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
- 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
Why is Crete worth visiting?
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.
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.
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.
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.