Backpacking Greece On A Budget: Ultimate Guide (2024)

Are you planning your backpacking Greece trip? I’ve got you covered!

Greece is a fantastic country for backpackers, as you’ll find many hostels and cool things on the mainland and the islands.

I’ve backpacked Greece starting with island hopping before moving on to Athens and the continental part. You can also do it the other way around, depending on when you travel!

Greece is one of the countries without a common backpacking route, as it consists of so many different islands you can visit individually. 

Here’s the only Greece backpacking guide you need!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. I hope you find the information here helpful!

white house with blue windows with bright pink flower tree growing in front of it on greek islands

Is Greece a good backpacking destination?

Yes! Greece is a great backpacking destination, and I had a fantastic time backpacking in Greece!

You can travel around Greece on a budget and the country is dotted with impressive attractions. 

With backpacker hostels throughout the country, you’re sure to find a place to stay and make friends even if you travel to Greece solo!

Here’s a quick overview of what you can expect in Greece:

PROS:

  • Many things to do: Greece is a beautiful diverse country, from picturesque islands to impressive historical monuments
  • Great hostels: Solo backpackers will have a great choice of social and party hostels
  • Affordable: Most places in Greece are quite budget-friendly
  • Safe: Greece is a safe country for solo female travelers and it is easy to get around in English

CONS:

  • No backpacking route: Greece doesn’t have a typical backpacking route you can follow to meet other travelers
  • Seasonal: Greek islands are notoriously seasonal, so they are overrun in the summer and empty in the winter
  • Ease of getting around: Figuring out public transport (buses and trains) can be complicated, as everything is not yet online

Greece Backpackers Bucket List

There are so many things to do in Greece, so it can feel overwhelming to plan your Greece itinerary.

I traveled around Greece many times, and you don’t need to do everything on the same trip.

Here are some ideas to get you started!

1. Admire Athens Acropolis

Starting with the main tourist attraction in Greece – all the ancient Greek history!

While the whole country is dotted with ruins dating back to ancient times, Athens’s Acropolis is probably the best-known spot.

It is one of the places I highly suggest you pay for the entry ticket to explore, you can even get a discount if you’re a student.

🏛️ Check Acropolis prices here!

2. Watch the sunset in Oia, Santorini

Whitewashed houses and blue domes of Santorini are the image that probably pops into your head when you think of Greece.

Santorini is worth visiting despite the crowds, but I highly suggest going there in the low season to truly appreciate it.

If you’re seeking a truly memorable experience, book one of Santorini sunset sailing tours – there are options for every budget!

3. See the monasteries at Meteora

Meteora monasteries are well worth a detour to mainland Greece!

These UNESCO World Heritage Ortodhox monasteries sitting on the top of the rock pillars are easily some of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen. How did they manage to build them there?

4. Sail around Greek islands

Sailing in Greece is definitely a bucket list experience, but you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars or a week on a boat to experience it.

Many islands offer fun day sails where you can experience island hopping in Greece for a fraction of the price, like these sailing tours from Paros!

5. Visit the iconic Navagio Beach in Zakynthos

If you like stunning viewpoints, you have to visit the Navagio Beach in Zakynthos clifftop lookout. It is one of the most recognizable Greek viewpoints!

While you can take a boat tour to the beach, I think seeing it from the nearby clifftop lookout is a bucket list experience. 

a landscape view of naxos mountains

6. Hike the Mount Zas in Naxos

If you like Greek mythology you have to visit the birthplace of Zeus. Did you know it was the island of Naxos?

Mount Zas is the highest peak in the Cyclades and a place where you can visit the cave where Zeus was born.

7. Swim on the unique Milos beaches

Milos, with its moon-like stone beaches, is one of the most unique Greek islands.

The westernmost island in the Cyclades is well worth the slight detour if you’re following the classic Cyclades island-hopping itinerary.

8. Mingle with celebrities in Mykonos

The upscale island of Mykonos is one of Greece’s most famous and expensive places, but you can still visit it on a budget.

Grab a drink in one of the seafront bars as you watch the sun go down and party until the morning, before moving on to cheaper islands!

9. Grab a cocktail in the charming Naoussa, Paros

If you want to have a Mykonos experience for a fraction of the price seafront village of Naoussa in Paros is the place for you!

I loved strolling the cobblestone streets lined with whitewashed houses with bright pink flowers and vibrant blue doors.

porto timoni double cove beach in corfu with two coves of different shades of blue separated by a narrow piece of land

10. See the unique Porto Timoni beach in Corfu

Corfu is one of my favorite Greek islands! It is lined with beautiful beaches and stunning landscapes, and Porto Timoni Beach is one of the most unique beaches on the island.

One of the best Corfu day trips is hiking to Porto Timoni beach during the day and watching the sunset from Cape Drastis in the north or Kaisers Throne in the south.

11. Climb Mount Olympus

Mount Olympus standing at 2,918 m is the highest peak in Greece. It is a place to visit for hiking enthusiasts and mythology lovers – according to Greek mythology, it’s where 12 Greek gods live!

12. Party in Ios

Greek island Ios is one of the most popular party places in Greece, especially during summer!

Unlike upscale nightlife in Naoussa or Mykonos, Ios attracts a younger crowd – perfect for backpackers in Greece.

13. Swim on pink beach in Crete

It’s hard to pick the best beaches in Greece, as there are so many Greek beaches I absolutely love. However, the pink beach in Crete might be the most unique one!

The sand in Elafonisi Lagoon is not as bright pink as it looks in the photos, but it is still really beautiful.

14. Take a boat to the stunning Melissani Lake in Kefalonia

Melissani Lake is one of the most unique natural attractions in Greece.

This small lake is located outside the village of Karavomilos in Kefalonia, and it reminds me of cenotes in Mexico or Benagil Cave in Portugal.

You can take a short boat tour to the center of the lake to truly appreciate its beauty.

15. Enjoy delicious Greek food

I can’t end this list without talking about the Greek food. Even as a vegan, I was blown away by all the delicious traditional dishes in Greece.

Gyros, Greek salad, tzatziki, and moussaka are Greek classics that you can try throughout the country.

But there are also many regional delicacies like the fava bean dip in the Cyclades or pastitsada in Corfu.

I didn’t have any issue traveling around Greece as a vegan, as many Greek dishes can be easily veganized. 

In the worst-case scenario, you can go for grilled vegetables and a Greek salad without cheese.

acropolis in athens

Backpacking Greece Itinerary

As I said earlier, there is no common backpacking route that all backpackers in Greece take.

Instead, you can travel to Greece in any order you’d like, as long as you hit your bucket list spots!

Most people start their backpacking trip in Athens, but I wanted to enjoy the last swimming days on the islands in September so I started by backpacking Santorini.

Another option is starting from Thessaloniki and going down to Athens and then the islands. 

Domestic flights are cheap in Greece and you can take them to most islands, so you can even fly from Thessaloniki to Crete.

2 Weeks Backpacking Greece Route

With two weeks of backpacking in Greece, I visited Athens and several islands in the Cyclades.

Here are some itinerary ideas!

Cyclades Itinerary 1: Athens – Paros – Naxos – Ios – Santorini
Cyclades Itinerary 2: Santorini – Paros – Sifonos – Milos – Athens
Mainland Greece Itinerary: Athens – Hydra – Meteora – Thessaloniki 

With 1 month in Greece, you can combine the mainland Greece itinerary with one of the island hopping itineraries. 

I also spent 1 week in Corfu on a different trip, but you can easily hop on a plane or a ferry to Corfu and continue backpacking in Albania if you have more time. 

Crete is another island that you can easily spend a week exploring before hopping on a flight to another region of the country.

Backpacking Greek islands is truly a game of picking and choosing, as there are so many to choose from!

I suggest you check the ferry lines between the islands when picking which islands to go for, as the prices to travel between some are significantly cheaper than between others.

You don’t need to book ferry tickets too far in advance as the prices don’t change, and some operators only sell for a month in advance.

⛴️ Plan island hopping in Greece here!

a pedestrian path leading to the red church in the old town of corfu with chairs and tables from the cafes lining the street on either side of the steps

Best Hostels In Greece

So, where to stay in Greece? 

While Athens and Thessaloniki are backpacker’s paradise, I was surprised to see that many popular islands don’t have that many (or any!) backpacker hostels. 

Also, I was surprised to see many hostels with age limits in Greece. The age limit was mostly 18-45, but several were 18-40.

Here are the best places to stay in Greece as a backpacker!

Athens

Santorini

Thessaloniki

Meteora

Paros

Corfu

Crete

natali sitting on a stone wall looking at paleokastritsa bay

Best Time To Visit Greece

The best time to go to Greece as a backpacker is in the shoulder season – April to October while skipping July and August.

Greece is a popular summer destination in Europe, so prices increase dramatically in July and August. 

If you want to stay on a budget but still take advantage of Greek beaches June and September are the best time to visit Greece.

You’ll still have great weather in May, Apil, and October, and it might still be possible to swim like I did when I visited Corfu in May!

It is still worth visiting Greece in the winter, as it is the cheapest time to visit. 

However, most islands will be empty. If you’re traveling solo it will be hard to meet other people, and some hostels are even closed.

Getting Around Greece

When planning a trip to Greece you’ll have to think of how to get around mainland Greece and the islands.

You don’t need to rent a car, as most tourist destinations are easily accessible by buses, ferries, or planes!

The cheapest way to get to Greece

The cheapest way to reach Greece is by taking a bus or ferry from one of the neighboring countries – Albania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, or Turkey.

If you’re not in the neighborhood, there are also many low-cost flights to Greece from all over Europe.

Athens is the main airline hub in Greece, but there are more than 10 international airports in the country, so you can easily fly to one city and out of the other.

✈️  Find the cheapest flights to Greece here!

natali wearing a blue and white shirt standing on the back of a ferry with santorini caldera in the bacground

How to get around Greece

Once you’re in Greece, you can take:

  • buses
  • trains
  • ferries
  • flights

Sure, you can also rent a car in Greece, but I don’t think most backpackers would need it.

🚌 Browse all public transport in Greece here!

Buses in Greece

Buses are the main type of public transport in mainland Greece. You can take a bus to virtually every tourist destination in the country.

However, booking these buses is not as straightforward as in some other countries.

There is no country-wide website where you can see all operators and lines, so your best bet is going to the bus station and booking tickets in person. 

You can check out the buses on Omio, but from my understanding, they don’t show all the operators. 

Trains in Greece

While the rail network in Greece exists, trains are not as popular as buses.

Trains in Greece are operated by Hellenic Train, and you can browse the itineraries and buy train tickets online. 

I’m not the biggest fan of their website, so I opted to buy the tickets directly at the train station. 

Ferries in Greece

If you’re island hopping in Greece you’ll have to take ferries – unless you’re sailing on your sailboat of course. 

I love Greek ferries, they are affordable, reliable, and easy to book!

I booked my ferry tickets through Ferryhopper. The website is fantastic, as you can see all the different operators, departure times, and prices at the same place.

You can even plan your entire island hopping itinerary right there on the website and buy the tickets!

They’ll send you your ticket in an email with the instructions on how to “check in”. You don’t need to print out tickets, just show them when you’re boarding. 

⛴️ Plan island hopping in Greece here!

Domestic flights

Flying is also an option if you want to get from one place in Greece to another.

Athens and Thessaloniki are the main airline hubs in Greece, and you can reach most bigger islands simply by flying! 

Even medium-sized islands like Paros or Naxos have small domestic airports.

I took a 45-minute flight from Athens to Santorini, which was almost the same price as a 6-hour ferry! 

Popular lines, like Athens to Santorini, can have up to 10 daily departures in the high season. 

However, you’ll want to book the lines with fewer daily departures in advance as they can sell out quickly. 

Public transport

Finally, I was surprised by how well-organized public transport in Greece is!

Big cities like Athens have buses, trams, and metro, so you don’t have to worry about getting around.

But even villages on islands are well connected by local buses! 

For example, I visited Santorini without a car and had no problem getting around by bus.

Many other islands like Corfu, Naxos, or Paros also have great local bus networks I used to get around.

landscape photo of whitewashed houses along the caldera in oia santorini, one of the safest areas in santorini

Greece Backpacking Budget

Interestingly, Greece is often considered one of the cheaper European countries. 

But if you go to Mykonos or Santorini you’ll be very confused by that reputation, as those places are not cheap at all!

So, how expensive is Greece?

The answer is – it depends on where you go!

Simply put, mainland Greece is cheap, most Greek islands are quite affordable, and islands like Santorini and Mykonos are expensive.

On average, most backpackers should budget 40-80€ per day in Greece.

  • Hostels: 30-50€ per night
  • Food: 10-15€ per day
  • Drinks: 0-10€ per day
  • Transportation: 0-20€ per day
  • Activities: 0-50€ per day

An important thing to consider if you travel in the peak summer months, take ferries often, and go for pain activities, the daily average can quickly surpass 100€.

Accommodation will be your biggest expense, especially if you’re backpacking Greece solo and visiting islands like Naxos without hostels.

Food in Greece is rather affordable, and you can easily get a gyros for under 5€ for dinner or lunch. 

Sure, (I) you can’t live off of (vegan) gyros, so I suggest you buy groceries in Lidl and have at least 1 meal at your accommodation. 

You know how much you want to party and drink, so this part of the budget is totally personal. On average you can expect to pay 5€ for a beer and 10-15€ for a cocktail in Greece.

Expect to pay about 20€ for transportation on travel days, but once you’re in your location you can easily go without spending any money on getting around. 

One of my favorite things about Greece is how many free activities there are. Honestly, you could not spend money on activities even in places like Santorini!

Compare prices in different places in Greece here:

natali wearing blue jeans and white shirt walking towards the stone door in a red defensive wall of corfu fortress

Is Greece safe for solo female travelers?

Yes! I felt safe as a female traveler in Greece, especially on the islands!

I felt completely safe walking alone at night on the Cyclades like Santorini or Paros.

However, you’ll want to be mindful of your belongings, as pickpocketing is fairly common in bigger cities like Athens and Thessaloniki.

As always, don’t do anything you wouldn’t do at home and avoid unnecessarily dangerous situations especially if you’re going out solo. Every place is safe until it isn’t.

Final Thoughts: Greece Backpacking Guide

Backpacking Greece is a fantastic way to discover this beautiful country on a budget. 

From impressive Greek ruins in Athens to sandy beaches and lively nightlife on Greek islands, your itinerary will be jam-packed with fun things to do in Greece!

Now that you’re ready for solo backpacking Greece, where are you going first?

Check out my backpacking Cyclades guide to find the best Greek islands for backpackers!

backpacking greece - pinterest pin

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *