Discover the top things to do in Piraeus, the Greek capital’s main port city.
Why Piraeus? The Port Hub of Athens
Piraeus is the entryway to Greece for so many travelers who cruise into Athens. If cruise passengers do not decide to take an excursion to the Athens city center, Piraeus is what they’ll see of the capital.
For non-cruise travelers, Piraeus is a quick metro ride from the Athens city center. It is also the hub for ferries that depart for the Greek islands. If you have time before or after you sail off, you’ll find Piraeus can be a very authentic kind of place in Greece to explore. You just need to know where to go.
The thing about Piraeus is — if you turn the wrong corner you’ll find that many sidewalks and buildings are unkempt. The modern buildings aren’t looking so modern any more.
On the bright side, I feel Piraeus has much potential. The views can be beautiful. Its historic neighborhoods have their own authentic feel. Its population is proud. Today, it is the business district of choice for many Greek and international shipping companies.
Top Things to Do in Piraeus
Between the smaller harbors filled with yachts and fishing boats, down its business district streets lined with glass paneled buildings and in the hills of its sea facing neighborhoods, there are some great spots and hidden historic corners worth experiencing.
Here’s my list of top 10 things to do in Piraeus.
1) Zea Pasalimani
One of the top things to do in Piraeus is spend time at the lovely harbors. The port of Zea, also known as Pasalimani, is the perfect place for a stroll and to grab a leisurely coffee. Venues here offer great views of the Saronic Gulf and its fancy yachts docked at harbor.
2) Stroll the Castella Neighborhood
This hilltop district is a colorful and authentic Greek neighborhood that overlooks the sea. Bump into neoclassical buildings in the quiet uphill streets (Irakleous, Falireou, Foskolou and Vasileous Pavolou) which offer a nice view. At the top of the hill is the Prophet Elias church and the Veakeion open-air theatre.
Sitting at the base of the Castella neighborhood you’ll find Microlimano – another picturesque harbor to explore. In Greek, the name means small port. I’ve heard it called all kinds of other names including Tourkolimano (Turkish port) and Koumoudourou. In ancient Greek times, it was known as Mounichia Port.
In Microlimano, you can find a lineup of quality fish restaurants and tavernas with tables right by the water. If you go at night, you’ll find the area buzzing with nightlife.
4) Visit a Piraeus Museum
One of the top things to do in Piraeus, especially if you are lover of art and history, is to check out one of its museums.
- Harilou Trikoupi Street
This museum offers an overview of the history of the city when it flourished in ancient times as a center of naval commerce. The oldest surviving cast statue of a Kouros dedicated to the god Apollo can be found here too.
The Municipal Gallery
- 29 Filonos Street
Housed in the old city post office, the gallery displays a collection of modern Greek art and works from up-and-coming Greek artists.
The Hellenic Maritime Museum
- Themistocles Coast, Zea
This is the largest maritime museum of Greece. The exhibits and models depict ships dating back to 8,000 B.C. up to the Greek War of Independence of 1821.
5) See a Show at the Municipal Theatre
Renovated about 15 years ago, this theatre is one of the impressive neoclassical buildings of Piraeus. It opened at the end of the 19th century and since then many famous Greek directors have presented their works here. It has the same layout of the Theatre d’Odeon de Paris.
- 35 Iroon Politechniou Street; www.dithepi.gr
6) Visit the Churches of Piraeus
If you’d like to see some Greek Orthodox churches, Piraeus has a few.
This imposing Byzantine style cathedral certainly sticks out in the city blocks of Piraeus. It was built to replace an older church that was bombed in World War II.
Agios Spyridon is the patron saint of Piraeus. It is the oldest church of the city, built in the mid-19th century on foundations of the old monastery.
Other notable churches to see are Agios Pavlos or St. Paul Catholic Church. Agios Nikolaos Church is right near the ferry docks.
7) Trouba District
Trouba is a district that has changed faces many times. In the early 20th century it was the commercial center of Piraeus. Then it was the red light district until the 1970s. Today it’s a little nightlife hub with some trendy bars and cafes.
If you love film, the Oscar award-winning “Never On Sunday,” starring the great Melina Merkouri, was filmed in Trouba.
8) Shop on Sotiros Dios
The equivalent to Athens’ Ermou Street is Sotiros Dios. This pedestrian shopping street is lined with name brand stores and smaller mom and pop shops. You can also find eateries and cafes.
9) Go to the Beach
One of the top things to do in Piraeus would be to see a Greek beach. I must say, Piraeus is not the best place on the Athens coast for beach time – you need to go farther east for those very island-like beaches. However, if you are short on time and rightly want to experience a real Greek beach moment, this area of the coast has a few spaces for a nice little swim. The most popular beaches are Votsalakia and the Municipal Beach of Freatida.
10) Enjoy Great Seafood
If you’re a seafood lover Piraeus is a great place to dine. Grab a table at a seafood restaurant in Zea Pasalimani or Microlimano.
Some suggestions? In Microlimano, reserve a table at Varoulko, one of Athens’ Michelin-starred restaurants with impeccable seafood.
Away from the sea, you can head Kapileio O Zaxos which is “hidden” traditional psarotaverna (fish taverna) with excellent no-frills Greek taverna style seafood. A chef friend of ours who is from Piraeus introduced us to this great place. The food was plentiful and delicious.
Kapileio O Zaxos
- Komotinis 37, Kaminia district of Piraeus; +30 210-481-3325
Tips: Getting Around Piraeus
- The walking distance from the cruise port to any of the top things to do in Piraeus – as mentioned in this post – can be around 45 minutes or more. Should you have limited time, you may want to take a taxi from the cruise terminals to get to a certain destination quicker.
- Zea Pasalimani and Microlimano, the two picturesque harbors, are about a 25-minute walking distance between each other.
- A good way to go from one top thing to do to another is to take a Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour. With the 24h hour pass, the blue itinerary will bring you to the best sites of Piraeus (such as the Municipal Theatre, Archeological Museum, Municipal Theatre, Microlimano Harbour, Votsalakia Beach etc..)*Plus tip : you can get on and off the bus at your leisure and visit the city at your own pace. Also, an informative audio guide will help you discover the different sights. You can book it here.You can also discover the port of Piraeus at its most beautiful with a tour by night, before settling down to a traditional Greek dinner and a folkloric show. This tour will begin with a the historical port of Piraeus, where you will discover the City Hall, the picturesque Mikrolimano Marina and Zea Marina. Check it out here.
How to Get to Piraeus
From the Athens city center you can take the green line to its last stop Piraeus. You’ll get off right in the historic train station. Walk out and you’ll be right by the ferry docks.
There are also trolley buses and buses. Check the public transportation site www.oasa.gr for time schedules.
Plan Your Trip to Athens
How to Get to Athens
To get to the Athens, many international travelers arrive by air. You can find the best flight deals here on Vayama.
What to Do in Athens
Athens is my adopted hometown and much of this blog is about that very topic. Check out more posts from nightlife to gastronomy on this blog here. It’s a wonderful city break you should plan at least two to three days for — even up to a week — depending on how much time you have and what you’d love to do.
I highly recommend the Athens City Pass, a discount city card that gains you access to many of the capital’s most loved sights. I reviewed it earlier and featured it on this blog.
If you want to hop to the islands or spend time at one of the many Greek island destinations – you should! Also, check out my Greek islands category for the best places to stay, eat and best things to do. I only recommend places and experiences that I have tried and tested myself.
Where to Eat in Athens
Check out my post, 17 Awesome Greek Food Experiences which also lists where to find these delicious experiences in Athens.
Where to Stay in Athens
A full rundown of places I recommend coming soon. Bes sure to sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter here for more tips and insights from my travels around beautiful Greece and amazing Europe.
Pin for Later
That’s my list of the top 10 things to do in Piraeus, the Greek capital’s up-and-coming port city. Have you been to Piraeus?