Athens, the ancient and vibrant capital of Greece, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world and it would be very possible to spend a considerable amount of time and money exploring all that the city has to offer. While Athens’ culture and history may be rich, you don’t have to be to enjoy a holiday there – there are lots of things to do in Athens that are completely free, or at least affordable.

Where attractions are paid for, there are still ways to save money with a little planning or some local knowledge. In this article, we look at ten things to do in Athens that won’t break the holiday budget, and share some tips for making your spending money go further.


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Athens on a Budget
  10 Unmissable Affordable Attractions 

In this post we will be discussing all of the below points to help you plan your own unforgettable trip to the Greek capital of Athens.

Table of Contents

How to Get to Athens Cheaply

Before you even start thinking about your itinerary, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to get to Athens. There are plenty of ways to save money on flights but don’t feel you need to spend hours of your own time comparing offers and discounts. Opodo is a service that can do this leg work for you, comparing cheap flights to Athens. On that page, you can also read up on where you’ll land (Athens International Airport, aka Eleftherios Venizelos), which airlines you’re likely to be flying with (you’ll be pleased to see some familiar low-cost ones in there) and your public transport options into the city, which all factor into reducing the cost of your trip.

Can you be flexible on travel dates? The cost of flights can vary significantly depending on the time of the day and week that you’re travelling, so if you’re not tied to a long weekend then check prices a few days either side to see if you can save. Explore options at nearby departure airports too. We’re really lucky in the UK that we have a lot of regional airports flying into Europe, so it’s always worth having to look to see if it’s cheaper to fly from another destination.

Don’t forget to factor in parking if you’re going to be leaving your car at the airport and are going to be away for a longer period – Bristol airport for example often has cheaper and more regular flights than nearby Exeter, but you’ll pay a lot more on parking, meaning it often pays to fly from Exeter anyway. If you are parking at the airport, book as far in advance as you can and look for discount codes – you should be able to get 10-20% off standard prices.

One final way to keep down the cost of your flights is to keep extras to a minimum. The cheapest flights to Athens will usually be with budget airlines where any baggage costs extra, so the lighter you can travel, the more money you can save. The same goes for seat allocation – if you’re happy to be randomly assigned seats and don’t mind whether or not you sit with your travelling companions then this can save you a big chunk of money too.


10 Budget-Friendly Things to Do in Athens

Now you’ve got your flights booked and you know exactly when you’re going to Greece, it’s time to get planning the fun part – the itinerary. Some travellers of course prefer to not have an itinerary at all and just start exploring and see what happens, but we’ve found that if you really want to make the most of a city and not end up paying over the odds then it helps if you can map out a rough plan for your time there. 

Acropolis and Parthenon

You can’t take a trip to Athens without visiting the iconic Acropolis and its crown jewel, the Parthenon, but how to visit on a budget? This one is all about timing – if you can plan your holiday so that you’re there on the first Sunday of the month then admission is completely free. These Sundays do get busy, so arrive as early as you can. Visiting early in the morning is the best time to escape the heat too and the sunrise is spectacular.

National Archaeological Museum

When you’re done at the Acropolis, head to the National Archaeological Museum for a deeper dive into Greece’s history. The museum houses an impressive collection of artefacts and treasures spanning swathes of Greek history and it’s another attraction that’s typically free on the first Sunday of each month.


Do a Free Walking Tour

Do a quick search online and you’ll find there are loads of free walking tours running in Athens covering history, architecture and food. While at first glance this might seem like a brilliant option for a budget, keep in mind that they aren’t strictly free. While there is no fixed upfront cost, you are normally expected to pay something at the end of the tour depending on what you feel it was worth and how much you can afford. This does mean that you can do it cheaply, but you may find the group sizes are large on the popular tours, particularly during peak season.

Stroll Through Plaka

Plaka is the oldest neighbourhood in Athens and is a gorgeous way to while away an afternoon in Athens spending little to no money at all. Plaka takes you through a delightful labyrinth of narrow streets lined with colourful buildings and quaint cafes – it’s the Instagram dream! Take a stroll and soak in the local atmosphere and if you’re a history enthusiast, you can always pop into the Museum of Greek Folk Art, which often has reasonable admission fees.


Monastiraki Flea Market

Here’s where you can really test your budgeting skills as bargaining is the name of the game! Monastiraki Flea Market is a bustling bazaar that offers everything from antiques and souvenirs to clothing and crafts. Hone your negotiation skills to snag unique items at budget-friendly prices.

Temple of Olympian Zeus

The Temple of Olympian Zeus is a testament to ancient Greek architectural prowess and a must-see for any visitor, but the great news is that it doesn’t have to cost you anything at all. The Temple of Olympian Zeus is easily visible from lots of different places in the city, so you get to see it even if you don’t pay to go inside.

Street Art in Exarchia

If you want to explore the alternative side of Athens, head to the neighbourhood of Exarchia, known for its vibrant street art scene. The streets are full of colourful murals and graffiti, reflecting the neighbourhood’s artistic and rebellious spirit. When you’re done admiring the art, stop off for some refreshments at the Sepia Art Cafe, one of the area’s most popular spots for food and drink.

Tour the National Gardens

Once you’ve finished with the changing of the guard, head to the north side of the square and you’re right by the Athens National Garden. The gardens are free to enter and are the perfect opportunity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. German agronomist Frederick Schmidt put together the planting in the gardens. He imported more than 500 plant species from around the world, so it really is a fascinating space to explore.


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Syntagma Square and Changing of the Guard

The changing of the guard ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Syntagma Square is well worth a watch and is as popular as the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The ritual is performed by the elite Presidential Guard and takes place on the hour, every hour. By far the grandest display though is on Sundays at 11am so try to time your visit for that one if you can. It’s completely free to watch the changing of the guard.

Escape from The Paradox Project

While you might not associate Athens immediately with escape rooms, it’s actually one of the top spots in Europe for them and the rooms at The Paradox Project are some of the very best. One of their games, The Bookshop, was recently voted the second-best escape room in the entire world. We say escape room – The Paradox Project games are entire houses and are much longer than regular escape rooms. They’re not free of course, but with The Mansion coming in at three hours long you certainly get value for money. Playing in a big team often makes escape rooms more affordable and The Paradox Project offers smaller groups the option to merge with another team. All the games are available in English.


As you can see, Athens has plenty to offer budget travellers with a huge range of activities that won’t strain your finances. Greece is often seen as a beach destination, with its thousands of islands – some, like Santorini, more famous than others – as the focal point of each trip. But, from exploring ancient monuments to strolling through charming neighbourhoods and enjoying cultural gems, this city has something for everyone and we’ve only scratched the surface. By taking advantage of free admission days, exploring local markets and embracing the city’s cultural offerings, you can make the most of your Athens experience without sacrificing your budget. So, pack your curiosity and embark on an unforgettable journey through the heart of Greece without breaking the bank.

Also, remember to share this with your friends and family that you are going to share this amazing experience with. Sharing is caring and we want to ensure that everyone is fully prepared to maximise their experience completing this stunning walk.

If you are planning a Greece trip soon then check out our other Greece content right here. Come and find us on social media to see where we are currently exploring. Tag us in your photos from your stay and we will share them with the rest of our community of explorers and backpackers.

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