Santorini Travel Guide
Santorini is famous for its cliff-side homes which are painted blazing white with deep blue roofs. They are symbolic of Greece. If you are looking for a romantic getaway, this is the place. Don’t miss watching the sunset at Oia, visiting the many historical sites, or exploring the vineyards. I found Santorini to be touristy but surprisingly cheap and, once you get out of the town, it’s easy to escape the crowds. I’m a big fan and prefer this island to nearby Mykonos.
- Hostel prices – Expect to pay around $20-30 USD a night for a dorm bed. Most of the hostels are located on Perissa beach and near the port.
- Budget hotel prices – For a little bit more, you can spend $40-70 USD for a budget hotel room for two people.
- Average cost of food – Food is not very expensive here. You’ll find a lot of cheap gyro and sandwich shops for about $4 USD for a meal. Inexpensive restaurants will cost around $10 USD. A nicer restaurant will cost around $20 USD with a drink. Prices just go up from there. If you are eating in Oia, prices are about 30% higher because of all the tourists.
- Transportation costs – The bus is $2 USD per trip and leaves each town every two hours. Taxis cost about $30 USD to go across the island.
Money Saving Tips
- Rent an ATV – The buses are infrequent and the taxis are expensive. The most cost effective way to get around is to rent your own ATV.
- Hit Happy Hour – Drinks get very expensive on Santorini. Drink your fill during happy hour, when they have 2 for 1 drinks and $1 USD shots. Perissa beach is a popular nightspot.
- Avoid Oia – The main town is the most expensive place on this relatively cheap island. Avoid stay and eating here and you’ll find yourself cutting your costs in half.
Things to See and Do on Santorini
- Visit the Santorini Volcano – A good daytrip, you visit the volcano’s caldera and then take a dip in the hot springs, take a donkey ride, and then see the sunset in Oia. If that’s too much for you, you can simply head out to the caldera and go to the hot springs.
- Visit a Winery – Santorini has a lot of great wineries. The fertile land is perfect for growing grapes. There are winery tours through the island and they last about half a day. You can also rent an ATV and do your own tour. Just don’t drink too much.
- Spend the day in Oia – This is the main attraction on Santorini and the picturesque white houses you see on all the photos are from here. Walk around the small village of Oia. They have great (but expensive) restaurants here and it’s a popular place to watch the sunset from as it sets right over the town.
- Go to Red Beach – This beautiful beach on Santorini Island has a red volcanic cliff worth visiting. There is also a black sand beach on the south eastern side of the island.
- Walk up and along the cliffs – Although it’s quite a climb, the view from the cliffs is worth it. You’ll get a great view of the whole island and surrounding oceans. While you can see a lot from the main town, the best views are from Oia.
- Visit Akrotiri – Akrotiri is a roughly 3,500 year old Minoan town preserved in volcanic ash (like Pompeii) on the southern part of the island. The excavation site is covered by a roofing system, which makes it something that you can comfortably visit no matter what time of year. The ruins, are extremely well preserved. Streets, buildings, stairs and even second floors of buildings are still visible. Visitors can stand in the ruins and look at Minoan pottery and frescoes.
- Scuba Dive – Visit ancient wrecks in the harbor. The area here is great for wreck diving and you can get down to about 14 meters and see ancient Greek ships. Visibility isn’t great and you won’t see many fish so the main draw here is the wrecks.
- Go horseback riding – This is a popular activity with couples and families. You can ride around the hills of the island or along the beaches. It makes for a good afternoon activity and if horses aren’t your thing, you can always ride a donkey.
- See the Museum of Prehistoric Thira – Located in Fira, this place is host to a mass collection of artifacts that were found in the ruins of Akrotiri. There are a ton of pots and pottery to see, but the highlight is the frescoes of the blue monkeys. Interestingly enough, there is no evidence of monkeys ever having lived on this island.
- Spend the day hiking – Getting outside of the little towns and villages always makes for a great adventure. The landscape across the island is really beautiful and it is often quite temperate. Throughout the countryside, there are little establishments of cave housing, gardens, and tiny churches to discover.
- Go on a boat excursion – There is a great boat excursion that launches out of Ammoudi bay. It goes to Volcano Island, the hot springs, and then to Thirassia. It is basically a daytrip, even though it is only a few hours long. Lunch isn’t included, but the group typically stops and eats at Captain Jack’s tavern.
- Visit the Faros Lighthouse – At the southern end of Santorini, close to Akrotiri, lies the Faros lighthouse. It’s used by the Greek Navy, which means you’re not allowed to enter it, but it does make for a good photo opportunity.