Greece’s beauty and charm has grown in popularity among tourists. Everyone wants a piece of it. But despite it being in such high demand, if done right Greece is one of the cheapest countries in Europe you can visit. So, if you’re desperate for a holiday or want to travel but don’t have a huge amount of savings then I’ve put together a few handy tips to help you budget and have an amazing time.
1. Visit Greece in the shoulder season
Greece is a beautiful country. It has everything from seaside charm to delicious food and fascinating cultural history. It’s no wonder that the country is a popular holiday destination for tourists. So, if you want to have a fabulous trip but don’t fancy blowing a hole in your bank account then my advice is visit Greece during the shoulder season.
Greece’s popular tourist spots are crowded during the peak months of July and August as they coincide with school summer holidays. Opting to travel during early autumn or late spring will give you more chance of a quieter trip. The heat will also be more bearable and you might even be lucky enough to find cheaper deals on flights and accommodation.
2. Stay in Athens for the cheapest accommodation
Budget your holiday by staying in Athens. The capital is a more than worthy city break with its breathtaking relics of ancient civilization. You can find cheap accommodation right in the heart of the city centre and within walking distance of the majority of main attractions to visit. Perfect if you want to scrimp on transport!
Spend your days wandering around the cultural districts of Plaka and Monastiraki, and stop for a bite of deliciously affordable street food on the go. You simply can’t leave Athens without trying gyros (pronounced yee-ros). They’re generally meat-based but if you’re vegetarian then you only need to ask and they will happily provide you with a mouthwatering substitute.
Of course, visiting the Acropolis is an absolute must when staying in Athens. It’s one of the most famous architectural structures in Europe, if not the world. Tickets are about £12 a head which I think is fairly reasonable. If you would still prefer to beat the crowds and keep costs down then consider climbing Lycabettus Hill for panoramic views of the city, gorgeous sunsets and the Acropolis displayed in all its glory.
3. Choose the slow ferries if you’re island hopping
Unlike trains or flights, Greek ferry tickets remain at a fixed price all year round so you don’t have to worry about bagging a good deal or setting up Google alerts. You can book your ticket months in advance or leave it to the same day and the cost will be the same. But ferry ticket prices can start to add up if you’re booking more than just a return journey. The best way to budget is book slower ferries.
You ideally want to be flexible with your travelling dates if you want to keep costs down because not all ferries run their routes every day. You might only have the option for one or two ferries on one particular day and have five or six the next. Of course, they’re more frequent during the higher seasons but they get busy. If you don’t want to risk disappointment then aim to book your ferries tickets about three months in advance during the summer months.
Shop around when you’re planning your island hopping trip. Sure, a ferry ticket to some of the furthest islands like Rhodes might be fairly cheap but the journey is also nearly twelve hours. You don’t want to spend your whole trip on a boat just to cut corners.
Time is as valuable as money when you’re travelling so consider flying to some of the more distant islands. You might have to pay a little bit more but at least you will be there in an hour rather than a day.
4. Avoid staying on the most popular islands
You can’t think of Greece without Santorini and Mykonos coming to mind. They are arguably two of the biggest holiday destinations in Europe. Santorini attracted about two million tourists last year alone.
These islands along with Corfu and Rhodes are the height of holiday luxury with picturesque and Instagrammable scenery as well as glamourous hotels, nightclubs and the odd celebrity holidaymaker rocking up in their yacht. It’s a treat but the lifestyle doesn’t come cheap.
There are two hundred and twenty-seven inhabited islands in Greece. That’s literally hundreds to choose from. In my opinion some are as good as if not better than Santorini because you get to escape the saturation of tourists and you have an amazing time for a fraction of the price.
Unleash your adventurous side by doing some research and seeing what islands you can discover. If you can’t decide, write a list of what you want to get out of your trip. Are you after endless quiet beaches, or would you prefer something buzzing with life and history? Every island has its unique quality and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with what you choose.
5. Book accommodation in advance
In general, the islands are more expensive than the mainland for accommodation. Hostels, the usual budget-friendly backpacker haunts are a little more scarce. Instead you have boutique hotels, family-run bed and breakfasts, and holiday apartments. Some of them even have little kitchenettes which is handy if you want to budget on meals a few times.
If you want to save money, book your accommodation in advance to get the best deal. I prefer to use Booking.com rather than AirBnB because I tend to find cheaper rooms that I don’t have to pay for until I get there. AirBnBs tend to be more expensive.
Booking your accommodation in advance gives you the best of rooms and deals. Popular accommodation sells out fast so it’s worth getting your rooms reserved about three or four months in advance. A lot of the accommodation is run by friendly families who are delighted to welcome you onto the island.
You may not always get the height of luxury with fancy swimming pools and spacious rooms but let’s face it you haven’t gone all the way to Greece to spend your whole holiday in a hotel room. You can afford to cut down on luxury when you’ll be spending most of your trip exploring.
Thanks for reading,