I remember when I was a highschool student going to the American
Community Schools of Athens, when summer vacation would come I would go to Mykonos
with about one thousand drachma in my pocket which was about $30 then. We would
sleep in caves or on the beach in those days when camping was free. Our meals
would be fried potatoes, macaroni with tomato sauce, Greek salads and lots of
bread dipped in olive oil. A meal would cost us fifteen drachma, about
fifty cents and would include a bottle or carafe of wine, usually retsina. We
would go to Mykonos town every night for Souflaki dinner at Alexis or one of
the inexpensive tavernas by the windmills, hang out outside the popular bars
which even then were beyond our means, and all chip in for a taxi back to Paradise
beach. My 1000 drachma would last me about two weeks.
Times have changed and now people as poor as us can't afford the plane, ferry,
train or bus to Greece. The book that was once called Greece on $5 A Day
is probably up to about $50 or $100. But it is still a popular destination for
backpackers and you can still get by cheaply. OK, not thirty dollars for two
weeks and maybe not even thirty dollars as day but keep in mind that back in
the old days we did not have credit cards and chances are that you do so no
matter what, you won't starve and you won't be stuck begging on the streets
of Athens for plane-fare home.
on a Budget
The less time you spend in Athens the less money you will spend. Athens hotels
are more expensive than most of the islands. There are a few C-category hotels
that are reasonable, clean, friendly and located centrally and there are others
that are none of those things. I recommend The Hotel Attalos which should cost about
35 euro per person as long as there are at least two of you (and cheaper in the off season when they run specials). This is where I stay when I am in Athens. The Hotel Cecil will
cost about the same. The Adams Hotel is a little better located, being right smack
in the middle of the Plaka, though it is not as high quality as the Attalos
which for the money is a pretty good hotel. The Athens International Youth Hostel
is on Victor Hugo Street near Omonia, not the best location but if you want
to save money the place is clean and friendly even if the neighborhood is not.
If you are not a youth but still a backpacker you may be better off in a C-category hotel like those mentioned above or found
at www.hotelsofgreece.com or
www.athensguide.com/hotels.html or by visiting Booking.com's Athens Pages which has all sorts of inexpensive hotels.
You can compare hotel rates at various booking sites at www.hotelsofgreece.com/search
For places to eat you can see the restaurant section of my Athens Survival
Guide and if you are on a serious budget you can make a meal out of a souvlaki
or two which can be found just about anywhere. Tiropitas and spanakopitas (cheese
and spinach pies) are
my favorite meal when I want to fill up for less than $2. Yogurt is cheap, filling
and healthy and unlike when I was young and came in one flavor (yogurt-flavor)
you can get almost any kind of fruit yogurt that you will find in
your home country. Of course now it has gone beyond healthy and
is just another sugar filled desert (with helpful bacteria). There are some
delicious fruit drinks you can find everywhere and they are delicious
and filling. I don't know how good they are for you but they sure
taste good. Try the peach and the pear, my favorites. Strawberry
is pretty good too.
If you stay away from
bars and do your drinking in cafes and inexpensive restaurants, your money will
go a lot further too. See www.athensguide.com/restaurants.html
The souvlaki shops down by Monastiraki are cheap and popular. The
restaurants like Epirus in the Athens Central Market are better and even cheaper.
The further you get from the tourist areas the less you will pay
for a beer or anything else. In cafes the fancier the chairs and
decor the more you will pay, but the good thing is that you can
hang out as long as you like because that is what everyone does.
The Peristeri on Patroou between Apollonos and Metropolis streets
has been a travelers hangout since I was a kid. It is still pretty
good and reasonably priced. The snack-bar ouzerie Kapni Kareas in
a little alleyway by the famous church is a great place to eat and
hear some good music at the same time. It's open only during the
day. In Psiri The Naxos is inexpensive and authentic and the ouzerie
Rebecca is a great place to hang out, drink and munch on some snacks.
If it is full try any of the similar places around it.
Familiarize yourself with Athens by getting a street-map, preferably one with
a metro-map on it too. Fantasy Travel sent me 1000 of them that you can get
for the cost of postage and handling which is $2 from the USA and $3 from anywhere
else by writing to GreeceTravel.com/102 Old Pittsboro Rd/Carrboro NC 27510.
The Hotel Attalos provides one to all their customers for free.
There are trains and buses that get you to
and from the airport. See www.athensguide.com/airport.html
Taxis are cheap in Athens and if you have a 6am flight you might
think about getting one in advance so you don't miss it. This can
be arranged by the hotel concierge or you can go to www.greecetravel.com/taxi
You have to see the Acropolis, no matter how
much it costs so visit www.athensguide.com/acropolis.html
Don't stay in Pireaus thinking you will save
time or money. If you stay
somewhere near the metro you can get to Pireaus to catch the ferry for about
a dollar and be there in less than 15 minutes.
All the info you need about Athens can be
found at www.athensguide.com
If you are going to any of the Cyclades it
is probably not necessary to have a cabin, unless you are taking
the late boat to Santorini. Deck class tickets are cheap, usually
no more than 15 euro to any of the Cyclades. You can buy them in
Pireaus on your way to the boat, unless you are traveling the last
Thursday or Friday of July, before everyone in Athens takes their
August holiday. Same goes for the Thursday and Friday before Easter.
Coming back the Monday-Wednesday after Easter and after the 15th
of August is also tricky and you will want to get your tickets
in advance. There is another holiday called Agios Pnevmatos which
is the saint day of the Holy Spirit and similar to Memorial Day
in the USA. It's a moveable feast that tales place sometime in June
and people leave the city in droves and come back the same way after
the three-day weekend so be forewarned. If you want a cabin or are
planning to take the highspeed it is a good idea to book in advance
through the agency that is booking your hotels. You can also try
one of the ticket agencies in Athens a day or so before you leave
but some of them will try to sell you packages you may not want
and even tell you that the boat is full so they can send you somewhere
else and book your hotels. If you need step by step instructions
for getting on the metro to Pireaus and buying ferry tickets and
going to an island see www.greektravel.com/lesson1