Let me preface this guide with the following. We were broke as fuck when we were in Greece. We travel the world paycheck to paycheck. We don’t always have the ability to plan and book our trip ahead of time. We buy last minute tickets, book every transport the day of, and find every bite to eat along the way. We travel with simplicity and minimalism in mind and take pleasure in enjoying the every-day life in each place we visit.
You won’t find any museums, or touristy locations in this guide.. Okay maybe one or two.
What you will find is how to live & work remotely in Greece, without breaking the budget.
WHAT'S SO GREAT ABOUT GREECE?
Greece is the kind of place you can sit for hours, enjoy a cup of coffee, and just people watch. Whether you’re in the middle of Athens or on a remote island somewhere you’ll never have a hard time finding a great cafe to work from. The islands offer an amazingly laid back lifestyle, bright blue water, and great taverna food. In the city you’ll be overwhelmed by the abundance of life-changing bakeries, affordable hearty meals, and the constant buzz of the vibrant city. Our biggest surprise in Greece was the late-night culture. Greece is most alive between the hours of 11pm-4am. People sit for hours in bars and tavernas drinking wine, or ouzo or our new favorite.. Tsipouro. They eat, they drink, they laugh, they argue, and they enjoy their time together. Dinners with our Greek friends invariably led to hours of endlessly meandering conversation over a table of empty dishes. This is your opportunity to gain valuable insight into Greek culture. Ask Questions.
WHAT DOES IT OFFER DIGITAL NOMADS?
+ Laid back culture
Greeks love nothing more than sitting with a cup of “kaffe” and chatting for hours. You’ll have no trouble finding an excellent cafe to work from.
+ Deliciously Affordable Food
Prices in Greece are still pretty low, which makes eating out and cooking at home damn affordable. (especially when the bread, and cheese, and wine is as good as it is)
+ Lively Late Night Fun
Greece is most alive between 11pm and 4am. Don’t expect to find a quiet cafe at this hour. Do expect lively conversation!
+ Plenty of Coastline and Islands to Explore
Greece is legendary for crystal blue water, lush islands, and ancient ruins. Pick an island that suits you or hop around until you find a match!
+ A Growing Start-Up Scene
The economic re-growth has been fueled by incubators, new start-up projects, and people embracing the fact that they can work for themselves.There is a great community of remotes, a few coworking spaces popping up, and always a cafe with some wifi pretty close by, sometimes you can even find a spot to work by the beach!
We had great luck using Airbnb in Greece
In and Around Athens
+ Stay outside of the city center away from the Acropolis, the heavy tourist foot traffic, and the general target area for most pickpockets, and thieves.
+ Neighborhoods like Panormou or Zografou on the North East side of Athens allow you to stay close to the action with access to the metro. You’ll get a more local feel and still have plenty of options for restaurants, markets, cafes, and nightlife.
+ You can find Apartments on AirBnB that have a kitchen, balcony, great wifi, and a safe neighborhood. The one we found even had a tobacco shop next door where you can get bottles of “farmers wine” (Krassi Xima) they’re the ones in plastic bottles, for about 3 Euros)
O.D on Vitamin Sea & D
If you’re main objective is catch the maximum amount of sun. Situate yourself closer to the coast line in Ilioupoli or Glyfada. Wander through quiet neighborhoods, find local tavernas, bakeries, and cafes to cure your cravings. We fell in love with a cozy AIRBNB with a quiet rooftop perfect for watching the sunset and a view of sunset.
Or maybe you just want to hop from island to island. Each one is a little different with what it’s known for. Though it may be tempting to follow the crowds to Santorini or Mykonos, you’ll be hardpressed to find much more than that...Crowds. Make your way to Smaller Islands like Paros, or Naxos.
Word has it there are clusters of Digital Nomads gathering in the coastal city of Thessaloniki, and on islands like Rhodes and Crete.
Or maybe you just want to get away from it all in Lesvos.
WORK & TIME ZONES
Greece’s Time zone is UTC+02:00. That puts it 5 hours behind Beijing time. Which means if you’re doing business in Asia you’ll be getting up early and ending your workday around Noon.
Greece is 7 hours ahead of EST so if you’ve got video calls to NYC you’ll be starting your work day around 4pm.
If you’re company is based any where in Europe, then you’ll be just an hour or two ahead or behind their work schedule.
SIM CARDS & WIFI IN GREECE
The wifi in Greece is not the most reliable we’ve encountered. Make sure you find a place to live where the connection is solid. We found download speeds to be about 30MB/s when they were stable but they would occasionally drop. Definitely do a speedtest before committing to your long term housing. We use the SpeedSmart app for wifi speed testing.
Buying a SIM card is as easy as walking into any cell phone shop. You can find a useful breakdown of the best data plans here.
It’s difficult to find a space that you can rely on for 24 hour access, but with Greece’s stellar late night culture, there’s usually a cafe/bar that’s open pretty late. In Paros we worked from a 24hr bakery right by the water.
Bakery-Cafes are a staple. Bread & coffee go together like cheese & olives in Greece. And usually they’ll have tables & wifi. We really loved the 24 hour bakery in Paros, it had a great view, and the spanakopita was crumbly and delicious! In Athens we sought out local bakery/cafes around the corner from our apartment. Usually there’s at least a Veneti’s (Βενετης) Bakery close by. You can grab lunch or something sweet for breakfast with a latte, and get to work for a while.
Bar-Cafes are great for mid day working where you can get a cappuccino to start and a beer or cocktail to end. These places are all around Greece and you can usually get a traditional Greek coffee at these places too. (Don’t forget to let the coffee grounds settle before you take a sip)
CultureTip: Just as the Chinese do with tea leaves, it is said that you can usually find someone nearby to read your fortune in your coffee grounds.
Greece is food heaven! You can eat cheaply and well, like so well. Maybe we were just deprived of bread from living in Asia for so long, but oh my god the bread is so good! Bread is a crucial to life here as rice is in Asia. You eat it with coffee and jam in the morning, you can dip it in anything from eggplant salad to thick & creamy tzatziki, you can use it soak up the sauce from a hearty homemade Briam, the greek version of ratatouille. Bakeries are everywhere chock-full of fresh bread, and you should absolutely embrace that.
A Few of our Faves
Cheeses: Besides the fresh Feta cheese which will change your life, try the milder semisoft Mizithra or Manouri. For a harder, sharper cheese try Kaseri.
Bread: Xoriatiki (or Village bread) is crusty on the outside and super soft and moist on the inside. It tops even the best baguette!
Olives: Kalamata olives are king here. They are brown and meaty and addictive! Trust me, order them from a deli counter (they are ordered by weight and you can usually get a ¼ Kilo for under €2.
Fruit: Peaches/Nectarines, Cherries, and Figs (if they’re in season) Eat them with cheese and bread or Greek Yogurt.
A serious note about Greek Yogurt: You may think you've had Greek Yogurt before, but the yogurt that is considered to be Greek in most places is a bastardized version of it. You haven't had real Greek Yogurt until you've tried it in Greece, trust me.
Tip: Get yourself a tub of Greek Yogurt (FAGE (Pronounced: Fah-Yeh) Cow yogurt, or traditional Sheep or Goat yogurt) and a far of Fig Jam, and eat that shit up for breakfast, or lunch or dinner. You'll thank me later.
Don't miss this blog about the best places to eat in Athens from 2foodtrippers
Indulge a Little
Go out to a taverna for dinner, eat the grilled octopus, or the calamari, order things to dip your bread into and have deep (or not so deep) conversations over Tsipouro.
It may be tempting after a day of taking selfies at the Acropolis and meandering through the tiny streets of Monastiraki to just pick the first place that offers live music and "traditional" Greek faire...
But going off the beaten tourist path, and finding a local food joint will be more rewarding to your tastebuds, and your wallet.
Find a local neighborhood, away from the tourist attractions, and eat with the locals, because that’s where you’ll find the best tasting and quality foods.
For cheap eats, locate a solid souvlaki place. I know you’ve been waiting to try a Gyro in Greece, but trust me on this one. Go for the souvlaki pita instead. Souvlaki is grilled chunks of meat. If you’re not that hungry, just get a few Kalamakia, which are the sticks of grilled souvlaki. Souvlaki Pita is usually under €3.
BACK TO BASICS
Greece is part of the European Union and is included in the Schengen Area. You can spend 90 days in the Schengen Area every 6 months. Find out if a visa is required for your country
Greeks are mostly Christian/Greek Orthodox. The one thing that this affects most, is that the grocery stores and some tavernas are closed on Sundays. So make sure you’ve got some food in the fridge for Sundays.
There are no ATMs fees in Greece. But you will get charged around €8 to exchange cash in the bank.
Location is everything, make sure there’s a cafe/bakery, a grocery store and a taverna near your place.
Looking to meet some new people or need some specific advice on living in Greece. Check out these Facebook Groups. The members are always doing meetups on rooftop bars or coworking sessions in new places.
Don't do it. It will take forever and you’ll incur customs fees up the ass. Let’s just say we learned this from personal experience… If you absolutely must have something shipped to you, make sure to put the amount that it is worth equal to $20 or under. This will not require any customs fees, and hopefully it won’t be held up in the Parcel Sorting center for what seems like a year.
Sarong (aka toga)
Appetite - Food is very important in Greece. People will try to feed you.
Practice Leave No Trace when visiting beaches and ancient ruins.
Shop Local, supporting local businesses is great for revitalizing the economy.
Trains & Busses: Athens metro and bus system will connect you from the outside to the center of the city.
Taxi/Uber: Uber is relatively new to Athens which means it’s easier to use in the city center than the outer neighborhoods. You can always use the app “Beat” to grab a taxi.
Ferries: The greek ferry system has been getting people to and from the islands for years! It’s definitely the cheapest way to get around the islands. A 4 hour ferry ride to Paros costs about €35. And there are snacks and coffee on board. Find a seat near the cafe or on the upper deck, read your book, and enjoy the views and the bright azure waves created by the boat.
Flights: If long ferry rides aren’t your thing and you have some extra dough, spring for a flight to and from the islands. You’ll get there in about an hour, rather than 4.
Greek is the main language spoken but many people also speak English. It’s good to start the conversation at least with a greetings in Greek, and then transition to English, or ask if they can speak English. They’ll correct your Greek, but they’ll also do what they can to help you in English. Where you’ll find the biggest language barrier is with elders, and in small neighborhoods where there aren’t many English travelers.
Some Helpful Phrases -- Don't Forget to Roll your "R"s
Kali Mera (Good Morning)
Kali Spera (Good Evening)
Kali Nichta (Good Night)
Yeia Sou, [Ya Soo] (Hi there)
Hi there (more than one person/formal)
Q: τι κάνεις
Q: Ti Kanis? (How are you/ What’s up?)
A: Kala (I’m well)
A: δεν είμαι καλά
A: Then Eimai Kala (I'm not well)
Q: Μιλάς αγγλικά?
Milas Agglika? (Do you speak English?)
We’ve already mentioned the typical Greek nightlife. Go to tavernas and bars, stay out late, eating, drinking, and talking.
Go camping, there are great campsites on the coast lines. We loved Camping Koula on Paros.
Find a local town festival, or Panagiri. All the locals join in the fun of eating, drinking, dancing and having fun in a town square.
OUR GREECE TOP 5
+ Eat as much bread, cheese, olives, and pastries as you want.
+ Make Friends with the locals, humans and cats alike. Locals love to chat, and so do the cats. You're sure to make plenty of furry friends!
+ Spend a few hours at a taverna trying the local liquors. Ouzo (similar to Absinthe) and Tsipouro (distilled from wine press pomace) are fan favorites!
+ Greece is known for its many philosophers. So while you’re sipping on your Tsipouro, have a conversation with a local, about love, life, and the pursuit of…whatever. Be prepared to answer questions. Inquiring Greek minds will want to know everything about you.
+ Waffles and Ice Cream, it’s a gourmet dessert in Greece. You won’t regret it.
Take a day trip to Cape Sounion for a swim in the Aegean Sea with a killer view of the Temple of Poseidon. This has always been my favorite temple in Greece, as it is accompanied with a tale of heroic tragedy, an infamous mythical creature, and the namesake of this particular sea.
Visa : 90 days Schengen - Free for many countries
Accommodation: AirBnB’s for €25-35 per night are basic but doable. If you want something a little more upscale, then look for €45-65 per night. You may be able to find some monthly’s for around €600-700. Which is pretty good for Europe. Don’t be afraid to negotiate a little.
Coworking Space: Find a good bakery/cafe and it will be about €5/day. If you want a legit coworking space you’re looking at €100-150/ month or €10/ day.
Food: Grocery store daily budget about €10. €15-20 if you’re eating out, including wine or tsipouro.
Transportation: Taxis and Ubers are your faster option but can run you up to €30 to or from the airport. Busses and Trains are absolutely the most cost effective option but it will take you awhile to get somewhere. Bus tickets can be purchased at the many Kiosks in the city. If you’re island hopping, ferries are usually about €35.
A note about Kiosks: These are like “newsstands” that also sell basic bread items, ice cream, cold drinks, cigarettes, and bus tickets.