In this blog post, we’ll share some of our top tips and tricks for exploring Athens on a budget directly from our local Spotters, who know the city best. From free attractions to budget-friendly restaurants and accommodations, we’ll help you make the most of your trip without overspending. Whether you’re a student, a backpacker, or someone who wants to save money (FIRE! 🔥) while travelling, this guide to Athens for thrifty travellers is for you. So pack your bags and get ready to explore one of Europe’s most fascinating cities without breaking the bank!
Art and Culture
Loukanikos’ Graffiti – Tribute to revolutionary dog
Ηe owed his reputation to when he used to take part in the many protests and riots that took place during the first economic crisis in Greece. And not only did he take part in the demonstrations, he always used to stand in the first line and would bark at the policemen! In this way, Loukanikos became a symbol of the urban revolution in Athens and a mascot for the protesters.
That’s why Vasilis Gryparis made a big graffiti as a tribute to him on Psirri Street in the very centre of Athens. Next to his image on the wall is written: “All dogs go to heaven”.
Statues of Ζappeion Garden – Beauty made of marble
Marilena: Ζappeio is worth a visit by itself and is a famous Athens monument located right next to the Parliament. But who knows about the statues that are spread all over its garden in front of the Zappeio building itself?
There are 23 statues waiting for you to discover and find the story behind them!
One of the most famous is the one of the Greek national hero Georgios Karaiskakis who took part in the revolution of 1821. There are others that are of rich people who became benefactors of Greece, like Konstantinos & Evangelos Zappas, whose names were given to Zappeio Megaro. There is also a statue of Lord Byron.
Stenopos Kollytos – 2nd cen. AD Roman mosaic
Dimitris: I always notice the Stenopos Kollytos mosaic when I go on every Athenian’s favourite walk along Areopageitou and Apostolou Pavlou, a.k.a. the Acropolis pedestrian zone. It’s dated from the 2nd century AD, i.e. between 100 and 199. At the time, Athens was part of the Roman empire and had already been so for more than 300 years.
The sign next to the mosaic, on the pedestrian zone itself, notes that it used to be part of a Roman house, where the men would reside or hang out. Today this house’s ruins are creatively designated “House of the Roman Mosaic”, though I cannot see the parrots drinking water from the vase mentioned in the sign. Perhaps it’s referring to a different mosaic?
Kottaroú – Taverna at its best
Price: 4-Person Dinner, 35 Euros
Javier: If someone asked me where the most touristic place to have dinner in Athens was, I would answer quite vaguely, “in a taverna,” but in my opinion, there are two kinds of tavernas, so allow me to be a bit more specific about Kottaroú.
The authentic taverna is a haven, a small agora where thoughts are exchanged; it’s a place to express grief or happiness, where all people are the same, drinking the same inexpensive house wine. Up until the ’50s they were relegated to basements and usually were the perfect hangouts for outsiders, artists and/or outlaws. They were places full of stories.
Lefteris o Politis – Simply delicious souvlaki
Price: Wrap – 2.70 Euros
Antonis: A few things have not been said about the souvlaki wrap (tylichto in Greek) of Lefteris o Politis. For 71 years (starting in 1951), this place has been offering Athenians its amazing wrapped souvlaki. Lefteris o Politis has been a constant value in the Omonia Square area since it was the city’s heart, during its absolute degradation and devaluation, and now that the area is taking its first steps toward a better future.
Class divisions have no place in Lefteris. Workers, artists, politicians, and immigrants eat the famous souvlaki side by side. There is a story according to which a rich industrialist used to send his son, who was studying abroad, dozens of souvlaki wraps from Lefteris.
To Rodi – Superb kebab
Price: Kebab – 8 Euros
Angeliki: Recently, I have been visiting the area of Sepolia quite often for romantic affairs. One of them is that my boyfriend lives there and the other is the kebab of Rodi – or Agkop as the locals prefer to call this place that serves kebabs that are as tasty, juicy and as light as a kebab can be.
You can get a whole portion of 4 stick kebabs with pitta bread, roasted tomatoes and onions. If that sounds too much for you, you can order half a portion for half the price or a souvlaki wrap with one kebab in it. I highly recommend trying the giaourtlou, a kebab covered in yoghurt and garlic sauce. Do not miss the hummus. Be careful though it has lots of garlic in it, but that’s what makes it so special.
Boiler – The must-visit of Athens nightlife
Price: Beer – 2.50 Euros
Angelikia: Boiler is a must-visit of the Athens nightlife! While it looks like a bar it actually functions as a club with no entry fee. Whether it is Monday or Saturday, at around 22:00, Boiler opens its doors and each night a special DJ conquers the decks. Me and my friends go there a lot and it is normally our second stop on a night out (the first is Ela na sou po and the last is Cantina). It is the place for dancing, drinking and meeting the party people of Athens, the hip tourists, the queers, the punks, the ravers… everyone with an open heart and mind.
Svejk – Beer garden
Price: Beer – 4 Euros
Angeliki: On a Wednesday evening of June, after a very long day at work, a friend invited me to go out with him to a beer garden in Neos Kosmos, an area I barely ever visit, but the factors of beer and garden made me curious to go out and discover it. My instinct was right!
Svejk is a Czech – Slovak beer house with the true feeling of a traditional Czech pub on the inside and a lovely Athenian garden on the outside. It’s ideal for summer beer drinking or a cold winter feast.
The variety of beers is huge, including bottled and some rare finds in draft beers. The food is also very tasty and very fat. The menu is a heaven of fried dishes which can only be consumed with the help of a large glass of draft beer. I like the fried cheese, fried potatoes with cheese and schnitzel. The pork shank is a speciality, and it’s perfect if you are more than three people and order a couple more dishes to share.
Tiki Bar – Cool exotica mood
Price: Beer – 5 Euros
Andreas: If you have already visited Athens, you have probably visited Tiki bar. If not, put it on your to-do list next time. Tiki is an exotica bar – restaurant with ’60s and ’50s references. It’s the only bar in Athens that is self-proclaimed as lounge-punk and that says a lot.
Tiki has a wide range of choices to drink, and cocktails are among the best in town, without a doubt. Try a Green Apple, which is one of my favourites, or cocktails with handmade chilli syrup that you will not find elsewhere. Although it is a bar, Panagiotis makes amazing burgers with handmade ingredients and sauce from a secret recipe. The music can be jazz, funky soul, Latin, classical French or Italian pieces, huge disco moments or just pure pop. Just be in the mood to party, and under no circumstances will you be bored for a moment.