Greece's popularity means there's competition for travelers on a budget. However with some shopping around, keeping a few key strategies in mind, you'll have a memorable visit without going broke along the way. You need to be conscious that in the peak summer season, like elsewhere, deals tend to be more elusive.
Find the least expensive way to get to Greece
The best affordable way to reach Greece from Europe is by plane as well as your options are myriad. To Athens, budget carriers like easyJet and Ryanair have everyday cheap fares from across Europe as do traditional carriers such as Air France and Lufthansa. Greece's national carrier Aegean Airlines also offers cheap fares to Athens throughout Europe. Whether you are flying to Athens or direct for an island from Europe, make time to compare the fares on offer as deals usually abound.
You can fly direct to islands with international airports for example Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini. Many of these flights are run by charter carriers and are inexpensive. Online travel booking sites can have a number of these flights.
Note that if you're flying a route to an island which involves a connection in Athens, it is often cheaper to obtain a fare to Athens after which buy a separate ticket towards the islands. However this is most effective if you only have carry-on bags, or else you have to retrieve your checked bags in Athens after which recheck them for your flight towards the island.
Alternatively, you can fly to Athens after which get a cheap ferry ride to the islands from the port of Piraeus. Allow, at minimum, three hours with this transfer that involves using the frequent express bus from the airport. A more sensible choice is breaking your journey in Athens where one can have a peek at the Parthenon along with a night in Plaka before continuing on your ferry.
From North America
The three main US carriers fly using their hubs within the east non-stop to Athens in the summertime season. These flights are popular and tend to market out, so if you don't obtain a deal early, the least expensive option is going to be an itinerary that connects at one or more hubs to achieve Athens. The same pertains to flights from Canada.
From all of those other world
Whether flying from Asia, Africa, the center East or Oceania, you'll find many options for flights to Athens include a connection in Europe, the center East or North Africa. There is no secret to cheap fares here: knowing your dates, start shopping as early as possible and compare the fares from as numerous airlines as possible find.
Finding the cheapest time for you to go
July and August are the peak travel times for Greece and there are few deals available. Airfares, ferry prices and accommodation minute rates are at their highest. Most of the places offering the best value sell out quickly, leaving people who wait to firm up their summer plans make payment on price.
June and September can be slightly cheaper than the very high season. The shoulder months are wonderful times to travel as all the ferries are running, watch is open and also the weather conditions are excellent. The very best deals on flights and accommodation can be a little more available compared to July and August.
For many seasoned travelers to Greece, May and October would be the sweet-spot months to visit the country. Just about everything is open and running, but you will find fewer people, and rates and costs can fall by 25% or more. They are good months to find reasonable fares on the non-stop flights to Athens in the US as well.
The off-season from November to April could be a rewarding time for you to visit Greece however it includes many caveats. The elements is often crisp and rainy, making this not the time for a beach holiday. Much is closed, especially around the islands. Accommodation choices outside Athens are constrained and flights and ferries to the islands operate in a really low level. The cheap charter airlines cut their schedules entirely. Rather than reduce their fares to attract passengers, major airlines simply cut their flights to Athens and deploy their planes to warm-weather destinations.
Get value accommodation
As always with travel, plan your trip as early as possible to secure the best deals on accommodation.
In the peak summer months, minute rates are at their highest. Pricier to find a brilliant double room in a popular place to go for EUR50 ($58), but if you book early you will probably find an excellent room for EUR150 ($173) instead of a room for the similar price – of more – overlooking the garbage cans in the alley.
During our prime season, it also is effective consider package offers for Greece. Booking sites and airlines often offer all sorts of discounts should you book everything through one company. But additionally observe that package accommodation deals are often in particular resorts or vast generic holiday apartment complexes, which may or may not be in an inviting a part of your destination. Package offers are not where you will find the quaint little room having a view at an indie inn.
Also note that the days when elderly ladies met ferries with offers of cheap spare rooms are gone. Everything is on booking sites like booking.com, Airbnb, and Vrbo.
In shoulder season, rates may be lower and also the selection of accommodation isn't purchased as fast – yet more good reasons to consider travel in May, June, September and October.
From November to April, rates fall but the same is true availability as many places to stay close entirely. Observe that holiday apartments may not have heating, check carefully.
Choose how to get between your islands
Island-hopping is one of the real pleasures of Greek travel. Lounging on a deck while gliding past idyllic islands belongs to many a traveler's fantasy. Ferry fares tend to be consistent but you can help to save cash with several strategies:
- Book early (of course!). Larger boats often offer advance-purchase fares at significant savings from walk-up fares.
- Compare prices. On competitive routes such as Athens to Mykonos, there are many ferry companies offering service in summer and fares can vary a bit between them. Use online booking sites for example Ferryhopper to check options.
- Go slow. On routes where you can find large traditional ferries and flashy fast ferries, the slow boats are almost always cheaper. One hidden benefit of the slow boats is that they usually have large amounts of deck space, so you can live that Greek fantasy watching the hawaiian islands glide by. Most of the fast ferries have little or no deck space, which means you spend your way secured in charmless lounges.
In summer there are also inter-island flights and much more frequent airline service to and from Athens, however the popularity of the flights means that deals are few. Look out for major Greek holiday times when locals buy up every airline (and ferry) seat revisit their home islands.
Pick your transport to explore the mainland
Greek buses are cheap, modern and reasonably comfortable. Every village has at least some service, even though the smallest villages might not have much.
Although the train network is limited, in which the trains run, fares are cheap and also the seats are very comfortable. The route linking Athens and Thessaloniki is the real star, with fast trains linking the two cities in a little over 4 hours – faster than is possible by bus or car.
As elsewhere in the world, car rental prices have shot up in Greece. Your personal wheels offer maximum flexibility but come at a cost. Deals are few, although you may be able to save by booking a car included in an airfare and accommodation package.
One strategy to save money on car rentals is just renting cars on days when you really need the flexibleness and convenience to complete some exploring.
Weigh your options for getting around the islands
On an island like Hydra where all motor vehicles are banned, your choices to obtain round the island are pretty straight forward and free: you walk. However, of all islands, you'll again be weighing the cost of a car in comparison to the inconvenience of a bus. Popular islands may have summer-season buses serving popular destinations and beaches, so the strategy of renting a car only for certain days of exploration holds. Tiny rental companies exist on most of the islands in addition to the large chains however in high season pricier much better rates from local vendors.
It's usually simple to rent a scooter or motorbike from the local vendor. Budget about EUR20 to EUR40 ($23 to $46) with this. But make certain the rental has a helmet included, and also you know how to ride one before you decide to rent one.
Steep hills, narrow roads and other challenging conditions such as the sun as well as heat mean riding a bicycle is an activity chosen for the fun from it, rather than a practical way of getting around easily.
Save on entrance fees
Paying to determine museums, ruins, historic sites and other attractions isn't expensive in Greece as entrance fees are set not to bankrupt the neighborhood citizens. But don't forget to look for reduced prices for students and individuals under 26 or over 60 (e.g. this means a 50% decrease in fees in the Acropolis in Athens, etc).
All beaches are free. Yes, you can pay for using a pricey lounger, but there will always be a portion of the beach where you can lessen your personal towel and enjoy the same water.
Enjoy a great, cheap meal
Obviously, the waterfront restaurant or stylish cafe on a popular beach aren't the places to choose a decent budget meal. But affordable options abound across Greece as local people wish to eat at restaurants too but can't afford tourist prices.
In every popular area from the heart of Athens to the smallest island village, step a street or two away from the buzz and you will likely find shops selling souvlaki (grilled meat) sandwiches on pita along with other Greek treats. You need not succumb towards the siren call of the pizza joint or burger stand – however, there are plenty of these – to get a good, fresh meal of Greek food for well under EUR10 ($12).
Bakeries sell sandwiches along with other prepared foods as well as the smallest supermarket likely has a deli case full of meats, cheese and eager foods like tzatziki.
Drink for less
Supermarkets also sell cheap cold beer and wine. You can enjoy sitting on the rocks while savoring the same sunset as the people in the nearby pricey taverna. Spirits are always expensive.
- Inter-island ferry ticket: from EUR20 ($23)
- Hostel room: EUR25-60 ($29-70)
- Basic room for two: EUR50-140 ($58-162)
- Self-catering apartment (including Airbnb): EUR100-300 ($116-347)
- Public transport ticket: EUR1.50 ($1.70)
- Coffee: EUR2 ($2.30)
- Souvlaki sandwich: EUR4-6 ($4.60-7)
- Dinner for 2: EUR40 and up ($46)
- Beer in a cafe: EUR3-6 ($3.50-7)
- Beach lounger: EUR5-10 ($5.80-12)