One of the greatest perks of the debt free life is being able to spend your money on traveling instead of payments.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea- I travel a lot, but I also keep my day-to-day living expenses super basic. For example, I don’t go out to eat, I spent $20 a month on coffee, and I really don’t go shopping. Weird, I know. But hey, I’d rather spend the money on experiences.
As much as I love travel, I have very few posts about this topic. WTF? So over the next few months, I’ll be incorporating a lot more of our budget friendly travels with you.
Day 1: Athens
We arrived late in the day (around 9 PM), checked in to our Airbnb and then immediately booked it to eat at Kalamaki Bar where we had the best pita ever! Very reasonable prices, tasty kebabs, and seriously the pita was .50 euros a piece. We walked around a little bit to tour the city at night and explored a couple theaters near the Acropolis. Although Athens is a huge city, we didn’t really feel unsafe walking around at night.
Day 2: Athens
After a evening of rest, we searched TripAdvisor like mad people and learned that the Acropolis Museum has pretty dec breakfast. I got Greek pancakes (which are thin and chewier than our in the US) and greek yogurt with thyme honey (I still dream about this greek yogurt). The view of the Acropolis was stunning as well. There’s no better way to enjoy a cappuccino than from the Acropolis Museum’s restaurant.
After eating we toured the Acropolis, The Parthenon, and walked around downtown.The Acropolis is hands down one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen. Standing in the ruins of temples built between 447 and 432 BC is completely surreal.
Because the Acropolis on on a hill, you take a short walk up to the top of the hill and are sitting high above the city. The panoramic view is incredible.
A really cool feature in Athens is surrounding the Acropolis, there are tons of fun park trails and areas to hang out take a walk, and get away from the busyness. That was one of my favorite features in the city!
Then we grabbed lunch/dinner at a gyro place called Smile and made our way back to the general Acropolis areas where we firmly planted our rears at the Agro rocks. There was such a Agro rocks are a little rocky area on a hill with beautiful views of the city and an excellent place for watching the sunset, explored the city for a bit longer and went back to our Airbnb where we went to sleep preparing for a really early morning flight to Santorini.
Day 3: Santorini
After catching the earliest hopper flight we could to Santorini (I think it was 6:15 a.m.) We landed and I was initially unimpressed. The scenery was not at all what I expected, until we took a cab to our place in Oia near Sunset Point. Our Airbnb hosts were incredible. They greeted us, helped us navigate the maze of marble streets and stark white buildings, and gave us a ton of information about Santorini. They owned a darling restaurant on the island and brought us cappuccinos to welcome us to the Greek island.
The Airbnb we stayed at is a cave house and had some really amazing features. To get into the house, you have to go through a darling shop with handmade pottery, glasses, and gorgeously painted bowls, walk up some really steep stairs and you were there. It had its own hot tub which contributed to a very airy, comfortable feel. We would absolutely stay there again.
While Tony was getting settled, I soaked in the view, and sat on the patio chair, drank my coffee, and took a little nap. It was perfection!
We walked around Oia getting unintentionally lost in every nook we could find, explored the old Byzantine castle which was one of my favorite things about Santorini and ended up watching a lackluster sunset because of the cloud coverage.
So get this- Santorini used to be known as the Vampire Island, because it was said that the island was infested with vampires that would knock on your door at night and if you answered, they would do, you know, vampirey stuff.
Day 4: Santorini
Clearly we were tired. The thing about sleeping in a cave bedroom is you literally have no natural light, which meant we slept in until 11:00 a.m. After getting ready for the day, we spent most our our time walking around Oia and taking so many pictures! Santorini is a photographer’s dream!!
One of my favorite places in Santorini is a basement book store. It’s to die for! You walk down spiral staircase and find a book worm’s haven. It was full of old classics, new books, and made me feel like I was in a secret library cave.
In true Santorini spirit, we made our way back to Sunset Point with about 50 other people and watched the sunset. It did not disappoint this time. We chatted with a family who gave us a recommendation that we must do a wine tour and go to a restaurant that had to die for food.
When we were completely pictured out, we came home early and made a night of sitting in the hot tub, relaxing, and watching one of our favorite shows, The Great British Bakeoff. It was the ultimate chill out day.
Day 5: Santorini
We learned our lesson about sleeping in, so on Day 5, we woke up early, rented a car and drove about 20 minutes to Fira. Fira is the “party city” with lots of pubs, bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. I believe many of the hostels are located in Fira as well. We explored around, grabbed breakfast, and then drove to Ancient Thira ruins. Ancient Thira was freakin’ awesome. In case you can’t tell, I am a huge history nerd and find this sh*t to be facscinating. Ancient Thira is near the airport, but sits way in the sky with pretty sweet views. Don’t be confused about the drive up. The switchbacks are pretty narrow and you feel like you shouldn’t be driving on the streets, but it’s the right way. (You’ll see what I mean if you go there!)
While walking through Ancient Thira, you see how life was during the Hellenistic times. This place was inhabited from 9th century BCE until 726 CE. Freaking old AF and surprisingly well preserved. Perhaps because it sits on a ridge 360 meters high?
After giving Tony a totally made up tour of Ancient Thira (does anything else do this??), we made our way to Santo Winery, sipping wines, enjoying the view and determining we keep forgetting we like snacks better than wine.
Grabbed lunch per our sunset friend’s recommendation and headed back to Oia to, you guessed it, watch the sunset. When we got back to our home, we decided it would be a good idea to do a puzzle and spent an ungodly amount of hours working on the damn thing only to find there were likely pieces missing…. typical.
*Tip: If you are looking for the gorgeous side of Santorini, I highly recommend staying in Oia. Fira is a bit less expensive, but in my opinion, not worth it.
Day 6: Athens
On day 6 we woke up early, flew back to Athens. Tearfully saying goodbye to our cave life we were getting accustomed to, checked in to Hera Hotel. (I think this was $60 a night and much nicer than our first Airbnb.) We then went on a hunt to find lukumades, greek donuts. There is a place called Lukumades (go figure) where we got a couple different flavors. We liked the honey and cinnamon ones best.
You guys- let me interrupt your reading for two seconds. I don’t think I’ve emphasized this enough- Lukamades, is life changing. You MUST go there and buy some honey and cinnamon ones. I would maybe go back to Athens just for these greek donuts. Seriously. They were that good!
After the life changing treats, we walked through the Athens Flea Market and looked around a bit.
Finally, we decided the best way to see the last bit of Athens is to buy a ticket for the hop-on-hop-off tour and rode around seeing parts that we never saw. Walked through the botanical gardens, watched the changing of the guards (which was so cool!) then saw Temple of Zeus.
We hit the hotel early, as we had to be up at 3:45 a.m. to get to the airport.
That was our experience in Greece! I highly recommend you add this country to your must visit list. It’s absolutely gorgeous and I’m especially glad we spent some time in Athens exploring around.
-BONUS Greece Tips + Good To Know Info-
- Athens airport is a $30-$50 euro cab ride to downtown Athens (you want to stay down there near the Acropolis).
- Santorini tourists season starts in April. Most restaurants will not be open until then. Before April, you can find some restaurants, but not that many. The plus side is there isn’t as many people so you feel like you have the city to yourself.
- The Byzantine church is where most people watch the sunset (it has a great view), but if you walk down the stairs, you will find the “ruins” and they make for a great picture opportunity.
- Lukumades are freaking amazing.
- You really should rent a car and explore Santorini for a day.
- Oia is gorgeous, definitely stay in that area. That’s where you’ll find the blue dome roofs and marble walkways.
- There are dogs and cats everywhere in Oia. You will get to know the dogs more than the people.
- Greek coffee is not great. Trust me- stick to cappuccinos.
- 1 hour before sunset, the marbles and city streets shine beautifully. Spend some time taking pictures.
- Santorini is 10,000 feet above sea…You will fry like a chicken. Wear your sunscreen.
- Buy a couple gigs of internet for your time there. It’s around 20 euros and worth every penny to have internet access for searching for restaurants (Vodafone in Fira sells these)
- TripAdvisor is the primary method of reviews for restaurants, tours, etc. (No Yelp there).
- Olives really are good in Greece. Like really good.
- Hotels are comparably priced as Airbnb in downtown Athens.
- Do not rent a car in Athens- driving in big cities looks like hell.
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