From the breathtaking caldera view in Santorini, the nightlife on the island Mykonos, to the ancient ruins of Athens, Greece has something to offer every tourist. This country is chalk full of adventure, delicious cuisine, picturesque moments, rich wine, tasty sweets and some of the kindest people we have met in Europe. Greece is a perfect destination for a budget vacation.
Why Travel To Greece
Apart from the obvious facts of its historic status, Greece as a country and its people are a perfect excuse to travel and visit. The culture reflects a focus on food and family which plays a major part in all parts of the country from the islands to Athens. We loved all the rich flavors of meats and cheeses, freshly baked pastries, traditional dishes like moussaka, and their unique style of gyros which includes french fries wrapped in alongside all the other delicious toppings. Moving throughout the country was a treat and whether we visited a party island like Mykonos, a picturesque island like Santorini, or a locals only island like Paros we found great people and comfortable places.
The Nitty Gritty Facts
Almost 11 million people live in Greece and 665,000 of them are concentrated in Athens, the capital.
Greece’s national language is Greek.
Roughly 16.5 million tourists visit Greece each year which is more than the country's population, making up 16% of the country’s GDP.
Athens is the birthplace of democracy, Western philosophy, the Olympic Games, political science, Western literature, historiography, and Western theories of tragedy and comedy.
Greece has roughly 2,000 islands, 170 of which are populated.
Continuously inhabited for over 7,000 years, Athens is one of the oldest cities in Europe.
The National currency of Greece is the Euro €.
Crete — Santorini — Paros — Athens — Thessaloniki
There’s essentially two ways to approach travel in Greece: one, start from the mainland and then tour the islands or two, start from the islands and travel the mainland. From two separate trips to Greece, we highly suggest starting mainland and working towards the islands for a few different reasons. Athens and Thessaloniki are wonderful cities, full of cool places to visit, however coming from Santorini, paradise, it’s hard to take in and fully realize the beauty and potential of these places after such tranquility. Their cities are dirty and crowded, loud and somewhat of a shock after days alone on the beaches. It’s also a good idea to start in Athens, explore more of the history, freshen up on mythology and then visit places like Crete which plays a major role in Greek mythology.
Travel by train in Greece is fun and easy. Major train stations and routes are Athens, Thessaloniki, Patras, and Larissa.
Interrail pass for 3 days within one month for Greece start at €59 ($69 USD)
Eurail pass for 3 days within one month for Greece start at €101 ($118 USD)
Ferry travel in Greece include:
Blue Star Ferries (discount with Eurail pass)
Superfast Ferries (discount with Eurail pass)
Minoan Lines (discount with Eurail pass)
Budget airlines for Greece include:
The Rugged Budget
The official currency in Greece is the Euro 1€ = $1.16 USD
Transportation for intercity trains €22— €50
Transportation for island ferries (Blue Star):
Athens — Heraklion €38 ($44 USD)
Athens — Santorini €20 ($23 USD)
Athens — Paros €20 ($23 USD)
Accommodation in a 4 bed mixed dorm in Athens €17 ($20 USD)
Private room in a 4 star hotel in Santorini €25 ($30 USD)
Beer at a bar €5 ($5.80 USD)
Beer from a shop €2 ($2.3 USD)
Gyro €2 ($2.30 USD)
Sit down restaurant €12— €24 ($15—$30 USD)
A pack of 20 cigarettes €4.20 ($5.60 USD)
Greece From From The Scratch My Pack Lens
Helpful Hints For Traveling In Greece
Sunscreen in Greece is quite expensive, €20 on the islands, and the sun is powerful so bring your own to save yourself the change and the pain of a sunburn.
There are bakeries everywhere in Greece where you can get a filling meal for just a few bucks. Bakeries specialize in Spanakopita (feta and spinach pies), traditional moussaka, and of course sweets like baklava and galaktoboureko.
Because hostels in Greece aren’t the best, not as nice as other European cities, we found that hotels were actually cheaper and nicer than the listings we came across on hostelworld.
Traveling by ATV and motorbike is the best way to get around on the islands— specifically Santorini. ATVs are affordable and accessible and give visitors the opportunity to navigate all over the island at their own convenience.
Santorini can get quite expensive if staying in the center of the island, Fira, or the luxurious part of the island, Oia, but staying in Akrotiri, Perissa, and Imerovigli means spending less money on accommodation and food all while being only 15-30 minutes away from the picturesque parts of the island.
Greece uses the European and Russian plug. They have sockets using 220 - 240 V so citizens from countries such as the US, Canada, and most of South America need a voltage adapter to charge their devices.
Activities That Won’t Scratch Your Budget
Mars Hill or Filopappos Hill, Athens: Free
It costs €20 to visit the Acropolis, which was under construction when we visited summer of 2017, but climbing either of these hills in the public park surrounding the Acropolis offers a completely free view of the Parthenon as well as a great view of the city.
Pilgrimage From Fira to Oia, Santorini: Free
This a peaceful and scenic four-six hour walk along the Caldera in Santorini, from the center (Fira) to the northern tip (Oia) is an enjoyable afternoon activity. Hike to the very edge of the island to grab a seat amongst other backpackers to the best sunset over the Aegean sea. Buses back from Oia to Fira are €1.60.
Atlantis Books, Santorini: Free
By far one of the coolest book stores we’ve been to and it’s all housed in a cave, like most shops on the island of Santorini, except they’re home to a range of cats, dogs and travelers. Opened in 2005, by two British travelers, the bookstore is an enthralling maze of all kinds of classics and contemporary books. It’s artful and adventurous. It’s of course free to visit, but they kindly ask for a donation if you’re going to take a picture.
Where Did We Stay (Accommodation We Recommend)
Galatia Villas, Santorini $35/night for a private room with a double bed
This was our first taste of Santorini’s charming beauty. We loved that there were pockets of Santorini that were super affordable, like outside of Fira. The rooms here were cozy and clean. We enjoyed the location being close to Fira, but not in the congestion of town. The staff was friendly and helpful.