I may not travel quite as cheaply as when I was backpacking through Europe in my 20s, but I’ve picked up a trick or two to save money while traveling. Here are a few tips specific to traveling in Greece.
1. Buy Water at the Grocery Store
I typically carry a S’well bottle with me so I can fill up water out of the tap and carry it around with me. But in Santorini, it wasn’t recommended to drink the tap water. I quickly realized that at a restaurant when the server asked if you wanted water, he would bring you a $2-4 bottle! My solution became to pick up a bottle of water for less than $.50 at the grocery store. I’d just pour it into my S’well bottle and be on my merry way.
2. Say No to Bread
Another trick they use at restaurants is to ask if you want bread with your order. In the US, we’re accustomed to bread being complimentary, but in Greece, it comes at a price. Honestly, I never once missed not having bread because the meals were so ample.
3. Ask to See a Menu
I learned this tip on how to save money while traveling the hard way. After walking around a park in Athens in 95-degree weather (and it was just 10 am!), I stopped at a restaurant on the edge of the park for an iced coffee. There was no one in the restaurant (should have been my first clue) so I just told the waiter I wanted an iced coffee and a water.
I’ll admit, it was an amazing iced coffee. Even had ice cream in it! I savored it as I amused myself with a napping cat in the shade.
But then the bill came. $17! I was kicking myself for not having looked at the prices on the menu, but I never could have imagined anyone charging so much for iced coffee and water.
Beware of this in famous places too. Debbie and I had the same experience when we visited Harry’s in Venice. We were soaking up the Hemingway vibe in his old haunt and didn’t notice that the bellini drinks we ordered were about $25 each!
4. Eat in Your Room
One of the reasons I like to book an apartment when I travel is because I have a fridge to store food and can reheat restaurant leftovers or even cook a meal if I want. I rented an apartment for part of my stay in Santorini, so I went to the store and bought ingredients to make pasta. Easy and cheap.
I also usually have breakfast in my hotel or rental. Even if it’s just fresh bread and yogurt, it keeps me from having to spend $10-15 on breakfast at a restaurant.
5. Don’t Pay to See Ancient Ruins
When I arrived in Athens on the tail end of my trip, I was giving myself a hard time. I knew that the Acropolis was the thing to see in Athens, but the idea of waiting in line and fighting crowds in the heat of summer didn’t appeal to me.
I punted on the decision and went for a walk around Monastiraki and Plaka, two cute neighborhoods that are in the middle of tons of ruins. I was surprised at how much I could see without paying for entry! To be honest, I know I’d get overwhelmed with too much historical information thrown at me, and I enjoyed my walk much more as a sampling of Greek ruins.
6. Walk and Soak it All In
Besides walking among ruins in Athens, I had other great (and free) memories from my walks in Greece. I enjoyed strolling through Fira before the cruise ships dumped hundreds of people into the streets. I was able to get great shots of Greek architecture in Oia within a couple of hours, and then I went back to my hotel room to cool off. Meandering through Megalochori resulted in my making new friends.
Wherever I go, walking is my preferred method of transportation. I walk in the area around my hotel as soon as I settle in to get the lay of the land and find a few good restaurants. I’m usually surprised at how much closer things are to walk to than they seemed on the map.
So there you have it! A few tips to save money while traveling anywhere, really, but with some specifics about Greece!