Just a Pack Contributor: Sara Monty | August 5th, 2020 | No comments

Looking for cheap or free things to do in Athens? 

Athens Greece isn’t the most expensive European city. However, it sure isn’t the cheapest. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of cheap or free things to do in Athens. All of the activities included on this list are under £10 or free! Wherever your interests lie and whatever the size of your budget, Athens has something for you.

You might think Athens is just history and old ruins, but boy are you wrong! There’s much more to Athens than meets the eye.

Greece has struggled a lot in recent years and still hasn’t fully recovered from the 2009 crisis. But the Athenian people power on. Nowadays, the vibrant, dynamic capital combines ancient and modern. The result is a melting pot of history, culture, cuisine, and creativity.

The streets are abuzz with social and political protests and street art. There’s history, music, art, and incredible food around every corner. You’ll discover ancient temples, hipster cafes, and meet the friendliest people in the world. Athens has something for everyone.

We’ve got lots to cover, so let’s dive into our list of the best cheap or free things to do in Athens. 

If you are looking to sleep for cheap check out these awesome Athens hostels

Cheap or free things to do in Athens

Visit the anarchist zone of Exarcheia

street art mural in exarcheia, athens

Exploring Exarcheia is one of the best free things to do in Athens. You’ll see a different side of the ancient capital, one that always shocks and excites.

Exarcheia is Athens’ most fascinating neighborhood. Its grungy alternative vibe is truly unique. Home to Athens’ anarchist community, the political atmosphere is palpable. At the height of the refugee crisis in Greece, Exarcheia was home to some of the largest squats in the city. It has long been a gathering place for migrants, refugees, and anarchists.

From riots and peaceful activism to live music concerts and outdoor movie nights, Exarcheia’s never boring! Its streets are lined with anarchist bookshops, politically-charged street art, and bohemian bars to explore. If you want to see Athen’s alternative side, then Exarcheia is a must-see.

Take a walking tour

a walking tour in the heart of athens

The best way to understand a new city is to experience it with a local. That’s why taking a walking tour is one of the best free things to do in Athens. There are plenty of walking tours in Athens. Whether you want to discover Greek myths, visit the top spots, or experience Athens’ nightlife – there’s a tour for you.

If you’re anything like us, you’ll agree that walking is the best way to see a place. New Athens Free Tour provides a comprehensive walking tour that hits all the top spots in the city. Your guide brings the city alive with a mix of myths, local legends, and facts. The tour lasts over 2.5 hours and leaves at 10:20 am from Monastiraki Square. This tour is free, but it’s recommended to give your guide a tip at the end. They’re giving you their time, after all!

Alternative walking tours in Athens

athens skyline as seen from the Acropolis

Looking for a cheap and informative tour that goes beyond the usual tourist spots? We’ve got some options.

Athens Social and Political Tour

You’ll learn all about Greece’s history, and get insight into how the country operates on a political level. You’ll visit some spots that reveal a darker side to the city, testaments to its turbulent past and present. Isaac doesn’t hold back, you’ll hear everything – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Understanding the Refugee Crisis

Through this tour, you’ll understand the causes and effects of the refugee crisis in Greece. In Omonia, you’ll see Athens’ migrant center. In Victoria Square, you’ll understand why making it to Greece is only the beginning of a refugee’s journey. Finally, you’ll learn how and why Exarcheia became a safe space for refugees and anarchists.

The friendly guide Isaac is super knowledgeable about the current social and political climate in Athens. Get ready to take in a LOT of information, and wear comfortable shoes!

Each tour costs a small fee, but it’s worth it! You can contact Isaac through AirBnB to organize a date and time.

Varvakios Agora (central market)

night stall in the central market of Athens

Located on Athinas street in the city center, the Varvakios Agora is a must-see in Athens. If you’re a vegetarian then we suggest skipping this place…

The central market is full of freshly caught fish, meat, fruit, and vegetables. It’s loud, chaotic, and a complete shock to the senses. A visit to Varvakios Agora one of the best free things to do in Athens!

You’ll see all kinds of fresh produce here. Plenty of local restaurants buy ingredients from the shouting vendors each morning. Check out the stalls selling olives and try some delicious samples. There are also stalls selling spices, cheese, herbs, and wild greens from the mountains.

If you’re looking for an authentic restaurant experience you can find it here. In the meat market, you’ll find two cheap local restaurants. Sit among locals and sample a variety of Greek dishes at affordable prices. You’ll know all the ingredients are super fresh, too!

Catch the sunset from Lycabettus Hill

You can never get bored with a good sunset, right? Athens is filled with great spots to watch the deep orange sun go down. Lycabettus Hill is one of our favorites. Climb up in the early evening and reach the top in time to see the sun sink below the distant mountains. At the top, you’ll find a small white church.

The views from here stretch as far as Piraeus, and on clear days you can even spot some of the Saronic islands. Don’t forget your camera!

Head to a nearby beach

sunset and ancient ruins at a beach near Athens, Greece

When you think about Greece, images of sandy beaches and crystal clear waters probably come to mind. Greece is full of gorgeous beaches, just check out our list of the best beaches in Greece if you want proof! Athens is no exception. The capital offers the best of both worlds. A cosmopolitan city close to fantastic beaches – what more could you want? The Aegean coast is dotted with sandy beaches that offer sun, sea, and plenty of photo opportunities.

Want to escape the city for a day? Maybe you need a break from the stifling city heat? All you have to do is hop on a bus to reach the coast. Our favorite beach spots close to Athens are in Cape Sounion. There are some spots closer to the city, but here is by far the most beautiful. The rugged landscape offers dramatic views in all directions. You’re guaranteed to find the ideal spot for a refreshing dip and spot of sunbathing.

You can reach Cape Sounion by public bus if you’re on a tight budget. However, the best way to explore is by renting a scooter. This way, you can reach the magnificent Temple of Poseidon, a major monument from Athens’ Golden Age. It sits perched on the headland, surrounded by the deep blue sea on 3 sides. A fitting spot for a temple dedicated to the God of the sea!

Other beach options in Athens

Lagonissi

Sandy shores, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters await you! Located 24km from Athens, Lagonissi feels a world away. To get there, hop on the number 122 bus. Time: 1.5 hours

Vouliagmeni

Here you’ll find family-friendly beaches that stretch on forever. Take a taxi (download the taxi app Beat for cheap rides) or catch the number 122 bus.

Glyfada

A cluster of beaches just 16km from Athens. Its trendy bars, chic restaurants, and clear waters are popular weekend spots for Athenians. Take the tram from Syntagma Square and get off at Kentro Istioploias. Time: 40 minutes.

Visit Plaka

flower pots on a street in Plaka, Greece

Plaka sits in the shadow of the Acropolis. Its charming cobbled streets and flower-lined streets make it a great spot to snap your next Instagram pic.

Strolling around Plaka is a great way to enjoy an afternoon in Athens. It’s a little touristy, but don’t let that put you off. Petit cafes and trendy boutique shops line the streets. Stop for a greek coffee or a refreshing beer in one of the traditional tavernas that line the streets. Don’t forget to say hello to the lazy cats basking in the sunshine!

Once you’ve explored Plaka, head up the hill towards Anafiotika. In the 1960s most of this quaint village was destroyed for research purposes. Today about 60 houses remain. The little white-washed houses and narrow paths give it an island feel in the heart of the city. It’s a great spot to take in just how big Athens is.

Visit an open-air cinema

If you’re a movie buff, but don’t fancy sitting in a stuffy cinema in the summer months then you’re in luck. There are plenty of open-air cinemas dotted around the city. Our favorite is Cine Thisio which shows old Hollywood classics during spring and summer. Located in central Athens, it offers stunning views of the Acropolis. Grab a cold beer, sit back, and enjoy a good movie in style.

Films in Greece are usually in the original language, with Greek subtitles. A ticket will set you back just €6 from Monday to Wednesday, and €8 on other days.

Philopappos Hill

sunset on Philopappos Hill

Want to get back to nature for an afternoon? The hike to Philopappos Hill is one of the best free things to do in Athens for the outdoorsy types.

Located south-west of the Acropolis, the park covers 700 square km. It’s a favorite spot for tourists and Athenians looking to stretch their legs. In the park, you’ll find historical monuments like the Philopappos Monument at the summit. Take your camera to capture the insane views over the Acropolis, the city, and beyond.

Psirri

Psirri is one of Athens’ top nightlife districts. If you’re on a budget, then partying until the wee hours of the morning probably isn’t on the cards for you. Don’t let that put you off exploring this trendy Athens’ neighborhood!

Psirri is filled with lively bars, hip boutiques, and incredible street art that make visiting worthwhile. Explore local galleries, admire the colorful street art, and stop for delicious gyros along the way.

Don’t miss going on a mission to the mural of Loukanikos the riot dog! The adorable canine became famous for joining street protesters in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Take a stroll in the national gardens

The national gardens are a great spot to escape the concrete jungle for an afternoon. You can find the gardens next to the parliament building in Syntagma square. This is one of the best free things to do in Athens if you want to get a breath of fresh air.

Inside the park, you’ll find a pond, botanical museum, cafe, and plenty of paths to stroll. Why not take a picnic and make the most of it?

Visit the Acropolis

Okay, we know that it’s not free to visit the Acropolis. The stunning 5th-century BC temple complex is one of the wonders of the world. We couldn’t imagine a list of things to do in Athens without the Acropolis!

During high-season, a ticket to the Acropolis will set you back €20. However, if you visit during the off-season (Nov-March) tickets are redacted to €10. Be sure to consider the combined ticket at €30 (€15 in the off-season). This allows you access to the Acropolis, the Roman Agora, the Ancient Agora, and more.

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