Since my last article about Santorini, I’ve received a few questions about how I planned my trip to the Island on a budget.
Santorini is known to be a pretty expensive location all year-long due to its popularity. In fact, the first thing I heard after sharing my travelling plans with friends and family was: “Amazing! But isn’t it expensive?” Well technically it is, but if you plan it well, you can save a lot of money.
I’d like to point out that I pay for all of my travels, and I’m a student, not a millionaire; so visiting Santorini is totally affordable with a good organization behind it.
Moving along this little intro, let’s get into the info you all came here for!
1. Get to Santorini on a Budget
The most expensive part of travelling is usually the flight and this case it’s no different. First of all, I advice you to visit Santorini off-season because you’ll get the best deals price-wise. If you are unable to go on holiday when you want to, I’ll share with you how I do my online search for cheap flights.
Unfortunately, If you search for a direct flight to Santorini, you’re going to be disappointed. There are basically none and the ones that you can find are super expensive. The cheapest option is to do at least one stopover. It’s not going to be an ideal flight but it’s still better than not getting there at all. Let me know if my technique works for you, and feel free to share it 😉
- Go to the site you prefer using to search flights (I used Expedia for this)
- In the “Flying from” field, type the biggest airport you have near you
- In the “Flying to” field, insert the city you’ll do your stopover in (It’s usually Athens but it may vary depending where you live)
- For the dates I usually check which ones are cheapest first, but if you have to travel on certain dates, insert those
- Click “Search”
- Open a new window and do another search, but this time put in the “Flying from” the city you’ll use as a stopover, and in the “Flying to”, Santorini, then insert the dates
- Add the costs of the two flight you picked and have a safe flight!
Another method I use is booking flight, accommodation and car all in one package. It will often be cheaper. To get to Santorini, I found that Expedia had pretty good deals so I was able to book a package for a week, with less 300€.
2. Booking the Accommodation
First of all, cheap doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable and luckily for you, Santorini is full of great accommodations. If you are an adventurous person, you might want to try a hostel and if your plans are a romantic getaway or a trip with friends, a small hotel is what you are looking for. Before beginning your search, I advice you to pick a zone of the Island where you would like to stay. The cheapest villages are usually: Fira, Kamari, Perissa, Karteradhos and Firostefani. Now let’s get into the search again! 😀
- Go to your site of choice (I usually use Booking for the accommodations)
- Search Santorini, insert your dates, and adjust the price range
- Click “Search”
- Scroll the page or if you prefer, open the little map (on the left side of the screen) to browse for options
- Find the best accommodation for you! (And if you are feeling kind, feel free to use the box below to book your holidays… I may get a euro or two from it if you do).
Note: You can book the accommodation in advance, but if you do it the day before your departure the prices will drop. Another trick is to delete the cookies after searching. It’s not technically demonstrated, but I’ve noticed that if you don’t, the prices will rise the second time you’ll open the page to look.
3. How to Get Budget Transportation in Santorini
Santorini is not a small island, so it’s important to plan how you are going to cover it all on a budget. Luckily there are a few affordable options to choose from:
KTEL Public Bus: It’s cheap and it covers all the major stops: Oia, Fira, Kamari, Akrotiri and the airport as well! You can find the timetable here
Rent a car: is convenient if you are not going to cover long distances with it (the fee is around 40€ a day in low-season). I rented mine with Sixt at the airport because I bought a convenience package, otherwise I would have considered the option above. If you don’t want to rent it there or you need it only for a day, you’ll find plenty of other spots where you can pick one up, especially if you are staying in one of the main villages.
Walking: is another great option, but as I said before, the Island is pretty big. If you have a lot of time on your hands do it, it’s definitely worth it. I walked from Fira to Imerovigli and it took about an hour. The paths are well-marked and they offer stunning views.
4. What to Eat on a Budget
Two words are enough to say it all: street food. It’s good and extremely affordable (2-4 €). If you find yourself in Fira I highly recommend Nick the Grill in the Town Square. Every dinner I had in Santorini was a take away of their vegetarian pita wrap!
If street food is not your thing, or you’re fed up with it, dining in restaurants can be very cheap. I advice you to pick one far from the main villages. The prices are lower and you’ll get to taste the authentic Greek cuisine. A great restaurant I’ve found on the road between Akrotiri and the Lighthouse (near the swing view of the caldera) was Taverna Giorgiaros, I randomly stopped there because I was famished and didn’t regret it. Very cheap, great quality and they offered me dessert! Another very good one was Mama’s House in Fira, even though it’s location is touristy, the prices are relatively cheap and the quality is excellent.
Here’s a sample of a cheap but filling menu that I usually got while eating out:
- Tzatziki: usually an appetizer, it’s a sauce made of yogurt, cucumber, vinegar, garlic, salt and olive oil. If you don’t try it, you’re missing out!
- Bread: you’ll need it with the sauce above, cheap way to fill you up is to put the amazing tzatziki on it, trust me, it’s delicious.
- Greek salad: this one is far from the image of sad salad that we have. Made with tomatoes, cucumber onion and oil, it’s topped with a lot of feta, which is the strong point of this dish.
Summing it up, with less than 10€ you’ll be full for the entire day.
Picnic: another option to keep the food low-cost. Buying at the local markets is very cheap and there are a lot of options. With 2€ I bought so many tangerines to last me for the entire holiday. Also, the great thing about picnics is that you can enjoy your meals everywhere while admiring the views.
Note: Try to book accommodations with breakfast included, you’ll get first thing in the morning a healthy fill for the day 😉
5. What to do in Santorini on a Budget
One thing I loved about the Island is the amount of free or cheap activities at your disposal. From stunning views to cultural activities, this Island has something for everyone. Here’s a list of my favourite cheap things to do:
- Go to the beach: there are so many and all beautiful that its difficult to pick a favourite, but my vote needs to go to the Red beach, check it out here with all the other breathtaking views of this Island.
- Excursions: they might cost around 50€, depending which one you pick. I read awesome reviews about them, especially the one to the Volcano and Hot Springs. Unfortunately I couldn’t do it because the day I booked it, the weather was too windy and the boat couldn’t sail (the struggle is real).
- Museums the cost is around 2€ each, but the great thing is, if you are a European student, they are FREE! I definitely recommend visiting old Thera and Akrotiri.
- Walks: the amazing views are free as well of course. The best hike on the Island is from Fira to Oia, going trough Imerovigli (10 km Time: 3 – 4 hours). As for the best walking hours, I highly recommend you the early morning or late afternoon (the sunset! 😍)
6. What to Pack
As always the less you pack, the cheaper and easier your holiday will be! However there are a few key items that I highly suggest you to bring, they revealed themselves to be very useful:
On the Island, sunscreen is super expensive (around 20€) so be sure to bring your own. I advice you to buy a natural brand without all the toxic ingredients that harm your skin. MyChelle is definitely one of my favorite brands if you want some suggestions!
I brought two backpacks with me, one was from OVS, which is the one that you see me wear in photos. The second backpack was for hikes and excursions, which is the one linked above. This is the perfect backpack: spacious, waterproof and it folds! Perfect for hiking or for travelling lightweight.