Editor’s note: For this post, we partnered with YouTuber and Greece extraordinaire Chris Semers (Greek in the City) on a video-post combo focused on better, cheaper travel to Greece. Watch the video here, and check out the post below.
1. Learning to love a malaka
Although the word malaka isn’t “nice,” sometimes it’s meant to be friendly. Malaka means “jerkoff,” but in Greece we use it as a term of endearment. People might say, “Hey jerkoff,” but don’t worry: You’ll be able to tell if they mean it by their tone of voice. Use your better judgment and go with the flow.
2. Most everything closes at noon for a few hours
In Spain, it’s called “siesta” and they have it in Greece, too. In some of the more touristy areas you’ll find everything stays open, but if your visit takes you off the beaten path, establishments will most likely be closed in the afternoon. Make sure you make that trip to the market and get your errands done in the morning and spend your “siesta” down at the beach.
3. Dramamine taxis
Greece has over 6,000 islands, but only 250 of them are inhabited. Although some of the islands have airports, most don’t, and you’ll have to take a ferry to visit them. Ferries will range in cost from 10 to 75 Euro with travel out of Athens being more expensive. Airfare will range between 100-300 Euro depending on where you’re visiting, what time of year it is and possibly how much you slip the guy booking your tickets.
4. Avoid Mykonos if you’re on a budget
The clubs stay open till the morning, the beaches are gorgeous and the bar is always pumping out music. But along with the great nightlife and romantic scenery comes a very hefty price point. Mykonos is not the island to visit if you’re on a budget. Drinks on this island are just as overpriced as they are in New York City, at 12-15 Euro a pop. Dinner will run you at least 50 Euro and hotel rooms start at around $250 Euro/night. One of your suitcases should probably just be filled with cash.
5. Antibiotics can be purchased over the counter (hypochondriacs rejoice!)
If you’re like my mom, you’ll want to stock up on over-the-counter antibiotics while you’re in Greece. You don’t need a prescription in Greece to buy them, and they’re stronger than the stuff the pharmacist gives you here (America for me; I’m not sure where in the world you are). To this, I would like to add that you shouldn’t take medicine if you don’t need it. Antibiotics should only be taken if you have an infection, so please consult with your doctor before self-medicating. And for the love of all that is holy take the entire cycle! (even if you start to feel better). Otherwise, you’re just building antibacterial-resistant superbugs that are going to wipe us all out. But no, really, enjoy your trip.
6. Food in Greece is amazing on any budget
Greece is known for its seafood, olives, honey, feta cheese, and healthy veggies. Even if you’re traveling on a budget and can’t afford to eat at restaurants (which usually run anywhere between 15-50 Euro a meal) you can grab gyro and souvlaki on the street. They’ll usually run 2-3 Euro each and they’re just as filling. Vegetarians: Just learn to pronounce the word spanakopita before you leave and the cheese and spinach pies will get you right at about the same price point.
7. No one in Greece tips, but if you do you’ll be treated like a god (lowercase god, that is)
In general people do not tip in Greece—as wait staff get paid a living wage—but they’ll treat you like a king if you do. At the beach bar I usually give them 3-5 Euros throughout the day, and they make sure my drink is always full. A Euro or two goes a long way. If you’re looking for hospitality in Greece, throw in a smile and you’ll be golden.
8. Visit before or after the peak season
End of summer in Greece (end of July to end of August) is very expensive. During that time in Greece the tourists outnumber the citizens! For this reason, prices on hotel accommodations, flights and ferries are inflated. Visiting before or after peak season can save you a lot of money. Consider visiting in June or September so you can still enjoy the beach.
9. McDonald’s in the Athens airport serves a McGyro
Okay, so this is a silly tip, but if you’re in the Athens airport and you have an hour or two during a layover, stop into the McDonald’s and try the McGyro. I was floored the first time I saw it, and it’s actually pretty good! No confirmation yet on whether or not Greece has a Gyroburgler.
10. Find the bouzoukia for the real Greek nightlife experience
Most of Greece’s nightlife is now very mainstream. Top 40 billboard tracks and dance music dominate but if you want the real Greek experience you need to find the bouzoukia. The bouzoukia is where you’ll experience live Greek music, dancing and flower-throwing. There’s usually a headliner like Anna Vissi (think the Greek equivalent to Madonna) if you’re in Athens but you can find a cheap alternative in some of the smaller towns and islands with unknown singers.
I hope these 10 tips are helpful in planning your next visit to Greece! Check out my channel on YouTube, Greek in the City for more. I upload videos every Tuesday and Thursday. Thank you to JohnnyJet.com for giving me the opportunity to share this with you.
Filakia! (that means kisses in Greek)
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