If you’ve got your passport ready, your suitcase packed, and you’re all ready to head off the Greek capital, you might still be wondering what else you have to prepare before traveling to Athens. Here are some things you should know before you set off on the trip of a lifetime!
1. Get a combo ticket to see more for less
The first thing on everyone’s list when traveling to Athens is to see the majesty of the Acropolis up close. However, there are so many other additional ruins and archaeological sites to discover in the Greek capital. One easy and cost-effective way to see some of the biggies is by buying a combo ticket, which costs 30€. A ticket to the Acropolis alone costs 20€, so this is a steal! An Athens combo ticket is valid for 5 days from the moment of purchase for a single individual. This ticket will let you enter the following sites:
- Acropolis of Athens
- Hadrian’s Library
- Ancient Agora of Athens & Museum of the Ancient Agora
- The Temple of Olympian Zeus (Olympieio)
- Aristotle’s Lyceum
- The Roman Agora of Athens & the Tower of the Winds
- Kerameikos (museum and archaeological site)
2. Know when to see things for free
Getting a combo ticket is a wonderful way to see so many astounding sites for one price, but there are ways to see some of these places for free, too! If you travel to Athens in off-peak months, many of the city’s major sites and museums open to the public for free on Sundays. From November 1st through March 31st, all major sites, including the Acropolis, have free entrance. Several museums are free once a week on certain days, so if there is a museum in particular you want to visit, check the schedule ahead of time.
Additionally, on the following Greek holidays you can visit most of the city’s museums for free.
- January 6th
- March 6th
- April 18th
- June 5th
- August 15th
- September 27th (and the last weekend of September)
- October 28th
3. Always have some cash on hand
It’s a rarity these days to have cash in our wallets since we are so accustomed to paying for things electronically or with plastic. However, you’ll quickly realize that cash will come in handy when you’re in Athens. While it may surprise you that some shops and restaurants might now accept cards in this day and age, paying by cash is still very much the norm in Athens. Luckily, you can find ATMs and cash machines everywhere throughout the city center, so getting cash is easily accessible wherever you are.
4. Get a transportation pass
Besides walking, the easiest way to get around the Greek capital is by Metro. Getting a three-day tourist pass to use the public transportation system is a great way to get around, since you pay one price (22€) and can ride the Metro as many times as you want. This includes getting back and forth to the airport, which normally has a higher fare than a regular ticket, which costs 1.40€. If you don’t plan on riding the Metro that much every day, you can get a one-day pass for 4.5€, but this does not include a trip to the airport.
5. Avoid tourist traps when eating and drinking
Athens has a plethora of bars, taverns, and restaurants to discover, so when you see one with a big menu in English or with pictures next to the door, keep moving. These places, while friendly and welcoming, are most usually tourist traps. Many times, these touristy restaurants will have a waiter outside trying to coax customers in. A place that is frequented by locals will be more low-key and surely more of a deal. Every neighborhood has fantastic food and dining, so don’t settle for anything less than authentic!
6. Leaving a tip is optional
Like throughout much of Europe, leaving a tip when traveling to Athens is optional. Waiters, bartenders, and servers receive a proper wage, so a tip is not expected and is seen only as a bonus. However, if your service was good and you feel so inclined, feel free to leave whatever you feel is appropriate. A tip of any amount would be graciously accepted.
7. Be alert and stay safe
Athens, in general, is quite a safe city, but travelers do need to be aware when it comes to pickpockets. When riding transportation, like the Metro, or walking through crowded areas, be aware of your belongings at all times. Make sure your bags are zipped uptight, carry your wallet and phone in your front pocket, and keep an eye on your backpack. Pickpocketing is the most frequent crime in Athens, and tourists are usually the target.
Also, be alert when you are out at night. Athens is quite safe, and Athenians love to stay out until the wee hours of the morning. Knowing this, be sure to keep to well-lit areas, and use a taxi if you have a long way to walk alone. Avoid the Omonia area at night, which is known to get a bit dodgy at nighttime. As long as you use common sense, you’ll have absolutely no problems!
See more: 5 Reasons Why the Kypseli Neighborhood is the Trendiest Spot in Athens, 6 Fantastic Coworking Spaces in Athens for Digital Nomads, Greek Culture 101: The Importance of Oxi Day in Athens, A Checklist of the 10 Best Things You Can Buy in Athens When You Visit, How to Pack for the Weather in Athens All Year Round