Santorini is widely regarded as one of the most expensive Greek Islands; a place for honeymooners and those who want to fork out big bucks for infinity pools and that perfect view. While I think it’s more fun to go to an island where your dollar stretches a little further (hello Crete!) it is certainly possible to have a great Santorini experience on a budget. Here’s how:
Accommodation: depending on just how low your budget is and if it’s like ours (rock bottom) you won’t be staying in Fira or Oia. Those are the towns with the iconic white buildings clustered to the edge of the cliffs. I can highly recommend the budget friendly town of Perissa, where you can easily walk to the black sand beaches. We stayed at Hostel Anna for 14 euros each a night in a dorm room.
Food & drinks: we haven’t regularly bought breakfast out at cafes on this trip and it’s a definitely a habit to avoid! We both love Greek yoghurt and a delicious tub of it costs about 1 euro. Breakfast done! Sometimes I’d add banana as well. For lunch there is a great bakery in Perissa that does the classic Greek savoury pastries (like spanakopita, which is stuffed with spinach) and the local supermarket did an amazing prepackaged Greek salad big enough for two for 4 euros. Dinners were often gyros (cheap kebabs for 2.50 euros) or moussaka at 8 euros. For snacks we had fruit from the supermarket or a sneaky sweet pastry like baklava from the bakery for around 2 euros.
As for drinking we usually bought beers from a supermarket or small stand for 1.5-2 euros, you can drink them anywhere like on the beach or while watching the sunset. Wine is also cheap but I don’t know how you would keep it cold and manage to carry glasses around?!
Activities: you can spend hours wandering around the tiny streets of Fira and Oia, taking in the views and capturing every corner for instagram. Andrew and I also love to swim and snorkel, so that is a major activity for us (we bought snorkels on Amazon before we got to Greece to avoid having to hire them again and again). Our accommodation did not have a pool but there is a pool in Oia that you can use if you buy drinks and/or food. On one day we hired an ATV (all terrain vehicle or quad bike) for 25 euros plus 10 euros for fuel and drove around the island. You must watch the sunset from Oia one night.
Transport: there is a cheap and easy bus service on the island; Perissa to Fira costs 2.40 euros. Most accommodation offers free transfers to and from the ferry port, even our cheap hostel! And you can hire an ATV as mentioned above.
With that out of the way, here’s all the cool stuff we did:
Swam and snorkelled at Amoudi Bay
From the end of Oia you can walk downhill to tiny little Amoudi Bay, a gorgeous spot packed with fishing boats and little restaurants.
To the left of the restaurants (if you’re looking out at the water) there is a great swimming/snorkelling spot with a rock for jumping off.
We zoomed up the hill from Amoudi Bay to a public pool.
Hung out at Lioyerma Cafe Pool Bar
For the cost of a few overpriced drinks you can hang out at Lioyerma pool and watch the sunset. We had one bottled beer (5 euros) and one draft beer (7) each and stayed there for a good four hours or so!
People clapped at the end of the sunset; major cringe! I don’t know if that’s better or worse than clapping at the end of a movie or a non-turbulent flight.
The other beautiful white washed town on the cliff.
We grabbed a 2.50 gyros from Lucky’s (meant to be the best on the island) plus some beers.
We took some beers for the road and grabbed a spot for the sunset.
Swam and snorkelled at Perissa beach
Staying in Perissa puts you in prime position to enjoy the free activity of spending all day on the beach. You can’t really get to a good beach in Oia or Fira because it’s so steep and rocky, hence why those hotels have pools. Sun lounges and umbrellas are available to rent for 7+ euros for a pair, or you can lie on the sand but it’s pretty darn hot! We did both.
The beautiful still water was perfect for swimming.
There you have it: Santorini on a budget! Now obviously I would much rather stay in a beautiful hotel but having spent winter in the Caribbean and now summer in the Greek Islands (without working full time in between!) I’m certainly not complaining. Have you been to Santorini?
I’m planning to do an entire post on money and the Greek Islands once we are done here, so hopefully I can recommend the best place to get the most bang from your buck.