Greece has seen its share of hardship in the past years, but tourism is still booming. Even with a weakened euro, however, Europe is known for denting pocketbooks, and Athens, home to some of the continent’s greatest landmarks, is no different. Here are a few budget-friendly activities in this ancient city:
Visit the Acropolis: You can’t miss this one, almost literally. But because Lord Elgin famously swept many of its artifacts away to the British Museum in London, much has to be left to your imagination. Entrance fee is only €12 ($17). If you can spare the extra change, visit the Acropolis Museum which costs €5 euros ($7) and is a perfect introduction to the Acropolis itself; plus,while the Acropolis has only copies, the museum has all the remaining original artifacts.
Visit the Plaka: The historic neighborhood located at the base of the hill where the Acropolis stands is an ideal place to stroll and take in Athens’ unique beauty and history. With narrow streets, Plaka is known for its charm, but also its tendency to be pushy with tourists. Men stand outside restaurants throughout the district, trying to get you to come in. But it gives you a unique slice of the city, and you can eat for less than €10 ($14) from many street-style vendors, since it is the city’s largest shopping district.
Stay in inexpensive hotels: It isn’t impossible to get an inexpensive hotel in Athens. The Magna Grecia boutique hotel near Syntagma Square (the area near the Parliament Building and the famous hourly changing of the guards) has stunning views of the Acropolis and costs around $125 per night. You can also find plenty of hostel-style options for less than $50 per night.
See the Changing of the Guard and the Parliament Gardens: The gardens behind the Parliament Building in Athens are free, and are a lovely way to relax and enjoy time away from city life. The Changing of the Guards in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Parliament Building is free of charge, and a must-see. It happens every hour on the hour, 24 hours a day. You’ll see the soldiers dressed in the traditional 19th century costume from southern Greece: a pleated uniform, and shoes tipped with black or red pom-poms called foonda.