Replies: 9 - Last Post: Nov 20, 2012 9:52 AM Last Post By: mariha2912
Nov 18, 2012 4:07 PM
I am planning a trip over my Christmas holidays. I am planning on doing a Greece (mainland)-Istanbul trip over approximately 15 days. I haven't booked the flights yet, so I'm relatively flexible (but not completely, as I have to be back at school before the second semester starts, obviously). I am planning on flying EasyJet out of Manchester to Athens on 10 January. From there my plan was to bum about Athens for a few days, maybe more, and either do a bunch of day trips to other places, or else physically travel and bunk up elsewhere along the way. I study Ancient and Mediaeval (Byzantine) history, so I'm very keen on seeing the ancient sites like the Parthenon/Acropolis, Delphi, Marathon, perhaps Thermopylae, etc. I'm also looking for suggestions on what else there is to do in Athens, or mainland Greece in general. I'm a student, so I'm trying to keep my expenses as low as possible. I would ideally like to keep my entire trip, including transportation around £500. I'm into all sorts of things. Museums, cultural stuff, heritage sites (obviously), music, nightlife, food, drink, you name it. I just want to experience all that I can.
And from there I would like to get up to Istanbul for a few days. I want to check out Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, the Grand Bazaar, and really whatever else there is to do in Istanbul. If you have any suggestions in that respect, I would love to hear them. I am planning on flying back from Istanbul to Luton, and then take a train back up north.
My biggest question is two-fold: 1. What is the best way to get from Greece/Athens to Istanbul? I read about some bus companies that take daily coach journeys from one city to the other, for relatively cheap. I heard there is a few running from Athens, as well as from Thessaloniki. Has anyone used these before? Are they any good? Would you recommend? Do I need to book in advance? If so, how?
Second, if anyone can recommend either activities/sites to check out, or hostels in any of the locations along the way (Athens, other parts of mainland Greece, Istanbul) I would be very grateful.
Nov 19, 2012 12:32 AM
1You'll struggle to do your trip for £500 if you're including flights which you seem to be saying. Even if you get the cheapest flights that would leave you no more than £400 for 15 days transportation, accommodation, meals and site entry fees. I really don't see how you can do that. I was going to say that you can fly direct from Athens to Istanbul for less than £100 but I guess your budget even rules that out.
In view of your interests in Byzantine history, I suggest you check out Mystras near Sparti and Monemvasia ( a couple of hours from Sparti by bus). Maybe even Gerakas (Geronthrae) which is a smaller version of Mystras.
Nov 19, 2012 2:50 AM
Nov 19, 2012 2:16 PM
Nov 19, 2012 3:22 PM
4Thanks for the advice. I use Pounds in my figuring, rather than Euros, because that is what the money I will actually be taking from my bank account is in; that is what I have to budget in. Whatever the equivalent of that in pounds is, that's what I want to spend.
To be fair, I CAN spend more than £500 (a little bit, not too much) if I need to, I would just rather NOT, if I can avoid it.
Nov 19, 2012 11:47 PM
5sabradan, just to give you an idea of costs here:
In Athens there are a few hostels, so you may get a dorm bed for something like 15-20 euro/night as a very bare minimum. I am talking about a decently located clean hostel here, you do not want to share a room with homeless people in an area surrounded by brothels or in the drug hub of the city. Even if you were fine with this, you would spend what you save for getting to places of interest, and even those places charge around 10 euro/dorm bed. Given your interests, I get it you want to visit at least most of the major sites and museums and possibly even more.
Acropolis museum costs 5 euro.
Then the Acropolis site costs 12 euro. Good news on that one, it is mainly a multi-sites' ticket (thing that many visitors tend to ignore!)It covers entrance to Acropolis site and to those:
- Temple of Zeus,
- Kerameikos site and Kerameikos Museum,
- Ancient Agora and Agora Museum,
- Roman Agora,
- Hadrian's Library,
- South slope and Dionussus Theater
Segment on the right is for the Acropolis visit and the rest at the left are for the accompanying sites.
Then an other absolute must is the Athens Archeological Museum, an excellent value on 7 euro admission.
Given your interests, what about a visit to the Byzantine&Christian Museum? This costs 4 euro. Then there are many many other museums such as the Benaki,Cycladic Art, Numismatic
(one of my favorites) and so on... I consider those admission fees as excellent value for money and you may want to check if you can get any free entrance or most likely reduced admission as an EU student under 26 yo, but still all those add up on your costs.
Most of major sites are within walking distance in city center, or a couple of metro stops away... You can buy a 1.40 euro ticket that is valid on metro/bus/tram in the city center for 90 consecutive minutes (always remember to validate ticket by stamping it either in small orange box inside bus/tram, either in similar gray boxes standing before entering metro platform).
On food costs, note that many people are unrealistic about this... No one can live on a souvlaki per day, and I have often seen young people trying to travel on a budget who they keep buying snacks rather than having one or two sit-down meals per day...After a couple of days they end up spending a lot on silly things like chocolate bars or pastries and still been so hungry they end up having the meal they avoid. No one can live strictly on sandwiches and pita gyros for 15 days, but to give you an idea of the costs: A pita gyros (the wrapped thing, not a portion) to take away will cost around 2-2.50 euro. There are some chain brasseries such as "Everest" or "Grigoris" that make toast or baguettes sandwiches to order and depending on what you fill them with, it can cost everything , roughly from 2 to 5 euro. Often there are offers coming with those, eg one pastry or one sandwich comes with a free coffee or can of soft drink. Pastries... In Greece there are many pastries , not only your usual croissant, but many pretzels and most importantly mini-pies. You may buy a cheese and hum mini pie or a cheese pie or a spinach pie from a local bakery as breakfast sometimes for less that 2 euro. Around city center you may find older people selling koulouri a pretzel shaped sesame pastry for 0.50 euro or on winter even street stalls selling hazelnuts and whole corn ears grilled on coal fire.
To be a bit more serious though, you will need at least a proper meal per day. Assuming you buy some very cheap items such as pasta, some tomato sauce, some grained cheese, you may make it for only 5 euro or so.... But this leads to my next objection which is...
Nov 19, 2012 11:59 PM
6...That hostel is not a common concept in Greece ! Rooms to let that is a cheap alternative and often come with basic cooking equipment, usually apply on the islands, where people tend to long stays. On mainland, for example places such as Nafplion, Meteora,Delphi, there are very few rooms to let if any, and on my knowledge they do not offer cooking facilities. This leads you to 2 problems
a) Accommodation costs are higher. You are now looking on small B&B hotels , a single room will cost you at least 25 euro off season. But you visit around Christmas, so this is high season for most mainland destinations! So I would say at least a very bare minimum of 30-35 euro/night for a single room. Good news: A decent breakfast will be included in the rate.
b) No cooking facilities. This adds on food costs. A decent tavern meal, say a greek salad, a cheap vegetarian main course, a glass of wine or beer will cost you no way less than 12-15 euro.
Now case study: Delphi is one of the easier and cheaper side trips from Athens. Your budget for a Delphi day is 42 euro. 30 euro for hotel room+12 euro for the very one meal=42 euro. Budget is gone, and you still haven't make it to the sites/museum. Entrance fees are 9 or 12 euro if my memory serves me right. But when did you get to Delphi? Cheapest way is public bus that costs 15.10 euro one way! Already necessary costs are way over your budget and I am talking for the bare minimum costs here!
Nov 20, 2012 12:07 AM
7Personally I would try not to move around a lot, as this will add up on the costs. If 15 days include Istanbul, I think that this city deserves 5 days at least. So this leaves you with 10 days for Greece . Personally I would stick with 5 nights in Athens, then take train to Kalambaka, spend one or two nights there and then take train to Thessaloniki. Spend rest of Greek part of the trip in this amazing city and then take bus to Istanbul. I understand that you miss a lot, but you always will miss a lot anyway... There is always something left for next trip! More days in Athens offers you more days in a hostel so saving on accommodation. There is really lots to see and do in Athens anyway! Thessaloniki is an amazing city, very different ambiance from Athens and still lots to see that fit your interests. I do not think Thessaloniki has hostel options though, so you need to budget accordingly. Meteora is a great place to visit anyway, and it breaks your route nicely.
That's all from me for now...Now over to you : )
Nov 20, 2012 4:58 AM
Nov 20, 2012 9:52 AM
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