A shop-lined street in Kolonaki, Athens
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Money in Greece: A traveller’s guide

Greek currency: euros

Symbol: €

Currency code: EUR

Greece used to be one of the most affordable destinations in Europe, but its popularity has seen prices rise in recent years. Tourist areas are now more comparable to countries like Italy or France than neighbouring Albania.

While things like food and transport remain affordable, accommodation and shopping can become expensive. In the summer months, deals are especially hard to come by, but there are still some easy ways to save money on a trip to Greece.

The best ways to pay in Greece

Cash is king in Greece, and it’s best to always have some Euros on you. On the mainland, paying with a card usually isn’t a problem, but on the islands you will often encounter issues with POS signal or ATM closures.

Greek businesses are technically required by law to have POS machines, but in reality, it's best to always to have cash as a backup.

ATMs and exchanging money in Greece

Exchanging money in Greece

As with anywhere in the world, airports offer the least favourable rate when changing money in Greece. But the exchange kiosks in Syntagma Square in Athens aren’t much better, stick to exchanging money in banks where possible.

Larger islands like Crete, Corfu, and Rhodes have multiple places to exchange money, but many smaller islands don't.

ATMs in Greece

It’s safer to withdraw money from inside a bank. The main providers in Greece are the National Bank of Greece, Eurobank, Piraeus Bank, and Alpha Bank. Avoid Euronet cash machines at all costs - they always have extortionate withdrawal fees.

It’s important to never accept the ATM’s exchange rate, always select “withdraw in local currency” to avoid high exchange rates. You can use a travel card, like Wise, to avoid high exchange rates from your own bank back home.

How to save money in Greece

While you can fly directly to islands with international airports, such as Crete, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, one of the cheapest ways to get around Greece is by ferry. Island hopping by boat is a great way to save money on flights, but ferry prices can vary hugely depending on the speed. Book in advance and take a slower boat to save big - use Ferryhopper to compare all of the options.

Buying a filtered water bottle will save you money and reduce your impact on the environment as it replaces the need to buy plastic bottles of water. Grab lunch from one of Greece’s wonderful bakeries instead of going for a sit-down meal at a tourist restaurant to save even further. A visit to a traditional local bakery is an almost daily habit for every Greek, so it’s a good way to get to know the locals too.

Alcohol can be a big cost in Greece, especially on the islands. While you can get a carafe of wine in a restaurant in Poros for next to nothing, buying one drink in Mykonos could cost the whole day's budget. Bars on the busier islands overcharge for drinks, and bigger nightclubs have extortionate entry fees. When looking to save money in Greece, a soft drink or two can really tip the scales.

How to avoid common scams in Greece

While Greece is generally a safe country to visit, pickpocketing is an issue in Athens. Be especially vigilant at the airport, on the metro and on public buses, and around the Acropolis.

It’s common for restaurants in Greece to put bread on your table without it being ordered, but it isn’t generally free and is sometimes overpriced. Simply say no thanks, and they will take it back without charging you.

In some touristy areas, street sellers will approach restaurant tables with toys or other items - know that if you touch it you buy it. A firm no will be fine, and the restaurant staff are usually helpful in deterring sellers.

Taxis can be a source of overspending in many parts of the world, but they don’t have to be. In Greece, every taxi should have a metre. Ask if the metre is on and how long it will take, that way you can check on Google Maps and work out the price. When the driver sees this, it’s less likely that they will try to rip you off.

VAT and tax refunds

The standard VAT rate is 24% in line with the EU. Greece has a great tax refund rate of up to 16.7% of the purchase amount (50 EUR minimum per receipt).

To get the refund, visit any Global Blue Refund Office in Greece. You will need to be a non-EU resident, be over 18 and have a validated Tax Free Form to get your refund.

Helpful phrases

  • Poso (πόσο) – How much?

  • Den katalavaino (δεν καταλαβαίνω) – I do not understand

  • Voitheia (Βοήθεια) - Help!

  • Opa (Ωπα) - Oops!

Typical prices in Greece

  • A pre-booked ferry ticket between the islands - €20.

  • A ticket on the Athens metro - €1.20 or €4.50 for 24 hours.

  • A Greek coffee - €2.

  • A local beer - €4.

  • A gyros for lunch - €5.

  • An evening meal for two - €40.

  • Renting a beach lounger for the day - €10.

Planning a trip to Greece? Read our Greece travel guides

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Jo Williams

Author - Jo Williams

Jo Williams is a freelance writer with 10 years' experience working in travel and tourism. A Brit who got fed up with the 9 to 5 corporate life, she sold everything to become a full-time wanderer.

Jo has travelled to over 70 countries and worked throughout Europe for a major tour operator. She hopes to inspire you to work less and travel more.

Last Updated 3 January 2024

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