Although Greece has seen economic uncertainty over the past few years, an impressive number of visitors are still drawn there every year. A record of 23.5 million tourists came to Greece in 2015 drawn by its climate, culture and cuisine.
Athens is a city where the ancient comes together with the contemporary, creating a cosmopolitan city that has something for everyone. The Acropolis and Parthenon look over a vibrant metropolis, where the party never stops.
A visit to Athens is rewarding in many ways - but you’ll need some Euros to enjoy it. Check out this guide to avoiding the rip-offs and finding the best places to exchange your cash in Athens.
One thing that’s important to keep track of is the exchange rate that will be applied when you change your home currency over to Euros. With the fact that rates are fluctuating all the time, keeping up can feel challenging. The easiest way to follow the current rate is to access an online currency converter to keep yourself updated.
The converter will tell you the mid-market rate - which is the only ‘real’ exchange rate. Tourist rates tend to be a bit less favourable than mid-market, but by using your converter as a benchmark, you can pick out the best of your options once you arrive in Athens.
You're unlikely to find a good rate in exchange services near the airport or your hotel as companies there tend to offer convenience but poor rates. A good alternative could be to withdraw cash from an ATM.
If you think you might take out cash in Athens, talk to your bank before you go. They might have agreements with local Greek banks that will mean you can take out cash for lower fees in certain ATMs.
Another common foreign exchange rip-off is letting the ATM do any sort of conversion for you. There are 2 ways that ATMs charge fees:
- They will charge a fixed fee upfront and/or
- They will ask to convert the money for you
No matter if it’s asking if you would like to be charged in your home currency (a common trap where the ATM’s bank will then assign you a generally unfavourable exchange rate) or offer to do the conversion for you, it’s best to refuse these ‘services’. Get charged in the local currency instead. That way, your home bank assigns the rate and you get the best deal.
After your trip, don't be tempted to change any extra Euros back to your home currency. Either spend them or keep them for your next venture into Europe. By changing them back again, you'll be hit by another set of fees and charges - never a good deal.
Don’t forget that changing cash once you arrive in Athens will mean that you are hit with fees and charges. Even if an exchange service says that it charges zero commission, the costs will be wrapped up in the rate you’re offered. Make sure you know exactly how much you’ll receive after conversion, before you go ahead.
If you do need to change currency once you’re in Athens, try one of these places:
Some of the best places to exchange currency in Athens
- 5 branches in Athens to choose from.
- The central branch is located at 39 – 41, Αg. Konstantinou Street (6th floor).
- Give them a call at +0030 210 5234402 to check out their rates.
- They’ve got 7 branches in Athens, four of which are open 9-21 every day.
- Two of the branches that are open with long hours are 4 Karageorgi Servias street (+0030 210 3220 005) and 1 Areos Street, Monastiraki Square (+0030 210 3222 657).
- One location in Athens which is open from 9-21.
- They can be found at 57 Menandrou Street, Omonia Square. Call them at +0030 210 5245817.
Alternatively - for an even better deal - use Transferwise. If you have a Greek bank account, or know someone who does, you can easily transfer money between accounts using the real mid-market exchange rate. The service is simple to use, with low and transparent fees to help you avoid exchange rip offs.
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