It is needless to say that Greece is one of those very few countries in the world, which have succeeded in maintaining a perfect balance between their past and future―so, the country that is famous the world over for its historical grandeur, also has the most thought-provoking scene of modern art and contemporary music. And what’s more, you will find the most impressive of cultural elements in the most unexpected of places.
Greece has always been one of the favorite locations of budget travelers―things are much cheaper in this country than in most other parts of Europe. However, since the adoption of the euro as the national currency in 2002, things have changed to a great extent. The prices have soared largely than in the past. But still, nothing can beat the beauty and grandeur of Greece, and the extremely hospitable attitude of the locals. If you are planning a budget vacation to Greece in the near future, Buzzle brings you this rough guide to help you with your venture.
► Do Not Travel During the High Season
During winter, especially from the end of November to the beginning of April, Greece’s tourist infrastructure literally tends to go into hibernation, with several seasonal cafés and restaurants closing down, and the public transport services reducing to a great extent. It is vital to consider this while planning your trip, as you surely don’t want to end up frustrated without any facilities in Greece.
Greece is often considered to be a year-round destination; however, as is the case with other tourist destinations, it tends to be the crowded and expensive during the high season (mid-June to the end of August). For those traveling on a tight budget, the high season is the worst time to be in Greece. The weather may not be very pleasant during the off-season, raining heavily and even snowing in certain parts; however, owing to the lesser influx of tourists during this time, you will be able to find numerous profitable bargains, and good deals on air tickets and accommodations.
► Compare Airfares Online
Do not get overwhelmed if you happen to find an unexpectedly low price quoted on some website. Always, check for the conditions that may apply with respect to taxes, surcharges, etc., which might not be included in the quoted fare.
This is one of the most important steps in planning a budget vacation to Greece. It is extremely vital to ensure that you get the cheapest deal on your ticket. While you can book directly from the airline, it is a good idea to browse through certain reputed travel websites, such as Orbitz, Travelocity, Expedia, etc., and compare prices. This can help you save a hefty sum of money.
► Opt for Budget Accommodation
Many a time, you will find that major tourist hubs on mainland Greece, such as Athens, are cheaper than some of the more expensive islands such as Mykonos. It is best to avoid going to such pricey destinations, which are, more often than not, promoted as upscale tourist spots and so, hardly possess any budget options. After all, Greece has countless other things to see and do in limited bucks!
Mainland Greece and its islands offer a great variety of affordable accommodation choices that range from budget and mid-range hotels to hostels to B&Bs, and guest houses. In short, there are ample accommodation options for budget travelers. These budget accommodation facilities may not offer you many services; however, they can save you a lot of money. Moreover, you will be able to find further inexpensive accommodation options if you opt to stay on the outskirts of major tourist centers.
► Get Off the Beaten Path
As interesting as the idea of getting off the beaten path may seem, planning such an itinerary on your own may be very challenging. Consult a reputed tour operator to help you plan such an itinerary (and bookings) so that you can rest assured of the success of your trip.
Most Greek itineraries revolve around the country’s major tourist centers and popular destinations. It is but obvious that the more popular the place, the pricier it is going to be. To save money and also to add an element of thrill to your holiday, get off the beaten path, and try to explore the less-trodden parts of Greece. As exciting as that may sound, we tell you that such locations are often the lesser-known ones, and have very few tourists and limited tourist infrastructure. Owing to this, many of them are really inexpensive, and you can actually save up to 30% (or even more) of what you would have spent otherwise. Plus, you will have a story of a different Greece to tell back home.
► Opt for a Suitable Mode of Transport
Owing to the fact that Greece has a lot of islands, there are a lot of ferries that operate from the mainland as well as inter-island. If you want to visit these islands, the inter-island ferries can be a bit expensive; however, if you opt for an overnight ferry, you can save about half the ticket price. Moreover, if you book these ferries about two months in advance, you may end up saving at least a quarter of your ticket prices.
Greece boasts of a comprehensive public transport system, a network that connects you with the tiniest of villages. These include buses, trams, boats, and trains, all of which are pretty affordable, especially if booked in advance. The country also has an extensive domestic air network; however, the tickets are often pricey, so opt for it only if you are in an extreme hurry. The best mode of transport in Greece for those wanting to go off the beaten track are private cars and bikes. While these can be hired at the last minute, it is advisable to book them in advance to get the best possible bargain. Moreover, most of the Greek countryside can be best explored by foot, which is obviously, free-of-cost.
► Abstain from Eating at Upmarket Places
Try out the famous Greek gyros. These are not only inexpensive and tasty, but are also extremely filling.
Greek cuisine holds a special place in the world’s culinary culture, and trying out authentic Greek food is something that you cannot return without. While high-end restaurants offer excellent food, they cater to international standards and are rather pricey. It needs to be noted that some of the most authentic and delicious local flavors can be found at certain tiny hole-in-the-wall restaurants and street stalls. These are not only tasty and hearty, but also pretty cheap.
► Avoid Visiting Paid Attractions
While attractions like the Acropolis and Agora of Athens require expensive tickets, there are days when you can visit them for free. Watch out for these free admission days that include March 6, June 5, April 18, and also the first Sunday of every month (except those of July, August, and September, when the free admission day is the second Saturday). There are heavy crowds on these days; however, the fact that you’re seeing these attractions for free comes as a great relief.
Greek is home to a great number of tourist attractions, and it goes without saying that many of them charge an admission fee. The good news, however, for budget travelers is that there are also numerous attractions and spots that can be enjoyed for free. These include many museums, parks, and of course, the beaches. Plus, if you are in Athens, visit the famous Monastiraki Flea Market, for some really cheap, beautifully handcrafted souvenirs.
So, plan beforehand, head to Greece, savor the charm of its local culture and history, and treat your taste buds to some of the most authentic Greek dishes. But remember to keep a check on your wallet and spend wisely.