Backpacking Greece Travel Guide: Things to do, Costs, Budget [2021]

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Travel guide to Greece

Greece is a well-known vacation destination in Europe. A country where guaranteed sunny days and warm weather attract visitors from all over the world. While backpacking Greece you will not only find beaches and sun but also a place full of diversified sights.

Backpacking in Greece is a kind of thing to do, if you enjoy a lot’s adventures, some unique hiking trails, exploring ancient archaeological sites, having a proper party, and spoiling yourself in picturesque islands. A very diversified country that suits every kind of traveler.

What can you find from this backpacking Greece travel guide? 

What places to see in Greece. Approximate travel costs in main areas. How to get in and get around Greece. Travel tips to wander around on a budget. Average daily budget. How to say hello in Greek and many more.


Quick Facts About Greece

  • Language: Greek
  • Currency: Euro (€)
  • Capital: Athens
  • Population: 10.3 mln (2021)
  • Highlights in Greece: archaeological sites, Greek Islands, turquoise beaches, tasty local cuisine
  • What Greek people like: Hospitable, into good food and coffee, start the day slow, enjoy the outdoors.
  • Fun fact about Greece: During the summer, there are more visitors in Greece than local Greeks.

Things to Do and See in Greece

Greece is a country with diverse things to do and see. There are the most archaeological parks in the world, many picturesque islands, and other options for a perfect trip.

1. Visit the biggest landmark in Greece – The Acropolis

The symbolic landmark in Greece shines up on a hill in the middle of the capital Athens. Probably the most famous ancient citadel stands on the freestanding hill and is seen at other famous spots like Ancient Agora, Filopappou Hill, Lycabettus Hill, Monastiraki Square, The Temple Of Olympian Zeus, and more. 

The citadel is mostly recognized by Parthenon Temple, which is the most iconic landmark. The entrance fee to the famous Acropolis is 20€, but you can save money overall, when you claim a combined ticket (30€ for 7 ancient parks).

erechtheum temple
Erechtheum Temple
Odeon of Herodes Atticus
Odeon of Herodes Atticus

2. Try windsurfing on Lefkada Island

Lefkada Island, like the other Ionian Islands in western Greece, is mostly known for its sandy and turquoise water beaches. The most scenic one is Porto Katsiki Beach with a white cliff. Other places to visit are charming mountain and fisher villages like Nidri, Vasiliki, Englouvi, where you can taste delicious Greek food.

Other than nature, Lefkada is also popular in water sports, especially kite- and windsurfing. Moderate winds through the summer make it a great place to try out these water sports from beginners to more advanced surfers. Two main spots are Agios Ioannis and Vasiliki beach.

Porto Katsiki

3. Conquer the Mountain of Gods – Mt. Olympus

There is a legend that Mount Olympus was home to 12 Greek Gods. It used to be an important place in Greek Mythology. Now it’s a national park where visitors come to see its beauty and to reach the highest point in Greece. 

Mytikas peak is the highest with 2917 m (9570 ft) among the Olympus peaks and the believed home for the Greek mythological Gods. The most popular E4 hiking trail to Mytikas peak starts at Prionia at an altitude of 1100m(3.608ft). 

Mount Olympus

4. Seek the Monasteries of Meteora 

One of the most visited places in Greece’s mainland is the 6 monasteries in Meteora. But just the monasteries themselves aren’t that attractive why millions of visitors per year are visiting it. It’s because these monasteries are built in unusual places.

These monasteries are situated on the top of separate steep rocky hills, with the purpose to have a safe and isolated place for monks. Six monasteries have been active since the 14th century and are open for visitors. Around the area are also several hiking trails, with scenic views over the Meteora hills.

Monasteries of Meteora

5. Hiking in Samaria Gorge

Samaria Gorge trail is one of the most popular hiking paths in Greece, which leads you through steep canyons. The spectacular hike is located on Crete Island near Chania town.

The 16km (10 miles) trail is relatively easy and takes about 6 hours to complete. On the road, you will see some abandoned villages, friendly wildlife like mountain goats, and narrow gorge rock formations. One of the greatest experiences when backpacking Greece for hikers.

Samaria Gorge

6. Explore the ancient Greek at Ancient Agora of Athens

Back in the ancient days, Agora was a gathering public square with many important buildings. Nowadays it’s one of the must-see places in Athens. So much ancient history in that one archaeological park. From there you will find a museum with sculptures, miniatures of different ancient landmarks (Ancient Agora, The Acropolis), and a well-preserved Temple of Hephaestus.

Temple of Hephaestus, Ancient Agora of Athens

7. Enjoy the nightlife at Ios Island

Ios is part of Cycladic islands and has been a favorite for young travelers mostly due to its vibrant nightlife. It’s a true hotspot during the summer for the people who like to party at beach clubs, pubs, taverns, or any other clubs. 

Other than nightlife, it’s also a great place to just chill, wander around all-white streets, and see some sightseeings. You can also visit ancient sites like Skarkos and Tomb of Homer, seek the windmills, or just soak in beautiful beaches.

Ios

8. Ancient landmarks at Delphi Ruins

It’s one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece to learn about ancient Greek history. The importance of the site illustrates the fact that ancient Greeks believed that it’s the center of the World.

It’s a pretty large archaeological site with many ancient ruins of temples, theater, stadion, walls, and many others. In addition to ancient ruins, it’s situated on the foothill of Mount Parnassus, which offers magnificent landscape views.

Delphi Ruins

9. Enjoy the famous Santorini

Santorini is probably the most iconic Greek island. You will paint a picture of all-white buildings with light blue roofs when thinking about that island. It’s one of the dreamiest places for every traveler around the world.

In addition to the famous Oia village, there are more things to do. You can visit the Ancient There, have a wine tasting, seek the Santorini volcano, discover Red Beach, or hike up to the highest point of the island, which is 565m (1,900 feet) above sea level. Even though it’s ridiculously expensive it’s still worth visiting.

Santorini

10. Shipwreck at Navagio Beach

Probably you have seen a postcard scenery picture of the beach with a rusty ship. The “hidden beach” is located on Zakynthos island. All the fame goes to the ship Panagiotis which crashed into the picturesque beach due to stormy weather in 1980.

The shipwreck itself is only accessible through seaways and gets overcrowded during the peak season. There are also trails above the beach, where you can also capture the world-famous desktop picture.

Zakynthos

11. Vacation on low-key island Naxos

It’s the largest among the Cycladic islands in the Aegean Sea. It’s the perfect island for those who are looking for a more low-key vibe and a bit more relaxing. As it’s one of the largest islands, compared to the surrounding, then there are more diverse things to do for every kind of traveler.

You will find there countless sandy beaches, villages to stroll around (Apiranthos, Halki, Chora), ancient sightseeings (Portara, Demeter temple, Panagia Drosiani church, Kalamitsia Monastery), learning how to kitesurf, or hiking in the mountains.

Naxos

12. Find a laid-back vibe Folegandros Island

As usual, the Greek Islands get extremely busy during the summer months, then from Folengrados you will find a more secluded island with typical beautiful beaches, white villages, and delicious Greek cuisine. It’s located between famous islands Milos and Santorini.

More off-beat destination than it’s usual for Greek Islands because there isn’t that sufficient transportation in between. It would be a great place for those who are looking for a Greek island paradise with less traffic.

Folegandros Island

13. Explore the car free island Hydra

It’s the most common island for day trips from Athens. It’s a quaint island because there are no cars. They are banned. The only transportation options are boats, donkeys, or your legs. 

Hydra offers a bit of a different lifestyle with stone mansions, art, different retreats, charming villages, and the donkeys. It’s an elegant island where you can escape from traffic noise.

Hydra

14. Discover the Cosmopolitan Corfu Island

Corfu is the northernmost Ioanin Island, which is known for its green hilltops, cosmopolitan Corfu Old Town, turquoise beaches, and multi-cultural influences. It’s a scenic place, which is surrounded by the crystal clear Ionian Sea.

A few highlights peculiar for Corfu: Visit the Old Town that is listed on the World Heritage site. Explore wineries and do some wine tasting. Scuba diving to explore the rich sea world. Hike some parts on the long Corfu Trail. Don’t forget to taste some delicious local dishes like Bianco fish.

Corfu

15. Hike up the Lycabettus hill in Athens

The highest point in Athens is at the top of Lycabettus Hill. Getting to the 277-meter hill has several options. You can either go with a car near to the top, use a cable car, or hike up on foot. It’s a relatively easy climb and up there you can enjoy 360-degree views of Athens, visit Saint George’s chapel, and have a meal in a restaurant. Best place to seek a sunset in Athens.

lycabettus hill view
St. George chapel mount lycabettus

16. See the Aqueduct of Kavala

A small city located in northern Greece on the shore of the Aegean Sea. Kavala is filled with interesting history, ancient architecture, and many options for lazy beach days.

The main sights to look at the city are the Aqueduct of Kavala called Kamares, Imaret complex of buildings, iconic Kavala Fortress, Ancient Theatre of Philippi, and charming old town.

Aqueduct of Kavala

17. Visit Balos Lagoon and Learn to Surf in Kissamos

Balos beach is arguably the most beautiful place to have a beach day in Crete Island. Blessed with long white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, it’s been a long favorite for many visitors. 

Balos Lagoon can be visited mostly in two ways: by car or boat. The lagoon is located on a narrow peninsula, and the only way to get there is by ground transportation. The closest place to start your journey to Balos is Kissamos, where you find a charming little village and even a surf school where you can learn to surf.

Crete

18. Walkthrough the Lion Gate at Mycenae

The Lion Gate marked the entrance of the Mycenae citadel. The gates of glorious Mycenae weren’t used for lions, as the name says. The name came from the two lions sculpture at the top of the gate. 

Mycenae was a wealthy town in ancient times and has an important role in Greek history. It was also a hometown for legendary king Agamemnon, who led Greek troops in the Trojan War. Currently, you can find a popular archeological site which can be visited as a day trip from Athens.

Mycenae Lion Gate

19. Find the hidden Monemvasia

A hidden town was constructed in MIddle Ages on a small island. The town isn’t seen from the mainland and the only way to get there was by boat. Just to be protected from the enemies. It got its name from the Greek words mone and emvasia, which means “single entrance”.

Now the Greece hidden gem is connected with the mainland and these old mansions are turned into guest houses, hotels, and shops. The best thing to do there is to explore that fascinating middle aged Monemvasia town, search for a couple of churches and other ancient landmarks.

Monemvasia

20. Restricted Mount Athos peninsula

Mount Athos peninsula is an isolated area with 20 active monasteries and is home to approximately 2000 monks. There is a spiritual community that dates back to the 5th century AD. 

Mount Athos might be one of the hardest areas to get into in Greece. It has its special jurisdiction with some restrictions. First of all, only men are allowed to enter the monastery area and you need to have a permit to visit it, which takes about 6 months. But when you want to see a different lifestyle of monks, then it’s worth a visit.

Mount Athos peninsula

21. Hike the Vikos Gorge

If you are interested in hiking somewhere special, then this might be the perfect place for you. You will be amazed when hiking through Vikos Gorge trails, which is also the World’s deepest canyon.

The trail length is 12 km and takes about 6 hours to complete, starting from the village Monodendri and ending in Vikos. On the way, you will find scenic views of the gorge, vibrant wildlife, and cooling springs to jump into.

Vikos Gorge

BONUS: Best Greek Islands for Solo Travel

Greece has 227 islands that are inhabited. All of them seem like perfect dreamy destinations, but it’s impossible to visit them all while backpacking Greece. 

There are islands for vacations, water sports, hiking, adventure, or any other style of traveler. If you travel alone and might think about the best islands to visit solo, then from the article below you will find the best Greek islands for solo travelers.

Best Greek islands for solo travel

Read more: Destinations guides about Athens and Lefkada Island.

Athens travel guide greece
Lefkada Travel guide, Greece

Backpacking Greece Travel Costs

Greece is a touristic country, where the economy lives on that. On average, it’s a pretty affordable country, but keep in mind that the travel costs get expensive in the peak season, summer months, and vary a lot in different destinations. For example, Greek Islands are typically more expensive. 

But let’s find out what are the average travel costs in Greece?

Accommodation Costs

When backpacking Greece on a budget, then apparently the best option for accommodation is hostels. These are cheaper everywhere you travel in Greece. Would be enough already if considering throughout Greece 15€ – 25€ (18$ – 30$) for a bed in a shared dorm per night.

For example, hostel prices in Athens start at 8€, in Santorini from 10€, in Crete from 10€, in Mykonos from 13€, in Paros from 9€, in Ios from 8€, in Corfu from 6€.

If you want to have a private room, then budget hotel prices stay approximately 30 – 50€ all around Greece. However, keep in mind that some Greek luxury islands like Santorini and Mykonos have different price lists, especially during the peak season.

Food Costs

Greek cuisine consists typically of appetizers, the main meal, and a dessert. So in other words, a full 3-course meal. Also, an option is to budget with street food.

Greek cuisine experience in a restaurant starts with appetizers. You will typically find from the menu a Greek salad, Tzatziki, Saganaki, or Spanakopita. The price for starters stays around 5€.

For the main meal like Moussaka, Yemista, Pastitsio, Souvlaki, Tiropita in a mid-range restaurant expect to pay around 10€. Greek main dessert baklava is typically given by a restaurant as a gesture when you have finished your dishes. But if not, then you can have it for a couple of euros.

For budgeting, you can also look for some Greek street food. The most common getaway is gyros, which is perfect for backpacking Greece on a budget. The price stays around 3€ and it fills your stomach very well.

Attraction Costs

As Greece has a strong and interesting history, then you can find loads of archaeological sites to learn about its glorious ancient Greek times. For example, the most popular Acropolis in Athens costs 20€ per person. However, many other sites cost less than 20€.

Another peculiar activity in Greece is yacht cruising. It might not be the most on the budget attractions in Greece, but if you have that kind of money, then I would highly recommend it. Expect to pay at least 70€ for a place for one-day cruising.

Other activities include kayaking, SUP boarding, diving, windsurfing, hiking, and more.

NOTE! As already mentioned, average prices vary a lot depending on the season and location. The most pricey months are during the summer in the luxury Greek islands.


How to Get Around Greece

Greece is one of the most visited countries in Europe, which gives you plenty of options to get there by plane, boat, or even by train. When backpacking through Greece you have a well-connected public transportation system and sufficient boat transport.

Getting to Greece

A plane is the most efficient and also the cheapest way to travel there. There are two international airports in Athens and Thessaloniki. However, throughout Greece, there are many smaller airports on the mainland and also on islands, even with direct connections to international airports in Europe. Check out schedules and prices from Kiwi.

Boat transport is used a lot in Greece, mainly because of countless islands. But you also have an option to get to Greece by ferry. Italy and Turkey are the closest countries to Greece by sea. Find schedules and tickets from Direct Ferries.

Public transport on the ground isn’t so common to get in Greece, due to it’s doable only when reaching Greece on the north from neighboring countries Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Turkey. You can find train and bus schedules from Omio.

Getting around Greece

There are many ways and options to backpack around Greece. Are you staying on the mainland and seeking more historic sites or choosing more vacation and island hopping. Both ways you will find several alternatives.

Plane

Domestic flights are pretty expensive, but they could be the best option when you are short on time. Even though it’s the most expensive way to travel around Greece, they sell out fast during the peak season. So it’s better to book in advance, which also saves you money. 

Ferries

When planning Greek island hopping, then the cheapest way to hop around is by ferries. Prices vary a lot depending on where you are heading. Because some of the islands are far away and take a couple of hours to reach there. The biggest departing port is in Piraeus (Athens). The best place to look for boats is the Ferry Scanner.

Public transportation

When staying on the mainland, then the best way to travel around Greece on a budget is to use public transportation. Buses operate between main destinations with infrequent schedules. Domestic busses are operated by KTEL.

The train system isn’t the greatest, because there aren’t many connections. Trains are operated by Greek Railways Organisation.

City transportation in Athens is well-organized. Options are to use busses, trams, and a metro. For more information about Athens city transport, check out the Athens travel guide.

Car rent

Car rent would be an ideal option to do day trips around Greece. Whether it is on the mainland or island, it’s the most comfortable way to explore the area. For example, the cheapest cars cost 30€ per day in Athens.

Renting a scooter, moped, or ATV is an alternative for the budget. A great way to discover one of the islands. 

Hitchhiking in Greece

When having a tight budget, then an alternative way of backpacking through Greece is hitchhiking. Recommended is to pitch drivers face to face, for example from gas stations. Check out more tips for hitchhiking in Europe.


Where to Stay In Greece on a Budget


Greek Traditional Food

Moussaka – Probably the most iconic and must try dish in Greece. It has many recipes and even something for vegans. A legendary recipe consists of layered potatoes, meat, tomato, sauteed eggplant, and it’s topped with feta cheese.

Tzatziki – The most popular sauce, which is eaten as an appetizer or as a side meal. It’s made of Greek yogurt, cucumbers, and garlic.

Greek Salad – The most traditional starter and must have in every meal. Consisting of tomatoes, olives, cucumber, peppers, and large feta cheese as a topping.

Yemista – Made of stuffed tomatoes and peppers, which is traditionally filled with rice, herbs, and minced meat.

Pastitsio – Traditional Greek dish that looks like lasagne and is eaten all year round. It’s a baked pasta with meat and bechamel sauce. 

Souvlaki – A grilled meat on a skewer which is usually served together with french fries and a salad. You can find it almost in every restaurant.

Spanakopita – A spinach pie is perfect as a side meal. A traditional recipe also includes feta cheese, onions, and eggs.

Spanakopita

Courgette balls (kolokithokeftedes) – Crispy outside and creamy inside. That traditional Greek appetizer will activate your taste buds with melted feta cheese.

Gyros – The most popular Greek street food. Served with pita bread, where you can have various ingredients like chicken, tomatoes, french fries, onions, sauces, and lettuce.

Baklava – The most usual dessert in Greek cuisine. Consisting of nuts, butter with sugar, and crispy layers of filo. The sweet is eaten by coffee or at the end of a restaurant course.

Halva cakes – A simple dessert made with sugar, water, syrup, olive oil, and semolina. It looks like a pudding, which is afterward studded with nuts. 


Daily Budget for Backpacking Greece

Greece is a well known tourist destination in the whole world. It has its different seasons and different prices. Overall costs in Greece are pretty affordable, not overly expensive. However, you might be shocked when you see prices during the peak season on the islands.

A tight budget traveler should keep Greece’s travel budget around 25€ per day. On that occasion, you have to stay in a budget hostel, do Couchsurfing, or wild camping. Make meals by yourself or have some street food Gyros. Many cities or any other tourist places can mostly be discovered on foot. Between longer distances use public transport, or hitchhiking while backpacking around Greece.

A rational backpacker who wants to have a bit more comfort should start with a daily budget of 45€. On that occasion, you would stay in an average hostel. Have a Greek cuisine experience in restaurants for a while. Also eating street foods like gyros. Using reasonable public transportation. Also, have a budget to enjoy some attractions while backpacking Greece.

A mid-range traveler who wants to have even more comfort and privacy with private rooms should start with a daily budget of 70€. On that occasion, while backpacking Greece you can have a private room in a mid-range hotel, experience some local cuisine in restaurants, move around with public transport and seek attractions daily.

HousingFoodTransportAttractionsDaily Budget
Tight budget0 – 12€10€0 – 10€0 – 10€10 – 42€
Backpacker12€15€10€10-15€47 – 55€
Mid-range30 – 50€15 – 25€10€15 – 25€70 – 110€

Greek Language

It’s always good to know some basic phrases and words in local languages, even though Greeks are pretty decent in English. But still, you will be more respected by locals if you know how to greet, thank, or surprise with some learned Greek phrases. Keep in mind that Greek uses a different alphabet, but here are some mostly used Greek words and phrases in the Latin alphabet:

  • Hello – Yásas
  • Good morning! – Kaliméra
  • Good evening! – Kalispéra
  • Thank you! – Efharistó
  • Please – Parakaló
  • All right! – Endáxi
  • How are you? – Ti kánete?
  • Fine, and you? – Kalá, esís?
  • Yes – Ne
  • No – óhi
  • Pleased to meet you! – Hárika polí
  • I want… – Thélo…
  • Cheers! – Yámas!
  • How much is this? – Poso kani?
  • What is your name? – Pos se leneh?
  • Excuse me – Signomi

You can easily learn new languages through different travel apps. With language apps like Duolingo, it’s super easy to learn all the basics in several languages.


Best Time to Visit Greece

Greece has nice weather all over the country from mid-April till the beginning of October. The peak season is from mid-June till the end of August. During the summer months, the tourist crowds are extremely high as Greece is one of the favorite vacation destinations in Europe. As you can guess, the prices also reach their peaks.

The best time for backpacking Greece is during shoulder seasons before (April to June) or after (September – beginning of October) the summer months. Then you will find more space with a bit less crowd. Prices are also more affordable. Temperatures are mostly still 20 – 30 degrees Celsius (68 – 86 Fahrenheit)

During the winter Greece is still visited for a variety of reasons. For example, it’s the best time to discover archeological sites, wander around Athens streets, and spend less money than usual. Although it’s not so warm to have beach days. The average temperature in winter stays around 10 degrees Celsius (50 Fahrenheit) in the capital Athens. 

After all, there isn’t a bad time to backpack across Greece. If you intend to discover Greece as a whole including all open attractions, soaking on the beach, hiking then the months close to summer would be the best fit. But if you are looking for short city getaways, exploring archaeological sites, then it’s better to visit Greece in the off-season months.


Greece Visa Requirements

Greece is a European Union country and also a part of the Schengen Area. If you are backpacking to Greece from another European Union country then there will be no check and you can enter the country without a stop. Greece also has a tourist visa, but before planning a backpacking trip, check out more information about visas in Greece.


Is Greece Safe to Travel?

Countries in Europe are for the most part safe to visit. As a traveler, it is the same with backpacking Greece, because the country depends highly on tourism. The locals will be friendly when you use common sense and respect people. But as everywhere you have to be aware of scams, keep your things in a safe place or avoid any other tourist traps. After all, Greece will host you well!

Anything can happen when traveling abroad and backpacking Greece is no exception. Having travel insurance is a must (anywhere you go). I always have travel insurance, but luckily I haven’t used it yet. For me it’s okay to spend a little for my safety (if anything happens), then to pay afterward for extremely high medical bills. I recommend using trusted World Nomads.


Backpacking Greece Travel Tips

Couchsurfing – That would be my first recommendation in any country. It’s not about a free couch, but more about the awesome people you met through that. In short, it’s an app or more community where locals host travelers in their homes. It’s an easy way to interact with local Greeks and have fun together with them.

Student ISIC Card – This can be helpful in Greece to save money. With that will be found discounts in transport, attractions, or even on accommodation. Check out which discount options with an ISIC card you have.

Hitchhiking – A fun way to travel around Greece. Also safe to do it when backpacking Greece, but don’t forget to use your gut feeling when using that alternative way of traveling. Check out tips when hitchhiking in Europe.

Walk as much as possible – Loads of attractions are mostly around the centrum area of bigger cities like Athens. It’s also possible to see more surroundings and even crash “by accident” into some hidden gems.

Use refillable water bottles – Tap water in Greece is mostly drinkable, if not then there is probably written “non-drinkable” or something like that. Also, there are a few water fountains in bigger places to fill your tanks. If not sure, then ask locals.

Local food experiences out of the tourist area – In every city or town, the highest prices are around tourist hotspots (centrum and main attraction). One of the greatest travel tips that work everywhere is to eat there where the locals do.

Be the chef – Food in Greece restaurants is pretty affordable. But if you don’t have deep pockets, then the easiest way to cut down expenses on food is cooking by yourself. Get your ingredients from discount groceries and for example cook moussaka in the hostel kitchen.

Free Walking Tours – The best way to get to know about the city is through guided tours. Most of the bigger cities in Greece have free guided tours around the main sights. I recommend using that, but make sure to tip the guide in the end.


More about Greece and Backpacking


Travel Resources

Traveling around Greece:

  • Kiwi – Search for the best deals for flights.
  • Omio – Search for the best deals when looking at trains and busses.
  • Rome2Rio – Find any kind of public transportation.
  • Ferry Scanner – Ferries for Greek Island hopping.

Find a place to stay:

Save money with travel cards

  • Wise – Borderless card without fees on different currencies.

Have trusted travel insurance:


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