Is Greece expensive? How much will a Greece vacation cost? It’s hard to know what your trip will cost because it depends a lot on your budget and style, but I just spent two months in the country on my own Greek trip and have lots of numbers to share on what we spent.
Greece has never been a candidate for my book The World’s Cheapest Destinations. Even in the darkest times economically, it still got so many tourists that prices stayed propped up and never nosedived. Salaries in Greece are nowhere near what they are in countries like England, France, and Germany, however, so it still feels quite reasonable compared to those.
In general, a vacation in Greece feels like a good value. The food is good and plentiful and you’ll usually eat it in a nice atmosphere. The wine is cheap and free-flowing, the transportation works pretty well, and the hotels are on par with those you’ll find in the rest of Europe. If you rent an apartment, you’ll generally get something that feels worth what you paid.
You can get around Greece relatively easily and transportation won’t break the bank. Ferries serve the islands and the most popular ones have airports too. There are trains and buses for overland routes and although there’s annoyingly no Uber or other efficient app, the taxi fares are usually not outrageous once you find a cab, though see the transportation section for exceptions.
Even though I spent two months in the country, I still feel like I barely scratched the surface. Unlike countries where there are a few main sites to visit and then you’re done, exploring all that Greece has to offer would take a lifetime.
Lodging Prices in Greece
After you fly to Greece, which will be cheap from Europe and not so cheap from North America, your biggest cost will probably be lodging: either Greek hotels or apartment rentals. I would rank Greece a bit less than the USA and Western Europe on the accommodation price scale, but that depends a lot on where you are within the country. The islands are generally going to cost more than the mainland and prices go up a lot in the summer. We were there in April and May when rates were more reasonable.
We mixed it up a lot on lodging, using the home exchange program we belong to, Airbnb, and both rental apartments and hotels through Booking.com. I find that Booking tends to have the best selection in Europe, plus their filtering via ratings scores works well to make sure you’re booked into a decent place. We stayed at some places that were just meh, but none that were bad. In general we got places that were a decent value for our overall range of 40 to 99 euros per night, both hotels and apartments.
We had a week or more in home exchanges in the Athens Riviera area on the water south of the capital and then on the island of Hydra. So those two places aren’t included, but here’s what we spent elsewhere per night in euros:
Meteora Airbnb in Kalambaka – €55 per night
Athens Airbnb – €40 per night
Glyfada hotel – €65
Pireaus hotel – €50
Kalamata hotel near beach – €65 including breakfast
Kalamata apartment – €37 first time, €41 second time. (We liked this big apartment so much that we came back and rented it again!)
Puerto Kaglio hotel – €90 including breakfast
Gythios hotel with a view – €49 (Aktaion City Hotel pictured below)
Monemvasia hotel – €85 including breakfast (Bastion Malvasia)
Monemvasia apartment by a beach – €60 including breakfast
Corfu hotel – €99
Then we took a ferry from Corfu to Albania and said goodbye to Greece.
Greek Transportation Prices
I said in that video above that we paid €30 per day for the rental car but it turns out I overestimated by quite a lot: I just looked back at my bill and it was $18 per day with the insurance. We rented in Kalamata for 12 days, driving all around the southern Peloponnese Peninsula, and it was $227 for all that.
This was a terrific deal and it gave us a lot of flexibility to explore the wild Maniot region, spend a night in Gythious where we visited this scene below, and drive over to Monemvasia for a few days.
We also drove to see the spectacular archaeological sites of Mystras and Messini, both good day trips from Kalamata if you don’t have as much time as we did. You could get to these places by public transportation, but it’s not easy. Having your own wheels saves a lot of time and hassle and it’s probably not much more expensive in the end.
We did take a few buses, a couple of train rides, and a few ferries though, so we got to experience the whole gamut of Greece transportation options. For some reason I never took a picture of the train from the inside or outside, but it was comfortable and enjoyable, with a fare of €18 between Athens and Meteora, a trip of 3.5 hours I believe. The trains only serve the mainland though, so they’re mostly for getting up there or to Thessaloniki unless you are headed out of the country.
We also took a few buses and they were fine too. The one I took from Thessaloniki to Meteora was around €18 and the one from Athens to Kalamata was around €20. Both were three or four hours.
Since this is a nation of islands and peninsulas, however, much of the travel happens on the water. We took a few ferries while we traveled around Greece. The port near Athens is Pireaus and you can get to it by public transportation from the city. We went from there to the island of Hydra and back and that costs 25 to 30 euros each way depending on the time and season. The trip is super-fast, no cars since it’s a car-free island, and there’s a cafe on board. I priced out a trip to Naxos on Omio and that was running 33 to 40 euros for a trip of 3.5 to 5 hours.
The only other ferry we took was to leave: we hopped a ferry in Corfu to head to Albania and that was €18.50 one-way. Naturally if you’re on a really long one, like overnight to Crete, that could cost you a lot more and you would probably want a cabin for the night.
Which leads to the point that…it’s often easier to fly if you’re going a long way. We booked two international flights in the country and both were under €130 one-way. We flew from Kalamata to Rhodes via Athens and Kos to Corfu via Athens.
In the two biggest cities there’s ample public transportation and Athens is quite good actually: there’s a metro, a tram system, and buses. All of them have a reasonable cost of €1.20 for 90 minutes, €4.10 for the whole day, or €8.20 for five days. You do have to pay more to get to the city from the far-flung airport though: that’s €5.50 on the bus or €9 on the metro.
The cool thing is, those Athens trams and buses will take you to the Athens Riviera, also known as the Apollo Coast, for the same price, or take you to the ferry port in Piraeus. We did take a few taxis around Athens and they were usually reasonable, under 10 euros except a trip we took from Piraeus all the way to the Athens bus station, which was €20. Otherwise we used our feet.
Where the taxis will cost is when you’re on an island full of foreign tourists and there’s collusion between the drivers. Since there’s no Uber or similar service, the taxi cartels have no competition and it shows. Sometimes this socialism isn’t bad, like when it’s 27 euros to go from the very far-out Rhodes airport to the old city. In Corfu we had to pay €20 just to go 2 kms to our hotel when we landed at the airport though, which felt like a Cancun-style rip-off.
Greece Food & Drink Prices
Like any developed tourist country, Greece has it’s cheap take-out food places for locals and break-the-bank gourmet restaurants for those who can spend whatever they want. The bulk of places any locals frequent fall into a more predictable range, however.
Tavernas filled by Greeks that are off the tourist route are much more reasonable than restaurants at the base of the Acropolis in Athens. That’s especially true if there’s a tout outside waving a menu and trying to sell you in English on coming inside. During our time in multiple locations, we usually spent between €25 and €60 per meal for two eating out at restaurants, a level that is obviously far above the backpacker range but not too bad for people on vacation.
What you order has a big impact on the bill too. If we had been on a stricter budget, we would have stuck with the salads and appetizers section of the menu as these are usually priced between €3 and €9 and portion sizes are often big enough to share. Greek salads always come with a healthy slice or two of feta, so they’re reasonably filling. Main dishes are often 8 to 20, also large, so sharing and avoiding over-ordering can help a lot.
Just be advised that a basket of bread that shows up on your table will cost another two euros at least and that big bottle of water they plop down will also be added to the bill. I didn’t have an issue with the first but the second is kind of annoying in a country where you can drink the tap water fine and much of the plastic doesn’t get recycled.
Casual places like gyro restaurants will never be very expensive and if you want to fill up for a few euros, head to one of the ubiquitous Greek bakeries for a wide selection of yummy savory and sweet baked items that may be stuffed with cheese, spinach, chicken, or mushrooms. It’s rare that a bakery item is more than 2 euros.
One of the most surprising things to me about eating in Greece is that fish is priced like a luxury item now. I thought I’d be eating seafood a lot since it’s a country so tied to the sea, but apparently the Mediterranean has been overfished so badly that the “Mediterranean diet” now has more meat than seafood. You’ll see calamari and octopus for prices that aren’t outrageous, but it’s not uncommon to see fish priced at 50, 70, or even 90 euros a kilo in a restaurant. So instead of eating fish by the sea as I expected, I think I ate it an average of once every two weeks, one of those times being small and bony mullet fish.
The best bargain in Greece is house wine. It can be as little as 2 for a half liter, more commonly 3 or 4, but that’s usually less than ordering two sodas or one beer. The wine is not going to win any awards, but it’s usually a pleasant red, white, or rose that you end up with. You’ll seldom get real wine glasses though: Greeks love to drink out of tiny glasses and cups it seems no matter what they’re putting in it. Bottles of better wine in the stores ran us 4 to 10 euros most of the time, though of course you can spend more to step up to the top options.
Greek beer was a big disappointment for me, most of what’s available being bland lagers that taste like what you find the world over from big brands all going for volume over taste. Fix Dark is about the only deviation and even that one can be difficult to locate in a store or minimart. You have to hunt really hard to find craft beer and when you do it will be quite expensive. Greece has to import barley and hops, so prices are higher than you’ll find in the USA for both the mass-market ones and the better ones.
The best deal besides wine is Ouzo, the anise-flavored hard liquor, and Tsipouro, which can taste like moonshine made from leftover grape parts or an excellent grape-derived liquor depending on the quality. Either will be 5 to 8 in a bar or restaurant for a small bottle that you can mix or drink over ice. It is also easy to find hard cider in stores and sometimes on menus. There are a lot of great liquers at good prices, including the unique resin-based one called mastic, mastica, or mastiha. This aromatic liqueur comes from an evergreen tree that only grows on one island.
They worship their coffee in Greece and sometimes it seems like they’re bowing to it more than drinking it. A cup will sit on the table for hours instead of being morning fuel for getting things accomplished as it is in the USA. It’s just a reason to be at a table with someone to talk with, so you have a coffee and chat at any time of the day. You can find coffee to go these days, though as in much of Europe, it’s seldom drip coffee or prepared with a French press. Get used to coffee made with bitter espresso, generally 1.50 to 2.50 for a cappuccino. They drink a lot of iced coffee made from espresso if that’s your thing, though I did see some cold brews here and there.
Other Greece Vacation Travel Prices
In general, admission charges to attractions and historic sites aren’t going to break the bank. Prices sometimes go up in high season though, like the archaeology museum in Athens: it’s 6 euros in the low season but 12 euros in the summer. Still worth it either way though.
If you’re going to go sightseeing in Athens, the Parthenon complex by itself is €20. That’s not a terrible price for one of the wonders of the world, but if you spend €30 instead you can get a pass that goes on your phone and gets you into six ancient sites instead, including the Agora complex that is large and fascinating. There are other various Athens passes available from the likes of Turbopass, so compare and see what works for your budget, time, and endurance.
As we traveled around the country, I think €12 was the ceiling for what we paid at archaeological sites. What you see once inside will often put what you see in other countries to shame. There are more interesting sites in the Peloponnese Peninsula alone that most countries have added together.
When we went to Messini in the Peloponnese Peninsula, pictured above with me being a tourist, the entrance fee was €12 per person. It’s a massive site, so a good value considering all the millions in restoration work that went into the place. We spent the same in Mystras, a Byzantine set of ruins not far away that serve as a great few hours of exploring and hiking up to the castle.
Museums in Greece are often just 2 or 3 euros for admission, so we went to quite a few since it wasn’t taking much of a chance. One of the best was the the Karelias Museum of Greek Costumes in Kalamata, which is 5 euros to enter. Monasteries are always free unless you’re in Meteora, where entrance is €3 for each one you visit. They cost a bundle to maintain, in all fairness, plus this way they’re not so fed up with the throngs of tourists coming in waves every day.
Tours in Greece and Summer Holidays
Greece is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world and tourism is a big part of their GDP, so there’s no shortage of tours you can take that run every day or every week. A Greece holiday seems to ge a given at some point for every traveler from the UK or Germany, many of them booking an all-inclusive Greece vacation and just going on some excursions from the resort. Europeans fly to Greece for a long weekend trip the way Americans fly to Mexico or the Caribbean. The former just get rocky beaches instead of sandy ones, but the concept is the same: food, fun, drinking, and sun.
The easiest place to jump on a tour for a day or two is Athens, where there’s plenty to do by land and sea nearby. You can pull up Viator and see hundreds of options, enough to be completely overwhelming, so you might want to have an idea of what you want before you dive in.
It’s a similar story with GetYourGuide, then on top of that you’ve got dozens of local companies vying for your business that are not listed with those suppliers. There are a lot of ways to spend money on your Greece vacation, including lots of boat trips leaving from the harbors of all the islands. There will literally be dozens of boats stacked up in the harbor ready to take passengers from Mykonos or Rhodes to some other nearby island on a Greek day tour.
We did a couple of tours with EatWith while I was there. One was the Athens Market Tour I wrote about here and one was a dinner in someone’s home, covered on the Perceptive Travel Blog. Both highly recommended.
Pay close attention to how long these tours are going to be total though and figure out if that’s really how you want to experience the place on your Greece vacation. While it may be possible to do a one-day tour to Meteora from Athens, that would be an exhausting nightmare if you ask me. I’m not saying you have to spend five days there like we did, but spending eight hours in transit for just two or three hours traipsing through monasteries really does the place a disservice. If you stick around a while you can go hiking through the rock formations in Meteora like we did with a local tour company.
What about a longer tour that hits multiple islands or a variety of places? That’s going to cost you more than doing it on your own, but it will save you a lot of planning time and take away the logistics hassles of getting from place to place. G Adventures has a lot of tours ranging from $120 to $200 per person per day, though usually that doesn’t include meals. There are overview trips, but also ones focused on hiking or sailing.
We took a small group boat trip with Sun Fun You that started out in Rhodes and ended up in Kos and we had a blast. It was a very active vacation trip, with lots of hiking, swimming, kayaking, and morning workouts on the ship. I’ll be writing about that later on Perceptive Travel but you can see prices here.
I’d guess a huge chunk of the Greece tourists are on a cruise ship or on some kind of package tour that mostly sits on a beach, but neither is my scene so I’m not going into that. A travel agent will be glad to sell you either though and the prices can be attractive if you join the mass tourism crowds.
Have you been to this country lately? How did you find the prices on your Greece vacation?