Despite inflation, it’s still economical to visit Greece – In many ways, Greece is a perfect country. It is beautiful, clean, safe and, for most of the year, warm. It has sights to equal those of any country, and it is Western enough that most travelers will not be intimidated by it. The Greeks have been famous for their hospitality since ancient times. While mass tourism has strained this genuine spirit of hospitality, it still has not eliminated it.

 visit Greece
visit Greece

Although inflation is raging there as it is elsewhere, Greece is still one of the cheapest countries in Europe. However, Greece will soon join the Common Market, so its price structure may soon come to resemble that of northern Europe.

As in many countries that depend heavily on the revenue from tourism, travel is well organized in Greece. Hotels and restaurants are all classified by price and service offered, with L being the highest class, A the second highest, and E the lowest. This makes it easy to determine approximately what prices will be in any given hotel or restaurant, even without the aid of a guidebook.

Hotels rated L will generally be above the budget range, but some of those rated A are well within it. For example, the Hotel Ambassadeurs and the Hotel Astor in Athens charge only $24 single, $33 double for room with bath. At the Blue House pension, which is also rated A, rates drop to $15 for a bathless single, $24 for a bathless double. At the B-class Hotel Adonis in the Plaka, the old part of the city that is now a night club area, a room with bath is about $20.

In the C category, which is still perfectly acceptable, rates drop to about $9 for a bathless single, $16 for a double with bath. In Athens, the Elena and the Kronos offer these rates. In an A class hotel, breakfast will be $2 extra, lunch or dinner another $8. In a C class hotel, these charges drop to about $1.80 for breakfast, $6 for lunch or dinner.

In E class hotels the rates drop as low as $4 single, $5 double without bath. On the Greek islands, where hotels are relatively scarce, it is always possible to rent a room in a private home for about $7 to $8 double.

In Athens, there is no problem finding accommodations. The Greek National Tourist Organization, with branches at the airport, on Syntagma Square downtown, and at the port of Piraeus, will make reservations for visitors in any hotel category between luxury and D. However, Athens is crowded in summer, so if your heart is set on staying at a particular hotel it is better to make reservations in advance.

There is a great variety of budget accommodation available in Athens. One particularly outstanding find for women is the modern Athens YWCA, very near Syntagma Square, where a room with bath is as little as $8. Dormitory and bathless rooms are even cheaper, and there is a good, very inexpensive cafeteria in the building.

It would be possible to list a number of budget restaurants in Athens such as the Vassilis near Syntagma Square, but the fact is that most Greek restaurants will not strain the budget. It is difficult to spend more than $10 for a meal in any except the luxury restaurants – these can usually be identified by their decor, their classification and the fact that many of them serve foreign (to Greece) food. For a delicious meal of Greek salad, moussaka (similar to shepherd’s pie), beer or wine, Greek coffee and baklava the bill should seldom exceed $8 or so, and will often be much less.

Athens is interesting, but most people say you haven’t seen the real Greece until you’ve visited the islands. A cruise is a very pleasant way to do this, but cruises do tend to be expensive and often result in insulating the traveler from the country itself. For the visitor without the time, money or inclination to take a cruise, a visit to one or two islands can give a very good impression of what island life is like.

Probably the most spectacular island is Santorini or Thera, a volcanic island where the most popular way to reach the main city is by donkey up a steep, winding road. Here as in the other islands the cheapest accommodation is in private homes, where a double room usually runs from $6 to $9. People offering rooms usually meet the boats, so there is no trouble finding one.

In a somewhat higher price range, the C-class Hotel Panorama offers a single with bath and breakfast for about $15, while the Atlantis, a B- class hotel and the best on the island, offers the same for about $22.

Mykonos is a very popular island that is more convenient to Athens. (It was featured in the film The Greek Tycoon.) Here the hotel selection is wider, with the Leto and the Ano Mera in the A category, offering singles without bath at about $13, doubles with bath for about $35. Since Mykonos is very fashionable, food prices tend to be a bit higher here, especially in the restaurants located near the water. Still, it is hard to spend more than $12 or so for dinner.

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