Europe is a beautiful continent filled with more places than one can visit in their lifetime. When I studied abroad, I spent more time trying to decide where I wanted to go than anything else (sometimes a girl has to skip class because she needs to research cheap flights to London). After a while, I realized that traveling to places like London and Paris were crushing my bank account. I would shed a small tear each time I converted my money and saw how much I was losing. I was getting tired of paying high prices to stay in below average hostels/hotels and only being able to do free things because I was on a tight budget. This is when I had the epiphany that I needed to start traveling to non-Euro using or cheaper countries. Maybe they weren’t on the top of my list but I could do everything I wanted to and travel a bit more luxuriously. My next few posts will be focused on my favorite budget destinations!
First off, my flight from Rome to Athens costed $30 round-trip. Because of Greece’s unstable economy, it’s a pretty inexpensive place to visit. They do use the Euro, but my entire weekend there wound up on being $250 USD. You can find many budget hostels on websites like hostelworld.com that are less than $30 a night. These hostels are located in the city center and are in great condition. We stayed at The AthenStyle which offers kind and helpful staff, great views, a central location and delicious breakfast. You can take a peak at http://www.athenstyle.com.
(in front of The AthenStyle Hostel)
You can eat in Athens for a very low cost. Though I did not see a huge variation on food like you might find in London, you can find $2 gyros stuffed with fries, cheap Ouzo (a type of Greek alcohol that I don’t recommend mixing with mango juice) and baklava covered in Nutella (best place is ΣΕΡΜΠΕΤΟΣΠΙΤΟ (or somethinggg like that)) all over the city.
One of my favorite finds was a Fairytale themed restaurant called Little Kooks. Though it was a bit more expensive compared other places in Athens, the ambiance itself was so cute. The large cafe serves cakes, crepes, hot chocolate as well as an assortment of other desserts and drinks. The men I was with on this trip felt that this place was too emasculating for them so they went to go drink beer instead (their loss).
You only need about 48 hours in Athens to see all the major sights. The Parthenon is obviously one of the largest sights and it is free for students residing in The E.U. If you’re lucky they will let you in for free as a study abroad student, but since our school Id’s said visitors we had to pay 20 euros. We wound up skipping museums, something I would do next time I am in Athens.
At nighttime Athen comes alive. In the city center there is a very chill bar with an amazing view of The Parthenon called Galaxy Bar. You’ll find a handful of Greek people hanging out and a ton of study abroad students. If you’re looking for a more lively scene, there is club after club in the Gazi area. Be prepared though, this place doesn’t start having fun until one or two in the morning. If you show up at 11 PM like we did, you’ll wind up sitting in a plaza for two hours.
Lastly, if you are in Athens and didn’t see the changing of the guards there you basically wasted your trip. I mean look at these guys! Where can I find those shoes??
- The metro is super easy to use. Utilize it and explore!
- Eating a gyro as a snack 3 times a day is completely acceptable.
- Traditional Greek salads have no lettuce. I subconsciously knew this but preceded to order this tomato heavy salad anyways (tomatoes are my least favorite food)
- You can turn any bar into a club if you have enough people (don’t ask)
- No matter how hard you try to read Greek, you will always disappoint yourself
- Greek people are super nice. Talk to as many as you can!