and humid in Southern Greece during the summer months. As such, it’s understandable that you may want to spend your time in Piraeus relaxing.

Votsalakia beach is very close to the Kastella neighbourhood. There are many shops, bars, and restaurants nearby where you can buy refreshments as you need.

Visit the Piraeus Archaeological Museum

Where: Char. Trikoupi 31, Pireas 185 36

The Piraeus Archaeological Museum provides an insight into the history of the city and its surroundings. The exhibits and the artifacts on display range all the way from the Mycenaean times to Roman times.

Bronze statues of ancient Greek gods and figures dating back to the 4th century are among the highlights of visiting the museum. Full-priced admission costs €4 per person. Concession tickets are €2 each.

Buy Foodie Souvenirs at Mandragoras

Photo courtesy of Mandragoras Greece

Where: Dim. Gounari 16, Pireas 185 31

Mandragoras is a beloved Piraeus institution. It is easily identified by all of the pastourma, soutzouki, and dried meat products hanging from the doorway.

This delicatessen sells all manner of excellent quality Greek products. Everything from spices and tahini to cured meats, delicious cheeses, and traditional Greek desserts can be found here.

Browsing the displays and sampling the edible goods sold at Mandragoras is an enjoyable experience. This is also a great place to pick up unusual souvenirs from your trip to greece.

Admire Beautiful Orthodox Churches

Piraeus is littered with beautiful Greek Orthodox churches that greet you at practically every turn. To an extent, this is the case in most Greek cities and towns.

Notably, you should take the time to visit and admire the Catholic Church of St. Paul, and the St Nicholas Church of Piraeus. Both of these places of worship are adjacent to the port area. They feature bright, vivid frescoes and interiors.

Where to Eat in Piraeus

Piraeus boasts a diverse range of dining options. Everything from traditional tavernas to hip eateries can be found here.

As you may expect, Piraeus’’ seafront location means that there are several excellent seafood taverns to be found in Piraeus. The list of recommended Piraeus restaurants that I have included here is just as diverse as Piraeus itself.

Tavern Giannis

Where: Leof. Chatzikiriakou 107, Piraeus 185 39

Tavern Giannis is an excellent Piraeus taverna that is locally renowned for its excellent seafood dishes. The place has a warm, homely atmosphere and the menu features all of the classic dishes that you would expect to see in a Greek taverna.

Tavern Giannis’ mezes of meat and seafood are not to be missed. The highlight of this place is no doubt the live music that is frequently hosted here in the evenings.

Shakespeare in Love

Where: Agiou Spiridonos 3, Piraeus 185 35

Shakespeare in Love is every bit as romantic and quirky as its name suggests. The restaurant is set inside a renovated 18th-century industrial building.

Shakespeare in Love has been lovingly decorated with unique furniture pieces and art installations from various independent designers and creators across Greece. The food served is a blend of contemporary Greek cuisine and international favourites.

This is far more than “just another” restaurant. Shakespeare in Love frequently hosts creative events such as book readings, art fairs, etc.  

Margaro

Margaro restaurant, Piraeus

Where: Leof. Chatzikiriakou 126, Piraeus 185 38

Margaro is a simple fish taverna whose menu consists primarily of fried fish. According to the locals, Margaro serves up the best fish and the best salads in town.

Many of those who dine at Margaro to determine whether the place lives up to its reputation are not disappointed. You can opt to eat in or take away. Margaro embodies what eating out in Greece is supposed to be about: simple, delicious food and an unpretentious atmosphere.

Vosporos

Vosporos Grill, Piraeus

Where: Akti Koumoundourou 20, Piraeus 185 33

Vosporos is the place to go if you are looking for a more upscale dining experience. Vosporos boasts beautiful views out to sea, and an extensive, varied menu.

A range of traditional mains and meze platters adorn the menu a Vosporos. The latter are great for sharing among friends if you wish to sample a variety of different Greek foods.

The restaurant is very reasonably priced considering its Mikrolimano location. It is highly recommended to reserve a table at Vosporos as it gets incredibly busy, especially at weekends.

Getting to/Around Piraeus

 Piraeus Street Art
Piraeus Street Art

Piraeus is technically its own city. However, the Athenian districts have expanded so much from the city centre that the line between Athens and Piraeus is somewhat blurred.

Getting to and Around Piraeus

It is very easy to get to Piraeus from central Athens. Reaching the area from Athens International Airport is also very straightforward.

By Metro from Central Athens

Simply hop on board the metro line one (green line) from Central Athens and ride it all the way to its final stop. When venturing back from Piraeus to Central Athens, ride the train to either the Thissio or Omonia areas. Then, transfer or proceed on foot as necessary.

By Bus from Central Athens

The X96 bus runs from Central Athens to Piraeus. You can board the bus from several points around the city, including at Syntagma Square.

The X96 runs approximately every hour. This is also the bus that you will take if you want to get from Athens airport to Piraeus.

By Cab

If you should choose to take a taxi from central Athens to Piraeus, it is strongly recommended to downloading the BEAT taxi app to do so. This is the Greek answer to Uber.

Uber has been prohibited in Greece since April 2018. Cabs on BEAT are licensed yellow taxis.

However, the app is useful as it minimises the risk of being scammed. The app displays the cost of the journey before you get in the car. This way there is little risk of you being scammed.

The journey from Athens to Piraeus should cost between 15-20 euros each way. If you take a cab from the airport, the standard day rate is €54. The standard night rate is €70.

Getting Around Piraeus

Most of Piraeus can be explored on foot. This is a good way of getting around since transportation links within Piraeus are not excellent.

To get from Marina Zea to Mikrolimano port, you are looking at a walk of around 25 minutes. Additionally, most places from the port area take a maximum of 45 minutes to get to and from.

The Athens and Piraeus hop-on-hop-off bus is a pretty good way to get around Piraeus. It stops at all of the city’s main places of interest.

This is perhaps a better option in lieu of taking lots of taxis. Opting to buy a day pass for this bus can save you a fair amount of money – especially if travelling alone in Greece.

Where to Stay in Piraeus

There are a number of reasons that you may choose to stay in Piraeus. You may want to experience an alternative vibe from central Athens.

Alternatively, you may want to be close to the ferry port to make it easier to access the islands. In any case, some of the best accommodation options in Piraeus are outlined below.

Piraeus hotels are generally very reasonably priced and will not set you back more than 30-50 euros per night. The city essentially has something for every budget and travel style.

Phidias Piraeus Hotel

Where: Kountouriotou 189, Pireas 185 35

The recently renovated Phidias Piraeus Hotel is close to the elegant Marina Zea and Kastella areas of Piraeus. The location is perfect for those hoping to explore the best of the city’s attractions and nightlife.

The port of Piraeus can be reached within a short 15-minute walk or via a shuttle provided by the hotel. The pastel rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated. Click here to review the latest prices and availability.

Piraeus Port Hotel

Where: Evaggelistrias 12, Pireas 185 31

As the name suggests, the Piraeus Port Hotel is perfectly located for access to the ferry port. In fact, it is just a 7-minute walk away from it.

Rooms are simple yet comfortable and tastefully decorated. Each room and suite features complimentary toiletries and excellent views of the sea.

This is one of the most popular places to stay in Piraeus and for good reason. Opting to stay here places you in the heart of the action.

The hotel is close to plenty of great bars, restaurants, and stores. Click here to review the latest availability and rates.

Faros, I, Piraeus

Where: Notara 140, Pireas 185 36

Faros I is excellent value for money in the heart of Piraeus. Double rooms here start from just 40 euros per night.

Hotel staff are more than happy to let you store your belongings in their luggage storage rooms. So, if you plan on visiting the islands close to Athens for a night or two, you don’t have to worry about carrying all of your things with you

The rooms are spacious and colourful, and Faros I is located in central Piraeus. Click here to review the latest availability and rates.

Conclusion

If you are limited on time, there are far more charming and beautiful neighbourhoods to explore in the Athens vicinity. For instance, upscale Kifissia or quirky Pagrati

However, Piraeus does have a certain something. If you are waiting to board a boat to the islands and have time to spare, you should do a little exploration of the area.

This is far more rewarding than simply twiddling your thumbs and waiting around at the ferry port. Who knows? You may grow to love Piraeus.

Parting Words

Do you have any further questions about Piraeus, Greece? Do you need assistance planning a Greece itinerary?

Feel free to ping me a comment below. I live in Athens and will happily answer any queries or concerns you may have.

Safe travels. Geia sou! Melissa xo

Disclaimer: This guide may contain affiliate links. In other words, if you make a purchase through some of the links included on this page, I will obtain a small amount of commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your understanding.


Melissa Douglas

Melissa Douglas is a British Travel Writer and Blogger based in Athens, Greece. She writes for numerous high profile travel publications across the globe - including Forbes Travel Guide, Matador Network, The Times of Israel and The Huffington Post.

1 thought on “Piraeus Greece 2021 Travel Guide: Finding the Charm Beneath the Grit”

  1. hi, we just moved to pireaus, cant find the flea market , and the adresss is not in the blog , could you sell us where it is ? thank you 🙂

    Reply

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