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Athens: 7 Things Travelers Need To Know Before Visiting

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With over 3,400 years of history to discover, Athens is a treasure trove for history buffs.

But it is also a modern city full of hip neighborhoods, fantastic eateries, and a vibrant culture to explore.

And while many tourists overlook the big city on their way to the Greek Islands, Athens is well worth a visit on its own.

Athens Greece City View

But before setting off to Athens, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. In this post, we'll cover everything you need to know about traveling to Athens, including:

  • What are the costs for travelers?
  • Things to know about culture and etiquette
  • What are the top attractions?
  • How safe is it?
  • Local food and drinks
  • How good is the WiFi?
  • How long can you stay?

Ready? Here are the top 7 things you need to know before visiting Athens:

colorful umbrellas are set up on a beach near Athens

Did you know… Athens has many beautiful beaches to explore, which often get overlooked for the more popular sands of the Greek Islands. The Athens Riviera has several warm, clean, and accessible beaches, several of which can be reached in around 30 minutes.

1) Athens Affordability

Rating: 3 out of 5.

While Greece’s rise in popularity coupled with inflation has increased some travel costs, there is still great value to be found in the city.

The currency in Greece is the Euro. The current exchange rate is €1 EUR = $1.07 USD, and $1 USD = €0.93 EUR.

Here are the average costs for travelers in USD:

Accommodation

  • Average hotel price: One night at a 3-star hotel typically costs around $100, or $150 for a 4-star hotel.
  • Luxury 5-star hotels: You can find luxury 5-star hotels for around $250 a night in Athens, although there are more expensive options if you want to indulge – like the Elia Ermou Hotel, where rooms start at $600 and suites are typically over $1000 per night.
  • If you're on a budget: Athens has plenty of affordable hostels and B&Bs to choose from. If you plan ahead, you can usually find a private ensuite room for less than $100/night, or a bed in a shared room for around $25.
A busy street of outdoor eateries in Athens Greece

Food

  • A 3-course meal at a mid-range restaurant for two costs around $50.
  • For a cheap meal at an inexpensive restaurant, expect to pay around $12.
  • A beer costs between $4-$5, while a cappuccino is about $4.

Transportation

  • Getting around Athens on public transportation is a great option. The city’s subway, tram, bus, and train network is affordable and efficient. 90-minute tickets are $1.30, or you can buy a one-day pass for $4.40, or a 5-day pass for $8.84. Alternatively, for $21.50, tourists can buy a 3-day pass that includes travel to and from the airport in addition to unlimited travel on public transit.
  • If you want to cycle around Athens, bike rentals are typically around $12 per day.
  • Taxi fares start at $1.40, and cost an additional $1.38 per mile. Between midnight and 5 am, the price per mile is almost double. The popular rideshare app is BEAT and often has better rates.
Athens Greece glowing at nighttime

2) Culture And Etiquette In Athens

The Greeks are known for their hospitality, and tourists will encounter friendly faces even in the bustling city of Athens.  

Check this list before your trip! Here are some of the major Dos and Don’ts in Athens.

  • DO shake hands: when meeting someone for the first time, maintain eye contact while shaking hands. If someone goes in for a kiss, you should oblige. It is common to greet others in Athens with a kiss on each cheek.
  • DON’T put toilet paper in the toilet: use the trash bins provided next to the toilet – the city’s sewage system can’t handle it.
  • DO learn some Greek: while most people in Athens speak some English, knowing a few key phrases in Greek will go a long way. Hello (yia sas) and thank you (efharisto) are good starting points.
  • DON’T forget to leave a tip: 10% – 15% is customary at restaurants and cafes. If you are tipping a taxi driver, round up or add a few extra euros.
A Pedestrian Street In Central Athens, Capital Of Greece, Southeastern Europe

3) Top Attractions in Athens

Athens is full of incredible things to explore. Here are a few of the top things to see and do while exploring the city:

  • Acropolis – an ancient citadel containing the ruins of the Parthenon, the Temple of Zeus, and other historic buildings that have been proudly perched on a hill above the city since the 4th century B.C.E.
  • National Archaeological Museum – Greece’s largest museum with 11,000 exhibits featuring artifacts from the beginning of Greek civilization.
  • Mount Lycabettus – this 900-foot hill is the highest point in Athens and offers great views of the city and the Acropolis. Visitors can walk up the hill or take a funicular if they want to give their feet a rest.
Young Female Tourist Taking A Picture Of The Parthenon And Temple Of Athena Nike Atop Acropolis Hill From The Viewpoint At Philopappos Hill, Athens, Greece

4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Athens is a safe and welcoming destination for tourists. However, there are still some things that travelers should keep in mind to stay safe during their visit:

  • Beware of thieves: pickpocketing is very common in Athens, especially on the subway, so keep your money and valuables somewhere safe.
  • Watch out for scammers: Taxi drivers have been known to take advantage of tourists. Make sure you use a reputable company or order a taxi through the BEAT app.
  • Research your neighborhood: some neighborhoods outside the tourist areas have a higher rate of crime. In particular, Omonia and Exarchia can be unsafe at night.
  • DO get travel insurance: Travel insurance can help in health emergencies as well as with covering the costs of any travel mishaps during your Athens trip. For 5 great options, read more here.
Athens, Greece

5) Local Eats And Drinks

One of the best parts of travel is checking out the local cuisine, and Athens is a fantastic place to try new foods. Don't let yourself leave without trying at least one of the following:

Food

Food in Greece is known for being fresh and flavorful. Here are some of our favorite dishes:

  • Tzatziki – a brightly flavored dip made with Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, lemon, and fresh herbs
  • Souvlaki – grilled, skewered bites of meat, eaten straight or served with potatoes and pita
  • Spanakopita – a savory pastry of spinach, herbs, and feta cheese encased in flaky phyllo dough
  • Loukoumades – one of the oldest pastries in the world, Loukoumades are small balls of dough dunked in honey syrup and sprinkled with toppings including cinnamon, sesame seeds, and chocolate

Drinks

  • Ouzo – an anise-flavored liquor popular throughout Greece
  • Frappé – sweetened instant coffee blended with milk and ice and sometimes topped with whipped cream
  • Beer – popular brands include Fix and Mythos, but there are also plenty of  craft beers to try, many made with local ingredients
Greek Gyros with tzatziki and fried potatoes

6) How's the WiFi?

Using Ookla, an internet speed testing service, the average internet speeds in Athens for February 2023 were 50.80mbps download and 13.79mbps upload.

Young Female Tourist Enjoying A Ferry Boat Ride In Greece, Meditarranean Sea

7) How Long Can I Stay?

U.S. Citizens traveling to Greece can stay up to 90 days within a 180-day period without a visa. Travelers who wish to stay longer can apply for an extension or take advantage of Greece’s new Digital Nomad Visa if they meet all requirements, including a monthly income of at least $3,777 per month.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Alberto Quintero

Saturday 5th of August 2023

How I wish I had read this post before going to Athens, one of the most comforting trips of my life. The article comments that you have to be careful with cab drivers. I affirm it! Not only will they try to cheat you by going the most extended way they can, but in my case, the cab driver who took me from the port of Piraeus to the airport was not even a real cab, even though he was yellow like the rest, he had no meter or license, and even his license plate was fake. I paid him 60€, but he returned with a torn fake ticket, saying it was the one I had given him. I was swindled, and I reported him to the police. But be careful with cab drivers. This is the only bad thing I have experienced in Greece, the rest, except the tremendous heat, has been a wonderful and more than recommendable trip.