Tourist traps exist in popular destinations around the world, but you don’t have to fall for them. Tourist traps in Greece may be enticing, but they can cost a pretty penny and waste your time when you could be exploring more of this beautiful country.
From keeping Santorini off of your itinerary to catching views of the Parthenon without getting stuck in a crowd, here are 10 tourist traps in Greece to avoid on your visit (plus some better things to see, do, and eat instead!).
1. Don’t take a cab from the airport
Take the X95 bus from the Athens Airport to Syntagma Square/Plateia Syntagmatos for only 5.5 euros, then catch a cab from there to wherever you are staying in Athens. Otherwise, you’ll pay 40-55 euros for a cab ride directly from the airport to the center of Athens.
2. Stop searching for the restaurants you see all over social media
If you try to find all the new, internationally renowned spots where the cool kids hang out, you’ll spend a fortune trying to fit in. Instead, eat at a family-owned-and-run taverna, get pites from a fourno, or shop at a local market and enjoy your meals on a bench in the middle of a plateia. Here are some of our favorite cheap eats in Athens.
3. Look for simple souvenirs
Instead of buying cheaply made “souvenirs” that no one back home actually wants, buy a postcard with a magnificent image of the part of Greece you are visiting and mail it back home to your loved ones. They’ll be delighted to receive something through the post that is not a bill. Or, if your luggage has plenty of room before it reaches its weight limit, buy some locally made glyko tou koutaliou (“sweet of the spoon”) to take home. A taste of Greece or a glimpse of its beauty will cost you less than the mass-produced souvenirs and is a better choice ecologically, plus your food purchases will support the local economy.
4. See the Parthenon, but without the crowds
See the Parthenon from a rooftop café in Thiseio. If you happen to be visiting Greece during the peak season, you will be jostled in the crowds of people attempting to take the perfect selfie in front of the Parthenon. Skip that experience and marvel at the jaw-dropping architectural and historical structure from outside its official perimeter. (Note: It’s not that entrance to the Parthenon is expensive, it’s just that visiting up close may not be as enchanting as basking in the Parthenon’s shadow from slightly farther afield.)
5. Visit lesser-known islands over Santorini or Mykonos
Santorini and Mykonos are indeed magical parts of Greece. But trying to avoid tourist traps on those islands is like trying to avoid humidity in Florida. Skip these two hot spots and instead visit a lesser-known island and/or mountain village on the mainland. Nearly every square inch of Greece is splendid — don’t succumb to the pull of Instagram-worthy photos of whitewashed homes with blue trim. There is so much more to see and experience!
6. Stay off the tour buses
Leave the tour buses, some of the most common tourist traps in Greece and many other destinations, for other travelers. Many of them include a stop at a “souvenir shop” in the middle of nowhere, holding you hostage for up to an hour, during which time you will no doubt throw money away on something you don’t need that likely isn’t even made in Greece.
Don’t sit on a chaise longue on the beach unless you are prepared to pay for the privilege. Nowadays, that privilege can cost you upward of 25 euros in some places. Instead, take your beach towel (or sarong that doubles as one) and plop yourself down on the sand to enjoy your time on the beach for free.
8. Don’t pay for Wi-Fi
Forget about paying for Wi-Fi at your hotel. There is free Wi-Fi in many plateias and other public spaces, as well as in museums and libraries. Many of our favorite hotels in Athens even offer Wi-Fi for free.
9. Skip the beach eats
Eat before or after you head to the beach. One of the biggest tourist traps in Greece? Food prices at the beaches. Food ordered on the beach will run you 20-30% more than the same delectable food prepared with love at a nearby taverna.
10. Ditch the chain hotel rooftop views
Don’t buy into the very popular expat idea that you must have a drink at the Hilton hotel’s rooftop bar in Athens for the view. Athens is a city of hills — you can drink in an intoxicating view of the city from any number of places.
One of our favorites is free to visit: Lykavittos. If you are too hot or tired to walk up the hill, you can take the funicular for 7 euros one way or 10 euros round-trip. But if you’ve got energy, walk up and save that money for a ticket to the Benaki Museum or the Acropolis Museum, two of the best curated and organized museums in Athens.
Avoiding tourist traps in Greece
What are your favorite hidden gems of Greece? Let us know in the comments below!
Source: Euro Cheapo