Last Updated on 23/12/2020
Greece’s beauty and charm has grown in popularity among travellers. It’s a wonderful destination, known for its delicious food, culture, ancient history and fun island-hopping trips. It comes as no surprise that it frequently tops plenty of travel bucket lists.
No matter where you go or what you do, Greece is a destination that just keeps giving and there’s something for everyone to enjoy. As a result, it’s not always considered to be the cheapest trip. However, if done right, it’s possible to visit Greece on a budget. In fact, Greece can be one of the most affordable destinations in Europe if you allow it to be.
Planning a cheap holiday to Greece? Here are some top tips to get you started:
Visit Greece in the shoulder seasons
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One of the best ways to visit Greece on a budget is to plan your trip during the shoulder seasons. The summer holiday season tends to be packed with tourists as families make use of the abundance of glorious beaches and hot, sunny weather. The country’s popular tourist hotspots get crowded and accommodation, tavernas and flights are much more expensive.
If you don’t fancy blowing a hole in your bank account, avoid the months of July and August. Opt instead to travel during late spring or early autumn and you will have a much quieter and more affordable Greek holiday. Temperatures are also a little cooler, making travel and sightseeing a lot more comfortable. Flight and accommodation prices are much more reasonable and you might even be able to get some good discounts.
Visiting during winter is still possible but it’s worth noting that the weather will be colder and many tourist spots and attractions will be closed – particularly on some of the more remote islands.
Looking for more budget travel advice? Check out this guide to saving money in Europe.
Athens is an affordable city break
Athens has a surprising amount of budget-friendly accommodation right in the heart of the city centre and within walking distance of the majority of main attractions and must-visits – ideal if you’re planning to visit Greece on a budget and cut down on transport costs.
Greece’s capital makes for a reasonably-priced city break and it will never fail to amaze you. Its breathtaking relics of ancient civilisation remind you of its long and formidable history. The cultural districts of Plaka and Monastiraki are not to be missed and you can take a break from your wanderings to try the city’s deliciously affordable street food.
You can’t leave Greece without trying gyros (pronounced yee-ros). This meat-based dish is derived from the lamb-based doner kebab except the Greek version uses pork or chicken instead. If you’re vegetarian then don’t worry, most places serve mouthwatering meat-free substitutes so you won’t be missing out.
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. The ancient structure towers proudly over the city and you can climb the hill and see it for yourself. Tickets are about 20 euros per person which 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.
Pro tip: If you do visit the Acropolis make sure you get there early – I mean really early. The attraction gets absolutely packed with people and there are queues at every turn. If you want to beat the crowds then I recommend that you get there for 8 am when it opens.
Avoid staying on the most popular Greek islands
The Greek Islands are some of the most popular destinations with travellers so they’re often considered the most expensive. Cheap island-hopping holidays in Greece are possible if you’re smart and avoid the most popular islands, including Santorini and Mykonos.
Santorini and Mykonos are arguably two of the biggest holiday destinations in Europe. 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 227 inhabited islands in Greece. That’s literally hundreds to choose from. In my opinion, some of them 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 a unique quality and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed with what you choose.
The best Greek islands to visit on a budget
If you enjoy great food, stunning beaches and cute villages then Sifnos is for you. This island is home to 227 churches with the most famous among them being the Church of the Seven Martyrs. Wander around the picturesque ancient village of Kastro, make your own pottery souvenirs and eat gyros on the beach as the sun sets over the sea.
If you’re planning to visit Greece on a budget, your island destination can’t get much better than Hydra. A favourite among locals, this island is a hiker’s paradise. In fact, cars are prohibited so you have no choice but to go about on foot. This means you won’t need to spend money on car or moped rentals.
Kea is a small unassuming island just an hour away from Lavrio. It may not be the most well known holiday destination but what it lacks in fame it makes up for in charm. Its laid-back vibe makes Kea THE spot for relaxation in the Aegean Sea and its ancient ruins and delicious cuisine will surprise you.
Agistri is an ideal destination if you want a cheap Greek holiday away from Athens. This peaceful paradise is known for its beautiful pine forests, turquoise waters and pebbly sun-soaked beaches. An hour from the mainland by ferry, Agistri is perfect for those short on time and money.
If you’re keen to see Greece’s famous Cycladic architecture that’s made islands like Santorini so iconic then head to Kythnos for a fraction of the cost. This affordable Greek holiday destination has over 70 beaches to choose from, mountains to hike in and villages dotted with cosy tavernas to relax in.
Lefkada is a picturesque island in the Ionian Sea. It’s connected to the mainland by a causeway but it still offers visitors a serene island escape. The island is known for its sandy beaches and sheer cliffs that plunge into the surrounding seas. A laid-back and relaxing destination, Lefkada is one of the cheapest Greek islands you can visit.
Choose the slow and overnight 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.
Ferry ticket prices can start to add up if you’re booking more than just a return journey. The best way to go island-hopping in Greece on a budget is to book slow or overnight 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, ferries are more frequent during the higher seasons but they get very busy. If you don’t want to risk disappointment then aim to book your ferry tickets about three months in advance if you’re visiting 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 holiday on a boat just to cut corners.
Time is as valuable as money when you’re travelling so you might need to fly 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. Ideally, if you’re planning to visit Greece on a budget then try to stick to the islands that are closest to the mainland. They take less time to reach and save money and your carbon footprint too.
Book accommodation in advance
In general, the Greek 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 meals too.
If you want to visit Greece on a budget, book all your accommodation in advance to get the best deals. I prefer to use Booking.com rather than Airbnb because I tend to find cheaper rooms and I don’t have to pay for them until I get there.
Popular accommodation sells out fast so it’s worth getting your rooms reserved about three or four months in advance just to be safe. A lot of the hotels and villas on the islands are run by friendly families who never fail to give you a warm welcome when you arrive.
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.
I hope you find these Greece budget tips useful and I would love it if you could share or pin it. If you need help or guidance planning your trip, feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.