Living in Greece – A Guide for PhD Students
Written by Kirsty Smitten
Greece’s unparalleled cultural heritage ensures there will always be something to see when taking a break from your PhD studies. Wherever you choose to study, you won’t be far from places that have played a seminal role in western history – and you’ll also have the opportunity to enjoy an enviable Mediterranean climate whilst you research (or relax).
This page provides useful information for students opting to move to Greece for their PhD studies. We’ve covered your accommodation options, living costs, banking, travel and much more.
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Greece has been attracting foreign students and scholars for other two-thousand years (in fact, Alexander the Great was privately tutored by the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle). The country’s warm weather, striking landscapes and excellent food and drink make it as appealing for travelling scholars today as it was for their ancient predecessors.
Culture and tourism
Greece has always been a major tourist destination in Europe and is home to 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. So, whether you are visiting Athens to see ancient landmarks including the Acropolis and Parthenon temple, or taking a holiday on one of the beautiful Greek Islands, you will never be short of something to do during your studies.
As a PhD student in Greece you are likely to be living in one of the main student hubs Athens or Thessaloniki. Though institutions of higher education are established elsewhere in Greece, including on the popular island of Crete.
Sport and leisure
It isn’t surprising that the original home of the Olympic Games offers plenty of sporting opportunities. The majority of universities offer cultural and sporting societies and a Sports Centre that all students can enrol in.
Daily life in Greece is relaxed especially in the summer with afternoon siestas breaking up the hot days. Traditionally evenings serve as a time for social congregation and long meals with multiple dishes. In some Greek cities you find tavernas where you can sample meze and listen to live bazouki music.
Food and drink
Greece is famous for it’s healthy ‘Mediterranean diet’ based on fish, healthy oils, legumes and small amounts of quality grilled meat.
As a resident student within Greece you’ll have the chance to sample more familiar foods, such as feta cheese, olives and flatbreads as well as other dishes such as gigandes (giant lima beans in herb and tomato sauce), dolmades (vine leaves stuffed with rice and seasonings) or saganaki (lightly fried cheese in breadcrumbs).
In addition, Greece is one of the world’s oldest wine producing regions, you will have a chance to discover indigenous varieties such as rich Nemean reds or sweet Mavrodaphne dessert wines. Greece’s other most famous beverage is, of course, ouzo - typically served after a good evening’s food as an aperitif.
The provision of student accommodation varies within Greece; not every institution offers its own halls of residence for students.
In major cities such as Athens and Thessaloniki the large number of students has resulted in the development of private student rental flats and student hostels. The prices of these vary significantly but can cost as little as €200 per month.
The cost of renting a 1-bedroom apartment is, on average, €300 in the city centre or €275 oustide of the city centre
It is recommended you contact the international office at your university and ask about local accommodation upon your application
It is recommended you contact the international office at your university and ask about local accommodation during your application as if your university does provide halls of residence this will be the cheapest option. If not, they may have a list of recommended landlords that you can request.
Greece is a relatively inexpensive country to live within compared to other countries within Europe. On average it is recommended that university students have €600-725 per month to cover living expenses and accommodation.
Your living costs will be dependant upon your chosen lifestyle, upmarket catering aimed at tourists and holiday makers will typically be more expensive. As a resident it is a good idea to take advantage of local markets and purchase cheap groceries to prepare for yourself.
Prices in Greece
The following table gives an indication of some common expenses during a PhD in Greece:
Student Cost of Living in Greece - 2023
|Monthly Travel Pass
|Based on crowdsourced data published by Numbeo.
EU/EEA citizens can work immediately on receipt of their resident’s permit. Nationals of other countries are best advised to contact your local Greek embassy to inquire about your employment rights in Greece as they may be restricted by your visa.
The best opportunity to find work will be in the summer months when Greece expects large amounts of international tourists, increasing the demand for English speakers in hospitality and related services.
You can read our Study in Greece guide for 2023 to learn more about residence permits and student visas.
Be wary of apparent loopholes: less scrupulous employers may allow you to work without proper registration, this is illegal, and you also will have little recourse if they refuse to pay you as agreed.
The currency in Greece is the Euro (€). If you are from a country that doesn’t use the Euro banks will usually be able to exchange your currency for you. Banks are available in Greece’s cities and are typically open Monday-Friday with several banks closing on Friday afternoons.
Although not compulsory, you should be able to open a local bank account by presenting documentation to confirm your identity, student status and residence permit. Students in receipt of a scholarship or bursary are typically required to open a Greek bank account.
Where you choose to study in Greece will affect the transport options, for example access to some of the Greek Islands may not be as simple as Athens.
Major cities in Greece are well connected via public transport:
- Thessaloniki - There is a large bus network organised by the Urban transportation of Thessaloniki (OASTH)
- Patras - Patra is well connected by Urban bus routes, as well as the Suburban railway lines
- Athens - as the capital city Athens has a vast transport network including: bus, metro, rail and subway systems.
You can use the public transport network in Athens by purchasing an ATH.ENA TICKET or ATH.ENA CARD (similar to London’s Oyster Card), both involve wireless transactions. Both types may be recharged and reused.
Students enrolled at public universities in Athens regardless of nationality are entitled to half price Athens public transport as long as they have an academic ID card.
The majority of international students arriving in Greece do so by plane, there are 2 main airports in Greece: The Airport of Athens (El. Venizelos International Airpor) and The Airport of Thessaloniki which serves as a gateway to Northern Greece.
There are other smaller airports scattered around cities and islands that receive domestic flights all year round and charter flights in the summer season.
Domestic flights from Athens to the Greek Islands are a popular method of transport as the flight time ranges from 40 minutes to 1 hour, and they are often cheap. A flight from Athens-Chania (Crete) costs as little as (€49).