A high-end vacation in Greece is within reach even if you don’t have a big budget, says Christos Stergiou, the founder and owner of TrueGreece, an Athens-based travel company selling luxury trips to Greece.
“Compared to many other European countries popular with travelers, Greece is affordable, and it’s possible to have a very upscale vacation here without blowing the bank,” he said.
Here are Stergiou’s tips on how to get luxury for less on a Greek holiday.
Go Off the Beaten Path
Skip Mykonos, Santorini, Athens and other tourist-heavy spots within Greece, said Stergiou, because they are pricey and overcrowded. Instead, hit the country’s lesser known and more affordable gems such as the islands of Paros and Naxos or a city like Thessaloniki. In these less popular destinations, rooms in top hotels don’t run more than a few hundred dollars a night, sumptuous meals with wine cost less than $40 a person, and activities and tours are reasonably priced.
“You save a lot of money and also get a more genuine sense of the country because you’re surrounded mostly by Greeks,” Stergiou said.
Pick Your Accommodations Wisely and Book Ahead
If you’re traveling with six or more people, renting a spacious villa on a Greek island with a staff, a pool and other bells and whistles will be less expensive — by as much as 30 percent — than booking individual hotel rooms. TrueGreece, BookNDream and The Greek Villas are a few companies that offer villa rentals.
If you’re staying at a hotel, Stergiou said, smaller, independently owned properties are more affordable than chains or large resorts. And he encourages booking your hotel six to eight months in advance because many Greek properties offer early booking discounts.
Limit Your Destinations
Minimizing how many places you visit could save you several hundred dollars a person, said Stergiou, because the cost of ferries to islands and internal airfare adds up fast.
Cut Down on Tours and Excursions
You don’t need to book an endless lineup of tours and excursions to have an enjoyable getaway — most are expensive and don’t necessarily enrich your trip. Stergiou advised splurging on a few private experiences based on your interests. History buffs, for example, could consider a tour of an important historical site or museum while water lovers may want to spring for a daylong sailing trip.
“You’ll get the customization that’s a trademark of luxury vacations, and your money will be well spent,” Stergiou said.
Go During Shoulder Season
July and August are Greece’s peak tourist months, and they are also when prices for hotels, tours and ferries are inflated. From April through mid-June and September through November, however, prices drop by as much as half.
“You’ll avoid the crowds, and your money will go much further when you take a shoulder season vacation,” Stergiou said.