Progress at Piraeus

Since its privatisation in 2006, Piraeus Port has finally been given a much needed facelift, offering better services to summer passengers


PIRAEUS port is the largest passenger port in Europe that sees about 20 million passengers passing through its gates each year. Despite this impressive figure, the actual experience of being a passenger waiting at Piraeus port has not always been quite as uplifting.

A few years ago, catching a ferry or a hydrofoil from Piraeus port would probably not have been an experience to look forward to. Indeed the idea of any terminal seems a distant luxury as you swelter on the concrete under the blazing sun. Thankfully, that has all changed.

In the two short years since the Piraeus Port Authority became privatised, the port itself has undergone numerous changes to try and make the passenger experience more comfortable than ever before.

The Piraeus Port Authority Traveller's Guide (available on website) boasts seven new services that have been implemented to improve facilities, including airconditioned waiting rooms, Wi-Fi internet access and telematic bus stops that can tell you exactly what time the internal bus will arrive. The changes sound impressive, but how do these things work in practice?

The first of the new improvements to be spotted on arrival is the new pedestrian bridge that connects the train station to the port and saves heavily-laden travellers risking their lives on the busy road. There can be no doubt that this simple solution is an improvement, despite the occasional unpredictability of the escalators.

Another much-welcomed new service is the airconditioned waiting areas which are spotless and mercifully cool. They are accompanied by live departure and arrival screens to keep travellers updated. Sadly, these modernday inventions are sparsely dotted around the gates and you will have to weigh up a hot walk to a cool room versus a short walk to a shaded waiting area to reach one.

The telematic bus stops are a great idea, if a little inconsistent. Although, where available, the information is generally correct. The bus service is free all around the port and there were three buses queued up ready to depart upon my visit.

The claim of Wi-Fi access is somewhat harder to confirm. My morning trip to the port was made without a laptop and there were not that many tourists around to question. If you are dragging your computer down to the port for an island trip you are probably working too hard.

The biggest and perhaps most substantial change to the port facilities is the new passenger terminal, situated a short walk from the pedestrian bridge. Though not incredibly well signed, it certainly ticks all the boxes. It contains an indoor airconditioned waiting room equipped with a bar offering snacks and meals as well as soft drinks. There is also an impressive array of alcoholic drinks, which could certainly enliven the waiting experience!

More importantly, this interior section also provides toilets, showers and lockers to refresh the weary traveller, as well as a huddle of computers for surfing the net, although the price is more than what you would expect, at 4 euros for an hour.

Outside the main building there is a sheltered waiting area with tables equipped with menus, but don't be put off.

Piraeus is especially busy during the summer with many Greek and
foreign tourists heading off to the islands
A friendly sign reading "The consumption is not obligatory" presumably allows you to sit without having to order. There is plenty of space and a clear view of the gates to watch as your ferry comes in.

Generally, the port is well-organised, despite a few inconsistencies. There are signs welcoming you to the port on every surface and not enough signs directing you where to go, which is problematic. However, there is a handy map in both Greek and English by the pedestrian bridge and with the massive gate signs it is not difficult to work out where you are supposed to be.

One impressive feature to be mentioned is the cleanliness of all the facilities. The waiting rooms and toilets are spotless, and even the steps of the bridge were being mopped as we made our way across.

Despite a few sloppy aspects, the Piraeus Port Authority has made a great effort at improving and updating the services offered at the port. Now the summer is here, don't be put off by past experiences at Piraeus, it is probably better than you expect.

(Posting date 16 April 2009)

HCS readers can view other excellent articles by the Athens News writers and staff in many sections of our extensive, permanent archives, especially our News & Issues, Travel in Greece, Business, and Food, Recipes & Garden sections at the URL
Readers enjoying these articles may wish to subscribe to the Athens News by visiting the website and following online directions at

All articles of Athens News appearing on HCS have been reprinted with permission.

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.