Crete, the fifth-largest island of the Mediterranean and the biggest island in Greece. Rich in history and tradition, Crete is a destination that caters to every need and is likely one of the places that will stay in your memory forever. Its proximity to the continent of Africa makes its climate amazingly temperate and warm throughout the year, so it is not only a summer destination.
Heraklion, Chania, and Rethymno are the most populated and most touristic cities, but the island offers remote locations which are breathtaking as well. From the beaches of Balos and Falassarna to the small island of Chryssi down south, Crete never disappoints with its wild, untamed beauty and crystal-clear water. Here’s all you need to know on how to get to Crete from Athens!
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Getting From Athens to Crete by Ferry and Plane
How to Get From Athens to Crete by Plane
Crete has three airports because of its size to service travelers and locals from three landmark locations; Chania in the west, Heraklion in the middle, and Sitia in the east of the island. Generally, the airports are serviced by various companies, including Aegean Airlines/Olympic Air, Ryanair, Sky Express, easyJet, Condor Jet2 and others. The most affordable tickets to fly to Crete are usually for April.
ATH International Airport to Chania Airport
Chania International Airport (CHQ), also known as “Ioannis Daskalogiannis” is located at the National Road, EO Aerodromiou Soudas of Chania, only 14 km away from the city center.
The flight lasts 53 mins and there are many weekly flights serviced mainly by Aegean Airlines/Olympic Air, Sky Express, Ryanair and others as well, with best prices starting at 37 Euros, usually during April and May.
This airport is ideal if you wish to explore the peninsula of Chania and the western/central part of the island.
ATH International Airport to Heraklion Airport
The city of Heraklion almost at the heart of the island is serviced by the Heraklion Airport (IATA: HER) also named “N. Kazantzakis”. This airport is the primary airport of Crete, and the second busiest airport of the country after ATH. It is only 5 km away from Heraklion city center.
The airport is serviced by Aegean Airlines/Olympic Air, Sky Express for domestic flights with an average flight time of 54 mins. from ATH to HER. The tickets start from 28 Euros during the cheapest months, which is mainly April, and sometimes May. The most popular flights are from Aegean Airlines and there are many weekly flights throughout the year.
The central location of this airport is ideal for anyone traveling in Crete, as everything is approachable from that location to different directions.
Sitia Public Airport
The most eastern airport in Crete is to be found in Sitia. The Municipal Airport of Sitia (JSH) also called “Vitsentzos Kornaros” is located in the region Mponta of Sitia, only 1 km away from the center.
The airport is currently serviced by Olympic Air and Aegean with direct flights from Athens ATH to Sitia JSH lasting approximately 1h and 5 mins. The best prices begin at 44 Euros but vary depending on seasonality.
This airport is ideal for those traveling to the eastern side of the island, to locations such as Aghios Nikolaos, Ierapetra, Koufonisi, or Chryssi island.
How to Get From Athens to Crete by Ferry
Hopping on a ferry to Crete is arguably one of the most affordable solutions. The distance between Athens and Crete is approximately 150-170 nautical miles and there are two busy lines; Port of Piraeus to Chania and Port of Piraeus to Heraklion.
Piraeus to Chania
This ferry route is available with Minoan Lines and ANEK Superfast, and there are at least 2 ferries per day all year round. With conventional ferries, the journey can last up to 10 hours, but during high summer season, there are also superspeed ferry options for a 5-hour-journey to the port of Chania.
Prices usually start at 38 Euros for a single ticket, while cabins cost anywhere between 55 Euros and 130 Euros. The earliest ferry schedule is 10 a.m. and the latest usually 22:00 p.m.
Piraeus to Heraklion
This route is serviced by ANEK Superfast, Aegeon Pelagos, and Minoan Lines, with approximately 2 crossings per day. The journey lasts anywhere from 8h and 25 minutes to 14 hours, depending on the ferry of your choice, so keep that in mind while you book your tickets.
The prices start at 30 Euros per single ticket but vary according to seasonality and other factors. The earliest ferries begin at 8 in the morning, and the latest at 22:00 at night. During the summer season, you can find as many as 4 crossings daily available.
Tip: The departures for Crete from the port of Piraeus leave from E2 and E3.
How to get from Athens airport to the port
To get from the ATH airport to the port, you can easily book your private transfer with Welcome Pickups here with safety, and pre-pay it. Their services offer a 99% safety score by taking all covid-19 safety measures while offering flight monitoring and English-speaking staff who can give you a heads up for your destination.
ATH Airport to Port of Piraeus lasts 40 mins and it is 54 Euros so it is better if you travel with someone and you can share the expenses.
From ATH Airport to Rafina it lasts 20 mins and it costs 30 Euros and from ATH airport to Lavrion cruise terminal it is again 40 mins and 45 Euros.
Alternatively, from the airport you can get the X96 bus to Piraeus port. Tickets cost 6 Euros. There is also a direct bus to Rafina port.
How to get around the island
At the airports, you can of course find local taxis to get to your destination. However, you can have an immediate private transfer to your hotel/accommodation upon arrival, if you have pre-booked your pick up from the airport. With the security of pre-paid flat fares and their flight monitoring services, you will never experience any delays.
Similarly, from the ports, Welcome Pickups is a safe solution to get from point A to B as soon as possible. From the port of Heraklion, you can reach the city center in 10 mins with 19 Euros flat fare.
For the whole stay, which is ideally more than a week if you are willing to explore enough of Crete, as it is huge and has countless historical monuments and beaches to discover, car rental may make your life easier. With car rental from 7 Euros daily, it might turn out an affordable option.
Tip: Compare prices and decide what’s best for your needs! Remember: Crete has many places to visit, some of which are remote and may require off-road routes. Make a plan beforehand.
Local Buses (KTEL)
Crete has different local bus centers due to its size with the basic bus stations/centers being; Chania-Rethymno and Heraklio-Lasithi. These local bus services offer various bus routes that cover many touristic spots, both on the coastline and in the mainland. Bus ticket prices for single trip may start up to 1.80 Euros but it depends on the destination.
If you need help, KTEL Chania-Rethymno offer call center services from 06:45 to 22:30 and KTEL Heraklio-Lasithi offer 24h call services.