Athens’ port, Piraeus, is just a short metro ride away from the city center. For most, it’s just a simple port city – a place to get on and off one of the many cruise ships or ferries that stop there. It’s the largest passenger port in Europe and 3rd largest in the world. From there, you can catch ferries to nearby islands, such as Aegina, Poros, or Hydra, for a nice, easy day trip.
For the casual tourist, there isn’t much reason to visit, but for a prolonged stay in Athens, it might be worth a relaxing visit to one of the beautiful harbors to sit and have coffee or an excellent fish dinner.
Πασαλιμάνι (Pasalimani) is also called the Port of Zea. The ancient Athenian fleet and later the Ottoman fleet was moored here. The Venetians called it Porto Leone for the ancient lion statues that stood at the entrance to the port from the 1st century. It’s now a harbor for expensive yachts. If you’re into yachts, it’s a great place for checking them out. There are also a few cafes that line the side of it.
Μικρολίμανο (Mikrolimano) is a small harbor lined with fish restaurants. It has also been called Tourkolimano (Τουρκολίμανο) since Ottoman times. In ancient times it was called Λιμένας Μουνιχίας (Limenas Mounihias). The fish restaurants sit directly on the harbor, giving a great setting for a nice meal. Click here for a list of restaurants.
As far as cultural sites to visit, there is very little of interest. There’s an Archaeological Museum which has the ancient Theatre of Zea on its grounds. You can see the theatre through the fence.
There are a few beautiful buildings within a few blocks of the port. The first on you come to along Leoforos Vasileos Georgiou is the Seaman’s Pension Building. Across the street is a newer building, Agia Triada church. The Municipal Theatre is another block further.
If you want to take a dip in the sea, there’s the popular Votsalakia Beach, located between Pasalimani and Mikrolimano. Just off shore is Koumoundourou, a small island.
For sports lovers, the Olympiakos sports club is located in Piraeus. The basketball stadium, Στάδιο Ειρήνης και Φιλίας (Peace and Friendship Stadium), opened in 1985 and has a capacity of 11,554 for basketball. It held volleyball events during the 2004 Olympics.
The football stadium, Γήπεδο Γεώργιος Καραϊσκάκης (Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium), was built in 1895, renovated in 1960, and completely rebuilt in 2004 to a capacity of 33,334. I attended a game there during my trip.
The Olympiakos Museum is located at Karaiskaki Stadium and has a nice display of trophies for all sports and the history of the club, along with a moving memorial to the 21 victims of the Gate 7 tragedy on February 8, 1981.
There are also two small memorials for the Gate 7 victims outside the stadium.