Athens on a Budget by a Local

You don’t need to spend a ton of money to visit Greece, which is also one of Europe’s most inexpensive countries. It is entirely possible to do Athens on a budget, and the experience is one you won’t forget. Read this post for my tips on how to do Athens on a budget.

How to Visit Athens on a Budget

Getting to Athens on a Budget

Getting to Athens with a budget is easy from many cities around Europe. Ryanair, Wizz Air, and EasyJet fly into Athens’ international airport.

If you are travelling from Asia or the Americas, you might need to fly on one ticket into somewhere in Europe and then continue on to Athens on a different ticket if you want to fly a budget airline. Especially from Asia, you can try Scoot as it has a direct flight to Athens from Singapore.

You can also use flight price data to find the cheapest flights from your home city if your dates are flexible.

Getting Around Athens on a Budget

If you stay at a central hostel or hotel, you can easily walk around most of the tourist attractions like the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, or Syntagma Square. You can also easily walk to the National Archaeological Museum or Monastiraki.

However, if you don’t want to walk everywhere, public transportation in Athens – both buses and the metro – are inexpensive. The ticket costs 1,20 € and is valid for 90 minutes. Other ticket options include a 24-hour ticket for 4,10 € and a 5-day ticket for 8,20 €.

Best time to visit Athens to save money

To maximize your budget, travel to Athens in the shoulder or off-season (approximately late October to March), when hotels and airline tickets are cheaper.

Check here: When is the best time to visit Athens.

Archaeological sites and Museums on a budget

Acropolis Athens
Acropolis Athens

Archaeological sites are also cheaper in the winter months (November to March). For these months, on the first Sunday of every month from November 1st to March 31st, you can enjoy free entry to the archaeological sites. There are also certain dates throughout the year on which the museums are free too, and the Benaki Museum is free every Thursday evening.

From November 1st to March 30th (01/11-31/03) of each year, a reduced rate applies exclusively to single-use tickets for all archaeological sites and museums belonging to the State.

Archaeological Museum

If you visit Athens in high season, nominally April to October, there are combined tickets for archaeological sites. The combined ticket costs around €30 and includes entrance to the Acropolis and the North and South Slopes of the Acropolis, Hadrian’s Library, Temple of Zeus, the Ancient Agora and the Museum of the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Kermakeikos, the Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos, and the Archaeological Site of Lykeion. The archaeological site combined ticket is valid for 5 days.

There is also a combined museum ticket available that costs €15, and is valid for 3 days. This includes entrance to the Archaeological Museum, the Epigraphic Museum, the Numismatic Museum, and the Byzantine and Christian Museum.

Free Things to do in Athens

View of the Acropolis from Filopappos Hill
View of the Acropolis from Filopappos Hill

There are many free things to do in Athens, from watching the changing of the guards to having a picnic at the National Garden to hiking some of the city’s hills for great views.  

Some museums in Athens are always free to visit, like the Museum of Greek Folk Musical Instruments. You can also find “museums” in some of the metro stations that show off the artefacts that were found during the excavations of building the metro. You’ll find the majority at Syntagma, Monastiraki, and Acropolis, naturally, but you’ll see them in others too.

Plaka Athens
Plaka Athens

Another great free thing to do is to wander the streets of Plaka or Monastiraki. You’ll find tourist shops, flea markets, galleries, cafes, bars, and more. These neighbourhoods are also home to some archaeological sites you can stumble on just by walking around the corner. Plus it makes for great people watching!

For more inspiration, check my post free things to do in Athens.

How to Eat in Athens on a Budget

Check out cheap street food options! Greek street food is delicious, from souvlaki to gyros to falafel. You will find many great little street food vendors in Monastiraki, Plaka, and Syntagma, or you can visit some of the tiny local bakeries in other parts of the city – they are great for breakfast for Greek pies.

You might want to check out: The best street food in Athens.

Don’t miss the Athens central market, where you can get fresh fruit and vegetables, or pick up cheese and other picnic items. You can purchase water from a street vendor for fairly cheaply too. And the local tap water is potable, so you can ask for free tap water in restaurants and cafes.

Where to Stay in Athens on a Budget

City Circus Athens Hotel in Psiri

If you are looking to stay cheaply, you need to look no further than Koukaki or Pagrati, two of Athens central residential neighbourhoods. Koukaki has recently been listed as one of the best places in Athens to rent an Airbnb, while Pagrati is home to the ancient Panathenaic Stadium. You might also be able to find inexpensive accommodation in nearby Psiri. These three districts are hip, happening, and within walking distance of Plaka, Acropolis, and Monastiraki.

Two budget hotels that I recommend are City Circus Athens and Attalos Hotel

City Circus Athens is located in Psiri a neighbourhood adjacent to Plaka and easily accessible by metro or foot from the Acropolis or Syntagma Square. City Circus Athens offers both dorms and private rooms in a vibrant, hip, artsy space. 

Attalos Hotel is also located in Monastiraki. It offers spacious private rooms and a rooftop terrace overlooking the Acropolis. 

There are other hostels and budget hotels in Athens, and the further away from the centre that you stay, the cheaper it will be. However, then you will have to pay for public transportation or a taxi, which can be more expensive. 

You might also like: Where to stay in Athens, a guide to the best areas.

Traveling to Athens on a budget is easy if you follow my tips! The ancient city awaits with plenty to see and do, whether you want to visit the many archaeological sites or learn about the modern history and culture through street art and food.

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