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Singaporeans can’t get enough of Athens. Here’s why.
Athens is a world away from Singapore. Here we love to upgrade most things that are beyond 50 years old. Athens, on the other hand, is one of the world’s oldest cities, a centre for the ancient arts, philosophy, and birthplace of democracy, home of the Acropolis and, best of all, a great place to go on a budget, especially from Singapore.
With low-cost airline Scoot now flying four times a week to the Greek capital and prices as low as S$350 one-way, Athens has suddenly become a trending destination for Singaporeans.
Athens is home to one of the world’s most famous ancient temples, the Parthenon, which sits as the crowning glory of the Acropolis site. Built to honour the goddess Athena, it was completed in 438 BC. It’s just one of the many amazing places which will blow your mind in Athens.
The travel team at Budget Direct Insurance is here to show you how you can make your Athens adventure a true classic without having to delve too deeply into your pockets.
Sightsee and save
Entrance fees to museums in Athens are very reasonable, but visit between November (average temperature 18°C) and April (20°C) and many admission prices are cut in half. A visit to the Acropolis is about $16 and The National Archaeological Museum just S$8.
If you have a student card bring it for major discounts all over Athens. Over 65s also get discounts. Look out for combined tickets, which get you into several places for a lot less.
Getting around; free walking tours are a great way to meet locals and get to know the city. They won’t cost you a Euro, although a tip to your guide at the end is always welcome. These websites offer great choices.
The airport is more than 30 km from the centre of Athens. Taxis are relatively expensive so take the Metro, which runs till midnight, or the bus, which runs 24-hours a day.
In the city centre, take the tram or the Metro. Both are clean and cheap, staff speak English, ticket machines are automated and operating times are 5am till midnight. Avoid the buses and trolleybuses, the routes are confusing and in Greek. Be careful of pickpockets on all forms of transport.
When travelling through the Metro stations of The Acropolis, Monastiraki, Syntagma and Panepistimio stop and look at the amazing ruins and artefacts on display for free which were unearthed when the underground was being excavated.
Eating; just like Singapore, street food and local restaurants pride themselves on tasty and reasonably priced food. Fresh juice drinks can be had from local vendors, while local wine or beer from the grocery store are the cheapest alcoholic drinks. After all there’s no shortage of fantastic views for free.
Accommodation; Athens oozes cheap accommodation and can start from as little as around S$30 per night for a double. The Victory Inn in Athens scores 4.5 stars on Tripadvisor and starts at S$85 for a double room in June 2018. Use booking comparison websites and check out these websites Circus and Athenstyle for good value hostel accommodation in Athens.
Temperature; the hottest months for visiting Athens is July and August when temperatures hit 29°C (84°F). The coldest month is January at 10°C (50°F).
Money; the currency in Greece is the Euro and there are ATM machines at the airport. 1 Euro is currently worth around S$1.6.
Going to the islands?
There are more than 220 inhabited Greek isles and they are clustered into eight groups.
Athens has three ports: Piraeus, Lavrio, and Rafina ports. You can get to Piraeus by taxi, bus, metro, or train, but you can only take a cab or a bus to the other ports. Check ferry times, prices and book tickets before you head to the port, as ferries to some islands leave infrequently.
The Saronic Islands are the islands closest to Athens and you can visit by hydrofoil, catamaran or conventional ferry, with travel times of 45 minutes to 3 hours.
Furthest away are Crete, the Dodecanese and the Northern Aegean islands (8-16 hours travel time). These destinations can normally be accessed only by conventional ferry or plane.
The rest of the Greek islands popular with visitors are the Cycladic, some Ionian and Sporades islands, and take 3-6 hours by ferry. They depart from Piraeus or the closest mainland-port. Travelling by catamaran from Piraeus to the Cyclades is pricier but quicker and several islands such as Mykonos, Zante, Paros, Santorini, Naxos, Corfu, Skiathos, Kefalonia and others have their own airport.
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