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Athens is more than its inner-city bustle. Here’s how to plan a city escape by visiting the Athens Riviera, without having to board a ferry.
A city surrounded by the sea, Athens is the gateway to the surrounding Greek islands, with hundreds of people leaving on ferries from the Southern Piraeus port daily. Little do people know that starting at that port, just 25 minutes away from the heart of the city is one of the capital’s best-kept secrets – a 40-mile stretch of scenic coastline along the Saronic Gulf called the Athens Riviera.
Getting off the land is still a part of the city escape, and sailing the Athens Riviera you can relax on a deck of a yacht, cruising the vast open waters while looking at the city from an alternative viewpoint. The well-known hills of Lycabettus and Filopappos, in particular, look incredibly spectacular from afar.
Where Is the Athens Riviera?
The Athens Riviera is located in the southern region of greater Athens and is more than 60km of coastline stretching from Piraeus to Sounion, the southernmost tip of Attica peninsula.
From upbeat Glyfada to the lake famed suburb of Vouliagmeni to the historical Cape Sounion, you can live the island life on the coastline of the Athenian Riviera – strolling the many bourgeoning seaside neighbourhoods like Palaio Faliro, Voula and Agia Marina, or relaxing on the scattering of beaches that line this coastline. Without even having to board a ferry.
Which is great for those with limited time or on a long weekend city break.
READ MORE: How to Travel to Athens – A City Explorer’s Guide for Greece’s Capital.
Visiting The Athenian Riviera – Where To Start
While on the area that makes up the Athenian Riviera, you are still firmly in Athens – just the greater expanse of it. 10km south of the Akropolis, to be exact. This means the marinas, seaside towns and Athenian beaches are more accessible than you think.
How Do I Get to the Athenian Riviera?
Athens Riveria by Metro / Subway
Good starting points are the Piraeus and Faliro metro stations, from which you can pick up a taxi or take a short walk to your desired area if closer to this end of the coastline.
Athens Riveria by Bus
The bus X96 leaves from both Piraeus and Faliro metros with over 25 stops along the coastline towards Kalamaki Glyfada and Voula (where you can get a taxi or walk 30 minutes to Vouliagmeni Lake).
Athens Riveria by Boat
If you hire a boat to sail the Athenian Riviera, you will be given instructions for what marina to meet at – there are many along the coastline, although most will begin trips at the Piraeus end.
I found myself at the Mikrolimano Marina in Piraeus – a short taxi drive from the Faliro metro, one stop before Piraeus at the end of Line 1.
Finding verified boat owners in Athens isn’t so hard, either. I was met at the marina by yacht owner and skipper Pantelis Karatzas, sourced from boating holiday specialists, Nautal – a rental platform connecting travellers with boat owners. Pantelis is one of over 700 verified, and you can charter a yacht for as little as €100 for the day.
Athens Riveria Group Cruises
You might not have enough people to charter your own boat. Get a hotel pick-up, join a small group and set sail on a five-hour cruise, including historical commentary and an onboard barbeque.
Other group cruises depart directly from the Riviera – this half-day catamaran tour meets the pier close to the Pikrodaphne tram stop.
Short on time? Opt for a three-hour Athens Riveria sunset cruise on a wooden sailing ship, which includes a complimentary drink.
Athens Riviera Hotels and Apartments
For first-time visitors, the Athens Riviera is part of a coastal excursion, where one would likely return to the city after some time by the sea. However, for those already familiar with the capital or craving seaside living, there are plenty of accommodation options along the Athens coast.
Closer to the Piraeus end, this three-bedroom Athens luxurious apartment in Palaio Faliro is around €200 a night, as are apartments with a Sea View at Edem Beach, although the further inland you go, you can get a place for half the price, like Home away from home.
Hotels can be found further down the coast in Glyfada, with a host of mid-range to lux hotel options wedged between Paralia Asteria Beach, Glyfada Beach and Asteras Beach and close to the boutique stores and amenities of this trendy area.
Sailing the Athens Riviera
Hiring a private yacht charter, motorboat or sailboat on the Athens Riviera isn’t only about short trips for a couple of hours.
Through Nautal, you can set sail for an entire day or a long weekend or customise a longer route with the help of your potential boat owner, whose knowledge may even include uninhabited islands to stop at or divulging their own secret hotspots.
If you have the experience, you don’t necessarily have to hire the skipper, only their boat, but personally, that would detract from the relaxation aspect a little.
By hiring a skipper or joining a small (often two-man) crew on a group cruise, not only will you benefit from the experience of being within the haven of a lesser-known spot of the city, but also you’ll be aiding the local economy and helping the sailing community in tourism thrive.
Pantelis was welcoming, friendly and all too eager to show us around his yacht before embarking on our mini adventure. He’d stop at all the scenic lookouts and let you clamber all over the boat in the curiosity of how it all worked. His livelihood and passion, it was clear he loved his job and took pride in where he was from.
The general feeling is that the boat is your very own, except you just have a master navigator at hand. Everything is about your own unique experience and where you want to go.
Is Athens Riviera Yachting Worth It?
If you are looking for something closer to the city instead of sailing to the Saronic Islands (including the must-do Hydra, Poros and Spetses day cruise), the Athens Riviera is the easiest way to access and enjoy the Saronic coastline for a few hours, without leaving Athens.
If you are searching for a slice of island living, with sea view restaurants and bars and the chance to dip your toes in the sand, then the coastline suburbs are a wonderful addition to Athens’ more urban neighbourhoods.
It felt strange jumping off the boat and leisurely dining at one of the many restaurants lining the marina before being back to the heart of the city within minutes. But that’s what makes the metropolis of Athens special. You have everything you need in one place.
I was invited to try Athens Riviera Yachting by Marketing Greece. As part of their “I’m An Athenian”, I was sent to uncover the best of Athens, from the hidden hotspots to the best kept local secrets, with a little guidance on where to find them.