Athens, Greece

Our author in Athens, Greece.

When I travel abroad, I set aside most of my money for two things: food and sights. I’ve forgone souvenirs, comfortable beds, and convenient timetables for the ability to eat well and see what I’ve always dreamed of seeing. My trip to Athens was no different. I had the good fortune to snag a dream of a deal on airfare ($300 round trip from NYC. I repeat: round trip!) and, as the date fast approached, I feverishly did my research on what I wanted to see and, more importantly, where I wanted to eat.

What I found surprised me. Namely that Athens—the city that invented democracy, built majestic monuments, and is one of Europe’s most renowned destinations— is surprisingly, well, cheap. I marveled at the half liters of wine that cost less than a subway ticket in New York, and I quickly began to populate a Google map with spots where I could get a taste of Greek food…on any budget.

Souvlaki, Athenian street food

Souvlaki, Athenian street food

The Scrappy Saver
If you’re looking to eat your way through Athens and spend less than 15€ a day, you’re in luck because that’s totally possible. Start your day with an espresso drink and a pastry nearly anywhere along Adrianou Street, a bustling thoroughfare that borders the Acropolis, and you’ll only have to cough up 3€ for the delightful indulgence. Even better, lounging about for hours over your morning coffee is an encouraged practice. Sit back and watch frenzied tourists and harried locals make their way along the busy street.

For lunch, sample some souvlaki; it’s Greek street food that’s basically a gyro, but with much more sauce (and flavor!). Though some souvlaki stands overcharge in touristy areas, head to local favourites O Kostas and Kostas (5 Pentelis Street and 19 Mitseon Street) for a delicious 2.30€ souvlaki.

Nikitas, Athens, Greece

Nikita is a budget-friendly, delicious refuge in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

A budget-friendly, delicious refuge in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

A budget-friendly, delicious refuge in an up-and-coming neighborhood.

With 9€ left to spend, have an early dinner at Nikitas in the trendy Psiri neighborhood. Split delicious (and cheap!) appetizers to sample the local fare on a budget. I filled up on the spicy feta cheese, stuffed grape leaves, mousakka, and a half liter of wine for a shockingly low 9€.

The Judicious Splurger
When your daily budget allows for a little bit more freedom to splurge on snacks and specialties, set aside 35€ or so a day. While you could grab a light bite along Adrianou Street, as above, those with a heartier morning appetite may opt for nice n easy, a restaurant known for its huevos rancheros and other brunch fare. Expect to spend around 15€ here.

Lukumades, Athens, Greece

Afternoon indulgences at Lukumades.

Check out Nikitas for lunch (the same place mentioned above) for a good budget dinner. With a larger budget, though, this will be a filling lunch that leaves room for a sweet snack.

After lunch, swing by Lukumades, a local favorite for soft-serve ice cream and loukoumedes: a sugary indulgence somewhat like a donut hole. I split the “Greek Favorite” and bought an iced cappuccino, which cost me 4€.

For dinner, you need to try Atlantikos, a casual dinner place where you’re best off ordering tons of appetizers and sharing. I sampled the seafood platter, comprised of shrimp, calamari, and sardines, grilled seabass, and mussels and feta cooked in a savory tomato sauce. I also split a half-liter of wine, all of which cost an incredible 14€.

Atlantikos, Athens, Greece

Anchovies, mussels, and calamari with lemon squeezed on top from Atlantikos.

The Luxurious Spender
You really can’t go wrong with any of the two previous breakfast options, whether you’re looking to lounge with a cappuccino and croissant on Adrianou Street or try the brunch at nice n easy. Another brunch spot to try is New Taste Restaurant. You could spend anywhere from 3€ to 20€ on breakfast.

ManiMani is an excellent choice for lunch. The style is elegant, yet laid-back, so you get the best of both worlds. Try the yellow split peas and the homemade noodles, and the half liter of wine. Expect to spend around 15€ for the wonderfully traditional Greek fare.

For a snack, head to Lukumedes, Fresko Yogurt Bar, or Six d.o.g.s for a chic dining experience that’s still Athenian food. You’ll probably spend around 5€ at each spot.

Dinner calls for a trip to Paradosiako. While the menu is nothing surprising, the quality of food is so mouth-wateringly amazing. Stay for awhile and order some appetizers, an entrée, and a half-liter of wine for true Greek dining experience. Trust me, the 20€ price tag is well worth it.

A for Athens, Athens, Greece

Pricier cocktails definitely worth it at A for Athens for the glittering view of the Acropolis.

After dinner, visit heteroclito and Oinoscent, wine bars that specialize in international and Greek wines, respectively. Bottles start at 18€. For an unbeatable view, take the elevator up 6 floors to hotel A is for Athens. The rooftop bar is the best place to watch the sunset, snap some Acropolis pictures, and bask in the luminescence of the bustling city. Cocktails cost around 8€.

Here’s a link to Mary’s Google Map with all her restaurant choices marked up for you.



How to Find Local Food… Without a Local

  1. Google “<city name> in 48 hours” and make a note of the restaurants that are recommended in different articles.
  2. Carefully examine the Google reviews, and take care to notice who is reviewing. Are they from “Local Guides”? Are they from people who speak the local language? Are they from visitors? Use these clues to help you narrow down who actually frequents the restaurants.
  3. Once you’ve chosen restaurants that match your tastes, make sure you research things like location, prices, and other incidentals that will ensure you don’t waste a single meal abroad on something subpar and too expensive.

Second Chance Travels Culinary