Piraeus: Attica’s port city with the deep past and the fascinating present!
In just 15 minutes from the centre of Athens, the scenery has utterly changed and you find yourselves casually strolling by the water, in Zea and Passalimani. The sea has whetted your appetite and it’s time to head to the fish tavernas at Themistokleous Coast, that overlook the Argosaronic Gulf. Afternoon coffee at the picturesque hill of Kastela, socialite nights out and cocktails at Mikrolimano that resembles an island, before you return to your beautiful city hotel in Piraeus.
Here, days and nights alike are magical; because Piraeus is not only the biggest port of the country, it is also a fascinating city, cosmopolitan and hospitable, full of life and surprises that wait to be discovered!
Piraeus in the past
Ever since antiquity Piraeus, with its three natural harbours, was the key port of Athens. Themistocles was the first to realise the strategic importance of Piraeus in the 5th century BC, and instigated the Long Wall fortifications. In the Middle Ages, Piraeus was known as Porto Leone, due to the massive stone lion that guarded the entrance of the port. In 1834, when Athens became capital city of Greece, a new flourishing era began for the biggest port city of the country.
As an important commercial, naval and industrial hub, Piraeus featured impressive buildings, with the neoclassical element being prominent at the beginning of the 20th century. The wealth and aesthetics of the upper class and ship owners brought an air of cosmopolitanism and elegance in the city and port of Piraeus.
Piraeus in present day
Nowadays, Piraeus is the main port of Athens, the biggest port in Greece and one of the most important in the Mediterranean. Here, there is a never-ending motion of people, ships and commodities. Ferries from and to the Aegean islands, stunning cruise and cargo ships moored at the piers, and parts of the ancient Long Wall fortifications revealing themselves upon a walk along the Freatida area. Zea marina (Passalimani) harbours some of the most imposing yachts and sail boats, while the coast is full of restaurants, tavernas, bars and shops. At beautiful Mikrolimano you will come across fishing boats, small vessels and luxurious yachts and will enjoy the fresh fish and sea food at its renowned tavernas.
Yet, Piraeus is a lot more than its harbours. Exquisite neighbourhoods, like Kastela, will fascinate you. Elegant and picturesque, with narrow streets and impressive manor houses, built on a hill with breathtaking view. In Kastela you will also find the Veakeioopen-air theatre that hosts a number of summer cultural events, as well as the Siraggio cave, the age-old underground passage constructed by the first inhabitants of Piraeus.
In the centre of the city, at Korai square, you will marvel at the wonderful neoclassical building of Piraeus Municipal Theatre, an architectural jewel and landmark of the city, that hosts magnificent art and cultural events throughout the year. The elegant neoclassical building of the Municipal Gallery features 837 impressive works of famous Greek painters.
Get to know the deep history of the city at the Archaeological Museum of Piraeus, in Passalimani, that features the impressive bronze statues of Apollo, Athena and two statues of Artemis. The Hellenic Maritime Museum in Zea marina, the greatest museum of its kind in Greece, covers approximately 3,000 years of Greek maritime history, with its 2,500 exhibits! The FloatingNaval Museum “Battleship Averof” that is moored at the Trocadero marina, in Paleo Faliro, narrates the glorious tale of this historic battleship during the Balkan Wars, while it also hosts temporary and permanent exhibitions.
Impressive churches, ancient walls, archaeological sites and historical monuments, stand alongside modern stadiums that host major sports events. With its diversity and the variety of experiences it has to offer, Piraeus is ideal for endless walks and strolls around the city, that will reveal wonderful hidden gems.
Take a walk from Piraiki to Freatida, marvel at the magical sunset and the view that reaches Aegina and Salamina islands, and admire the parts of the ancient Wall of Konon that are still preserved. From Dilaveri Coast to Mikrolimano, stroll along the canal, with the fishing boats and the small vessels, and enjoy your coffee or meal by the sea.
Shopping, entertainment and memorable culinary experiences!
The commercial district of Piraeus is a true heaven for shopping! Chain fashion stores, imaginative souvenirs, jewellery and accessories, as well as traditional markets with local products and intoxicating spices. Here you will find literally everything!
In Piraeus, entertainment choices are unlimited. From Mikrolimano to Zea marina and Piraiki, you will find traditional coffee shops and modern cafes, elegant cocktail bars with good music and night clubs for partying until morning light. Piraeus feels like an island; it “takes you on a journey” away from the city, with its relaxed atmosphere and the exhilarating days and nights it offers right by the sea.
Gastronomy is undoubtedly the city’s strong suit. In Piraiki, in Mikrolimano and around Chantzikyriakio district, you will savour fresh fish and sea food, accompanied by exquisite wine or ouzo, with stunning views of the sea. Kastela is known for its creative cuisine, while modern tavernas, all day restaurants, gourmet restaurants, traditional and meze tavernas are everywhere to be found in the city. This is Piraeus of culinary excellence and never ending entertainment, which attracts numerous locals and foreign visitors on a daily basis.
Cosmopolitan and picturesque, modern and unspoiled, with living marks of its past giving evidence of its glorious history, always lively and fun, Piraeus is the city of many faces that never seizes to fascinate.