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Piraeus, the outer suburb of Athens which serves as the ferry port for the popular Greek islands, has long suffered a bad reputation as a run-down area where the crime was rife. Most tourists avoid it, stay in the heart of the city, and take the metro in time to catch their ferry.
However, Piraeus has much to offer the visitor and has advantages as an overnight stay, at least, before embarking on the islands.
Ease of Access of Piraeus
For travelers arriving by plane, the airport bus to Piraeus (Number X96) leaves from just outside the Athens International Airport doors, offers a 24-hour service, departing every 30 minutes.
The cost is currently €6.00. There are several stops: drivers will advise on the best for particular hotels.
The hotel occupies a narrow block and is actually accessible from either Notara St or Filonos St.
Shopping and Food in Piraeus
There are several excellent broad shopping streets such as Sotiros street, plus pedestrian squares, numerous bars, and coffee shops, and a selection of restaurants and fast-food outlets, including KFC and Pizza Hut. Ampakos Steakhouse in Filonos 66 street (map) is popular within the locals.
For a few hours near the water on a warm day, the visitor would do well to walk to the Marina Zeas on Pasalimani Bay and have a drink at Pisina.
This classy eatery is not cheap but has vast indoor and outdoor areas surrounding a pool, and overlooking the blue water bay and yachts.
Easy Access to Central Athens
The metro station situated near Ferry Terminal Gate E6 at Piraeus offers a speedy link to central Athens, so the visitor can still see the best sights in Athens or visit the National Museum while staying in far cheaper accommodation in a quieter, less polluted environment. Read here how to get around Athens.
When the time comes to return to the Athens International Airport, the airport bus is again the best option with luggage storage and door-to-door service.
For those who would prefer to avoid central Athens altogether but have time to kill between flight and ferry ride, attractions in Piraeus are many, so the city has some history to share.
There is an archaeological museum, a maritime museum, the old Roman settlement, and an ancient theatre.
There are several beautiful Greek Orthodox churches, notably Ag. Spiridon, Ag. Vasilios and Ag. Nikolaos.
There are also two beaches in the area: Votsalakia beach, accessible from Vas. Pavlou Avenue, and an unnamed beach beside Pisina bar/restaurant just beyond the Marina Zeas.
Piraeus deserves consideration. It is a curious mix of old and new, the little bays and marinas are beautiful and offset the purely serviceable ferry terminals.
While there are no doubt dangers for tourists and petty crime as in all major cities and port areas, the visitor is unlikely to encounter problems in the main busy areas of town and will feel quite comfortable, even at night. The port area is very well signposted.
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