Athens on a Budget
It seems everyone is budget conscious these days. Chic and affordable travel is an option that a city like Athens can afford its visitors. High end luxury is here too. Here are some tips on how to enjoy Athens on a budget without sacrificing pleasure.
Free Things to Enjoy in Athens No matter how much money someone has, free and good is always worth exploring, as you might be surprised just what you can get for your money (or no money for that matter). Free wi-fi access can be found at many of the Flocafe, Starbucks and Costa Coffee (coffee chains) locations throughout Attica, but also at several cafes in general such as Balux Café the House Project on the coast, Chocolat in Thisio, Dell'Arte Café Bar in Gazi, the Amada Café near Syntagma and the upstairs café at the bookstore chain Eleftheroudakis on Panepistimou Street. The airport Eleftherios Venizelos provides free access for a limited time. Several municipalities in Athens offer free wifi in their districts including Syntagma, Technolopolis in Gazi, Thiseio and the malls and shopping centres Golden Hall, The Mall. For a location near you check out www.free-wifi.gr.
Walking is the best free thing to do in Athens and the temperate climate year-round just adds to it: some routes and places include The National Gardens in Syntagma, the archaeological park, The Unification of Archaeological Sites at the base of the Acropolis, Pedion tou Areos park in the corner of Patission and Alexandras Avenue and hiking or biking on the trails of Mt. Parnitha. Coastal walks are also ideal along the Attica Coastline.
Eating on a budget Good Greek food is generally not very expensive. Any weekend at the local tavernas in Pireaus, Vari and other areas will pay testament to that fact as you see them packed with patrons enjoying several plates of various Greek specialties. Fast food is always cost-friendly and doesn't have to be unhealthy if you choose something appropriate. Everest the coffee and sandwich chain (www.everest.gr) has sandwiches and is open late; Goody's (www.goodysnet.gr) has pasta, burgers and sandwiches, Gregorys and Coffee light (www.gregorys.gr). Another very late night Athenian thing to do after clubbing (something like eating a Philly cheesteak in the United States) is eating at a Vromiko (loose translation, cool dirty food). One of the most famous is at Plateia Mavili in the district of Abelokipo near some of the watering holes (potadika) nearby. Good souvlaki can be had at several locations in Monastiraki some popular are Thanassis in Monastiraki Square, Savvas www.kebapsavvas.gr; and Bairaktaris at Monastiraki Square; also downtown are Pitta tou Pappou; Pitta Pan www.pitapan.gr and in Kolonaki, Kalamaki.
For an insider's guide we asked some night owl movers and shakers for their favorite good fast food:
Q: What is your favorite street food?
A. The "Vromiko" on Michalakopoulou and Mavili Square
A. Sandwiches at Everest; cheese pies at Gregory's
A. Koulouria at Street vendors
Q: What is your favorite place to enjoy souvlaki?
A. Agrafa (Exarcheia)
A. Kalamaki in Kolonaki
A. Pita Pan and Pita tou Papou
A. Zachos in Glyfada
A. Kalyvas in Koukaki
A. Thanasis in Monastiraki
Q: What is your favorite place to enjoy a cheesburger?
A. Aethrion cafe @ the Hilton Athens
A. The James Joyce Pub in Thiseio
A. Grande Bretagne
A. Hooters at The Mall in Marousi
A, Molly Malones in Glyfada
A. U-BURGER opposite the CARAVEL hotel in Pagrati
Outlet designer shopping There are several stock houses to check out in Athens for discounts on designer labels. Many are found in the district of Nea Smyrni on Eleftherios Venizelos Street (accessible by tram) and others in fashion central Kolonaki and in Koropi near Athens International Airport. Here is a shopping list of some with racks worth skimming.
Escada Stock (+30 210 363 3509; Tsakalof 33 in Kolonaki) - Clothes from the famous brand with 50% on handbags, shoes and clothes. Greek designer Lakis Gavalas (Ermou and Ag. Asomaton in Thiseio) has samples for sale in addition to many accessories, shoes and bags with up to 50% off at this outlet in the historic centre while his Lakis Gavalas Stock (+30 210 282 5232; Rimini 18 in Lykovrissi) has up to 60% off on brands for men and women such as: Dolce & Gabbana, Cacharel and Moschino. Fokas Stock Center (Ermou 100, 14th km on National Road Athinon - Lamias: +30 210-325 7770) offers up to 60% off on casual clothes of brands such as ESPRIT, D&G, CK, Stefanel, Cacharel. Rakas Outlets: Konstantinoupoleos 35 in Peristeri, +30 210 576 9555, El Venizelou 253 in Nea Smyrni: +30 210 985 4500 offers up to 40% off on brands such as, Pinko, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Diane Von Furstenberg, Vanessa Bruno, Philip Lim and more. If you are lucky, you might find up to 80% off Prada, Helmut Lang at Carouzos a well-known clothing store. Factory Outlet, specializing in discount apparel has two locations: Pireos Street 76, +30 210 48 33 926, and next to Athens International Airport (+30 210 35 41 800). Lost your camera? Plaisio, (+30 210 289 2326) the popular computer and office-supply store has a stock house full of camera, phones, laptops and other technology equipment.