It was only when I was in the air when I began to consider why it was that my flights to Greece were so cheap.
The country’s unemployment is currently twice that of the average country in the Eurozone. At a staggering 23.2%, Greece’s financial situation is worse than it has ever been. Over 1 in 5 people without a job. Growth is minimal. Violent attacks on politicians, by dissident members of the community pepper the weekly news reports and they are continually being refused bailouts from the EU.
What does this mean for the travelling tourist then?
Although you might be at risk of getting taken for a ride by a few cab drivers, you’ll find that when it comes to places to drink and eat, you’ll be spending a lot less than you might think. Greece has always been a country that highly values eating and drinking, as such there are more than enough bars and restaurants to pick from, even in the sleepiest of towns. Of course, in Athens you’ll find the highest concentration of these places. Greece may well be going through some of the toughest financial times that it’s ever experienced, but you wouldn’t think that with the bustling vibe that invades the street when the scorching sun (temperatures get well over 30 degrees on some days) sets.
When the climate cools down to a more manageable 18 degrees, the locals work their way outside into the maze of larger sidewalks and side streets. Populated with cramped bars and even busier eateries, you’ll see Grecians truly letting their hair down on a Friday night when the Ouzo flows steadily and dinner parties are extended over extraordinary lengths of time.
As far as accommodation goes, if you’re planning on keeping costs down there are a tonne of great AirBnbs, ranging from the super-chic to the charmingly rustic. Although you could stay in traditional hotels, the prices will always be more expensive in these kinds of establishments. A decent single room in a good area of Greece can cost as little as £20 a night with Airbnb, if you’re more interested in hostels then you’ll find similar prices at some good locations in the city.
If you visit Athens then you can’t avoid Greece’s rich historical heritage. It’s everywhere, from the food cooked in the restaurants to the music blaring from radios pointed out of apartment windows. Visit this city during peak tourist season and you’ll find that the main attractions will be swamped by tired, sweaty tourists. These big sites, such as the Acropolis and Temple of Hephaestus, are open pretty much all year round though – so you may as well visit when the crowds have thinned out a bit in the cooler months.
If Art, Archaeology or Museums aren’t your thing at all, then you can always make the most of the copious variety of walking tours that wind their way through the very best eateries that the city has to offer. You can get stuck in to a huge range of Greek food and meet fellow travellers along the way for as little as €50 for the day. When you consider how much food you’re getting at the same time, this is a great deal.
Greece may be struggling on the international stage, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that Athens is still an exhilarating place to visit full of colour, quirk and charm.