A cheap weekend break in Athens is not as difficult as you might imagine. Here’s all you need to know:
Getting to Athens
– you can hop on a relatively cheap flight from almost anywhere in Europe. Sample return weekend fares (leaving on a Saturday morning and returning on a Monday morning) to London average around £115 – 140, depending on the time of year. Off season may be cheaper. After landing in Athens, you will need to take the Metro or a bus from the airport into downtown. Each takes about an hour and I much prefer the Metro. One-way fares are about €6 for the Metro and €3,60 for the bus.
Getting around Athens
– once in downtown Athens I would say the BEST way for a non-Greek speaking person to get around is the Metro. It is new and clean,as a result of the Olympics, and is very efficient. Since most signs in Athens are in the Cyrillic alphabet, the Metro announces stops with enough advance notice so that you don’t have to scramble to get off. The stations themselves also offer a glimpse of ancient Greece because any relics that were found while digging out the subway are now displayed inside many of the Metro stations.
Visiting the Ruins in Athens
– to go to Athens and not make the ancient sites part of your visit would be like going to Rome and not visiting the Colosseum. I recommend the Acropolis and the National Archaeology Museum. Museum admission costs about €6 or €12 with a combo ticket to the Acropolis. Each site is good for a half-day visit.
Shopping and Eating in Athens
– visitors will find plenty to shop for, especially Greek and Byzantine styled jewellery, but shop around and be willing to barter. Prices vary widely and dealers often offer discounts to friendly travellers. Some stops might include the Monastiraki Flea Market on Sundays, where you can find anything from genuine antiques to genuine junk. The crowds alone make it a colourful experience. Visitors should also explore the area known as the Plaka. Most of the streets in the Plaka are closed to cars, so pedestrians and tourists can feel free to explore without being run over…unless it’s by an errant scooter!
There is so much more to be said about a cheap weekend to Athens but some things you have to discover on your own – that’s part of the adventure.
As they say in Athens, “Kali tihi!”
Lisa Fantino is an award-winning journalist and attorney and the creative force behind Wanderlust Women Travel. She also blogs as Lady Litigator.