Ten Things For Under A Tenner In… Athens
Athens is a brilliant city. One of the world’s oldest, it’s the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of western civilisation. You can also drink lots of really nice Ouzo there. Best of all, while you can find plenty of fancy restaurants and interesting ways to spend a lot of money there, it’s also really easy to see Athens on a budget. To give you a little inspiration, here are ten of the best things you can eat, see and do there for under a tenner…
Visit the Acropolis, obviously
This actually costs twelve Euro. I’m sorry. I know I said ten things for under a tenner but this is the ACROPOLIS we’re talking about. It’s one of Greece’s most beautiful, most historically and architecturally important sight, and if you can’t stretch for the extra two euro to see something this amazing and iconic, then you have no business being in Athens! Not only that, but your admission fee gives you access to multiple other amazing sites and sights, so it technically works out at around €2 per sight. It opens at 8am, but if you’re clever (and not hungover), you might want to head up there really early to catch the sunrise from Filopappos Hill, and get into the site before the big tour groups start arriving.
Eat a Nice n Easy Breakfast
In a city where coffee and a smoke is a popular breakfast choice (and one I’ve been known to indulge in on occasion), it’s actually not so simple to send you for a traditional Greek breakfast, which is a real pita (sorry couldn’t help it). BUT that’s not to say there aren’t some cracking brekkies to be had in the city, and Nice ‘n Easy are definitely up there. Their ethos is that they use fresh, local, organic ingredients to create their modern Mediterranean dishes. They even smoke their own salmon. If you want to try it as part of an eggs benedict you can, and it’s €9.90. And it is delicious. Personally I’d go for the Huevos Rancheros though (€7.90). The coffee’s expensive here, but if you get yours to go, you get 50% off.
Free walking tour
The Athens free walking tour is a good one. It’ll take about three hours, and like most free walking tours it’ll take you on a whistle-stop tour of the city’s most famous and interesting sights. An ideal first-morning-in-Athens activity, this’ll help you get your bearings and give you an overview of the place so that you know which spots you want to return to later and explore properly in your own time. The guides are friendly, funny, and know absolutely loads about the history behind the city’s most iconic architecture. You’d actually be mad not to do this. Dates and times can vary so email them for details if you’re going.
The National Archaeological Museum
Of all the museums in all the cities in all the world, you HAVE to walk into this one. It’s remarkable. It’s absolutely huge, it’s exceptionally well curated with a smooth chronological flow, and it’s wall-to-wall ancient art and artefacts that suck you right back into ancient Greece in all its glory. It costs €7 to get in, and honestly you could spend 3-4 hours there and still want to go back for more. Even if you don’t think you’re into museums, it’s a good idea to give this one a go – it’s just the perfect way to understand how civilisation developed from Prehistoric through to Ancient Greece and up to more modern history.
Have FIVE PIES for your lunch
Only joking, don’t actually have five pies. You’d give yourself a stomach ache, put yourself into a food coma, and ruin the rest of your day. But the point is, you COULD eat five pies from Ariston for lunch if you want, and you wouldn’t have spent more than a tenner. They’re €2 each, and huge. Flaky, naughty pastry stuffed with meat, vegetables and cheese – these bad boys are very filling and are the perfect way top feed yourself if you’re in Athens on a budget. This bakery is a bit of an Athens institution, and the perfect place for a cheap take away lunch. Try the feta and courgette, and the bacon and cheese.
Plaka is the oldest part of the city, and also possibly the part you will fall in love with most of all. Huge bursts of colourful flowers spill from the rooftops of sunshine-yellow buildings, people sit outside restaurants and bars enjoying food, cocktails, coffee and the atmosphere. When you’ve finished browsing all the shops and taking pictures, sit down and soak up the atmosphere yourself. Oionos café is a good place to do it, they make a good coffee. They also do good G&Ts and if you’re so inclined; you’ll get a few of them for your tenner.
Go to the Museum of Cycladic Art
This museum is full of ancient art, dating back as far as the 3rd millennium BC. It’s not a huge museum so it won’t take up much of your day, but it really is worth seeing. The displays are excellent and really divers, with loads of information on each piece and collection. Some even say that as far as learning about Greece’s history goes, it’s easily on par with the Acropolis museum. It’s really interactive too, and they’ve made ‘how to’ videos relating to a lot of the artefacts that are very cool and give you a good insight into how these pieces of art were made so many millennia ago. Well worth €7.
Climb Mount Lycabettus
Mount Lycabettus is a hill with two peaks that reach almost 300metres in height, giving you a pretty spectacular view of the city – on a clear day you can see the whole metropolitan area including the acropolis. There is a funicular about halfway up that you can take to the top, but the better (and free!) option is to walk the whole way; there’s a staircase through the forest that takes you to the top. Athens is hot and this is a bit of a climb, so it’s probably best to start in the late afternoon when the Grecian sun isn’t blasting down quite as much. If you do catch sunset up here, it’s a pretty nice thing to see. There’s a café at the top, but it’s a little pricey. Take water and snacks and you’ll be fine.
Eat gyros for dinner.
Greece has brought some pretty important things to the world – democracy, architectural design, philosophy and theatre to name a few – but I think we can all agree that all of those things pale in comparison to its most important, globally significant contribution to humanity… the gyro. There are lots of incredible places to get excellent kebabs in Athens, but the go-to place has to be the famous O Thanasis on Mitropoleus Street (we’ve even written about them before). They just know how to put bread together with perfectly grilled meat and tomatoes. Some of their options cost more than a tenner, but most are under. You’re missing out if you go to Athens and you don’t eat here.
Have a beverage in Brettos
Brettos (in Plaka, where we told you to go earlier in the article) is probably one of Athens’ most famous bars, so expect it to be busy… but it’s one of the most famous bars for very good reason. Apart from anything, the décor is brilliant; two entire walls are made up of shelf upon shelf of different coloured (and flavoured) liqueurs, and another is made up of old liqueur casks. These guys make some primo Ouzo. They’ve been doing it for over a century, so they’ve had plenty of time to get it perfect. Go in, find a seat if you’re lucky, and spend your tenner on some fine Greek booze. We won’t judge if you spend more than a tenner. Enjoy.