Image source: http://greece.greekreporter.com/
Greece used to be one of the most affordable destinations of Europe, but after the country joined the Euro prices have soared and are now on par with all the other European destinations.
In the sixties and seventies when the currency exchange rate and prices in Greece were favorable to travelers from Western Europe and the US, Greece was a favorite destination for budget-conscious tourists.
Prices in Greece vary from place to place, but this guide should give you a good idea of what to expect if you are planning to travel to Greece.
A loaf of bread costs about €0.80, and it is a Greek norm that all meals are accompanied by bread. Therefore bakeries exist in every neighborhood where bread is freshly baked each morning. If you arrive at a bakery after 11:00 AM you might not find much selection left. Traditionally bakeries sell a host of other products, ranging from freshly baked pies (cheese-pies, spinach-pies, etc.), milk products, sweets, cookies, and crackers. Budget conscious travelers take advantage of the reasonable prices of these products for their daily food.
A meal at a restaurant that includes a main course, a salad, and a soft drink would cost a traveler around €20. Prices vary between towns, and between parts of towns. Expect to pay premium prices for food at a very popular touristy location, and less in parts of towns where tourists don’t usually venture. A plate of spaghetti for instance, will set you back 7 or 10 Euro; a Greek salad 7 or 9 euro, a bottle of water €2.50, the obligatory “service charge” another euro, and if you add a drink or two your bill will increase accordingly.
The “service charge” I mentioned is a mysterious item on the bill. No one really knows what it is, and you might get different answers from different restaurants. Rumor has it that it is the charge for the little basket with some bread slices, some butter, napkins, and the silverware the waiter will set on the table upon sitting. Others say it reflects the tip for the waiters. In any case, it is ubiquitous in Greece so don’t panic, and make sure you eat all the bread from the basket.
Tipping at restaurants in Greece is included in the price either as a separate “service charge” or as part of the food price. The menu usually indicates somewhere on the last page what’s included in the prices. If in doubt, ask the waiter. It is customary to round up the bill at restaurants, cafeterias, and bars.
The Greek government regulates the price some basic necessities for travelers. If you buy a small bottle of water in Greece you should pay no more than 50 cents (assuming you are not sitting at a table).
Prices of fresh fish at restaurants get the lion share of complains in Greece. The reason is that fresh fish prices in Greece change daily, and the menus at restaurants don’t include them. Usually the menu would say something like “market price” next to a fresh item. This is how it works: The customer would ask to see the fresh fish, and the waiter will take the customer to the place where the catch of the day is displayed (usually in the kitchen, or somewhere near the front of the restaurant). There the customer can inquire about what kind of fish is displayed, how much it costs per kilo, and would order the quantity he/she wants to eat. The waiters are usually not forthcoming with the price information, and travelers neglect to inquire, and this has lead to many misunderstandings and complains. It’s not really a scam, as many tourists believe. Greeks order like that, and either don’t ask about for the price (its a status kind of sign like: “I am out to enjoy myself, I like this fish, price is not an issue”), or if they really care, they ask outright.
For low budget dining, one can opt for a Gyros sandwich, or even a souvlaki that are sold just about everywhere for low prices. Usually gyros and souvlaki is prepared in the evening and is eaten for dinner, although in places where tourists frequent, you can find them all day long. Make sure you order the “sandwich” and not the platter. Some restaurants around Monastiraki would be more inclined to serve you the platter for double the price (and double the portion) of the sandwich if you do not specify the Gyro you want. For breakfast, one can opt to sit at a cafeteria and have a full English breakfast, or just a frappe (iced coffee). Oftentimes, a simple cheese pie, or a spinach pie from the bakery is adequate for those who don’t want to pay the price for a full breakfast or those who are on the go.
Prices of hotel rooms vary from place to place and depending on the hotel class. You can expect to pay between 70 and 140 euro for a double room at a “C” class hotel (prices can vary depending on location and time of year). You can find a decent hotel (Best Western style) in the center of Athens for about 70 Euro (summer 2014).
There are many luxury hotels in Greece, most of which rely on “packaged” tourism to fill their rooms. As a result, we have noted a deterioration of services, dated facilities, and sub-par dinning in many five star hotels we visited in Greece. That’s not to say that they are all sub-par, but you should read reviews carefully before you book. Also, as a rule, you can expect to pay a lot more for a room in a luxury hotel if you are not part of a group, so check to see if you can get to the same hotel by joining a group through a travel agent.
Most hotels will include breakfast in the price they quote, but if they don’t specify, ask if it’s included. We found that the mere act of asking might prompt the hotel to include it as an incentive to book on the spot. Sometimes you may get a better price if you don’t want the included breakfast, although it’s not always possible. The included breakfast is usually buffet style of varying quantity and quality, and you might be better off getting breakfast in the surrounding area on your own albeit at a higher price. For comparison, the most scant “included breakfast” we’ve had in a Greek hotel beats the equivalent breakfasts we’ve had in the US by ten miles!
Once again it is very difficult to provide prices for rooms because they vary widely from place to place. You can expect to pay more in very popular places, and much less in out of the way destinations.
As a general guide, you can expect to pay between €60 and €100 for an apartment room. Of course, you can find cheaper and more expensive apartments. Apartments can range from one room accommodations, to a full house with all the amenities. It used to be a wild hunt to locate apartments for rent, but now with online services such as Air B&B, things have become much simpler, albeit, the prices have crept up a bit.
Free camping is not officially allowed in Greece any more and I always hear stories about campers getting rudely driven off a beach by the local police, and even fined. Luckily you can always find inexpensive camp sites just about everywhere, especially in the islands.
If you stay in organized camp sites you can save quite a lot of money (and you will be closer to nature). Expect to pay anywhere from 5 to 15 Euro per person, and then add some extras depending on what kind of accommodations you need. Accommodations range from a tiny spot on the dirt to unroll your sleeping bag, to tents (maybe another 5 euro), electrical outlet (about €4) and the such.
Moving about on foot is very easy in small towns and villages in Greece, but for longer distances within, or around a city, the public bus system is a good way to get around.
There are two kinds of public buses in Greece:
In Athens, a ticket that can be used in all transportation modes for 70 minutes from the first boarding and cancellation costs €1.20.
A monthly card for unlimited rides in all modes (bus, metro, tram, etc.), except the express Airport lines and line express X80, costs €45. An annual card with the same restrictions costs €320.
A monthly “Airport” card that is good for all transportation to and from the Eleftherios Venizelos airport with all transportation (except the X80 line), costs €45. A seven-day Airport ticket costs €50. The annual fee for this card is €450.
A “five-day” ticket that does not include the airport lines costs €10.
There is also a “3-Day Tourist Ticket” that can be used in all modes of transportation and for the special bus line X80, but not the airport. It costs €20.
Taxi prices vary widely depending on the destination and a host of other parameters, so giving prices would be pointless.
Some reminders would be helpful however.
There is a minimum charge for each trip of €3.44 in Athens and €3.69 in rural towns. The meters starts at €3.44.
Passenger pick-up, and drop-off at ports, railways, and bus stations, luggage incur an extra charge. For example, rides to or from the Athens airport cost €4.18 extra and each luggage over 10kg costs €0.43.
These prices are valid for all taxis, and usually you can pick up a taxi at their station in central parts of towns, or you can flag one from the side of the road. Here are a few other prices you should know about taxis in Greece: Calling a taxi to come to you, or for an appointment would cost up to €6.15. The price for a taxi to wait for you is €10.85 per hour.
The taxi meter must be set at the beginning of each trip (an automatic €1.29 charge), and the passenger is obligate to pay only the amount on the meter at the end of the trip (plus extras like luggage, airport service etc.).
If you travel withing city limits (not hiring a taxi to take you to another city), the tarrif rate is 0.74 Euro per kilometer. In this case, make sure the meter indicates “Tarrif 1”! If your ride takes the taxi to an area outside its city limits, the meter will indicate “Tarrif 2”, and you will be charged 1.29 Euro per kilometer.
People in Greece don’t usually tip the taxi driver for routine fares, but if you hire a taxi on a pre-arranged agreement to take you on a tour, the driver would expect a hefty gratuity.
To get to the islands you need some money for ferry tickets. Prices vary, but the cheapest tickets are “deck class” (or “economy class”).
Most people travel economy class (“deck tickets) with the Greek ferries. Travelers buy tickets and then find a bench or a quiet corner on the deck or inside the ferry where they stay for the duration of the trip. For longer trips (as in overnight) it is very common for people to be camped everywhere on a Greek ferry. After 11 pm the hallways, the lounges, and the decks are filled with people sleeping in chairs, in sleeping bags or anywhere they can find. It is quite a scene. This is actually a good way to see many Greek islands: you frolic in an island by day, you sleep on the deck of a ferry by night (assuming the trip is overnight).
Ferry prices vary from 15 to 80 euro depending on the type of ferry and the distance traveled. To give you an idea, in mid July expect to pay about 24 Euro to sail from Piraeus to Mykonos in economy class, about 32 to get to Crete and about 45 to get to Rhodes (these are one-way prices). Fast ferries are much more expensive.
The Greek government sets maximum prices for basic necessities in places where people have few choices of vendors. This includes airports, sports venues, archaeological sites, passenger ships of all types (excluding cruise ships), inside trains, in bus and train stations, in theaters, courthouses, and hospitals.
If you are on a budget, here is a list of items you should buy at these lower prices, and when you buy, always ask for a receipt:
Bottle of water (500/750ml): €0.35
Toast or sandwich with cheese (drab but can hold you up for a couple of hours): €1.25
Toast or sandwich with ham and cheese (even more drab): €1.45
Greek coffee, single: 1.20
French(Γαλλικός)/Ice coffee (Frappé)/Tea (single): €1.30
Espresso coffee (single): €1.45
The current economic crisis has forced the government to raise taxes in just about everything, including food, dinning, and everything else. Even though consumption is down, price inflation continues to rise, partly due to taxes and partly due to the merchants’ desperation to maintain profits as sales slow down. While hotel and tour prices are set to be lower in the summer, transportation, gas, and food prices will probably be higher than the European average.
Having said that, the record-setting tourist arrivals since the summer of 2013 have contributed to prices in the “touristy” areas to explode. With hotels, flights, and ferries booked at maximum capacities, it would be a good idea to book your trip early to take advantage of special offers. If you book at the last minute, expect to pay more than a premium for your vacation.
This page includes approximate prices of some major items in Euro. Even though the exchange rate of the Euro varies from time to time, it is a fairly stable currency so its fluctuations should not affect your travel plans.