Last Updated on June 11, 2022 by Ellen
We lived in Athens for one month and there were a few ways we saved money in some of our biggest spending categories: housing, food, transportation, and sightseeing. This post shares our budget travel tips for Athens.
What’s more: these are easy ways to save money while you explore this fantastic Greek city, filled with so much history and culture.
Budget Travel Tips for Athens
We’ve shared in the past how we live almost continuously through Airbnb rentals. Sometimes we rent through other methods, like HomeAway or through local sites.
On Airbnb, many owners will give renters large discounts for monthly rentals. The downside is that we have to book a place early enough to ensure an entire month is open.
The owner of our Athens rental offered a 40 percent discount, and so we grabbed the place, and it was a great move. The apartment was perfect for us – huge deck, clothes washer, modern kitchen, a five-minute walk to a metro line, and on a main bus line.
We paid $608 for 33 nights. Here’s a video tour:
Greece is the land of gyros, feta, and olives. Gyros are typically so inexpensive that it’s more cost effective to simply grab one at a fast food place. For the equivalent of about $2, you can get a really tasty ‘sandwich’ of meat, lettuce, tomato, sauce, and some french fries — all wrapped in a pita.
Restaurants charge anywhere from about $4 to $6 for a medium-sized Greek salad. For $10, we bought more than a pound of fresh feta, green olives, a pile of tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions, and those ingredients made enough Greek salads to last us almost all week. A great bottle of organic olive oil will cost another $6 – $10, which is far less expensive than back in the U.S.
When we occasionally ate out, we enjoyed reasonably-priced places. Similar to Spain, it’s possible to find a restaurant with “small plates” on the menu. Small plates are appetizers diners typically share, and they cost a fraction of a full plate dinner.
In general, as with every city we visit, anything on any menu will cost less if you get out of the main tourist zones and get into the neighborhoods.
Budget travel tip examples
There might be more cafes in Athens than anywhere else we’ve been so far in Europe. This is a good thing – competition seems to keep prices down, as much as possible – even with inflation.
A typical espresso is just a euro, and a cappuccino might be the equivalent of about $1.75, before a tip in neighborhood cafes.
One stand out restaurant to mention is Couleur Locale a five-minute walk from the Monastiraki metro station. It attracts locals and tourists. We met some friends there one evening and snagged the best table in the house by sheer luck.
The view was superb – we looked at the Acropolis lit up at night, and the bill was totally reasonable. Pizza, half-liter beers, and a tonic water – cost us about $30 including a good tip.
(Note: all prices are before 2022.)
Big budget travel tip for Athens: sign up for a monthly metro card to save money.
At just $34 (30 euros) for a month of unlimited rides on buses, trams, and subways. This was a major bargain and is one of the most important budget-minded tips we have for Athens.
If we had not bought the metro card, it would have cost about $1.60 for one 90-minute ticket, or about $5.10 for a daily ticket. Note: we had the card without airport transfers – airport rides cost more.
These cards are easy to get. We gave our passports to a worker at one of the main metro stations. He entered our information, took our money, took our picture, and printed our plastic “smart” metro cards, which are officially called “personalized Ath.ena” cards. You do have to go to the larger metro stations to be certain there is someone manning the booth to make the card, and you might have to wait in a line.
This website here has a lot more good transportation information about Athens.
We bought a five-day pass to see seven archeological sites. For 20 euros, you get admission into the Acropolis, but for 30 euros, you get admission to a total of seven sites over five days.
The sites are: Acropolis and its slopes, Olympieion, Kerameikos, Ancient Agora, Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library, Aristolte’s School (Lycium).
Buy tickets at the official Ministry of Culture website.
I loved the National Archaeological Museum. Entry is only 5 euros, and totally worth it.
Cheap but useful tip: we used the Rick Steves audio tour for this museum for added information in addition to what is provided by the museum on English markers, even though his audio tours are super corny.
There are many other museums to check out that are reasonably priced, too.
To see Athens and the Acropolis, you could splurge for a rooftop restaurant. Nothing wrong with that!
You can also see amazing views for free.
Budget travel tip: head up to Philopappos Hill or Mount Lycabettus. It’s free to walk up both.
At Lycabettus, there is a funicular round trip for about $9 per person for part of the 900-foot vertical walk. Sadly, neither of these places is suited for people with mobility issues.
Also, both vista spots are loaded with tourists, even in the off-season when we were there in late October. Be patient, go early to stake your spot, and you’ll get some great pictures, despite heavy crowds.
In closing …
These are ways to save money that worked for us. You might find more!
There is so much to see and do in and around Athens. We did not take day trips to some other ruins near Athens, and we did not get to the Aegean Islands this time around.
We spent our month in Athens exploring the city and also volunteering at a refugee camp (can’t recommend this enough if you have time).
Just one more thing: Life is Now! Have fun!
You might also like…
- Pickpockets in Athens! How they got us on the train
- Get to Ancient Corinth in Greece the budget travel way (not on a tour)
- 6 budget travel tips to save money in Rome
- Retire early and travel cheap with million-dollar views
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