How to get from Athens to Crete

With Athens, the gateway to a host of handsome Greek Islands, and Crete sitting high on many travellers’ wish lists, read on to find out how to get from Athens to Crete. The good news is, that you have several options to choose from, and plenty of incredible experiences await once you arrive.

How to get from Athens to Crete 

Whether you want to reach your island idyll as quickly as possible, or fancy going all-out with a private yacht, here’s an overview of how to get from Athens to Crete.

  • By plane: with three airports on the island, travelling by plane from Athens to Crete is quick and convenient.
  • By ferry to Heraklion: for a slow and scenic option, you could get from Athens to Crete by ferry to Heraklion.
  • By ferry to Chania: faster than the Athens—Heraklion option, catching a ferry from Athens to Chania is just as scenic.
  • By private yacht: if you’re on a bigger budget and want to plot your own schedule, you could consider chartering a private yacht to get from Athens to Crete.

Going to Athens or Crete? Contact our Greece travel experts and make the most of your trip.


While planning how to get from Athens to Greece, consider spending some time in Greece's capital © Shutterstock

How far is Crete from Athens? 

If you’re flying from Athens to Crete, the distance is around 320km/200 miles.

By sea, the distance from Athens’ Piraeus Port to Chania in Crete is 315 km/196 miles. Meanwhile, Athens is 330km/205 miles from Crete's Heraklion Port. 

Considering visiting Crete? Browse our inspirational Greece itineraries to start planning your perfect trip.


Sweetwater beach, Crete © Shutterstock

What's the quickest way to get from Athens to Crete? 

Flying is definitely the quickest way to get from Athens to Crete, with an average flight time of 50 minutes.

Coming in as the second fastest option is the ferry from Athens’ Piraeus Port to Chania in Crete. This takes from 6.5 hours to 9 hours.

Meanwhile, the slowest journey between Athens and Crete is the ferry to ferry to Heraklion. This takes from 9 hours to 13 hours.

Short on time? Book The Coast of Crete Itinerary and save yourself the trouble of mapping out and planning.

Chania at sunny summer day, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Chania, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

By plane

Duration: 50 minutes | Cost: from €50

Crete’s three airports are all served by non-stop flights from Athens around the year. 

Chania Airport (CHQ) is located on the west of Crete, Heraklion Airport (HER) is on the northern coast, and Sitia Airport (JSH) to the west.

By ferry to Heraklion

Duration: 9-13 hours | Cost: from €36

If you’re not in a rush to reach Crete — and are of the mind that the journey is all part of the experience — consider catching a ferry from Athens to Crete’s Heraklion Port.

Several ferry operators run direct and indirect ferry lines from Athens’ Piraeus and Rafina ports to Heraklion. Indirect routes stop at Andros, Tinos, Mykonos, Paros, and Santorini.

Given the journey time, ferries offer a range of seat options and different classes of cabins. They’re also equipped with on-board cafés.

There are usually 1-2 daily ferries from Athens to Heraklion around the year. During the summer high season, this increases to up to five daily crossings.

Note the price depends on when you travel, whether you’re bringing a car, and what kind of seat or cabin you opt for.

Knossos Palace ruins. Heraklion, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Knossos Palace, Heraklion, Crete © Shutterstock

By ferry to Chania

Duration: 6.5—­9 hours | Cost: from €48

The ferry route from Athens’ Piraeus Port to Chania in Crete is normally served around the year. During summer, there are up to seven crossings each week.

As with the ferry from Athens to Heraklion, the price depends on when you travel, whether you’re bringing a car, and what kind of seat or cabin you book. 

Take your pick from economy seats, aeroplane-like assigned seats, business class seats, and a range of cabins sleeping 1-4 people. Some cabins have private showers, while others are pet-friendly.

Taverns in the Old Town of Chania, Crete, Greece

Old town, Chania, Crete © Shutterstock

By private yacht

Duration: 10 hours | Cost: from €1500 per week

First things first — how long it takes to get from Athens to Crete on a private yacht largely depends on what you want. That is to say, you may well want to stop off at other islands en route, or take your time rather than zoom from Athens to Crete in the fastest possible time.

Note also that the costs vary hugely, depending on how large your party is, what kind of yacht you charter, and your itinerary. 

As an example, you could secure a bareboat yacht charter for a week in the low season from €1500. For a luxury catamaran, you could be looking at upwards of €20,000.

Into independent travel? Read up on getting around Greece.


The waters around Crete are ripe for scenic sailing experiences © Shutterstock

Why is Crete worth visiting?

Beautiful beaches

From wide sandy bays to rocky coves, you can expect a lot of beautiful beaches on Crete.

Love windsurfing? Head to Koureménos Beach. Or, for Caribbean-type scenery, be awe-inspired by Elafonísi. It’s easy to see why this pink-sand stunner is one of the best beaches in Greece.

Elafonissi beach in Crete © Shutterstock

Elafonissi beach, Crete © Shutterstock

Adventure in nature

Alongside having a stunning coastline, Crete’s wilder interior landscapes are ideal for travellers who want to get back to nature and get their adventure on.

Offering everything from gentle scenic strolls to challenging hikes, plus biking, canyoning and horse-riding, it’s fair to stay Crete is a paradise for lovers of the great outdoors. 

More experienced adventurers won’t want to miss Samariá Gorge. Involving a 16km hike, the gorge begins at the xylóskalo, or “wooden staircase” — a stepped path that plunges down from the southern tip of the Omalós plain. 

Samaria Gorge. Crete, Greece © proslgn/Shutterstock

Samariá Gorge, Crete © Shutterstock

Ancient Culture

Arguably saving the best for last — especially if you’re a culture vulture — Crete boasts some of the world’s finest preserved Minoan sites.

For example, Knossos Palace — the mythological home of King Minos and the Minotaur — dates back to the second millennium BC.

More myth-rich, Minoan marvels await at the Palace of Phaistos, located an hour south of Heraklion.

Fine wine

Crete's wine and dining scene is quite something. So, you won't want to pass up the chance to tour wine cellars and enjoy top-tasting experiences during your stay.

The main grape varieties grown on Crete are the white Vilana and the red Mantilari, Kotsifari and Syrah grapes. 

Knossos Palace ruins. Heraklion, Crete, Greece © Shutterstock

Knossos Palace, Crete © Shutterstock

Loving the sound of enjoying a sojourn in Crete? Get yourself The Rough Guide to Crete. For more island inspiration, read up on the best Greek Islands to start planning your trip. 

Alternatively, if the idea of planning leaves you cold, browse our customisable Greece itineraries.

Joanne Owen

written by
Joanne Owen

updated 19.10.2023

Joanne is a Pembrokeshire-born writer with a passion for the nature, cultures and histories of the Caribbean region, especially Dominica. Also passionate about inspiring a love of adventure in young people, she’s the author of several books for children and young adults, hosts international writing workshops, and has written articles on the Caribbean and inspirational community initiatives for Rough Guides. Follow her @JoanneOwen on Twitter and @joanneowenwrites on Instagram.

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