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Greek island hopping: Taking the slow boat from Rhodes to Piraeus

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: Emborio, the only settlement on the small island of Hálki in the Dodecanese archipelago. Rhodes can be seen in the distance (photo © Milan Gonda / dreamstime.com).


The island of Rhodes is our starting point for a circuitous boat journey that ends 32 hours later at the port of Piraeus near Athens. This classic ‘slow travel’ adventure loops south via Crete. Hop aboard and relax on the Prevelis car ferry.

You’ll tell us that it’s easy to get from the Greek island of Rhodes to Athens. And of course you are right. Two different airlines fly the route with jet aircraft, generally taking little over an hour. Flyers wanting a change from the direct route may be tempted by Sky Express’ Thursday afternoon roster via Samos. On a clear day, passengers sitting on the right side of the aircraft will surely have fine views of the Turkish coast. Allowing for a quick change of plane in Samos, the flight time from Rhodes to Athens is extended to two-and-a-half hours. Both sectors are flown on turboprop aircraft, so that might appeal as a change from the regular jet service.

If you are a dedicated flyer then that weekly option of flying via Samos is probably the most exciting variant on offer. But there are so many amazing routes by sea from Rhodes to Piraeus (near Athens) that we wonder why anyone, bar for those in a rush, would opt to fly from Rhodes to the Greek mainland rather than take the boat. There are fast overnight ferries of course, but this is a journey where one might also consider the slow boat. Our pick of the many options on offer, particular for a midsummer journey when days are long, is the Sunday sailing that takes an unusual route via Crete and the Cyclades.

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