As the cultural and political center of Greece for over 4,000 years, Athens is considered by many to be the birthplace of modern western civilization. Making it a sure-stop for any history-buff.
However, while it is cheaper than most historical cities in Europe, Athens can be slightly pricier than one might expect. Furthermore, (outside of the historical sights), graffiti and pickpockets run rampant.
Luckily, the main historical attractions are fairly priced, and you can get away with seeing all the city has to offer in just a few days.
Daily Travel Costs In Athens
Outlined below are the average costs (in Euro €) you can expect to incur when visiting Athens as a budget traveler.
Cost of Food and Drink
As with the rest of Europe, it’s critical to stay away from tourist areas serving food. You’ll be sure to pay a high price if you walk into the nearest restaurant to the Parthenon or Acropolis. Explore the city and find eateries where mostly locals go.
A good tip when doing this is take notice of the language the menus and chalkboards are written on out front. If it’s written in English, it’s surely for tourists, and thus higher priced.
- Breakfast: €4
- Coffee: €2
- Lunch: €5-€10
- Dinner: €8-€15
- Beer/Wine: €1-€3
- Dessert: €1-€2
*Some hostels have a ‘free’ breakfast if you are tight on money. Although, don’t expect more than juice/cereal/croissant.
Accommodation is where Athens can become pricey. The reason for this is the small size of the city center, which in turn drives up the cost of living. Another reason for expensive stay is simply the huge popularity of the destination.
If you visit Athens settle on a hostel instead of a hotel. The reason is, it’s not a city where you need to stay a long period of time, (and can typically be used as a jumping off point to the Greek Islands, like Santorini and Mykonos) making a few nights in a hostel worth the cash saved.
- Hostels: €10-€25
- Hotels: €70-€170
If you decide to get a hotel, consider leaving the cleaning personnel a Euro or two everyday.
There are many sights to see in Athens, and you can get away with seeing most popular sites for free/relatively cheap.
- Aristotle’s Lyceum: FREE (Browse Aristotle’s ancient school of philosopohy.)
- Walking Tour: FREE (consider tipping the guide a few €.)
- The Drugstore Bar: €3 (A unique bar located in Athens, where your next drink is always cheaper than the one before.) Find out more: The Drugstore Bar
- Acropolis: €13, free under 18 (The city’s main attraction, containing the Parthenon.)
- Acropolis Museum: €5 (A newly opened museum at the foot of the Acropolis.)
- National Archaelogical Museum: €8
- Parnitha National Park: FREE (Great for biking and hiking trails.)
- National Garden of Athens: FREE (A beautiful park in the city center.)
- Kifissias Park: FREE (another fantastic park to unwind and relax.)
Athens has affordable public transport, but certain modes of transport will suit you better than others.
Street taxis operate slightly differently than they do in America. Instead of getting in the taxi and telling where you would like to go, in Athens you shout to the driver from the outside of the cab your destination, and he chooses to accept or not. A custom that may take some getting used to.
Another option is the tram, which operates on the same ticket as the bus and metro. The tram is extremely clean, and arguably the cheapest mode of transport in Athens. Go for the 3-day ticket to cover your travel to tourist spots, as well as getting back to the airport.
- Taxi, Airport to City Center: €50
- Taxi in Athens: about €5/mile
- Athens Bus+Metro+Tram:
- Single one way: €1-€2
- 3-day ticket: €22
Best Time To Go
Due to it’s Mediterranean location, Athens stays warm almost all year round. This constant heat keeps prices pretty even year round, but there are still better times to go than others.
During the summer, Athens gets pounded by two things: heat and tourists. You’ll want to avoid both, making our favorite time to go: September, October, and November. This time of the year in Athens is fantastic. The weather is beautiful, and the rush of summer tourists has died off.
Check out the beaches just outside the city limits in September, and the recently reopened restaurants and nightclubs in October and November.