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.
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:
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
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:
- 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 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
4) How Safe Is It For Tourists?
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.
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 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
- 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
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.
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.