Athens to Paros: Ferry or Flight? Travel Mainland to Island
January 20, 2020
Travel From Athens to Paros via Ferry or Flight
Is it better to take a ferry or a flight to get from Athens to Paros? The answer is dependent upon your itinerary and timetable. Use whichever method of transport fits your flight schedule. If you fly into Athens International Airport and there is a relatively inexpensive flight to Paros 3-5 hours after you land, then why not stay at the airport and take a flight instead of making your way to Piraeus port? Comparatively, if you have just spent the past couple of days in Athens seeing the Acropolis and feasting on feta in Plaka, an early morning ferry ride to Paros might be a more affordable, time saving option. I do recommend that everyone take a ferry to one of the Greek islands at least once as it really is an adventure in itself.
Psst: Looking for more tips for visiting Greece? Check out a few of these posts:
- Things To Do in Paros, Greece: Your Ultimate Travel Guide
- How to Choose the Best Greek Island Hopping Itinerary Routes
- Greece: An Ideal 10-Day Itinerary
- The Complete Greece Packing List for Your Summer Trip
Disclaimer: While I use ferries to describe all boats, there are distinctions between the size. SeaJets, for example, operates catamarans while Blue Star Ferries’ fleet are the traditional ferry that transports both people and vehicle. If you worry about getting ill, please read below as I go into my own experiences with this, a person who gets nauseous on planes, boats, and cars.
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Athens to Paros Ferry
There are three ports in Athens — Piraeus, Rafina, Lavrio — and all have ferries that go to Paros. So…it is important to make sure you are very aware from what port you are booking your ferry. This link provides great detail about each of the three ports in Athens and how to get to the port from Athens International Airport and Athens city center.
Ferry from Piraeus
Piraeus is the largest ferry port in Greece. In peak season, there are about 5 or 6 ferries leaving every day from Athens to Paros. Most leave very early in the morning during the 7:00 hour and take around 3 to 5 hours to reach Paros. There is also an evening departure at 5:30 PM (17:30), which doesn’t get you into the port of Paros until 9:45 PM (21:45). Ferry costs generally range from 20 to 50 euro. If you decide to take an early morning ferry, I recommend taking a taxi from the city centre for approx. 25 euros. If you choose the evening ferry, you can take a direct train from the airport in Athens to the Piraeus port. The ride takes about 1 hour and leaves every hour at 9 past…so from 6:09 AM to 10:09 PM (22:09).
Ferry from Rafina
Once again, there are multiple ferries that leave in the 7:00 hour from the port of Rafina. Rafina is located about 30 km from the centre of Athens and 10 km from Athens International Airport. There is no direct train and while bus prices are very affordable, taxis can cost anywhere between 35 and 65 euro depending on time of day and location. With that in mind, the one ferry that I would strongly consider taking is a SeaJets catamaran leaving at 3:00 PM (15:00) and arriving at 6:20 PM (18:20). This boat runs Monday-Thursday and Saturdays during peak season. If you are a solo, budget backpacker, this leaves you plenty of time to check out of your hostel and make your way by bus to the port; or, if you are a larger group splitting a taxi, you can visit one last tourist attraction in Athens before making your way to Paros in time for sunset.
Ferry from Lavrio
Ferries from Lavrio port leave Fridays at 7:00 AM. Lavrion is 60 km from the centre of Athens and 25 km from the Athens Airport, so there really is no reason to take this ferry.
Should you book your tickets online in advance or wait to purchase in person?
During my trip to Greece, I was hesitant to purchase ferry tickets online because I was convinced that these websites increased the prices or added extra service fees to the cost. However, after running around to different travel agencies and ferry shops near the port, I quickly discovered this to be untrue. The ferry companies like Blue Star, Hellenic Seaways, and Sea Jet set the prices based on a variety of factors. They love to charge you a lot more if they know a flight leaves from Mykonos or Santorini airport and the only ferry that can get you from Paros to one of those islands early enough is with their fleet. That being said, the price you see online should be the exact same price you would pay at the travel agencies by the port. If additional fees are added by a website or by an agency, you should look elsewhere. To view timetables and book ferries online through Ferryhopper, click here.
Ferries very rarely sell out. I have never purchased tickets more than a couple days in advance and have not had an issue in the months I have visited: April, July, and August. My friend did have a problem with a sold-out ferry from Athens to Hydra on a Sunday in August, so that may be one particular ticket to buy in advance. Turns out, local Athenians head to Hydra for a day trip on Sundays. If it freaks you out to not have a reserved ticket, then purchasing online is no issue. Just keep in mind that depending on what e-ticket you purchase, you may have to go to an agency near the port to have a hard copy of the ticket printed for you. I would add in 15 extra minutes to your travel time to ensure that you get the ticket and still arrive 30 minutes or so prior to departure.
Are ferries on time?
NO! Ferries in Greece are almost never on time — especially ones that leave from Paros because high winds are typical. You might get lucky if it is the first ferry of the day. However, I missed my first flight ever because the winds were so high on my departure day that even the first ferry was delayed by an hour and a half. The journey also took double the estimated time. The winds were so rough that all subsequent ferries were cancelled. This leads me to an important point…make sure you stay overnight on the island that you are taking a flight from the next day. Sure, accommodations are pricier on islands like Mykonos and Santorini, but I can guarantee that the cost will be cheaper than missing your flight and having to book a new same-day flight plus a new train, and pay for a night at a hotel when the 24 hour free cancellation policy has passed. I think you get my drift…
Are you having anxiety over getting sea sick or are generally nervous riding a ferry?
If you are worried about taking a boat because you are afraid of getting nauseous, I can tell you that I never had a problem until I did and vomited three times on my last ferry ride of the trip. And yes, it sucked. Would I ride a ferry again? Absolutely. But now I know a little bit more of the do’s and dont’s when it comes to choosing certain ferries. Blue Star Ferries are massive boats with multiple snack bars, a restaurant, and of course, vehicles being transported in storage. Hellenic Seaways and Sea Jets, on the other hand, are cruisers so you will feel the waves much more strongly. Blue Star might be longer in duration, but I will choose them at every opportunity if the timing works so I don’t have to worry about nausea on the boat. If you are concerned, buy yourself some Bonine, wristbands, and my personal favorite, your own mini travel fan. The best way to keep me from vomming? Steady air flow all up in my face.
Athens to Paros Flight
There are direct flights from Athens to Paros on Sky Express and Olympic Air year-round. During the winter months, there are typically 2 flights a day which increase to about 9 or 10 nonstop flights during the peak season summer months. I recommend searching Google Flights for flight options…the airport code for Athens is (ATH) and Paros is (PAS). It is important to be cognizant of extra baggage fees when comparing prices between Sky Express and Olympic Air. I have linked to their baggage policies (Sky Express) and (Olympic Air); both airlines have fares that allow hand baggage (8kg) and a checked bag weighing less than (23kg). Olympic Air is owned by Aegean Air which is a Star Alliance partner, so make sure you put in your account number to accrue miles for these regional flights. The flight from Athens to Paros is only 40 minutes in duration. Upon arrival at the airport in Paros, you have the option to take a taxi for around 15 euro, or the local bus which leaves from the airport 4 times a day and costs 3 euro one-way. The bus takes about 20 minutes to get to Parikia, the city center.
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Have you gone from Athens to Paros by flight or ferry? Which mode of transport would you recommend?!