Although both cities are often associated with the sunny Mediterranean region, Venice in Northern Italy and Athens in Southeastern Greece are over 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) apart. There is no train line that connects the two cities and although it's possible to drive to one from the other, your best options are to fly, take the ferry, or book a cruise.
While it is technically possible to take a bus or drive, remember that this is a cross-continental trip and it will take you more than two days and about 30 hours of driving through the Balkans, to reach your final destination. When you factor in the cost of gas and overnight accommodation, it's just not worth it.
If you've got a limited amount of time in Europe and you want to see both Venice and Athens, flying is the way to go. It's not that expensive and it truly is the only way to make the trip that takes less than a day. However, if your schedule is inflexible, you may have some difficulty finding direct flights that fit with your schedule.
If you're opposed to flying, the ferry is a good way to get to Greece fast, while seeing some of the Mediterranean along the way. However, you won't be making stops and the experience isn't very glamorous. Plus, you will still have to drive or bus the rest of the way to Athens once you dock in Greece. With time and money to splurge, a cruise is the best way to see both cities, and plenty of other beautiful places along the way.
How to Get from Venice to Athens
- By Ferry: 32 hours, $215+
- By Flight: 2 hours, 20 minutes $32+
- By Cruise: 7 days, $415+
It's possible to be ferried from the docks of Venice to Patras, the last Adriatic ferry stop in Greece, without getting in a car. From there you'll have to take a bus or drive an additional two hours to Piraeus, the port of Athens, or to Athens itself. In Piraeus, you can find ferries to most islands if you'd rather travel around to other parts of Greece. Alternatively, you could also make the Adriatic crossing from other places in Italy like Ancona, Brindisi, and Bari.
Ferries only leave from Venice three times a week, so your plans will be limited by this schedule. You should expect to overnight on the boat, so think carefully when purchasing your ticket class. The cheapest ticket is a "Deck Space" ticket, which means you will be sleeping on the floor. If that's not your cup of tea, you could also book a "Reserved Seat" ticket, which means sleeping upright, but at least you will have an assigned seat. The most comfortable option is to book a cabin, which could have anywhere between one and four beds. If you are a single traveler and end up with a four-bed cabin, you may have to share it with other passengers.
Of course, if you're in a hurry, don't need to transport a car, and get seasick, you will want to fly. The flight from Venice to Athens takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes, but you should also factor in travel time to and from the airport.
There are two budget airlines that fly direct from Venice Marco Polo Airport (VCE) to Athens International Airport (ATH): Volotea and Aegan Airlines. However, each airline only runs a couple of flights per week, so your schedule will be limited if you want to fly direct. If you don't mind a layover and need to be in Athens on a certain day, you can also fly Alitalia to Florence or Air Serbia to Belgrade before connecting to Athens. After you land in Athens, you can take a bus to the city center.
In the Mediterranean, Athens and Venice are two of the most popular ports for cruises and almost every line that cruises the Mediterranean has itineraries that include both. Cruises that include visits to both cities are likely to be 7-, 10-, or 15-day itineraries and the total price per person depends on the level of cruise ship you're traveling on and the cabin you book. Not to mention, you should budget extra for your onboard spending and excursions.
A cruise is more than just getting from one place to another and the journey really will be your vacation. It also gives you a chance to make stops in Croatia, Montenegro, and other Greek islands like Corfu and Santorini along the way. Before you decide which cruise you'll take, make sure you compare your options from cruise lines like Avoya, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises, Regent Cruises, and Azamara.
What to See in Athens
As one of the oldest cities in the world, Athens is full of ancient Greek history, but there's also a lot of contemporary culture to explore in its modern neighborhoods and there are some really fashionable hotels to stay in as well.
When visiting Athens, you should, of course, complete the standard bucket list by visiting the main sights like the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Temple of Hephaestus, the Temple of Athena Nike, and so many more awe-inspiring ancient ruins. To make sure you get the most out of your trip to Athens, you should sign up for a tour with a guide who can provide the historical context to everything you're seeing.
Besides Athens, Greece offers a seemingly unlimited amount of beautiful islands, many of which you may even recognize from one of your favorite movies—but they do take some time to get out and visit. However, if your vacation time is limited and you only plan to visit Athens, there are still some pretty amazing day trips you could take from the city. Places like Poseidon's Temple on Cape Sounion, the Oracle of Delphi, the monasteries of Meteora, the artistic island of Hydra, the ancient battlefield of Marathon, and Olympia, the site of the original Olympics, are all within reach from Athens.