Athens (Piraeus), Greece

Athens (Piraeus), Greece

Athens is the capital of Greece. The Aegean Sea lies to the east of mainland Greece, the Ionian Sea to the west, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south.

Athens is a city of neighborhoods more or less centered around the Acropolis and the Parthenon.

Athens is one of the oldest and most famous cities in the world. Many interesting tourist attractions can be found in Athens. Athens is considered to be the historical capital of Europe with its long and fascinating history topped with its rich and significant culture. Over the years, Athens has been conquered by different nations, each one of these erected unique and splendid monuments. Some of these monument still stands today and has become a part of Athens’ historical landmarks.

Check out the Acropolis, Agora Market, the National Archaeological Museum and Ermou Street, full of Greek and European shops.

Another part of Athens is Plaka, with its winding and narrow streets which are lined with houses and shops that date back to the 5th century BC.

In Kolonaki, there is the Byzantine and Christian Museum, the Benaki Museum and the Museum of Cycladic Art.

Lykavetos offers the finest panoramic views in Athens including the surrounding mountains and the islands of Salamis and Aegina. You can walk the path to the summit from the top of Loukianou or take the funicular from the top of Ploutarhou.

Other places to visit include Corinth (55 miles from Athens), Sounion (45 miles from Athens), which is home to Temple of Poseidon and Hydra, a picturesque island accessible via hydrofoil.

Astir Beach is about 40 minutes from Athens.

The disabled cruiser visiting Athens will encounter Ancient ruins that present challenges for wheelchair users but several of the Athens attractions have been made wheelchair accessible. Athens provides world-class attractions for tourists to visit including the Acropolis, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, and the Ancient Agora. Unfortunately for disabled tourists, these buildings were not designed for wheelchairs and have deteriorated over the centuries. 

Fortunately for disabled tourists, the Greeks have done a good job of making these attractions as accessible as possible, and all can be visited by travelers with disabilities. At the numerous museums, Athens disabled access is generally quite good although steep ramps and small elevators do exist.

Standard group walking tours can be done by wheelchair users, on these tours you will encounter some uneven ground at the Temple of Olympain Zeus and some cobblestones on the south side of the Acropolis. Wheelchair users and other disabled tour participants will have to separate from the group and use the elevator to get to the top of the Acropolis. Disabled tourists may prefer hiring a private guide for a Athens disabled accessible tour moving at a slower pace.

Getting around Athens in a wheelchair can be challenging because of numerous areas with cobblestones or hills. Additionally, many parts of Athens have broken concrete on curbs and in the sidewalk ramps at street intersections. The tourist attractions in Athens are somewhat spread out, and disabled tourists may want to take taxis between locations. This is particularly true when visiting the National Archaeological Museum located on the north side of the city. On a positive note, disabled tourists will find that the metro system is perhaps the most accessible in all of Europe, with nearly all stations having elevators down to the platforms.

Where You’re Docked

Cruise ships dock in the Port of Piraeus, which is in the center of town. There are many shops and taverns around the harbor area and the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus is located nearby.

Athens itself can be accessed via taxi to the station, then taking the Metro. Buses are also available at the port.

Note: be vigilant when dealing with taxi drivers. Prices and a helpline number are posted inside taxis. Any problems, call this number or 171 for the tourist police, who can assist you. Taxi drivers also sometimes state prices are per person when in fact, it’s per taxi.

Disability Cruising-Athens-port
Port of Piraeus

Good to Know

Steep sales tax can tack on 25 percent to the cost of your purchases. The value-added tax is called FPA in Greece. Non-EU citizens may be able to reclaim some of this when you leave the country; the bad news is that this takes ages and is barely worth the bother unless you’ve bought something mega-expensive. Look for shop window signs saying, “VAT Refund” or “Tax Free Shopping Network,” and be prepared to produce your passport to get a VAT refund form.

Afternoon siestas affect both shop and museum opening hours. Might as well do as the locals do and head for a snooze between 2 and 5:30 p.m.; after that, the city comes to life again.

Getting Around

On Foot: Athens’ city center and its major attractions aren’t accessible from Piraeus by foot. If you’re looking for something to do within walking distance of the port, however, you’re only a few steps from the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus containing bronzes of Apollo and Athena from the Archaic and Classical periods of Greek art, as well as the Greek Orthodox churches of Saint Nicholas, Saint Spyridon and Holy Trinity. For eats, visit the picturesque Mikrolimano marina, which is lined with alfresco restaurants.

By Metro: The Metro is the easiest method of public transportation to the city center. Cruise passengers can take the Athens Metro Line 1 (Green Line) from Piraeus station to either Monastiraki Station or Omonia Station. From Monastiraki Station, you can walk to the charming neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Plaka and even the Acropolis. From Omonia Station, you can jump on Line 2 (Red Line) and go to Syntagma Square. As of late 2017, Athens utilizes an electronic ticket system, similar to London’s Oyster cards. Prices range from 1.40 euros for a single ticket to 4.50 euros for a 24-hour pass and 9 euros for a five-day pass. The travel time is about one hour.

By Taxi: Taxis are prevalent around Piraeus and throughout the city, and therefore tend to be the quickest way to get around, even during rush hour. A taxi from the port to downtown Athens can take anywhere from roughly 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the traffic, but will cost you a bit more — generally around 25 euros (based on a four-seat taxi).

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The euro is the currency in Greece. ATMs are easy to find. They are located in banks, on the streets and in some hotels and restaurants. Currency can be exchanged in most banks and at currency-exchange services.

ATMs can sometimes run out of cash on weekends. Carry enough cash for emergencies.

Language

The old saying, “It’s all Greek to me” can ring all too true in Athens. The Greek capital is not quite as tourist-aware as the islands, and English is less commonly spoken. So, if you’re staying in the city, it’s a good idea to take a good phrasebook or language app along. Here are a few basics to help.

Good morning/Good day: Kalimera /Kalispera
My name is: Me lene
Thank you: efcharisto
Do you speak English?: Milate Anglika?
How much is this?: Posa kostizi afto?
Where’s the bathroom?: pu ine i tualetta?

In an emergency, dial 112 for toll-free, English-speaking assistance, or 171 to contact the (English-speaking) tourist police. Other emergency numbers worth knowing: 100 for police, 199 for fire and 166 for ambulance.

Disability Cruising-Athens-citymarket
Athens City Market

Shopping

Designer olive oil, locally made organic honey and Ouzo, the licorice-flavored liquor are all popular buys.

Mezés is a collective name for a variety of small dishes, typically served with wines or ouzo.

Other dishes include souvlaki, moussaka, seafood such as octopus, squid, red snapper, or lobster and baklava (syrup cake).

Like most great cities, Athens features a wide range of downtown restaurants suited to a variety of tastes and budgets, although you can always find Greek favorites and seafood.

The lively Plaka district, though a bit touristy, is home to charming eateries, included the highly recommended Fisherman’s Taverna. A favorite with locals as well as visitors, this restaurant apparently counts Brigitte Bardot among its many fans and offers a fine taste of old-style Greek hospitality, a cozy open fire and alfresco dining in a pretty courtyard. It serves fish dishes alongside Greek classics.

Points of Interest

  • The Acropolis – Acropolis is the most popular ancient place of Athens since 5th century BC when it was built. The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization. Athens walking tours guides will give you a detailed explanation of the glorious monuments of the Acropolis such as, the Parthenon, Erectheion, Propylaia, Nike Temple and the surrounding monuments as well (Dionysus sanctuary, Philopappos Hill, Mars Hill, Observatory, Pnyx Hill, Odeon of Herodes Atticus, Ancient Agora).
  • Parthenon – The Parthenon is the majestic ruins of an ancient Greek building and considered to be an icon of the Western civilization and the most famous building in the world. Built in honor of the patroness of the city of Athens, goddess Athena Parthenos, the temple was built in the 5th century and is situated on top of the sacred Acropolis Hill which overlooks the city of Athens.
  • Benaki Museum – A remarkable museum of the arts and culture of Greece from the Neolithic Age to the early 20th century. Its exhibits focuses on the overview of of the history of Greek art and crafts from the prehistoric times to the modern age.

  • Mount Lycabettus – Standing majestically over the city is Mount Lycabettus, a giant hill made of Cretaceous limestone. It is one of the top tourist attractions in Athens and can be accessed by a railway called the “Lycabettus Funicular” which climbs the hill from the Kolonaki area at the base. Visitors can also hike to the top of the hill where there are the Chapel of St. George, a grand theater, and a charming restaurant to provide amusement to them. The visitors can get a fascinating panoramic view of the entire city from the hilltop.
  • National Archaeological Museum of Athens – National Archaeological Museum of Athens is one of the best museums in the world. Has a collection of the the most complete ancient Greek heritage. Collection of statues and sculptures truly amazing, all the figures of myth and gods and goddesses various versions can be seen there, as well as the heroes of Greece.
  • The Ancient Agora – Ancient Agora is located not far from the Acropolis and within walking distance. There location of administrative center of ancient Athens. The site of the Ancient Agora in a very green space and a very beautiful view of the Acropolis. You will see the Temple of Hephaestus, the best preserved ancient Greek temple.
  • Syntagma Square – Syntagma Square is one of the most important places in the entire Greece and it appeals greatly to all sorts of tourists. It is a square located right at the center of Athens and just in front of the Greek Parliament house. It has great political and cultural significance as many of the most important events are held at the square. Here, the changing of the guard is a top notch attraction. Many fascinating statues, sculptures and fountain make it a perfect spot for tourist to enjoy a little peaceful time. It is one of the most intriguing tourist attractions in Athens.

  • Plaka – Plaka attracts all the visitors of Athens with its neoclassical mansions and houses with roofs from red tiles, its small winding roads with their steps, balconies with bougainvilleas, geraniums and jasmines. Plaka is called many times in the Greek literature as the neighborhood of the Gods.

Athens (Piraeus) Accessible Excursions

Disabled access at Athens tourist attractions varies depending on the location. At the most popular attraction in town, disabled access to the Athens Acropolis is via an elevator on the north side of the hill. Disabled tourists should get there by having a taxi drive them up the hill and drop them off a the green gate. The nearby New Acropolis Museum is fully wheelchair accessible and located just south of the Acropolis. The Ancient Agora is another excellent tourist attraction and contains far more historical artifacts than the Acropolis. You can access it by going down a hill at its north entrance. The Temple of Olympian Zeus is located on the opposite side of the Acropolis and has wheelchair ramps to get from the entrance to the columns. On the north side of town, a side entrance at the National Archaeological Museum provides a step-free entrance.

Highlights of Athens Accessible Cruise Excursion

This 8 hour accessible driving tour works well as either an accessible Athens cruise excursion from Piraeus or as a tour starting at your accessible Athens hotel. An air-conditioned, wheelchair accessible van will transport you quickly and comfortably between the tourist sights. You’ll visit all the world-class highlights of Athens in a single day: the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, the National Archaeological Museum, Syntagma Square, the Acropolis museum, the Plaka neighborhood, and more. You can set your own itinerary or follow the recommended itinerary that visits all the most popular sights in Athens. 

Many visitors to Athens make a stop at the Acropolis Museum but completely miss the world-class National Archaeological Museum located north of the other tourist sights. Other excellent sites that shouldn’t be missed such as the Panathenaic Stadium, the Greek Parliament on Syntagma Square, etc…) are located a little further away from the Acropolis and easy to reach with the wheelchair accessible van.

The Highlights of Athens Accessible Cruise Excursion is the most accessible tour that is provided for the disabled cruiser. It uses a wheelchair accessible van and wheelchair accessible tour routes. The routes can be adjusted to meet the individual accessibility needs of the disabled visitor. Additionally, the tour guide can push a manual wheelchair user if necessary.

If you are arriving at the Piraeus cruise dock, you will take the wheelchair accessible Piraeus port shuttle to the cruise terminal. Your tour guide will meet you at the cruise terminal exit. A van with a wheelchair lift will transport you into the city. The tour will follow a wheelchair accessible route by using curb cuts to avoid curbs and steps, and includes wheelchair ramps and an elevators to get between the floors. The Plaka neighborhood located just to the north of the Acropolis has some accessibility challenges including cobblestones. The Highlights of Athens Accessible Cruise Excursion uses the most accessible routes to visit the neighborhood.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to use the special lift at the Acropolis, and to receive discounted entrance tickets at the Acropolis, the Greek government requires that you bring your valid disabled ID/papers. Additionally, you must also bring your mobility equipment (wheelchair, rollator, walker etc) to prove that you are in need of using the special elevator.

Half Day Athens Accessible Driving Tour

This 5 hour Athens accessible cruise excursion has some of the least amount of walking of all accessible tours in Athens. You’ll have opportunities for great photo opportunities of the various ruins in Athens and you’ll visit several of the top attractions in Athens.

Transportation is provided by a van with a wheelchair lift into the city. If you need help pushing a wheelchair, an assistant can be hired for 10 euro per hour. If you are arriving at the Piraeus cruise dock, you will take the wheelchair accessible Piraeus port shuttle to the cruise terminal. Your tour guide will meet you at the cruise terminal exit. The tour will follow a wheelchair accessible route by using curb cuts to avoid curbs and steps, and includes wheelchair ramps and an elevators to get between the floors.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to use the special lift at the Acropolis, and to receive discounted entrance tickets at the Acropolis, the Greek government requires that you bring your valid disabled ID/papers. Additionally, you must also bring your mobility equipment (wheelchair, rollator, walker etc) to prove that you are in need of using the special elevator.

Athens Accessible Shore Excursion to Temple of Poseidon

If you’re looking for an easy, scenic shore excursion from Piraeus cruise port, this 4-hour wheelchair accessible tour is for you. This Athens shore excursion drives along the scenic Aegean coast to the Temple of Poseidon ruins located on the southernmost tip of the Attica Peninsula. 

The Athens Accessible Shore Excursion to Temple of Poseidon uses a van with a wheelchair lift to travel the 69 km each way along the scenic coast. When you arrive at the Cape of Sounion, you’ll be at the southernmost tip of the Attica peninsula which is also home to the legendary spot where Aegeus, King of Athens, leapt to his death giving his name to the Aegean Sea.

The original temple here was destroyed by the Persian King Xerxes’ invasion of Greece. On the Athens Accessible Shore Excursion to Temple of Poseidon you will see the remains of the current temple built around 440 BC. It occupies an incredible viewpoint over the Aegean Sea making for a great photo opportunity.

If you are arriving at the Piraeus cruise dock, you will take the wheelchair accessible Piraeus port shuttle to the cruise terminal. Your tour guide will meet you at the cruise terminal exit. The Athens Accessible Shore Excursion to Temple of Poseidon uses a van with a wheelchair lift to comfortably transport you to the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. The tour includes driving along a scenic highway on the Greek coast towards Cape Sounion. The area approaching the Temple of Poseidon has some terrain that can present difficulties to disabled visitors. Your driver will bring you within 150 meters and can provide assistance to wheelchair users. The tour includes some uneven terrain near the Temple of Poseidon.

Accessible Athens Acropolis Private Guided Tour

This 5-hour accessible walking tour of Athens is led by a professionally-licensed tour guide, who has extensive experience touring this historic site with disabled and elderly visitors. Note, if you need help to push manual wheelchair an assistant can be booked at an additional cost. This wonderful wheelchair friendly Athens tour visits all of the main attractions on top of and surrounding the Acropolis.

Your tour starts in Syntagma Square with a visit to some of the ruins excavated during the building of the Syntagma metro station. You’ll see the Changing of the Guards at the House of Greek Parliament and then use a wheelchair accessible sidewalk to visit the National Gardens.

The impressive Temple of Zeus provides a great photo opportunity with the Acropolis in the background. It’s also MUCH less crowded than the Acropolis, and you can imagine the buildings that were in this location thousands of years ago.

Your accessible Athens private guided tour uses the wheelchair accessible entrance to The Acropolis Museum which houses many of the artifacts recovered from the Acropolis. Great views of the Acropolis can be found on the top floor!Several attractions below the Acropolis will be viewed on this tour including the Theatre of Herodes Atticus, the Propylaia gateway, and the Agrippa Monument.

The Accessible Athens Acropolis Private Guided Tour includes advanced notification so that disabled visitors can use the wheelchair accessible elevator to avoid the long flight of stairs up to the Acropolis. On top of the Acropolis, your tour guide can assist disabled visitors over the slightly uneven terrain to view the Parthenon, the Erechthion Temple, and the Nike Temple. The spectacular views of the city below will conclude your memorable day in Athens.

The Accessible Athens Acropolis Private Guided Tour uses a step-free route. You will however encounter some cobblestones and hills. There are 4 miles of walking on uneven terrain. We advise only wheelchair users, mobility scooters or electric wheelchairs take this tour. It is not advised for those using canes or walkers.

Your tour route will avoid accessibility obstacles like the sidewalk stairs.  Where possible, it will also use smooth routes and avoid cobblestones. The tour will follow a wheelchair accessible route by using curb cuts to avoid curbs and steps, and includes wheelchair ramps and an elevators to get between the floors.

IMPORTANT NOTE: In order to use the special lift at the Acropolis, and to receive discounted entrance tickets at the Acropolis, the Greek government requires that you bring your valid disabled ID/papers. Additionally, you must also bring your mobility equipment (wheelchair, rollator, walker etc) to prove that you are in need of using the special elevator.