Piraeus has Greece’s primary seaport, which is also the largest passenger port in Europe. I spent a night here in 2011 (before boarding a ferry for a Greek Island holiday) and recently visited the place twice by cruise ship, for a day each.
Piraeus is situated 12km from Athens, and takes approximately 20 minutes to reach by train. From what I have heard, people in Piraeus distinguish themselves from the people in Athens since Ancient Greek times when the Athenians, Piraens and Spartans used to engage each other in battle.
Piraeus and Athens may have been interesting to visit in Ancient times, but today I find the place quite boring. Piraeus is a very small town with nothing to do but wait to board that ferry/ship and leave the city.
The best thing about the Port of Piraeus was the free high-speed WiFi network which I could connect to from deck 5 on the ship I was on-board.
Their is a nice Marina a few kilometers walking distance from the port. I spent a night at a hotel in Piraeus a a few years ago (although to get there from the airport I needed to print out the bus stop name and show it to the bus driver as the characters were in Greek – which I couldn’t read). Their is a nice supermarket, Starbucks Coffee and Marks & Spencer (without a food market) at the Marina.
On my recent trip I chose not to visit Athens as there really isn’t anything of much interest (to me), beyond the ruins in the city.
When I visited in 2011, the only major highlight of Athens was the Acropolis (an ancient citadel containing a number of buildings including the Parthenon) at the top of a rocky cliff in the city. It costs 12 Euros to visit the site, but I wasn’t really interested in any of the ruins that I saw there.
I felt quite unsafe in Athens at night, particularly because their are so many groups of youth just sitting around in the city. I presume that they are victims of the economic crisis without employment. I spent one night at the Plaka Hotel in Plaka, a decent place. Plaka is an upper-class neighbourhood at the foot of the cliff leading up to the Acropolis, and a short walk from Athens main Monastiraki train station; containing a number of expensive fashion stores and restaurants. Day tourists to Athens primarily spend their time in this neighbourhood. Greece may be having an economic crisis, but do not expect anything in the city to be cheap!
Great sunsets can still be seen from Piraeus if you are departing by sea in the late afternoon.
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