Sparta was the ancient rival of Athens and known for their fierce warriors (see the historically inaccurate movie “300″). The city offers has great history and ruins to explore. There is no shortage of things to do, excursions you to take, and places to eat. It’s an often overlooked city (most skip it) but you can get all the history of Greece without the tourists of Athens here.
- Hostel Prices: Hostels aren’t expensive here and depending on the location, they can be quite cheap. Expect to pay no more than $20 USD a night for a dorm bed.
- Budget Hotel Prices: Budget hotels average to be $50 USD per night.
- Average Cost of Food: Restaurants will cost about $20 USD for a nice dinner, even in the tourist area. If you really want to eat cheap, eat gyros (like kebabs). A Gyro is around $3 and will easily fill you up. Most cafes will cost you around $10 for a meal. Buying your own groceries will cost around $40 per week.
- Transportation Costs: Taking the bus is a good option if you’re staying right in Sparta. If you want to explore other areas, consider renting a car as the train doesn’t cover a lot of the surrounding region.
Top Things to Do
- Visit the library – This is one of the most important monuments in Sparta. It’s a beautiful historic building that makes for a good wander before lunch.
- The Olive and Greek Olive Oil Museum – This is a pretty interesting place. Here you can discover all there is to know about olive oil, an important part of Greek life. The entrance fee is only a few Euros.
- Walk around the modern city – Visit Town Hall, which is in the central part of the town’s square, and from there eat and drink the local food.
- Mystras – This is one of the best sights of the Byzantine Empire you can see in the area. You can view a Byzantine church and fortress as well as do a lot of hiking around the area. This is the biggest attraction in the area.
- Sancturay of Artemis Orthia – This museum was founded in order to highlight the history of the Greek goddess, Artemis. She was a huge deity for the Spartans. There is a lot of history surrounding her role in mythology, including some interesting ritualistic practices. The museum has a small collection of clay masks that were worn during such rituals as well as some other exhibits about the goddess.
- Byzantine Church of Christ the Saviour – On the path to the acropolis resides the ruins of this church. Several important archeological discoveries were made here and are now the archeological museum.
- John Coumantarios Art Gallery – This gallery features a permanent collection of 40 paintings, as well as, a temporary, rotating exhibit of pieces from the National Art Gallery in Athens. Overall the gallery is a small and intimate space.
- Eat out – Sparta isn’t very big so there are only a few big places to eat. Diethnes is a long standing favorite place for locals and Restaurant Elysse is another popular, dual-tavern hot spot, which features Lakonian specialties.
- The King Leonidas Statue – This was one of the very famous kings of ancient Sparta (see the movie “300″). Located in front of a soccer stadium, this statue is a testament to the fading ruins of the Spartan legacy. You can find it easily by heading north, along Paleologou.
- Take self-guided tour - Whether you want to rent a car or not, don’t indulge in the guided tours that are often very costly.
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