How To Visit Athens On A Budget
If Athens is somewhere that’s on your bucket list, somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel to, but you thought it would be expensive, then you are mistaken! All capital cities have a reputation for being expensive, but only if you don’t know where to go to get things cheaper. There’s a cheaper side to every city, and I’m about to tell you how to travel to Athens on a budget.
Visit Athens Off Peak
The cheapest time of year to travel to Athens is January. Ok the weather won’t be the best. You’re talking an average of 13 degrees during the day. (Still a lot warmer and more pleasant than the UK in January though). But travelling off peak means you won’t be picking your way through masses of tourists and, most importantly if you’re visiting Athens on a budget, you won’t pay too much for your airfare. I’ve seen return flights on Skyscanner as cheap as £42 for return direct flights from London. For an approximately 3 hour 40 minute flight I’d say that’s pretty good going!
Choose a Hostel or Airbnb Over a Hotel
This isn’t just Athens. This can be said for anywhere around the world, but hostels and Airbnbs are SO much cheaper than hotels. Ok, you might sacrifice a bit of luxury but most are actually really decent. And if you travel like I do you want to make the most out of your destination. Your accommodation is really only a place to rest your head at the end of the day. If it’s your first time visiting Athens as well then make sure to stay in the most central neighbourhoods so everything is close by.
Eating On A Budget
Athens is full of delicious traditional Greek cuisine, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune! Sure some of the classier restaurants down the main street in Plaka cost a pretty penny, but if you’re attempting to discover Athens on a budget you can get equally good food a few streets away at somewhere more tailored to the locals. Out of all the different foods to eat in Greece (and there’s a lot) one of my favourites is gyros. Even dining in you can get some top quality gyros for between €2.40 and €2.90.
There are sandwiches, baguettes and baked goods too which don’t cost a lot if you’re after food on the go. Or, if you’re staying in an Airbnb like we did, why not grab some supplies from the local supermarket?
If you’re not sure what kinds of foods to try in Greece, or you’re just after some inspiration, then check out my post all about Greek food.
Free Activities in Athens
Although visiting the Acropolis is probably at the top of your bucket list for your trip to Athens, it will set you back €20. Whilst I appreciate you want to discover Athens on a budget I recommend this is the one place you do pay out for. The Acropolis is unlike anywhere else. It’s age, it’s size, it’s beauty – it’s definitely something to see. But rest assured there are plenty of activities you can do for free as well.
Hike To The Top of Lycabettus
Mount Lycabettus is the highest point in all of Athens. At 277m (909 feet) it is just less than twice as high as the Acropolis. If you’ve got a degree of fitness you shouldn’t find the hike too difficult.
Locals refer to it as both Mount Lycabettus and Lycabettus hill. Since it’s under 1,000 feet high some argue it’s not really a mountain but in appearance you could argue it is. The lower regions are home to some of the most expensive properties in Athens, a district known as Kolonaki. Slightly higher up you’ll find fragrant pine woods with clumps of cypress, eucalyptus, and willow. Bird watchers have also noted over 65 different species of birds.
The view from the top is breathtaking and of course, walking is free, so if you’re visiting Athens on a budget, hiking Mount Lycabettus should be on your itinerary.
Visit Monastiraki Flea Market
Monastiraki flea market was actually one of the highlights of my trip. So many gorgeous bags, shoes and cute souvenirs. Oh and the jewellery! So much jewellery! Of course this activity is only free if you don’t buy anything, and that’s no fun if you’re a shoppaholic like me.
The flea market is just off Monastiraki main square and is open every day of the week until late. Sunday is meant to be the best day of the week as there are lots of extra merchants who don’t necessarily turn up the rest of the week. So if you’re looking for maximum variety Sunday it is!
See The Changing of the Guard in National Dress
At 11am on a Sunday in Syntagma Square you will see the changing of the Presidential guards, known as Evzones, in National Dress. The changing of the guard happens every day at every hour on the hour, but seeing it in National Dress is quite special. As this only happens once a week crowds do gather in front of the Parliament building so be sure to get there 15 minutes early for a spot near the front. You will see the guards ceremoniously marching from the barracks to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier accompanied by a marching band. This is unique to Athens so definitely worth popping along and taking a look. Another great free activity.
Public Transport, Uber and Beat
Getting a taxi anywhere can be expensive. Luckily Athens has a brilliant Metro system which is easy to use and pretty affordable. But even better than the Metro are the buses. Especially getting from the airport to Athens, you’re going to want to get a bus. They are regular and the cheapest form of transport you will find. However, if you’re trying to get somewhere a little less mainstream then you might find Uber or Beat the best way to do it. Personally I’d never heard of Beat before but it’s very much like Uber and works in pretty much the same way. Also, if you’re worried about getting ripped off (though you really shouldn’t because Greek’s are lovely) then Uber is great because your route and price is pre-determined. Both Uber and Beat are cheaper than a traditional taxi so great for discovering Athens on a budget.
So How Easy Really Is It Visiting Athens on a Budget?
In my opinion? Very. Just like travelling anywhere you’re going to want to be a bit savvy, especially with your activities and your food choices. But there are so many options available you don’t have to spend a fortune if you don’t want to. With affordable accommodation options, cheap transport and cheap places to eat you can’t go wrong.
If you’ve visited Athens recently let me know what you thought! Did you spend a lot? Or did you manage to discover Athens on a budget? Or if you’re planning a trip, let me know of any thrifty tricks I might have missed!
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One thought on “Athens On A Budget”
We loved seeing the changing of the guard! I remember the hotel in Athens to be pricey, but we got free breakfast and evening cocktails/bottles of wine and small plates so we ended up only paying for lunch! Great tips! Can’t wait to read more!
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