Have you ever wanted to visit Greece but are afraid you won’t be able to afford it?
Traveling Greece on a budget is more than feasible, and a trip to the gorgeous Mediterranean country does not have to break the bank. Santorini and Mykonos may be synonymous with luxury hotels and infinity pools, but generally, Greece is one of the most affordable travel destinations in Europe.
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Traveling Greece on a Budget
Consider Less Popular Destinations
A lot of people that visit Greece follow pretty much the same itinerary. They spend one or two days in Athens to see the historic sites. Then, they hop to Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete.
While those destinations are stunning, they are also incredibly touristic, crowded, and expensive. Traveling somewhat off the beaten path means saving money without making any compromises on comfort or experience.
There are hundreds of islands in Greece, many of which are void of international tourists even in July and August. Yet everyone ventures to the same few places.
The Cyclades islands are beautiful but as an alternative, consider the Sporades. You can island hop between Skopelos and Alonissos, have beaches to yourself and dine at authentic restaurants away from the tourist traps of Zakynthos, Santorini, etc.
If you prefer culture and history to islands and beaches, consider a trip to the Greek Peloponnese. Few people outside of Greece have ever heard of the Lakonia region of the country, but it boasts incredible ruins and medieval castle towns.
Better yet? Because it is so offbeat, you can find hotels and entire Airbnb apartments in places like Monemvasia, Mystras, and Sparta for just $30 a night.
Make Smart Dining Decisions
A good rule of thumb wherever you travel is to never dine at the restaurants adjacent to tourist sites. For instance, in Athens, the restaurants surrounding the Ancient Agora and Hadrian’s library sell okay food, but they are drastically overpriced.
Scams are not unheard of in Greece either, unfortunately. This is particularly true at the aforementioned tourist hotspots, which is why they are best avoided.
For instance, you may find items that you never ordered magically appear on your table. Send them back, or you will be charged, even if you don’t eat them!
Never eat at a restaurant where the menu/board does not display prices. The owner may make them up on the spot!
Ask your Airbnb host or hotel receptionist for recommendations on the best places to eat. You generally don’t have to venture far to find good, authentic food in Greece at a reasonable price.
Even touristic areas like Plaka in Athens have hidden gems. Street food is another good choice when traveling Greece on a budget. You can purchase a souvlaki stick, gyro, or kebab for just a few euros.
Travel Out of Season
July and August are the most popular and expensive months for traveling to Greece. However, from August to September, accommodation prices drop by as much as 50%!
You can expect further reductions at the end of September and in early October. Therefore, shoulder season is the best time to visit Greece on a budget.
This relates to both early Autumn and late spring/early summer (May/June). Everything is more affordable at this time – flight tickets, tours, accommodation, car rentals, etc.
It is also worth noting that price aside, these conditions may be a lot more bearable. For example, everyone associates Greek summers with idyllic weather, but temperatures soar to as high as 35-40 degrees celsius (95-104 degrees Fahrenheit) during July and August.
This is just simply too hot to be walking around for extended periods. Conditions are much more pleasant in the shoulder season, and Greece enjoys daily temperatures of approximately 25-30 degrees celsius (77-86 Fahrenheit) way up until late October.
Shop at Local Farmer’s Markets (Agora)
If you stay in self-catered accommodation for any part of your Greece trip, consider shopping at local markets (laiki agora). These are farmer’s markets, and they take place every week in pretty much every town and city neighborhood.
This is both a local experience and a money-saving opportunity! In big cities like Athens and Thessaloniki, there are huge sprawling markets.
For instance, Varvakios Agora (Athens Central Market) and Modiano Market in Thessaloniki. Larger markets sell everything from fresh fish, meats, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables.
Smaller markets at the very least sell fresh groceries and homemade agro products like pies and jams. The products are both fresher and cheaper than at the supermarkets. You can ask your host to advise you what days the local farmer’s markets are open.
Use Public Transport
Public transport in Greece is excellent. People often view Southern Europe as a chaotic and disorganized place, but the reality is that buses and trains in Greece run like clockwork.
Buses service all parts of the country, even the most far-flung villages. Intercity buses are reasonably priced and comfortable.
Most are modern and have air conditioning and wifi on board. You can purchase tickets online in advance via the KTEL website or in person at the bus station ticket office.
Unfortunately, the train network in Greece is far from extensive. It only really services the Athens to Kalambaka and Thessaloniki route.
Regardless, if you are traveling between Greece’s two main cities, it is much cheaper to take the train or bus than to rent a car. In addition, tolls exist on many major Greek roads and can make the cost of driving independently quite expensive.
Discover Offbeat Neighborhoods
You can save some money traveling Greece on a budget by staying slightly out of the center of the towns/cities you visit. For instance, in Athens, instead of basing yourself close to the Acropolis in Plaka or Psiri, opt for accommodation in the Mets or Zografou.
The Mets is a leafy, sleepy residential district just across from Ardittou Street and Syngrou Fix. Athenians love it for its quirky coffee shops, jazz bars, and live music spots.
However, most tourists have never even heard of it. Therefore, staying here enables you to experience the “real” Athens and save some money.
Better still? Coffee shops and restaurants in these areas are more affordable too. In the center of Athens, you can expect to pay €3.50 ($4) for a coffee. In the real “local” areas, a coffee costs just €1.
Take Advantage of Free Admission Days
Many historical and archaeological sites across Greece offer free admission on certain days. It is worth checking to see if these line up with your travel dates.
Considering that admission to most Greece attractions costs anywhere between €10-€15 ($11.45-$17.18), this is an excellent way to save a relative amount of money. Visiting several sites in a week soon adds up!
Athens Museums, the Athens Acropolis, Delphi, Ancient Olympia, Delos island, Akrotiri ruins (Santorini), and the Fortress at Knossos (Crete) offer free admission days throughout the year. In addition, many Athens sites are also free to enter on the first Sunday of the month between November and March.
Rent a Moped Instead of a Car
Renting your transportation offers you more freedom and flexibility. So, if depending on public transport isn’t for you, there is another alternative.
Many Greeks get around by mopeds, and indeed, renting one is much cheaper than renting a car. Even in super popular Santorini, you can rent a moped for as little as €12-€20 ($13.74-$22.90) a day, depending on the season.
Car rental prices in Greece typically start from €40-50 ($45.81-$57.26) a day. So, opting to rent a moped or even an ATV offers a significant cost saving.
Taxis can be a convenient way to get around Greek towns and cities. Unfortunately, Uber is banned in Greece and isn’t likely to be reintroduced any time soon.
You can hail yellow cabs on the streets of Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, etc., like you would in any other major city. You can also find numerous taxi ranks scattered around.
However, Greek taxi drivers are often a law unto themselves and will take you on a roundabout route around the city, refuse to turn the meter on, etc. It is not unheard of to be quoted exorbitant prices that are more than several times the going rate if the driver thinks you are a clueless tourist.
To avoid this, download Taxibeat. It is the Greek answer to Uber.
You can only find licensed yellow cabs on the app. However, it specifies the price and the route before getting in the car.
Like Uber, it connects you with drivers in the area. However, with this, there is pretty much zero chance of being ripped off.
Attend Free Walking Tours
Walking tours can be a great way to obtain a little more context to the places you visit. However, they can become quite pricey, particularly if there are a few of you.
Instead, opt to do free walking tours in the places you visit. For instance, there is a free walking tour that departs daily from Hadrian’s Arch in Athens.
There are also free walking tours in Santorini. They depart Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 10.00 am from Fira and take you to the island’s best traditional walkways and photo spots.
You should, of course, provide a tip to the guide at your discretion. Similarly, you can download free audio tours of different parts of Greece.
That way, you can play the audio tour on your phone and explore independently. As a result, you gain more information on the buildings and ruins you are seeing, yet you don’t spend a penny!
The tourism infrastructure in Greece is very well developed. So, you can Google “free walking tours in X,” and you will find ample options at each destination.
Greece on a Budget: Final Thoughts
Greece is a hot destination, and while it’s often associated with luxury, there are ways to make your money stretch further. Use these tips for traveling Greece on a budget to have a great experience without spending a fortune.