Athens on a budget

Greece has always been on my bucket list as one of the top places for me to visit. Throughout high school and university, I studied ancient Greece and did one semester of ancient Greek language.

Last year, I flew to Athens with my partner and one of my closest friends to meet up with another friend who had been studying in Germany. We only had five days, which wasn’t nearly enough, but it was an incredible experience and one I would redo today if I could.

If you love history, monuments, museums, cheap food and drink, cheap accommodation and hot weather, then Greece is for you.

We stayed at Soho Hotel – 4 of us in a 5 person room. It worked out to be $18.58 (NZD) per person per night. It was by far the cheapest place I’ve ever stayed, and it wasn’t too bad. The room was clean, the private bathroom was clean (although occasionally there was no water), we had a private balcony, air conditioning, and wifi.


We were glad our room was at the back of the building. The hotel is located on a small side street that I wouldn’t want to walk down at night by myself. Fortunately, it’s just off one of the main roads – P. Tsaldari – which has bus stops and metro station access.

Taking the metro costs €10 for a 5-day pass, which you can use as many times as you want.

You also have the option of taking the metro to the airport for €8, or you can take a bus to the airport for €5. Otherwise, the taxi fee is €38.


Every day we went here for breakfast, and sometimes for lunch! This is a bakery near the Omonia metro station. They sell coffee, pastries, ice cream, and many other delicious things. An iced coffee and a large pastry were about €3.

We also ate dinner around this area. There are lots of little food stands and small restaurants where you can have a massive delicious meal for under €5. Don’t underestimate €2 gyros, they are so good!

If you want cheap beers, then stop at any convenience store. A small can costs €0,50 and large cans €1-€3 depending on the brand.



I’m not a big beer drinker, but in 40 degrees (Celsius) heat, a cold beer is heavenly.

There are many bars around, and the rooftop ones are awesome. Happy hour was between 6 and 7 pm, with 2 for 1 beers. One beer is normally €3,50! I’ve never had such cheap drinks!


Plus views of the Acropolis!

If you go to the 360 bar, drinks are a bit more expensive. €5 for an Alfa beer. The views are worth it.


Closer view of the Acropolis!

A five-site pass cost us €12 (I think the price may have gone up to €20), which includes the Acropolis, the Temple of Zeus, the ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s library and Kerameikos. You can choose which sites you want to go to. The only one we missed was Hadrian’s library because it was closed by the time we got there. I did get to take photos from the outside, though, so that was enough. Because I’m a biased classics graduate I would say all the sites are well worth seeing. They are just incredible to see in person.


Hadrian’s Library

A ticket for the National Archaeological Museum is only €5 and it is one of my favourite museums.


For €6 you can purchase a return ticket for the cable car up Lycabettus hill. You can also walk, but it is quite a long way. We didn’t have enough time to try the walk, as we arrived in the evening and wanted to watch the sunset.



You can see all the way to the sea. Athens is also very beautiful at night.

If you’re looking for free things to do, I would recommend watching the changing of the guard. It happens every hour on the hour at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Syntagma Square. The best time to watch is on a Sunday at 11 am as that’s the official ceremony and when they wear the official uniforms. I think it was a Wednesday when we were there.



It can be really difficult to see because of all the other tourists.

There are obviously much more things to do and see in Athens, but we were only in Greece five days, and two of those were day trips to Delphi and Mycenae/Epidaurus.

Next time I would go for a lot longer and try to spread everything out a bit more. It did feel like we rushed around a lot. One of the best things you can do when it’s really hot in Greece is to visit museums because they’re air conditioned. I would absolutely look at doing more free tours and things next time.

Thanks for reading!


All opinions and images are my own.
All prices were accurate as of September 2015.
This post contains no affiliate links.



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