|Good morning, 1st day of 2015|
The flight was only around $800. A few months prior I paid $500 to fly just to North Carolina! And of course I manipulated the lay overs to hit both Geneva and Zurich in Switzerland free of charge (the flights anyway). Athens was set as my home base for the first half of the trip, the second half was going to be left open to stay somewhere else in Greece, but I loved Athens so much I stayed there the whole time! Right in the heart of Monastraki square for only $40 a night for my own apartment! Unfortunately for Greece, the economy is terrible right now, but for the budget traveler that makes it a favorable time to go. Food, drink, and tourism right now in Greece is the best prices amongst most of Southern Europe. Here's my tips and advice to make your trip to Greece an unforgettable experience!
- Don't disregard Athens and the mainland, the few people I know that have been to Greece advocated landing and hopping off to the islands, Athens offers to much, the capital definitely deserves more time.
- If staying in Athens do everything you can to stay in Plaka, particularly in Monastraki Square or Syntagma square. I definitely favor Monastraki though personally.
- In Monastraki square is the legendary A For Athens Hotel, it's not exactly the best deal for a budget traveler, but the roof bar and restaurant is open to non-guests, needless to say I was there quite often for a beer or cappuccino, and had my New Years dinner there. It has the greatest views of the Acropolis you can imagine, speaking of which...
- The Acropolis: I've seen a lot in my travels, but the Acropolis really took my breath away, the beautiful photos I took do not do it justice, even the locals told me sometimes they just have to stop and stare. A whole day can be spent in the Acropolis, and another day can be spent exploring the historical sites surrounding it.
- The Islands: Of course you want to hit the Greek isles, there are many within a couple of hours from Athens, if you are venturing to Mykonos or Santorini the boats and ferries can take quite some time, it may be more advisable to book a flight as the prices are not much different.
- Don't drive in Athens... just take the bus or the train... trust me.
- Greek food is delicious, this was the best food trip of my life, admittedly I am biased and already love Greek food, but you can eat in quality restaurants with views of the Parthenon for around $10 USD!
- Don't forget about that other Greek city... Sparta is a short bus ride from Athens, it's a beautiful city and you certainly don't have as much of the economy crashing feel in Sparta, there you can explore Mystras castle! I highly advice on arrival to Sparta just to take a taxi to the Mystras, you can catch a bus back, but it takes some time to get there and unfortunately by the time I got there I only had about 30 minutes for Mystras, which should have around 3 hours. The bus takes about 3 hours, and the taxi will take 10 minutes, the local bus takes about an hour because it stops so much!
- Taking the train around Athens is super easy, you will not need taxi's at all except for bar or club nights.