Athens on a Budget: How to Explore the City Without Breaking the Bank
Athens, the capital of Greece, is a city steeped in history and culture. The city is home to ancient ruins, museums, a thriving food scene, and lively markets. If you’re on a tight budget, you can still explore Athens and enjoy all the city has to offer without breaking the bank. In this article, we’ll show you how to explore Athens on a budget and still experience the city’s highlights.
1. Plan ahead
If you’re looking to explore Athens on a budget, planning is key. Start by researching the city’s top attractions, figuring out how to get to them and estimating the cost of admission. This will help you to create a realistic budget for your trip. You can find information on attractions, tickets and transportation online or through guidebooks.
2. Use the Metro
Athens’ metro system is affordable, efficient and can take you to all of the city’s main attractions. It’s a great way to get around the city, especially if you’re on a tight budget. A single metro ride costs €1.40 which is significantly cheaper than taxis or other transport services in the city.
3. Visit Free Museums
Athens has plenty of museums that offer free admission, making it easier to explore the city’s rich history without spending a lot of money. One of the most popular free attractions is the National Archaeological Museum, which houses treasures from ancient Greece like the Mask of Agamemnon. Other free museums include the Benaki Museum, Byzantine and Christian Museum and Museum of Popular Instruments.
4. Street Food
Food is an integral part of Greek culture, and Athens has plenty of street food options that offer traditional Greek dishes at affordable prices. Grab a souvlaki, a popular Greek fast food consisting of grilled meat or vegetables wrapped in pita bread or a gyros, a wrap filled with slices of slow cooked meat or grilled chicken, with onions, tomatoes and tzatziki sauce. Wash it down with a frappe, a frothy coffee drink made with instant coffee and topped with whipped cream.
5. Visit Ancient Sites
Athens is known for its ancient ruins and historical sites, and many of them are free to visit. The Acropolis is an iconic landmark that offers stunning views of the city and features historic ruins like the Parthenon, the Erectheion and the Propylaea. Other free ancient sites include the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
6. Stroll around Plaka
Plaka, Athens’ oldest neighborhood, is a charming area with narrow streets, historic buildings and picturesque shops. It’s a great place to stroll around and get a feel for Athens’ unique culture and architecture. Plaka is also home to a variety of shops and restaurants, which offer affordable souvenirs, street food, and restaurants.
7. Visit the Flea Markets
Athens is home to a variety of markets that are great for bargain hunters. The Monastiraki Flea Market is one of the city’s most popular markets and is crowded with vendors selling everything from clothes and accessories to antiques and souvenirs. Another market to visit is the Athens Central Market, which is the city’s largest food market and offers a range of fresh produce, meats, and seafood.
8. Take a Walk
Athens is a pedestrian-friendly city, and walking is one of the best ways to explore it. The city is home to several pedestrian-only zones, including Ermou Street, which is lined with shops, cafes and restaurants. If you’re feeling adventurous, take a walk up Mount Lycabettus, a popular hill in the city that offers panoramic views of Athens.
9. See the Changing of the Guards
The changing of the guards ceremony takes place every day in front of the Parliament Building on Syntagma Square. It’s a popular tourist attraction in the city and is free to watch. The guards, known as Evzones, wear traditional uniforms and perform a ceremonial march before changing shifts.
10. Explore Off the Beaten Path
Athens has many hidden gems that are free or low-cost to visit, such as the National Garden, which is a beautiful green space in the heart of the city that features a small zoo, a pond with ducks and peacocks, and plenty of benches to relax on. Another hidden gem is the Panathenaic Stadium, a historic stadium built for the 1896 Olympic Games and the only stadium in the world made entirely of marble.
Q: What is the best time to visit Athens?
A: The best time to visit Athens is in the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) when the weather is mild and crowds are smaller. Summer (July to August) is peak tourist season and can be hot, crowded and expensive.
Q: What is the currency used in Athens?
A: The currency used in Athens is the Euro (€).
Q: Is it safe to visit Athens?
A: Yes, Athens is generally safe to visit, but it’s advised to take precautions against pickpockets and stay aware of your surroundings, particularly in tourist areas.
Q: How can I get around Athens?
A: The most affordable and efficient way to get around Athens is by using the metro system. There are also buses, trams, and taxis available, but they tend to be more expensive.
Top 10 Tourist Attractions located in Athens on a Budget:
1. Acropolis and the Parthenon
2. National Archaeological Museum
3. Ancient Agora
4. Plaka neighborhood
5. Monastiraki Flea Market
6. Athens Central Market
7. Changing of the guards ceremony
8. National Garden
9. Panathenaic Stadium
10. Mount Lycabettus
In conclusion, Athens is a city that’s full of culture, history, and beauty. Even on a tight budget, there are plenty of things to do and see in Athens. With a little planning, you can explore the city’s attractions without breaking the bank. So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and head to Athens for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.