Piraeus is the main port of Greece and one of the Mediterranean’s major ports. The city is the hub of the Aegean ferry network, centre of Greece’s maritime export-import and transit trade, and base for its large merchant navy. While Piraeus was a separate city, nowadays it virtually melds imperceptibly into the expanded sprawl of Athens. The road linking the two passes through a grey, urban sprawl of factories, warehouses and concrete apartment blocks.
Piraeus can be as bustling and traffic-congested as Athens, though the proximity to the sea gives it a different feel. Central Piraeus is not a place where many visitors linger; most come only to catch a ferry. Beyond its façade of smart, new shipping offices and banks, much of Piraeus today is a hotchpotch of rejuvenated pedestrian precincts with shopping strips, restaurants and cafés and more grungy areas with run-down buildings or industrial zones.
The most attractive part of Piraeus is the eastern quarter around Zea Marina, and the lovely, albeit touristy Mikrolimano harbour, where the seafront is lined with restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The charming residential neighbourhood of Kastella on the hill above Mikrolimano and the swanky seaview apartment blocks around Freatida are where the money is. Piraeus’ waterfront was tarted up before the Olympics, creating a tree-lined promenade along the ancient walls surrounding the harbour.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009
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