Ferries from Athens (Piraeus) to Symi and Rhodes
If you want to take a ferry from Athens (Piraeus) to Symi, rather than catch a plane, then the best advice is to check online, or with a travel agent, and see what is going to where and when. That might sound a bit vague but it’s really a question of timetables. Each year the companies post their timetables but even these can be subject to change depending on weather and late arrivals. So, check nearer the time, or book in advance and then check nearer the time.
[caption id="attachment_3423" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Ferry coming in to Symi"]
I had a look around (January 2011) to see what companies go to Symi and made the following notes. Bear in mind that at the moment only one major ferry line calls in at Symi on its route from Athens to Rhodes, so if you want to take a different route, if you are coming from other islands, or if you want to travel on a different day, you will have to go via Rhodes or Kos and pick up a Symi connection from there. (See the links at the bottom of the page.)
Ferries are a great way to travel slowly; don’t use them if you are in a hurry, but do use them if you want to see more of the beautiful Greek islands on your way. Though some of your journey may well be at night. They are also much more sociable means of travel than planes; you will meet more people, if you want to, and you may even end up sharing a cabin with a stranger – which could be the start of an interesting adventure, or a thriller film.
But you start from Piraeus…
Getting to Piraeus by:
You can get to Piraeus by bus from the airport without changing by taking the Line E96 express (at a cost of €3.20 in 2010).
From Athens city centre by: Bus 040 from Omonia Square or bus 040 from Syntagma Square. I have used this service once and it was on time and you get to see some interesting views en route.
You can also use the Metro
, Green Line, 1, changing at Monistiraki depending on where you are coming from; but you need to end up on the Green line. I have found the metro quick, simple to use and reasonably efficient, when not on strike.
Be careful, but use them if you have to, and keep you eye on the price, make sure the driver doesn’t switch off the fare counter just before you get there, make a note of his cab number (should be on the windscreen) or his registration plate, and report him/her straight away if you think you've been over-charged. (I've not had one pleasant taxi journey in Athens; even when travelling with Greek people the drivers have tried to rip us off.)
[caption id="attachment_3424" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Map of Piraeus"]
Having used this very busy port a few times I can tell you first hand that it can be a bit of a nightmare. Take a map, like this one supplied by the Ministry of Mercantile Marine and find ‘Port Gate E1’ which, at the time of writing is the gate from which all Rhodes (also written Rodos, or Ρόδος) ferries leave. (But check that! Things change.) The port code from Rhodes is ROD.
This varies, depending on which boat you are on. The journey from Athens to Rhodes can take from 12 to 17 hours, calling at various other islands on route. If you are on a boat which stops at Symi then the journey time will be about two hours less. But bear in mind that there may be delays at ports en route which will stack up the journey time.
There’s a question! Check out www.ferries.gr
which is a very detailed, and I have to say rather confusing, page of Ferry companies, links and information. Here you can search routes and companies by making a booking. You don’t have to actually make the booking, but you use the booking process to find out what routes are available.
[caption id="attachment_3425" align="alignright" width="300" caption="You get better views by sea"]
As a matter of interest I just checked prices of an Athens to Symi ferry journey, for January 11th and, for an adult travelling ‘deck’ class (which carries no ‘class’ with it at all in my opinion, sleeping on the floor and being constantly woken by ‘we will soon be arriving at… we are now arriving at… we have arrived at… we are now leaving… our next stop will be…’) the price, one way, was €39.00. If you want an inside cabin (no windows I guess) then it is €66.00 and if you want an outside cabin with window it is €99.00 – remember these prices are for January 2011.
By sea is a great way to travel lazily, better in the summer of course, and if you want to bring a car or vehicle, then you've got to come by boat. You will need to check out prices via the company you are travelling with, and be prepared for a bit of an adventure getting your vehicle on to the ferry. And if you think that was bad, wait ‘till you have to get it off. You can, by the way, also get your car from Rhodes to Symi, currently on the Proteus (ANES line, link below), but only bring you car if you are desperate as there are plenty here already. And if it’s a foreign car in Greece you will have to a) take it away again after six months and not bring it back for a further six, and you can only repeat that process once before you will be stopped from using it or fined, or b) pay a huge amount of money (over €2,000 or something) to register it and have it here legally. So think before you drive.
So, you may ask, is a journey from Athens to Symi by Ferry worth it? I’d say yes, if you want to go cheaply*
and slowly. It’s going to be fun in the summer when there will be more choices for your day of travel, certainly to Rhodes from where you can then hop over to Symi from Mandraki or Colona harbours.
I say ‘cheaply’, I have travelled by plane from Athens to Rhodes for €5.00, but that’s not standard, it was a special offer. Checking today for a flight on January 11th with Aegean airways, the cheapest was €59.00 and with taxes added the total was €100, but that’s booking only four days in advance, if I booked four months in advance it was cheaper. But remember that a 17 hour, or more, journey by sea will incur the additional expense of food and fun during the journey while, on a plane from Athens to Rhodes… well, it only takes 45 minutes during which time, if you are very lucky and very quick, you may get a cup of coffee and the sniff or a biscuit before it’s time to buckle up and land.
Other useful sites
(currently stopping at Symi)
Blue Star Ferries
(Rhodes to Symi)
(Rhodes to Symi)