For Athenians, the city’s historic port is the place to head for seaside cafés, gritty bars, and first-rate seafood restaurants.

Piraeus is much more than just a port. It’s a city in its own right. Yet most visitors fleetingly pass through on their way to the Greek islands and see little beyond the smoggy hustle of the ferry terminal. Take time to explore and you’ll find archaeological sights, stunning sea views, as far as the Saronic Gulf islands; and some of the best fish restaurants in Athens.

Piraeus was first incorporated into Athens in 515 BC. In 493 BC, the great naval strategist Themistocles began fortification works to enclose both cities behind Long Walls. These defences, still visible today, gave the Athenians uninterrupted access to the sea. Over three millennia, Piraeus has grown to become one of the largest passenger and cargo ports in the world. There’s more to this commercial hub and gateway to the Greek islands than meets the eye. Whether you have a few hours to kill before your onward journey or a full day (or more) to explore the area, this guide will help you get the most out of Piraeus.

Port of call: most people's image of Piraeus.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou

Around the Port

Trainspotters can see carriages both past and present at Piraeus railway station.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou

Courtesy: Paleo Wine Store

Stock up on dried herbs like these near the station.

Photo: Thomas Gravanis

Downtown Piraeus

Courtesy: Municipal Theatre of Piraeus

Fall for the breezy charms of Kastella.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou

Kastella

Mikrolimano

Courtesy: Varoulko Seaside

Marina Zea: Not a passenger ferry in sight.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou

Marina Zea

Peiraiki and Hadzykriakion

The famous Lion of Piraeus has watched over the harbour for centuries.

Photo: Orestis Seferoglou