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Sunday, 20 June 2021

Outbound Adventures: How to enjoy Athens on 10 euros a day

The Greek capital has lots to offer the budget traveller, including historic sites, fantastic views and heaps of yummy food

Nour Eldin Ebrahim , Wednesday 26 Apr 2017
10 Eu
Enjoying an overview of beautiful Athens, Filopappos hill. (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

Athens is a beautiful city, famous for its ancient ruins and distinctive Greek culture. From the Parthenon temple to the ancient Agora, the evidence of Classical Greece can be seen everywhere, drawing crowds of history buffs and culture vultures each year.

The city is also packed with historic churches and winding backstreets, while the changing of the guard outside parliament provides a fair dose of pomp and ceremony.

There a wealth of shops too, selling traditional crafts and tourist nick-nacks, not to mention more cafes and restaurants than you could shake a Greek salad at – surely enough to keep the most demanding city-breaker amused.

Spanakopita (spinach pie) quick breakfast in front of the Greek Parliament. (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

But how much does this all cost? The Greek economy has taken a bad knock in recent years, with serious consequences for the local population. On the up side, the resulting cheap prices have made Athens all the more appealing to foreign visitors.

The Greek capital is now one of the cheapest in Europe, and we're pretty sure it's possible to enjoy the place for just 10 euros a day, accommodation to one side.

If you're wondering how that's possible, just keep reading!

Dreamcatchers store in Monastiraki flea market (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

Stay close to the action

Athens has three main districts of interest to tourists, and they are all very walkable: Monastiraki, Plaka and the Acropolis, where you will find Syntagma Square, the main square in the downtown area.

Booking your accommodation within these districts ensures minimal use of transportation – hence expenditure. Equipped with some comfy walking shoes, a water bottle and a map, you can explore everything worth seeing on foot.

Luckily for those not keen on walking, public transport is also pretty cheap. A five-day travel card, suitable for all forms of public transport, costs just 9 euros.

Bread factory
Different variants of Halvas, a greek local delight, at the Bread Factory. (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

Breakfast time

It's breakfast time, and there's no better place to start than Monastiraki, which is full of cool, cheap places to eat. Or you might head over to the Meliorotos bakery in Plaka for a delicious spanakopita (spinach pie), which is an amazin Greek delight. Or maybe you’d prefer an eggplant and zucchini mini-pizza?

Whatever you choose, combine it with a 1-euro coffee, and you'll keep the cost down. Your entire breakfast will cost you around 3 euros.

The bread factory, it took a lot of time to get me out of here, pastries are so delicious! (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

If you're feeling more generous, you could try for the most common coffee-type drink, the cappuccino fredo, which is a cold cappuccino. Yes, for some reason, Greeks like ice-cold coffee drinks.

The more energetic traveller might wish to Walk to the amazing Bread Factory bakery, which is not far from Metaxourghio metro station. This bakery has the best collection of Greek sweets and pastries, along with an amazing 1-euro ice-cream that’s worth trying.

Free walking tour in Athens with George, this photo is taken at the Athens National Gardens, an excellent spot for a picnic (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

Fuelled up? Let's hit the road!

Start your day by walking around the Acropolis, the famous hill topped with the Parthenon temple. Now partially ruined, it is still worth the visit. Both the view and the walk are breathtaking, full of greenery and that lovely old Hellenic touch – complete with cobblestone streets on which traders layout their wares.

Is it 11 am yet? If so, it's time for the official walking tour!

Streets around the Acropolis are excellent for a morning or afternoon stroll. (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

Go back to Monastiraki and join the free Athens walking tour. Understandably, this free tour is very popular, and so you have to book ahead. Just follow this link.

The tour is an excellent way to get acquainted with the city's highlights. It will also provide you with some inspiration as to how to spend the rest of your visit.

View over Athens near sunset on Filopappos hill.

An afternoon stroll

Having finished the tour, you should now know more about Athens than the average citizen! Now it's time to stroll through the Monastiraki flea market. You get to watch people buying and selling, while taking a few nice photographs.

Sunset over the top of Filopapos hill. Magnicficent view. (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

Nearly 2pm? Then it's time for a change. Wandering down Emrou Street, you will arrive at Syntagma Square, where you'll witness the hourly ceremony of the changing of the guards outside parliament. These guards, known as Evzones, wear distinctive traditional customs and march very smartly, attracting crowds of onlookers.

If you are there on a Sunday, you will find a much larger ceremonial change at 11 am, accompanied by a marching band. Worth seeing.

Walk past Syntagma Square and you will find McDonald's, beside which is a place selling very nice gyros, which is meat roasted on a rotating spit - hence the name. Go for the souvlaki, pita with beef, or the kebab; this traditional lunch will set you back only 2 euros. (The guys working there are Egyptians. Ahmed works in the morning, while Mohamed's on the night shift. If you go there, say Nour says Hi!)

The beautiful narrow streets of Plaka at night excellent for a stroll, a drink, or a meal. (Photo: Nour Eldin Ebrahim)

Now sunset is not far off, and you’ve spent exactly 5 euros. Not bad, huh?

I was keeping the next part until sunset, because it’s really the highlight of your day. Head back to the Acropolis, and ask how to get up Filopappos Hill. Everyone will tell you the same thing: “Go that way; it's a nice walk.” And it is actually a nice hike – not too tiring – up the highest, most beautiful hill in Athens.

You will have a fantastic view of the Acropolis, the Aegean Sea, and the whole of Athens. It's a beautiful spot to watch the sunset and take very cool pictures. Don't miss it!

Athens by night

Time for a brisk stroll. Go back to Monastiraki, and ask the locals how to get to Plaka. Thenstart strolling through this beautiful, historic district. You can also pick up cheap souvenirs on the way, such as a cool magnet for half a euro!

If you're feeling peckish, you can get a huge scoop of ice cream for just 2 euros at Lukumades, or pass by a local bakery and buy baklava or halva for the same price, accompanied by the standard 1-euro Greek coffee. (Turkish coffee was originally Greek, but the Turks took it and added more spices.)

By this time, you should have a couple of Euros left. You have two choices: either sit in a cool Greek bar in Plaka and sip on a drink or enjoy a small starter, such as zucchini balls.

If you're feeling more generous, you might extend your total budget to 15 euros and have a plate of moussaka, an excellent Greek dish made of zucchini, potatoes, bechamel and meat.

Your other option is to spoil yourself with another gyros and walk to the Roman Stadium, which you'll learn about on the walking tour. Climb the stairs to the top and enjoy both the view and the historic atmosphere.

Whatever you choose to do, it's clearly possible to enjoy a very full day in Athens without breaking the bank!

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