Cruising in Greece and the Greek Islands

Athens - the hub and must-see destination of any Greek Island cruise

Athens' port of Piraeus is a major port stop-off for cruises around Greece, and the largest passenger port in Europe. Most cruise lines stop there, offering passengers a chance to explore this ancient, enchanted city. Steeped in history and long worshipped by the gods, it is impossible not to be captured by the city’s magic.

Most of Athens main sights are easily accessible from the port. The city centre lies 12km away and can be accessed by taxi, or the ‘ilektriko’ an electric railway. From there you can access most attractions by foot – an ideal way to explore local Athenian life.

Upon arrival you may be keen to explore the city’s famous Acropolis (so-called sacred rock). The extreme heat may be overpowering for some, especially after the steep ascent, so it is best to go either early or late in the day. As well as commanding a breathtaking view of Athens below, there are many pretty, yet understated walks through wildflowers that immediately remove you from the bustle of modern Athens.

There are many other must see sights and attractions in Athens, and you will probably be keen to take in as much of the city as possible, especially if you are on a one day excursion. To get a taste of traditional Athenian life, Plaka is the best place to absorb the quaint village atmosphere. Located in the hillside below the acropolis, the tiny cobbled streets and winding lanes offer museums, small souvenir shops and tavernas.

After an afternoon of sightseeing, you will probably be ready to sample the local cuisine. Those who prefer fine dining may wish to head to Varoulko. Widely regarded as Athens finest seafood restaurant, expect to find such delights as red snapper with black truffle and aubergine mousse.

To find out more about Athens and how to plan your ideal cruise trip, try the Telegraph's Athens cruise guide which offers expert advice and tips.