Is Greece expensive to visit? That all depends on your travel style. Still, we’re here to tell you it doesn’t have to be! While it may not be the cheapest country in Europe, there are certainly ways to save time and money on your trip. We’ve now been to 20 Greek islands and all throughout the mainland. One of the reasons we keep coming back is how affordable it truly is. Here’s some easy tips for visiting Greece on a budget, whether you’re backpacking for months or just taking a one week trip.
Is Greece Expensive to Visit? 11 Money Saving Tips
1. Plan a Trip to Greece in Swing Season
Is Greece expensive to visit in the peak summer months? Absolutely. Everything cost more including hotels, rental cars, flights, and even tours.
One of the best tips we can give you for experiencing Greece on a budget is to avoid high season season. While we all love the temperatures of July and August, that is actually the worst time to go if you don’t want to spend a fortune.
Aside from the higher prices, you’ll find the popular places to be more packed with people. Two of our favorite months to travel in Greece are May and June.
For example, our last visit to Santorini was in early May. We had a small family run hotel from $40 a night and were able to cheap it fairly cheap. Overall, the cost of our trip to Greece was a fraction of what you’d pay in the popular months.
We’ve also enjoyed visiting the islands in September, and even as late as October. The waters still warm for swimming and the prices decrease with every passing day.
2. Book a Route Based on the Cheap Ferries
Heading to the Greek islands? Something many travelers don’t realize is how affordable the ferries can be. Yet, the trick is that you have to be flexible with your schedule.
For instance, you may want to go to a beautiful destination like Paros on a Saturday. However, once you check the price of tickets later in the week you may find it’s much cheaper to go on Tuesday or Wednesday.
We’ve seen the costs fluctuate as much as 80 euros or more on certain days depending on if the slow boat or fast ferry is running! Still, there are tickets routinely between 5 to 10 Euros if you’re flexible.
When traveling through Greece on a budget we always use FerriesinGreece to compare prices. It allows you to easily filter through the different routes, companies, and days.
Obviously, you’ll want to just buy a general seating ticket and find a seat yourself. Know that there are also overnight sleeper cabins available on longer ferries.
However, once you factor in that price it might be cheaper just to get an affordable hotel and go the next day.
3. Eat Gyros and at the Local Bakeries
Is Greece expensive to eat out? It definitely can be if you’re looking for a massive lunch on the water. The good news is that there is always a local bakery nearby!
This is something you’ll find in every Greek town on both the islands or mainland. We love a grabbing a spinach pastry and freddo espresso to start the morning, or even the fresh sandwich for a light lunch.
Regardless of your budget, you’re sure to eat plenty of gyros in Greece. The delicious spinning meat won’t cost you more than 3 to 4 Euros and is super filling.
If you’re heading out to a restaurant things do get slightly more expensive. It can be amazing to treat yourself to a large seafood lunch on occasion… And you should!
Just know that there plenty of cheap options to eat if you’re traveling Greece on a budget.
4. Check Out Your Flight Options
Yes, you heard that right! Even if you’re planning on backpacking in Greece you won’t want to rule out flights. Coming from the United States, we’re so used to paying an arm and a leg even for the shortest of routes.
During our travels around Greece, we’ve often found flying to be the cheapest way to get somewhere. After checking the ferries for certain routes, it also may be worth it to you to save time.
Most flights from Athens to the islands are an hour or less and can often be very affordable. When flying from Athens to Rhodes we’ve regularly found $60 USD hopper flights. That same trip with ferry tickets can take an entire day with multiple stops, 10+ hours, and cost almost $100.
By checking the flights we have saved ourselves not just money, but the headache of a longer journey. Check out websites like Skyscanner to sort through the airlines and see if something works for you.
5. Pack Light When On a Budget in Greece
One of the best ways to save money is by packing light on a trip to Greece. This especially applies if you’re planning to fly like we discussed above.
While a domestic flight can be cheaper in certain scenarios, many companies charge extra for baggage depending on the weight. Keep this in mind when deciding what to pack on your vacation.
It’s also just a much easier way to travel thought Greece in general. By keeping your bags light, they’ll be easier to carrier on the ferries, buses, or trains.
We travel with a smaller collapsable bag we can pull out for a day trip or hike. This is a good idea for all the amazing beaches you’re sure to visit as well!
6. Consider Renting a Car
Like flights in Greece, renting a car may not be the first mode of transportation that comes to mind. Still, if you plan and book ahead it can be a great way to get around.
There has been so many times backpacking in Greece where we’ve wanted to stay in the major cities or towns. Yet, when we check the prices they are way more than we want to pay. Having a car gives you the ability to travel outside the popular areas and find cheaper accommodation.
You shouldn’t rule out public transportation completely on your Greece budget holiday. There are plenty of routes that can take you where you need to go depending on the destination.
We mentioned Santorini already, and it’s a great example to use as it’s known as one of the most expensive Greek Islands. While we did rent a car on Santorini we actually loved using the bus to get around!
This was because the rental car prices were much higher than other islands we’ve visited. Just know the buses are also less dependable and a much slower way to travel longer distances.
We always use Discover Cars to search for the cheapest rental cars. Specifically, in the swing or off season, you can find rates as low as $13 USD a day!
7. Stay in the Small Towns & Villages
That brings us to our next point about traveling in Greece! Some of the best places to stay are in the small villages outside of the most sought after areas.
We get it though… Everyone wants the perfect place right on the beautiful beaches and clear waters of the Aegean Sea. Just know there is so much more of Greece to explore.
Not only will this save you some cash, but you’ll be able to experience the local life of each town. This is where we’ve often had the best experiences and found the most delicious traditional Greek food.
8. Explore Mainland Greece
Before this past year, we had spent most of our time in the incredible Greek Islands. However, we had always wanted to explore the mainland after hearing so many wonderful things.
After our incredible two week road trip through Peloponnese, the monasteries of Meteora, and all the way to Western Greece, we can definitely agree. The mainland has so many undiscovered gems that many tourists don’t see!
You can also find much better prices during summer months in different parts mainland Greece as opposed to the islands.
9. Don’t Miss Out on the Historical Sites
We know this blog is all about saving money, but there are some major tourist attractions that just can’t be missed. Greece has a rich history with fascinating archeological sites, castles, and museums to explore.
If there’s one thing to spend money on besides the delicious food, this is it! The historical sites date back to the Mycenaean civilization, through the Roman empire, medieval ancient times, and all the way to modern day Greece.
To our surprise, many at many of these places you won’t need a local guide or have to pay an entrance fee to experience! You’ll find some of the most incredible castles and ancient ruins don’t even have an attendant or line to get in.
In fact, once you get inside the walls of Rhodes Old Town it will be like walking through living museum in itself! How cool is it that you can just walk in these places and see them on your own?
10. Look Into Different Greek Island Chains
Most travelers know the Cyclades and the famous islands of Santorini and Mykonos. Just know there is so many more exciting places to visit!
This past trip we even got a chance to visit the Ionian Islands off the western coast of Greece. While the Cyclades are absolutely stunning, you can sometimes find better prices on the lesser known islands.
Even within the well-traveled Cyclades, you will find quieter islands like Patmos and Syros to discover. Don’t rule those out when planning the best route and backpacking trip in Greece!
11. Spend Time in the Great Outdoors
Our last tip for backpacking Greece is to spend time outdoors. Hiking is one of our favorite free activities and there are endless trails all over the islands and mainland.
There’s nothing like climbing to the highest point of a mountain and looking out over the scenery and islands in the distance!
Even in the shoulder season, you’ll find that the beaches are plenty worth visiting. During this time, you’ll even find that many of the beach chairs will be free with a purchase of a drink or snack.
Is Greece Expensive to Visit?
So is Greece expensive? We hope we convinced you that it’s totally possible to visit Greece on a budget! If you’ve spent time traveling through Southeast Asia it obviously won’t compare.
Still, by European standards you will find that Greece is quite affordable. It’s a great country where you have beaches, history, and street food all at a decent price!
We’ve almost lost count of how many time we have got these questions. Is Greece expensive to visit for families? Is Greece expensive to visit on a honeymoon? It really varies, but with so many affordable options you’re bound to find something that works for you.
When we first started traveling, we almost took Greece off our itinerary because we thought it’d be too pricey. If you couldn’t tell by now, we’re so glad we didn’t!
We now return to Greece almost every May to see different areas of the country. From the most popular islands to the faraway mountain villages, there’s so much to discover in Greece.
Have any questions on this article or want to share your own tips for traveling Greece on a budget? Let us know in the comments below!
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
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Greece Travel Planning
For island hopping use FerriesinGreece to compare different routes, prices, and companies. The fast ferries like Sea Jets will cost more but often takes half the time of slower ferries like Blue Star.
Rental Car: You can book a rental car for as little as $20 a day in Greece! We use Discover Cars to explore the larger islands with a vehicle.
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without insurance. We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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