Athens On a Budget: 9 Affordable Attractions for Budget Travelers
Athens is always near the top when people think of top European destinations. Greece’s sprawling capital — home to 3.1 million peopleLink opens in a new tab — is famous for its rich history, iconic landmarks, gorgeous weather, beautiful nearby islands, and the home of democratic politics.
Athens is also home to the Acropolis, the Pantheon, and the Propylaea—all world-famous landmarks.
However, is Athens expensive like other world-class European cities? Although The Guardian recently ranked it the cheapest city break in EuropeLink opens in a new tab, you can spend a lot if you’re not careful.
Nonetheless, here’s how to enjoy Athens on a budget:
1. Visit the Acropolis
Visiting Athens isn’t complete without a trip to the AcropolisLink opens in a new tab; it’s one of the world’s most iconic buildings and a must-see for any tourist. More importantly, it only costs around €12 per visit. Now, if you’re really on a budget—you can walk near the Acropolis for free, but you can’t go inside it.
However, the views of Athens are simply sensational from the Acropolis. It opens at around 8 am, and you can enjoy stunning sunrise views during the wintertime. There are various guided tours at the Acropolis, and you’ll see tour guides at the entrance. Prices vary, but it’s worth the cost for a deeper insight into the building’s history.
2. Experience the National Archaeological Museum
The National Archaeological Museum of AthensLink opens in a new tab is the largest and most important museum in Greece. It’s also hugely significant on a global stage. The museum includes a Stathatos collection, Egyptian antiquities, a collection of metal works, a sculpture collection, and a collection of Mycenaean antiquities.
Furthermore, the museum has regular events, including art exhibitions and workshops. Better still, the admission fees remain budget-friendly; for example, it costs €6 between November 1st and March 31st or €12 April 1st to October 31st. That’s a bargain for one of the world’s finest archaeological museums.
3. Stroll Around Plaka
You can find PlakaLink opens in a new tab in the shadow of the Acropolis, home to narrow cobblestone streets and tiny shops selling local ceramics, clothes, and jewelry. The locals have coined Plaka the “Neighborhood of the Gods” because of its proximity to the Acropolis.
The neighborhood includes the Athens University Museum, the Jewish Museum of Greece, and the Frissiras Museum. Many famous Greek films filmed their scenes in Plaka, including The Drunkard, What if…, Woe to the Young, and And the Wife Shall Revere Her Husband. Of course, it’s free to walk around Plaka.
4. Relax at the Local Beaches
When people think of Athens—they typically think of busy roads and ancient buildings. However, Athens has some superb beaches that make for excellent day trips. The best beaches include Kape Beach, Krabo Beach, Astir Beach, Varkiza Beach, Asteras Beach, and Akti Vouliagmenis Beach.
Furthermore, Lagonisi Beach, Schinias Beach, and Cape Sounion Beach are all excellent options. Another good option is Vouliagmeni Lake, only 23 km outside of Athens and an incredible place to relax and swim.
5. Marvel at the Panathenaic Stadium
The home of the first modern Olympic games in 1896, the Panathenaic StadiumLink opens in a new tab is a must-see for any history enthusiast. It’s the world’s only stadium built entirely from marble, has a current capacity of 45,000, and remains one of Athens’ main attractions. The city used it for various purposes in the 20th century and used it again as an Olympic venue in 2004.
The admission fee is only €5 with reduced admission fees of €2.50 for those over 65 and students. In addition, it’s free to enter for children under six and visitors with disabilities. The best time to visit the stadium is during the evening.
6. Explore Herod Atticus Odeon
Standing on the Southern side of the Acropolis, the Odeon Of Herodes Atticus, AthensLink opens in a new tab, is a must-see attraction for any history fanatic. The admission fee is only €12, making it one of the most affordable and worthwhile attractions. Better still, it’s included in your Acropolis ticket.
Herodes made this stunning structure for his wife. Dating back to 161 AD, you can relax in the summer sunshine while enjoying the views of one of Greece’s most iconic Roman-empire buildings.
7. Walk Around the Food Markets
One of the best ways to experience local culture without breaking the bank is by walking around markets; thankfully, Athens has many to choose from. The best option is the Central Municipal Athens Market, known as Varvakeios Agora to the locals. You’ll find meat, seafood, herbs, and fresh produce.
You can also feast on various Greek delicacies, and it’s open from Monday to Saturday. In addition, other excellent markets include the Monastiraki Flea Market, the Eleonas Flea Market, the Kypseli Municipal Market, and the Avissinias.
8. Watch the Changing of the Guards
Look no further than the changing of the guards if you are looking for free things to do in Athens. It takes place in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (right next to the Parliament building). The change happens every hour or so.
The locals call the guards Evzones; they are specially selected Greek soldiers, and the country considers it a privilege to be in this force. There is a larger guard change at 11 am every Sunday. However, come early because it’s a popular attraction, and it can be hard to get a good view.
Athens, Greece: A Superb Budget European Destination
Athens has many free or inexpensive attractions. As a result, it’s one of the best budget city destinations in Europe. Be sure to take free walking tours, visit affordable historic landmarks, and eat tasty Greek cuisine.
If you visit the spots in this article, you’ll see the best of Athens without denting your bank balance too much.