Back in April we took a little trip to Santorini and I wanted to share some snaps and travel tips for one of the loveliest Greek islands I’ve visited. Not in the “look how posh I am” way, but more in the “it’s not just for millionaires” sense. We visited the 2nd most beautiful island in the world and it cost us £250 each for flights and hotel – and I want to share the love.
So… how to do Santorini on the cheap? Keep reading…
First things first, don’t stay in Oia. It’s very beautiful but also very busy and expensive. You’ll easily pay a few hundred quid a night there, plus upwards of €7 for a coffee, €8 for an ice cream, and these prices increase based on your view. Opt for a quieter area – we chose Perissa on the south-east of the island which was cheaper, quieter and the views are beautiful in an entirely different way.
Often you’ll find a hotel option with breakfast is only a small amount more expensive than room only. If that’s the case, go for B&B because eating out can get expensive. Since Santorini is an island, imported goodies are also a little more expensive than on bigger islands or the mainland – it’s not unusual to pay about €7-10 for yogurt with fruit in a café. Plus, cafes tend to open a little later here – it’s so laid back – if you’re an early bird who breakfasts at 7am like me, you’ll have to rely on your hotel to provide as nowhere else will be open!
Tours on the island are also EXPENSIVE, and out of high season they can be cancelled from lack of participation. Plus it’s much more pleasant to go at your own pace. We spent €60 hiring an ATV which gave us access to the entire island – not just the areas a coach could access. Within 48hours we had explored every nook and cranny on Santorini, sampling delicious foods and drinks, chatting with locals and getting the inside scoop on where to see the best sunsets (clue: it’s not Oia!).
The only thing you may have to get a tour for is a visit to the volcano and hot springs – however I’m led to believe the price isn’t worth the experience, I can’t comment as we didn’t do the trip.
The main town Fira is a haven for picking up tourist goodies and you’ll see volcanic rocks, sea sponges and other natural products for sale at excessive prices. A short drive to a local fishing village and you’ll find fishermen happy to hand over a small sponge for a few euros, and volcanic rocks aplenty – just pick them off Perissa or Perivolos beach.
Do visit Fira though, it’s beautiful and food is by far the cheapest here. We picked up a full cooked breakfast with juice and coffee for around €6. The old port in Fira is well worth a visit too – walk down, and get the cable car back up for €5. DONT ride a donkey back up, they all appear to be tired, thirsty and hungry… and would you want to carry you up a huge cliff face on a hot day? Nope.
If you’re used to wild holidays, Santorini isn’t for you – but if you like your drinks then you can take in a wine tour at the islands numerous wineries. You’ll always be within easy travelling distance of a wine tour, they’re everywhere, and as such the pricing is quite competitive. Tours start from about €30 including tasting.
One must-do experience, if you’re fit enough, is to hike up from Perissa to Ancient Thira, where there is a decent open-air museum. The hike from Perissa beach takes you past a beautiful little church tucked into the cliff face, then winds further up through an ancient cemetery to the hill top. It’s a good hour climbing but I managed it in sandals so it’s not super aggressive inclines. You’ll see plenty lizards, and you’ll burn – so be sure to cover up and take water.Once you’ve caught your breath at the top, the views of the whole island will be reward enough to make you forget there are no refreshments (or toilets) up there.
My best piece of advice if you want to see Santorini is simply to go there. I was expected to be impressed, but I was blown away by its beauty. The clear skies at night are perfect for stargazing (we saw Jupiter) and all of the local dogs are friendly too. What more could you want?