How Much Does Greece Really Cost?

By Nomadic Matt | Published March 7th, 2011

ruins in athens, greeceLast week, I wrote an article called “Five Destinations to Visit for Under $30 USD.” One of the places I listed was Greece, which brought a lot of pleasantly surprised comments from readers. Most people never think of Greece as a cheap destination, lumping it in with the other Eurozone countries as overpriced. However, I’ve been to Greece twice and think it is a highly underrated budget destination, especially for Europe. One commenter didn’t agree. He wrote:

“Greece is definitely not cheap, especially not Athens. Clubs charge around 20€ entrance fees. The akropolis is like 25€ entrance to walk around. Sure, tavernas are pretty cheap, but once you go up from backpacker hostels and low-end tavernas Greece is hella-expensive. I’m waiting until they get kicked out of the euro and go back to drachmas. There is a reason people go to Turkey instead of Greece. Telling people that it’s on par with Thailand and Bali is just plain misinformation…”

And he’s right. Traveling that way would make Greece expensive. But traveling that way could make any place expensive. Another place on that list was Bali. Bali is a very cheap destination. Or, if you stayed in the $1,000 USD per night resorts, could very well be “hella expensive.” The same is true in Thailand. The same is true anywhere in the world.

I am often in New York City. It’s not the cheapest place in the world but it doesn’t have to be the most expensive either. Avoid the $200 dollar sushi meals and expensive bars and you don’t have to spend a lot of money. It’s all about how you travel. The commenter is right when he says Greece isn’t cheap if you go to lots of clubs. It’s not cheap if you visit in the middle of July (peak season) and spend your time in Santorini or Mykonos.
paros greece

So How Much Do You Really Need?

The one thing the commenter missed in his argument is that it’s about how you travel. Every place can either be cheap or expensive since everyone spends money differently. There’s always someone who is doing it for less and there’s always someone spending more. So I’ve created a number of different budgets to give you an idea as to how much Greece costs depending on your travel style:

(Note: These are daily averages. Some days you’ll spend more, some days you’ll spend less.)

the harbor on naxos greeceBudget #1- The Backpacker
Hostels – 10 Euros (Dorm rooms)
Food – 7 Euros (Cheap gyros and street food)
Beer – 5 Euros
Total: 25 Euros ($30 USD)

Budget #2- The Less Broke Backpacker
Hostels – 10 Euros
Food – 7 Euros
Beer – 10 Euros
Activities – 10 Euros (Museums and such)
Total: 37 Euros ($45 USD)

Budget #3- The Flashpacker
Hostels- 10 Euros / Budget Hotel: 20 Euros
Food – 15 Euros (Cheap gyros plus a nice dinner)
the harbor on naxos greeceBeer – 10 Euros
Activities – 10 Euros
Miscellaneous – 10 Euros
Total: 55-65 Euros ($70-88 USD)

Budget #4- The “I Only Have Two Weeks So I Don’t Care” Traveler
Hotel – 25-30 Euros
Food – 20 Euros
Beer – 15 Euros
Activities – 20 Euros
Total: 85 Euros ($115 USD)

Budget #5- The Semi-Luxurious Travel

Hotels – 50 Euros (This amount of money will get you a really nice hotel!)
Food – 25 Euros (Nice meals with wine all the time!)
Beer – 15 Euros
Activities – 40 Euros (Museums plus day tours)

Total: 130 Euros ($181 USD)

Notes on the Numbers:

  • I am not including souvenirs in these numbers. That’s highly discretionary and variable. Obviously, the more you buy, the more your daily average will be.
  • While alcohol is included, if you like to drink or go clubbing a lot, you’re going to spend a lot. The summer time on the Greek Islands is a bit hedonistic so if that’s your thing, bring extra money.
  • The prices here reflect the shoulder season. Greece’s high season is July and August and if you are going then, I would add a few extra Euros a day to your budget.

As you can see, Greece, like any country has a wide range of budget options. You can do it on the cheap or you can go nuts and spend a few hundred Euros per day. It’s all about how your travel. But I included Greece in the original article because when people think about Eurozone countries, they think “expensive.” While that is very true for many countries in on Euro, it’s not true for Greece. Compare those prices above with prices in Paris or Amsterdam or Rome, where hostel cost 20-30 Euros per night, the cheap food is 5 Euros, meals cost 10-15 Euros, and beer is a lot more than 1-2 Euros! I spent less on a hotel room in Athens than I did for a dorm room in Amsterdam. If you are looking for a budget destination in Europe, Greece is the perfect place to go. It may be on the Euro but that doesn’t mean it’s expensive.

If you are planning a trip to Greece, consider reading my country and destination guide to Greece. I visit the country every summer so the information is fresh, accurate, and detailed.

comments 56 Comments

I’d add that planning your trip in regards to which islands to visit and how much island hopping you’ll do can make a big difference.

The ferries can really add up, so bouncing from one island to the next — staying just a few days on each — will definitely add to your total costs.

If spending little is your priority then going to a big island like Crete (which has lots to see and do and is sort of like 5 islands in one) and then taking the bus around (which is still very inexpensive in Greece) will keep your daily transportation costs way down.

As well, mainland Greece also has some great beaches (like the Halkidiki), not nearly as many tourists and tends to be cheaper than the islands.

Great point David. The island hopping is what broke our budget in Greece (but it was totally worth it, just depends on your goal for the adventure)

NomadicMatt

Yeah, island hopping will destroy a budget. I hopped around a lot but when I was in one place, I spent so little! Maybe I’m just cheap?

EVERYWHERE you can find places/restaurants/hotels/bars/things to do etc both cheaper and more expensive as well. So you are right, depends on what kind of traveler you are. It’s that simple.

elizabeth reid

staying put in Athens, we got a little apartment at athensstudios.gr, near the new Acropolis museum – we cooked from the fresh local markets, paid less for accom than a bad 3 star hotel, bit more than a hostel, but had cheapest nights in their Sports Bar, fun living like a local and really explored the whole city – a very different place to other european cities. Shabby and interesting, high energy, very safe and the greek boys are gorgeous – we are going back next year to go up north to the mountains, stunning places to see and also the cheapest skiing in Europe – $6 day passes mid-week

sylvia

Hey boys,
It depends on which islands and from which destination you want to go.
I own a house in Mykonos and from there i travel to tinos island every day. 15 minutes by the boat with a cost of about 5 euros, then i go to Andros island. about 10 euros and 2 hours trip. Or Naxos island about 2 hours and about 20 euros with the quick ferry.
First decide at which Greek islands complex you want to go. We have many. and travel to that complex. Dont go from the Cyclades complex to the Ionian islands or to the dodekanisa islands. There are far away between and it costs much

Kostas

As someone who grew up in Greece and currently lives in the US, I still think that Greece is more expensive than you make it sound.

I totally agree that it all depends on how you travel but nevertheless, Greece (especially Athens and the islands) is expensive when compared to most eastern european, Asian, Latin American countries. Hell, even the US can be cheaper!

Here are some examples of overpriced things in Greece compared to elsewhere:

*A cup of drip coffee (or French coffee as it’s called in Greece) costs 3-5euros (no refills). I can get $2 cup and $0.5 refills in the states, $0.5-1 in SE Asia. Sure, you can make a cup of instant coffee in the hostel as an alternative.
*A pint or big bottle of Amstel or Heineken beer will be about 4-5euros in a cheap bar. You can get it for 2-3euros at a very local kafenio but how many travelers will discover that? Also you can get a can (1.5-2euros) from a kiosk and just drink on the street. In the US, a pint of cheap domestic (PBR or Budweiser) in a bar will cost $2, a microbrew $4. A big Chang is 40baht! Beer-Lao is $1.
*Mixed drinks start at 6euros.
*Gyros is not really street food but it is “fast-food” and at 2euros each is pretty reasonable but compared to the $1 fried rice or Pad Thai and the $.5 tacos it’s not that much of a bargain. In the US, $5 on a food cart will get you stuffed!

These are just a few examples of everyday expenses. Ferries, museums, attractions/activities and drinking will most likely blow your budget.

ps. With USD 1.4 to a euro, you might want to check the conversions on your post.

NomadicMatt

Those conversions are based on today’s exchange rate. Also, your comparing Greece to cheaper destinations which is like comparing apples and oranges. You can’t do it. That’s why I compared Greece to OTHER Eurozone countries. That’s a fairer and more equal comparison.

Kostas

Well, the original post was about destinations under $30/day, doesn’t really matter where in the world or what currency they use, right? Also, when looking for a destination, you look at the cost of traveling, again not the currency. Why would you care if the country is in the eurozone or not? Especially when there are more inexpensive countries near by (Turkey, Bulgaria, Serbia to name a few).

With that said, if you want to stick to countries in the eurozone, then Spain and Portugal are the same, if not cheaper.

I’m not saying that Greece is not worth visiting or that you can’t keep your budget low, but a $30/day (22euros) budget just ain’t enough if you want to do something more than sleep, eat and perhaps have a beer at night.

ps. Today’s rate: 1 euro = 1.3968 US dollars
25euros * 1.3968 = 34.9279 USD not $30,
25euros * 1.3968 = 51.6974 USD not $45 etc.

sylvia

Well said..
We have nothing in common with Thailand or Bali. lololol

sylvia

Hey Costas,
I am a native Athenian . I agree with the most you said, but plz dont compare gyros with fried rise.lol…Gyros is a complete food as it has meat, vegetables, – tomato-onion- cucumber and goyourt plus the bread.
Sylvia

Interesting post Matt – I’ve only ever been to Greece once on a sailing holiday, but it’s good to hear that it is a budget option for future adventures. Sure – the term budget is very subjective, and people want different things from a holiday, but compared to some destinations your cost breakdown makes it look very reasonable :)

I think if I graphed out my expenditures on a trip, alcohol would make up a big chunk of it. Food and lodging is pretty easy to go cheap on but with booze, one drink turns into 2, which turns into 4 and the next thing you know that entire wad of cash in your pocket is gone!

Have you ventured anywhere else in that area? I wonder what the prices are in Bulgeria, Hungary, Romania, Albania, Turkey, etc.

NomadicMatt

My last night in Greece I spent 100 Euros. One drink turned into 3 or 4, which turned into me buying every one drinks all night. It was fun though. Going out is what ruins my budget a lot but in breaking down costs, I don’t like to really include a big alcohol budget because, like shopping, it’s too highly variable. Everyone is just too different. I simply include the price of beer and let you go from there! Though I did include it a bit here but not as much as I would if it was my own budget.

Doni

Greece is cool and all ,a stunning place to visit but it’s expensive nonetheless ,for comparison with Albania ,you can sleep in a presidential apartment get drunk all the night,eat only in luxurious restourants for 10 day’s and you will not spend more then 400$ or 500$ .If you sleep in hostels or camps(which are good enough ) eat fast food ,and not buy things which are not a must,you can easily stay there for 10 days and not spend more then 150$ ( Talking from experience i was there last year ,in Jali(Himara)) beautiful crystal clear sea ,very few people now this place but it’s a heaven i tell you ,look it up on google.

kat

I have to agree with Kostas. I’ve lived in Greece for the majority of 14 years and traveled to 34 other countries, and there’s very little value for money here. So yes, a traveler could follow the rock-bottom budget you have posted but they’ll not experience much of Greece. Even the beach costs money these days — which is why many come here — since being privatized. Might as well stay home.

A friend traveling around the EU in winter, not high season, recently remarked that things are very overpriced here. We didn’t sit at a fancy cafe with a view or even good service, and the coffee was nothing special. Seven euros for one tiny coffee. Seriously, that’s ridiculous.

Turkey is not Greece, but people are a lot friendlier, the food is similar and the beaches, sites and clubs are just as wonderful. That’s where people are going instead. I don’t even spend my vacation here. I can fly to Sweden, get a hotel, eat well and enjoy green spaces for a lot less.

NomadicMatt

I never once paid money for any beach I went to in Greece. I’m not sure where that is though but I know I don’t want to go there! Moreover, I found most museums and ruins to be free outside of main ruins of Athens. I mean you can’t go anywhere in Greece without tripping over ruins.

I’d also wonder what kind of lifestyle you lead. Sweden is not cheaper than Greece at all. No way. No how. At every price range, Greece is cheaper. I get a bowl of soup in Sweden and it’s like $15 USD.

Agree, expense is relative to your situation. We stayed in a convent in Rome, and it was easily half of area hotels. We also accidentally went during culture week and it took us 3 or 4 days to figure out why every attraction we went to was free. As you can imagine, it greatly reduced our costs. We also tend to share meals since portions everyone are usually big enough for two simple eaters.

I live in NYC and I can tell you I do the most stuff and am most creative when I’m broke. There are endless parks, free concerts, wildlife refuges, beaches, military forts, free or cheap museum days, art openings with free wine, free tours – on and on. You really don’t need any money to have fun here.

Susan! What was that about Culture Week? And a convent in Rome. That all sounds fabulous.
I’m going to look for more info on this. Thanks!
And thanks, Matt, for the budget breakdown. I don’t think it’s possible to travel as a couple with a small baby for $30/day in Greece but $50/day may be do-able.

I love this. I have people ask me how much things cost in various places I have visited or lived in the world. My response has become this; ‘As much as you want them to.’ Things will cost as much as you are willing to spend. Or you don’t buy/pay it and it cost you nothing. That’s it.

Alcohol WILL destroy your budget…alcohol DID destroy my budget in Southeast Asia, especially on the Andaman Coast of Thailand…

NomadicMatt

I told you before you went it would. But it was a lot of fun though right?

Yikes, a lot of discouraging comments! Haha. Hopefully I can stick to a tight budget while there later in the year, I don’t wanna skimp on any experiences. Couchsurfing is likely…

NomadicMatt

I don’t see discouraging comments. I see a lot of people agreeing with me! But knowing you and your love of going out, you might want to bring extra! :)

bright godknows

i really want to know more about greece,and love to know how it work when travelling down.

When I was backpacking we went to Corfu, and while I realize its not the top destinations in Greece, it was really really beautiful and pretty cheap compared to some of the other islands that are more expensive that you had mentioned.

Over all I agree with you Matt, and I thought this was a very well thought out post. I think its fun to travel both ways…but if you want to travel more, it’s kinda cool to even make a game out of how cheap you can get by for the day!

Travel is def. as expensive or cheap as you make it. I am itching to go to Greece and when i do it will be super budget. I think some people are better at being budget than others. I’m not gonna lie, there are some days when i am awesome at it and other days that I just want to have glass upon glass of wine, endless gelatos or splurge for a hotel room. You have to really take into consideration each little thing when you are traveling on a budget because it all adds up. Doing things like making your instant coffee can save you a lot of money. I would never pay even $5 for a cup of coffee on the road – I would rather use the money for something else.

The budget you laid out is really great! And I completely agree with you – it all comes down to HOW one travels. There are always travelers that spend less or spend more than others and it’s all because of how they spend their money when it comes to accommodations, food, and other traveling expenses.

omigod, I’m craving for a stay in greece, and when I do I’ll make it a 2 weeks minimum. Hopefully a month. Would that be enough? and I most certainly want to island hop. I don’t mind being in budget when on the islands at all. I can probably save on food cos I don’t eat as much as Europeans do, in terms of meal portions. But maybe shopping would destroy my budget. Hahaha.. I have to be careful with that..

NomadicMatt

Yeah, you can see a lot of Greece in one month. I was there about a month and I got to see a lot of the islands. Unless you are in love with an island, I found 3 – 4 days per island sufficient. But I spent about 2 weeks on Ios as I had an amazing time there.

elizabeth reid

we stayed at athensstudios.gr, got a kitchen and bought fresh food at the laiki ( local market) You can’t carry $30 of fruit and veg. I think our studio cost $50 between us, it was beside the Acropolis, and we cooked up a storm while we were there. They gave us free breakfast and their bar was much cheaper too ( 2 eur a beer) All in all, better than shared hostel rooms of course, but for a one week stay, we really felt we lived there and could explore daily and get to know the place. Loved it!

Franny

Hmmm interesting.. I just booked 2 weeks in Greece for this summer and didn’t see lodging that cheap anywhere except Naxos. We’re not looking for budget, though.

matt

Same as Franny the last commenter I am planning our honeymoon for last two weeks of september 2011 and have a few layover days (2 days in Athens, 1 night Heiraklion (Crete)) between 4 days in Santorini and 8 nights in a Villa in Chania region. I saw little to nothing rated with any dignity on Tripadvisor for Athens or Heiraklion for the $70~ a night range. But maybe I’m being picky.

I don’t find the villa rental or places to stay in Santorini cheap. I thought with economic issues there prices were depressed a bit?

Kate

I went to Corfu a few years ago, and I thought that was reasonable. It wasn’t too expensive. But I also went to Santorini over a month ago and I thought that was not really reasonable. It wasn’t even season time yet, most places were not even open and everything was expensive. I guess maybe it has changed, or perhaps it was just that island! Forget buying margarine in a shop, might as well bring your own! LOL

I wanna go to Mykonos next to check out Cavo Paradiso, http://www.retoxmagazine.com/cavo-paradiso.html but I am not sure how much money bring. I guess with popular clubs like Cavo, this trip would probably require a budget??

NomadicMatt

Santorini can be hit or miss but if you stay out of Oia, it’s very reasonable. Mykonos will blow your budget out of the water. There’s nothing cheap about that place.

Kimberlee

My husband and I are planning a trip to Greece with 8,000 USD for two weeks would you go in September 2012 or in May 2013? I’m just wondering what time would be better price and weather wise.

What are clothing and jewelry prices and souvenir averages?

NomadicMatt

You have 8k for two weeks? It doesn’t matter when you go. Luxury prices at the top end don’t change. You’re going to have one fancy vacation.

I’m on Rhodes right now, and a bit terrified of the prices – but then, I just came from Turkey, and I was couchsurfing or hosteling there, so getting by on less than €20 a day there was damn easy. My plan is likely to do the big islands quickly (Crete and Santorini) and then find somewhere to hunker down that’s quieter and cheaper before flying out of Athens in 15 days from now.

Any suggestions for cheap islands close to Athens or between there and Santorini?

lyssa

would 3,000 usd be enough for roundtrip tickets from alabama to athens greece for a couple and a stay of 6nights and 7days for everything? and do we only need passports?

NomadicMatt

It could be depending on how much luxury you want. Yes, you will need your passport.

Pamela

Hi, I’m looking for accommodation in Athens and Mykonos at the moment. You mentioned accommodation at 10 euro per night, which hostels have these prices??!! Cause I can’t find anything nearly as cheap as that! Thanks

merle glass

Is there enough to do in Crete, do they have beaches,do I have to book way ahead for Aug 17. I was going to go to santari, but I do not want a 7 dollar coffee without a refill.

c

Chloe Fox

Hi I’m of to Athens for to weeks with my boyfriend how easy is the local metro to use and how much roughly would ferrys cost to verious islands as hoping to go on one or to day trips on our stay were not big drinkers were hoping for a budget of £250 each were b n b `ing it x also do u think it would be easy to get to the center of Athens from the airport buy public transport or should we pre book transfers were normally big on exploring and finding our way around x any help will be cool x

Windsor

We’ve always thought Greece was beautiful, but we’ve always heard how it was very expensive. It makes sense that if you stay out of Athens and high tourist spots, you can still have a great time for less $. I’ve not spent much time in Europe – more in Latin America. We don’t drink alcohol or go clubbing, but we LOVE to eat and see beautiful sights/ruins/etc…How would you suggest we plan/build our budget for a trip to Greece? Based on what we like to do, would another similar destination (like Turkey, or somewhere else) be better for us??

Ted

Sorry I only half agree with your post. I agree Greece is cheap actually make it sound more expensive than it is. “you quote of 25 euros for the pathenon is a lie. It is 12 euros for 5 sites including the parthenon. This is a steal in fact the best value I found anywhere in the world. If you go to Turkey each site is that much for entrance plus you have to pay extra to see more. I do agree with you about Mykonos, the only place I found no deals. But even in Santorini I found excellent deals. And I don’t necessary agree that off the beaten path is cheaper. A lot of the more built up areas have cheap accomodations. I do recommend the off beaten parts but not because they are cheaper.

Also someone commented that coffee was seven euros, another lie. Everywhere its a euro now.

Anna

I agree with Ted. As a Greek living abroad, visiting Athens once a year, I’ve noticed that prices are steadily going down year by year due to the recession. I’ve been to 25 European countries so far, always backpacking. Trust me guys, Greece is on the cheap side. Especially in 2014. Go to Paris or Scandinavia and you’d rather starve than buy a bread roll from the local bakery for 1.80€. There are cheaper countries than Greece, e.g. Portugal (my favourite one), Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic (if you avoid the centre), Spain (def not Ibiza). Even Hungary was not as cheap as expected. Avoid the posh, eye-catching places and you won’t pay much.

Kurt Walker

Do you feel these still are true with all the turmoil and issues Greece has faced financially? Is it better, worse or the same compared to when you wrote the article ?

Why bother?

Before the introduction of the Euro currency, mass tourism and destruction of independent travel in Europe, comments like those above seldom occurred.

The Euro and everything about it has enriched the corporations, sovereign governments, and the plutocrats and elitists, the 1%, who own and run everything. Yes, everything. This one act of stupidity and greed has impoverished millions of ordinary people throughout Europe.

And in North America, NAFTA has had the same effect: sending millions of small farmers, campesinos, impoverished by NAFTA, from Old Mexico to the U.S.A. and Canada.

My advice to readers after forty years of international travel is simple: stay home or travel wherever the Euro doesn’t exist. For example places like Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, India, China, Laos, Burma, Nepal, New Zealand.

Since waves of Spanish Conquistadors’ and British pilgrims’ murderous invasions and genocidal slaughter of indigenous natives in the New World, modern Europeans (with some help from the Japs and Chinese and Americans), have continued to fuck the world over with ever more genocide, wars, famine, disease, and financial destitution.

Don’t support the endless irrational behaviors of mutant political, military, and commercial pukes. Remember President Eisenhower’s caution in his farewell address about the dangers of the the military-industrial complex!

I found Greece to be a great “budget” destination in Europe. I was there in the summer of 2012 and found accommodation, food, nightlife, transportation, etc. to be much less than Western Europe. Even on the touristy islands like Santorini, I was able to get delicious lunches for 3-6 euros. Our budget-friendly hotel in Athens was simple but clean (with A/C) and came with a wonderful rooftop view of the Acropolis. Apart from the airfare, going to Greece can be very easy on the wallet. What a beautiful country!

Rajiv

I am Visiting Athens next Month. Give me Your Best Money Savings Tips as Everyone Says

Greece is Expensive. Thanks

Jess

Going to Greece in early June for a honeymoon. Our flights out of Philly will be around $1500/person round trip. Wondering what best way to travel between the islands are?? We are planning on going to Santorini, Mykonos, and then ending in Athens. We are looking into air b&b and some other sites to keep costs down. Any other useful sites or tips would be appreciated for first-timers!! Thanks!

simone

Nomadic Matt is the only one I would turn to for travel advice, even though I am yet to get out of Australia. My big dream has been to make it to Greece by the age of 40. My kids are teenagers and they are encouraging me to go, but I will have to do it on a serious budget. Excellent advice everyone. Efthkaristo!

Taly

Matt,

I’m about to go to Greece (Athens) for the first time during the second week of March. Where can I find €10 hostels? I’m not having any luck finding anything in that price range online.

Thanks!

Nik

You won’t find €10 hostel in Athens.You can find them in some islands like Crete (Plakias and Rethymno), Paros, Naxos and Ios.

travellingcheapscate

I’m here because i’m currently considering a holiday in Greece. As an experienced backpacker i generally agree with Matt, but also would like to add that a lot of the cost also comes down to the ‘style’ of your trip.

For example if you really want to see Greece as a traveller, (and on a tight budget), then it will be rather expensive simply because Island hopping isn’t cheap, even if you stay in cheap dorms and eat giros for food.

If you hang out on a resort and choose a hotel with a pool, and bum about between there and the beach, then it may be a lot cheaper, but this isn’t travelling around Greece.

Overall, it’s the TOTAL cost of the holiday that decides if it’s a deal or not. Even though it costs a lot more for me to fly to Thailand, i can probably have a very similar priced deal if i stay for 2-3 weeks as Greece.

Ted

Sorry but your post made no sense. Are you saying resorts are the cheapest option? Anyways for anyone who wants to go to Greece I can tell you it is a steal right now.

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