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Santorini is considered one of the most luxurious and expensive destinations of the Mediterranean. Those amazing boutique hotels with the private infinity pools, the fine dining restaurants with the amazing Caldera view, the wine bars for a drink during sunset time, and the exceptionally well-organised tours offered on the island are totally worth it but will certainly come with a price.
It is a common misunderstanding that Santorini is a destination only for the wealthy. This is not necessarily true and we have created this article sharing tips and secrets on how to lower your budget during your Santorinian getaway. Of course, the luxury lifestyle prevails on the island but there are many options and ways to enjoy one of the most spectacular places on earth without breaking the bank!
We have created this post gathering some useful info on how to achieve having a holiday in Santorini that will cost you less than €500 ($600) for 3-4 days (per person on a trip for 2, airplane tickets not included).
1. Skip High season
… and visit during Spring or Autumn. The prices for accommodation are lower while room availability is higher. The biggest advantage is that you will enjoy nice, big, warm days without the crowds. Santorini has become very popular during high season but it is our mere belief that it is the ideal destination for a spring or autumn break! You might need to bring a jacket with you or will not be able to enjoy hot days by the beach to their fullest, but Santorini is not famous for its beaches anyway.
2. Skip a long-stay holiday
… and stay no more than 3-4 nights. Santorini is not one of those islands where you need time to explore its beaches and sightseeing. It is a relatively small island, with short distances and very specific things to do. The reason why vacationers might choose to spend more than a week in Santorini is basically that they want to relax and enjoy the island and not because they want to do more things.
3. Skip the sea view hotels in the Caldera villages
… and book a hotel in a less advantageous location. Santorini is a hotel-oriented destination meaning that the island has some of the most significant hotels with amazing architecture, design, swimming pools, and services. If we could advise you on one thing, this would be to choose carefully your accommodation, book it as early as 5 months in advance, and that, although prices can get really expensive, this will surely be money well spent!
On the other hand, budget options that are nice and clean do exist on the island. Compromises in sea views and locations might be necessary but you can book a room or studio for €50 or €70 per night and enjoy a really wonderful stay. The villages of Pyrgos, Perissa, Fira, and Kamari are where the most budget accommodations are found.
4. Skip a car rental
… and take the bus. As already mentioned, Santorini is a small island. It has a decent public bus transportation network (KTEL) and most of the villages and beaches are connected with the capital of the island, Fira. The bus tickets cost from €1,60 to €2,90. It is very common to hike and make excursions on foot, especially to neighboring Caldera villages. Another option is to rent a quad bike for one or two days in order to explore some more remote parts of the island on your own time. Of course, you can also opt-in for a full-day bus tour to see some of the highlights of Santorini that are better reachable that way.
5. Skip a high-speed boat
… and take the conventional ferry. There are a number of ferry companies doing the route Athens-Santorini or that connect Santorini with other ports and islands. Find all the available timetables and ferry schedules and you can buy your tickets. If you want to save some extra money you can take the conventional ferry operated by Blue Star company where the trip lasts longer but the ticket price is much lower (example: €38 for Athens-Santorini). Plus, this ferry company is one of the most reliable in terms of timetables and services.
6. Skip fine dining
… or at least have only one during your holidays. Fine dining in Santorini with amazing sea views of the caldera and the Volcano is surely a thing and the island has some of the most renowned chefs and restaurants worldwide, but the prices can get really high. On the other hand, Greek gastronomy is considered super tasteful with pure and fresh ingredients. The island has some less touristy and more authentic places where you can have some of the most delicious meals of your life! You will have to walk away from the touristic path in order to discover them and most probably you will have to compromise with a less astonishing view, but believe us you will taste incredible meat, fish, and vegetarian dishes plus the atmosphere is simple and unpretentious. A diner for two at a local tavern can cost around €50. Metaxy mas tavern and To Psaraki tavern are two very nice options.
7. Skip a Caldera wine bar to gaze at the Sunset
… and find your own charming spot to enjoy this miraculous colourful spectacle between the sun, the sea, and the sky. Buy the notorious local Assyrtiko wine from a local supermarket and find the perfect place next to a whitewashed chapel, a lighthouse, or a traditional windmill. It is a common secret that the best things in life come for free.
8. Skip the cable car
… and go on foot. You have probably read about the cable car that connects Fira, the capital of Santorini with the Old Port, where the boats depart for the Volcano. In case you want to save money from the ride and have some time at your disposal, it is strongly recommended to cover this distance on foot.
9. Enjoy affordable activities
There are numerous interesting activities organised on the island that are offered at affordable prices. A sea kayaking tour across the south part of the island is strongly recommended, whereas Stand Up Paddling (SUP) and snorkeling in sea caves and beaches is very much fun.
10. Tours and things to see that should not be missed out.
There are a few sites and tours that should not be left out from your holiday in Santorini and that are either free or at a reasonable price. A tour to the Volcano (from €28 per person), the coastal hike from Fira to Oia (free of charge), and a visit to the Minoan site of Akrotiri (€12 per person)