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The Aegean Sea on a Budget

Balos beach, Crete
Photo by Vitaliy Mateha

Water as blue as the sky. Towering hills covered with trees older than your grandparents. Cities of white-washed buildings and street vendors hawking souvlaki and fresh seafood. The Aegean Sea is a dream destination for a reason, yet many travelers avoid its lure because they’re too frightened of the imagined cost. However, visiting the Aegean Sea doesn’t have to break the bank.

Pick Destinations Carefully

The Aegean Sea is home to hundreds of coastal and island cities. Some of these cities are designed for tourists and are much more expensive. Visiting destinations that are less tourist-focused will save you money while maintaining the same authentic quality.

Such destinations have the added benefit of authenticity. They tend to maintain museums, exhibits, and experiences dedicated to specific local features. For example, the coastal city of Nafplio is the proud home of komboloi (Greek worry beads), and has multiple museums and shops dedicated solely to these beads. Cities like Nafplio provide charming experiences that you won’t find repeated anywhere else.

Heraklion. The old Venetian fortress at night.

Don’t Get Stuck in One Place

It’s easy to pick one destination on the Aegean and spend all your time there. There is certainly enough to do! But for the most widespread experience of the Aegean, you’ll want to visit multiple towns. For a day trip, take a ferry to Hydra to enjoy an island town where residents travel by donkey. Or try the mainland Sounion and visit the Temple of Poseidon—visit at sunset for a stunning view. For a longer excursion, take an overnight ferry to Crete and visit Knossos: home of the Minotaur.

Enjoy the Experience

No matter where you go to visit the Aegean Sea, you don’t need to spend tons of money to get the most out of your visit. Most beaches are free public access, or only cost a few euros to rent a beach chair and umbrella. Street performances reign in every city. And don’t skip on museums or ancient sites because of the entrance fee—typically prices are under ten euros (or cheaper if you’re eligible for their student discount).

No need to go overboard buying expensive meals, either. With close access to the coast, every city on the Aegean Sea will boast plenty of delicious, fresh seafood that doesn’t empty our your wallet. Be sure to check out walk-up restaurants as well—some of the most delicious and cheapest souvlaki and gyros will be found in these tiny stores.

Typical colourful fishing boat in Pythagorion port, Samos island

You can’t go wrong visiting the Aegean Sea. No matter where you go or what you do, it will be an incredible trip. Pick your destinations wisely, move around, and enjoy the experience!