Piraeus

The port of Athens since Classical times
The magnificent National Archaeological Museum
The dramatic ruins of the Parthenon on the Acropolis

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Piraeus/Athens

Testimony of an ancient civilisation

Pireas (Piraeus) is the port of call for you during an MSC cruise to the Mediterranean. It has been the port of Athens since Classical times, when the so-called Long Walls, scattered remnants of which can still be seen, were built to connect it to the city.
 
Today it’s a substantial metropolis in its own right. The island ferries leaving from the port where your MSC cruise ship awaits your return are the reason most people come here; if you’re spending any time here, though, the real attractions of the place are around the small-boat harbours of Zéa Marina and Mikrolímano on the opposite side of the small peninsula.

Here, the upscale residential areas are alive with attractive waterfront cafés, bars and restaurants offering some of the best seafood in town. A shore excursion on your MSC Mediterranean cruise can be the opportunity to visit Athens too. The vestiges of the ancient Classical Greek city, most famously represented by the Parthenon and other remains that top the Acropolis, are an inevitable focus, along with the magnificent National Archaeological Museum.

The rock of the Acropolis, crowned by the dramatic ruins of the Parthenon, dominates almost every view of Athens. Surrounded by pedestrianized streets, it can be appreciated from almost every angle. Entering via the monumental double gatehouse, the Propylaia, you’ll see the elegant, tiny Temple of Athena Nike on a precipitous platform to the right, overlooking Pireás and the Saronic Gulf.

The Parthenon is the highlight, though, the first and greatest project of Pericles’ Athenian Golden Age. Originally the columns were brightly painted and the building was decorated with the finest sculpture of the Classical age, also lavishly coloured. To the north of the Parthenon stands the Erechtheion and its striking Porch of the Caryatids, whose columns form the tunics of six tall maidens.

Must see places in Piraeus

  • Corinth Canal

    Corinth Canal

  • The Parthenon

    The Parthenon

  • An exhibit in the Acropolis Museum

    An exhibit in the Acropolis Museum

Discover our excursions

6 results found

Download the cruise excursions programme (PDF)
  • A VOYAGE TO ANCIENT GREECE 5.5 hours

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    PIR09

    Meet your guide at the port and board the bus for a sightseeing tour through the main streets and squares of this historically important city. After reaching Athens city centre, we will arrive at the famous Acropolis that towers imposingly 150 metres above the city; for thousands of years the Acropolis has been symbol of Athens and our tour will enable you to view the other masterpieces from Greece’s “Golden Age”. Prepare yourself to climb to the top of the Acropolis Hill (150 steps) to view the Erectheum, the Temple of Wingless Victory and the symbol of the Greek nation: the Parthenon. The temple is dedicated to the patron goddess of Athens, Athena, and is the largest and most impressive temple of all Greece. We will continue the tour through the Acropolis pedestrian zone to the new Acropolis Museum. Here we will enjoy a full 1.5-hour in the museum, where you can admire the statues, sculptures and marbles of the Parthenon with time for souvenir shopping before returning to the ship. Please note: the tour includes a long walk on uneven ground and is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
    • Best seller

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      5:30 h

  • ATHENS & ACROPOLIS approx. 5 hours

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    PIR04

    Take some time off the ship and head for Athens for a comprehensive sightseeing tour through the main streets and squares of a city steeped in classical history. Not only is Athens widely regarded as the cradle of western civilisation and the birthplace of modern democracy, it is also a cornucopia of visual delights you will not want to miss. After the city tour, you will continue on to Athens’ premiere landmark: the imposing Acropolis, a plateau that overlooks the town at a height of 150 metres. Among various other examples of classical Grecian architecture, the site is home to the world-famous Parthenon, a huge temple dedicated to the ancient Greek goddess, Athena, and one of the world’s greatest cultural monuments. A brief stop will be made for some souvenir shopping before the tour concludes with your return to the ship. Please note: the tour includes long walk with some uneven ground so is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
    • Best seller

    • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

      Difficulty Level
      Strenuous

    • Duration
      5 h

  • PLAKA, ACROPOLIS & ARCHAEOLOGICAL MUSEUM approx. 6 hours

    CULTURE AND HISTORY

    PIR02

    Situated only a short distance from Athens, the port of Piraeus makes a perfect starting point for a visit to the Greek capital and, of course, the world-famous Acropolis, an ancient citadel that sits atop a rocky hill that rises 150 metres above the city in the Attica Basin. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is not only home to the archaeological remains of several ancient buildings, but also the location of the amazing Parthenon, the symbol of Athens. Built between 447 and 432 B.C., the Parthenon temple was originally dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena, was then converted to a Christian church in honour of the Virgin Mary in the 5th century A.D. and was finally turned into a mosque, for which a minaret was added to the complex, in the 15th century. Today, the Parthenon is widely seen to be an abiding symbol of ancient Greece and as the birthplace of modern democracy. To save your feet, the scenic tour will take you to see all the main attractions of this profoundly historic city from the comfort of a modern coach. You will have time to visit the amazing National Archaeological Museum – an archive of rare artefacts that knows no rival – and the meticulously restored old part of Athens, the so-called Plaka district. The beautiful old buildings in Neoclassical style, narrow lanes and archaeological remains that characterise the district give the place an old-world feel that is sure to capture your imagination. Your tour ends with your return to Piraeus and your ship. Please note: the tour includes a long, sometimes challenging walk on even uneven ground so not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair. It is not available on MSC Opera October calls and for MSC Sinfonia calls.
      • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

        Difficulty Level
        Strenuous

      • Duration
        6 h

    • BREATHTAKING VIEWS OF ATHENS AND PLAKA approx. 4 hours

      SCENIC ROUTE

      PIR16

      Spend a few hours on dry land to experience Athens from two very different perspectives: from the lofty heights of Mount Lycabettus, the tallest peak in the vicinity, and then at ground level in the city’s sprawling historical quarter, the so-called Plaka District. Your Athenian adventure begins with a round-up of the city’s main sights by coach, after which you will head out to the foothills of Mount Lycabettus. The Lycabettus Funicular Railway will then be responsible for aiding your ascent up the mountain – a spine-tingling experience in itself. At the top, you will be rewarded with spectacular, 360° views of Athens and the surrounding area. Some free time for you to take photos and enjoy the unique mountain atmosphere is then scheduled before you head back to the city and the Plaka historical quarter. This fully pedestrianized part of town is characterised by a maze of narrow lanes, stunningly beautiful Neoclassical architecture and close proximity to the Acropolis, for which reason it is also called “The Neighbourhood of the Gods”. You will have plenty of time to spend enjoying these exceptional surroundings at your own pace before your journey begins back to Piraeus and your ship. Please note: you will have to walk up approx. 150 steps to get to the cable car and to Lycabettus Hill. This tour is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties or using a wheelchair.
      • Limited seats

      • Active excursions recommended only for guests in good physical health

        Difficulty Level
        Strenuous

      • Duration
        4 h

    • CORINTH CANAL BY BOAT approx. 5.5 hours

      SCENIC ROUTE

      PIR03

      Leave the port of Piraeus and enjoy a 1.5-hour drive by coach through the Greek countryside to Corinth Canal, where a short stop will be made to observe the boats that will very likely be passing through the narrow waterway. Separating the Peloponnese peninsula from the Greek mainland, the canal is 6.4 km in length, only 21.3 metres in width and was dug at sea level, which removed the need to build additional locks along its course. After swapping your coach for a small boat, you will embark on a leisurely and enjoyable trip along the canal. The steep embankments of the waterway are a testament to the engineering nightmare that building the canal posed. A snack will be served during your boat trip, at the end of which you will begin your return journey to Piraeus and the ship. Please note: a helper to get on/off the coach must accompany wheelchair guests. Wheelchairs must be foldable, as the coach has no ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements. This tour is not available for November calls.
      • Snack included

      • Limited seats

      • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Easy

      • Duration
        5:30 h

    • PANORAMIC TOUR OF ATHENS approx. 3.5 hours

      SCENIC ROUTE

      PIR08

      This excursion is ideal for those unable to climb the steps to the Acropolis but who wish to gain an overall impression of Greece’s capital city. We will meet our guide at the port and board the bus for an excursion that covers the key attractions. As we drive from Piraeus to Athens, our guide will point out the main ancient and modern sites including Hadrian’s arch, the statue of Lord Byron, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, Constitution Square and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Our tour will continue past the National Gardens, the Panathinion Stadium, the Academy, the University and the National Library. You will be able to see the Acropolis from a distance and we will break to take photographs before proceeding to Plaka where you will have free time. Please note: exterior visits only of the sites. A helper to get on/off the coach must accompany wheelchair guests. Wheelchairs must be foldable, as the coach has no ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.
      • Wheelchair and disabled-friendly tour – Wheelchair guests must be accompanied by their own helper to get on/off the coach. Wheelchairs must be foldable as the coach is not provided with ramps or lifts. Once onboard, please contact Excursions Desk staff promptly so they can help make arrangements.

      • Best seller

      • May involve a limited quantity of steps, uneven surfaces and/or periods of standing

        Difficulty Level
        Easy

      • Duration
        3:30 h

    The excursions in the programme above are intended to provide MSC Guests with an idea of the different tours that can be arranged in each port of call; this programme is merely a guide and confirmation of each excursion and its description and prices will be made during your cruise.
    Shore excursions programs and itineraries may vary depending on local conditions and/or any unforeseen events in relation to the timing on the day of the tour.

     

    Some excursions are very popular and therefore availability cannot always be guaranteed, it is advisable to book in advance to avoid disappointment. The guides are guaranteed in English. Only for South America cruises, the guides are guaranteed in Brazilian Portuguese. Narration in other languages depends on the availability of guides. Please note that the final language of the tour will be confirmed on board during the cruise.

    Greece

    Under the protective wing of the gods

    Under the protective wing of the gods

    It would take a lifetime of island-hopping to fully appreciate the 227 inhabited Greek islands scattered across the Mediterranean Sea.
    With sapphire water lapping at rocky coastlines sprinkled with secret coves and sandy beaches, they are the stuff of dreamy travel posters, the very definition of the eulogized Greek summer of sun, sea and sand.

    For anyone with a cultural bone in their body a cruise to the Greek islands cannot fail to inspire. Every culture has left its mark, and almost every town or village has a link to the past, whether it’s a delicately crumbling temple to Aphrodite, a forbidding Venetian fort or a dusty Byzantine monastery decorated with exquisite frescoes.
    But the call to cultural duty will never be too overwhelming on a Greek islands holiday. The hedonistic pleasures of languor and warmth – swimming in balmy seas at dusk, talking and drinking under the stars – are just as appealing.
    Sprawling, globalized Athens is an obligatory, almost unavoidable introduction to Greece: aside from the show-stopping Acropolis it offers a truly metropolitan range of cultural diversions, from museums to concerts; well-stocked shops; gourmet restaurants and stimulating clubs.