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 20-35 EUR a night for a dorm bed. Most of the hostels are located on Perissa beach and near the port.
Budget hotel prices – You can find a hotel room in a budget hotel for 30 EUR per night. Hotels at this price point offer air-conditioning, free WiFi, a TV, a mini-fridge, a private bathroom and many offer free breakfast. On Airbnb, private rooms start at 25 EUR and entire homes (including studio apartments) can be rented for 40 EUR.
Average cost of food – Food is not very expensive here. You’ll find a lot of cheap gyro (meat, cheese, sauce, onions, and tomatoes served on pita bread) and sandwich shops for about 4 EUR for a meal. Inexpensive restaurants will cost around 9 EUR. A nicer restaurant will cost around 18 EUR 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. If you cook your meals, expect to pay 45-50 EUR per week for groceries that will include pasta, vegetables, chicken, and other basic foods.
Transportation costs – A bus trip will cost you between 1.80-2.40 EUR depending on where you are going. That said, the buses are not the most consistent so prepare yourself for that. An alternative is renting an ATV, which many people use on the main roads. A daily rental starts at 30 EUR per day. Taxis cost about 27 EUR to go across the island.
Suggested daily budget – 50 EUR / 52 USD (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
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 EUR 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.
- Rent a moped – It’s cheaper than a car and a great way to see the various towns and cities. You can usually rent a moped for around 14 EUR per day.
- Book ferries early – If you book the ferries around two months in advance, you can save up to 25% off the cost of your ticket. This is recommended during the high summer months especially when prices increase a lot!
- Visit in the off-season – August is the most expensive month, so if you can arrange for a visit before June which would really cut down your accommodation and flight costs by up to half.
- Couchsurf – While there are not a lot of hosts on the island, if you look in advance you can usually find some locals to let you stay for free (save money) and you get a local guide out of it!
Things to See and Do on Santorini
- Visit the Santorini Volcano – A good day trip, 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 incredible wineries. The fertile, volcanic 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 southeastern 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.
- Go scuba diving – 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 that good and you won’t see a lot of fish, so the main draw here is the shipwrecks. A one-tank dive costs about 55 EUR. Snorkeling costs 25 EUR.
- 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. Tours start at 45 EUR.
- 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.) It’s open daily (except Tuesdays) from 8:30am-3pm. Admission is 3 EUR.
- Spend the day hiking – Getting outside of the little towns and villages always makes for a fun 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.
- Visit the Akrotiri Lighthouse – At the southern end of Santorini, close to Akrotiri, lies the 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.