Until this year, I never thought it was possible to visit Santorini on a budget. Traveling to Santorini wasn’t part of my plans, unless I had to choose it as the starting point of a Greek island hopping itinerary. As Santorini is one of the Greek islands with airports, it can be a great home base for a cool island hopping adventure.
My Santorini trip cost was lower than expected. Furthermore, this beautiful island exceeded my expectations. I went to Santorini expecting to find a crazy expensive, flashy and touristy island, with very little to no charm. I only went there because I wanted a brief getaway before the winter and flights to Santorini by end September were dirt cheap.
I’ve only spent four days in Santorini, but I’ll be back for more, that’s for sure. This article covers everything you need to know to visit Santorini on a budget: when to go, where to stay, what to do and how to avoid pricey tourist traps. Just before we start, I want to tell you that walking from Fira to Oia was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. There’s beauty all around. I highly recommend this walk.
- 1 How to Get to Santorini
- 2 When To Visit Santorini for Cheaper
- 3 Where To Stay in Santorini without Paying a Fortune
- 4 Bonus Tips for Budget Travelers to Santorini
Read also: Best Santorini Tours & Cruises
- Volcanic islands cruise with hot springs visit: click here to see the price and to book your seat.
- Premium catamaran cruise with BBQ and fresh drinks: click here to see more details and to book it
- Small group catamaran cruise with open bar: click here to see details and book
Flying Red Dress photo session in Santorini – click here to see more details and to book yours – I’ve had the pleasure to attend one of these sessions – the girl was absolutely gorgeous and so were her photos (which I stumbled upon in a Facebook group)
How to Get to Santorini
Travel to Santorini by Air
There are direct flights from Athens to Santorini all year round. Aegean Airlines has three flights per day, one in the morning, one in late afternoon and one in the evening. The flight takes 45 minutes. Check out the official Aegean Air website here to see the flights schedule and to buy your ticket.
Traveling to Santorini by air between mid-June and mid-October is even easier, as there are direct flights from many cities in Europe. WizzAir and Ryanair, for instance, are two low-cost carrier that offer direct flights to Santorini from a wide array of European cities such as London, Belgrade, Bucharest, Krakow, Rome, Venice, Milan, Naples, Vilnius, Tel-Aviv, Budapest, Vienna and Sofia.
Thira, the airport in Santorini, is on the eastern side of the island, between Monolythos and Kamari. As the maximum width on the island is 12km, it seems easy to get around. In fact, there are no roads that cross the mountains. All bus routes start from Fira. The public buses network is very good, but you do need to take care when you plan your trips across Santorini. Always check bus schedules to ensure that you do have a bus to take you where you want at the time you want it.
Travel to Santorini by Ferry
Santorini ferries depart all year round from Piraeus. The speed boat ride takes around five hours, but it is more expensive than conventional ferries. Blue Star Ferries and Minoan Lines regular boats take seven hours and a half to get from Piraeus to Thira.
Even though ferries are cheaper than flights, I’d still fly to gain time. However, if you’re on a budget, you can jump on a slow ferry that leaves in the evening to arrive the next morning. Beware, though, traveling off season or even during the shoulder season restricts your ferry options, as there are fewer rides.
When To Visit Santorini for Cheaper
Santorini is busy and relatively expensive even during the shoulder season. Fortunately, Santorini never sleeps, magnificent sunsets are there all year round, and there are enough hotels and restaurants that stay open during the winter.
For the best weather and relatively lower prices, visit Santorini In April-May or October-November. Late September is also a good time to visit Santorini, but keep in mind that it would still be busy, especially by sunset, when all narrow streets of Oia, Imerovigli, Firostefani and Fira are chocked full with people trying to find the perfect spot for the nature’s show.
Where To Stay in Santorini without Paying a Fortune
Choosing the best place to stay in Santorini is a challenge, particularly when you travel on a budget. Caldera view hotels and suites are the most expensive, but they offer private pools and breathtaking views.
On the other hand, Oia, Fira (Thira), Imerovigli and Firostefani are far from the beach.
Perissa is a wonderful seaside village, but it doesn’t offer the breathtaking views of the Caldera that set Santorini apart from all other Greek islands.
Basically, your choice would depend on the number of days you wish to spend in Santorini and on the type of holiday you want. If you want to do the Fira-Oia hike (which is an absolute must, in my humble opinion), to climb the Skaros rock near Imerovigli, to catch some fabulous sunsets in Fira and Oia and to take a sunset boat enjoy time in the Ammoudi port of Oia, you’ll be better off with a hotel, apartment or villa in Fira, Imerovigli or Firostefani.
Best Budget Accommodation Close to Caldera
I found the village of Firostefani to be the best choice in terms of value for money. It is within a few minutes of walking from Fira and from the Fira – Oia path where all those wonderful Caldera views, whitewashed houses and amazing sunsets are.
I’ve stayed at N Renieris Apartments in October 2021 and I highly recommend it. There’s no breakfast, but the apartment has everything you need to make coffee and tea. There’s even a Greek frappe maker. The hosts are extremely welcoming and willing to go the extra mile to make their guests feel comfortable. They live next door, so they can address any issues you may have. Beware, though, this Santorini accommodation is closed during the winter.
If you can’t find available rooms at N Renieris Apartments, you can check out Stella Nomikou Apartments, just across the street. Their rooms are within the affordable range, too. You’ll also have access to a swimming pool.
If you can spend a bit more money, you can choose Agnadema Apartments, located on the main street in Firostefani and built right on the Caldera cliffs.
Another great choice in Firostefani is Blue Dolphins Apartments, a property with Caldera views. They can provide you breakfast at extra cost. However, there’s no kitchenette, so you won’t be able to cook anything in your room.
From Firostefani, you can get to the main bus station in Fira in about 10-15 minutes of walking. This makes Firostefani (or Fira, for that matter) the perfect base to explore all of Santorini by bus.
Imerovigli is also relatively close to Fira and to the main bus station on Santorini. If you want to stay in Imerovigli, check out Senses Boutique Hotel, as it is one of the least expensive options in this town.
Megalochori is another town that offers amazing Caldera views. Caldera Stories private suits are among the cheapest accommodation options in Megalochori. Check out their rooms and their latest prices here.
By choosing a hotel in Arkotiri, you’ll be close to the Greek Pompeii (the ancient city of Akrotiri, buried after the eruption of Thera, the huge volcano on the island). You’ll also be close to two of the most famous beaches of Santorini, The White Beach and The Red Beach.
One of the Akrotiri hotels with great reviews is The Fisherman’s House. Located in Akrotiri Village, this guest house is 5km away from the Lighthouse, and less than 2km from The Red Beach and The White Beach. They offer free wifi, free parking and even an airport shuttle (on demand, at extra cost).
Serenity Blue Cave House is another interesting option, if you want a beachfront accommodation in the area of Akrotiri. Click here to check their latest prices and to see more details about this villa.
Perissa & Kamari
Perissa and Kamari are two black sand beaches on the eastern coast of Santorini. Both villages of Kamari and Perissa are close to Ancient Thera, the archeological site on top of the mountain.
Perissa Beach is the place to be on Santorini, if you want a beach vacation, relaxation, suntan and swimming. The beach is over 6km long, so it is less crowded than the smaller ones. In fact, the beaches of Perissa and Perivolos aren’t delimited in any way, so you can consider them as one long black sand beach.
Even though there’s only one huge rock between the beaches of Kamari and Perissa, there’s no direct road to connect the two. You’d have to drive back to Megalochori.
Walking from Perissa to Kamari is possible, but it involves climbing the mountain to Ancient Thera and then descending on the other side. If you want to do it, make sure you wear good hiking shoes and a sunhat. Also, bring water with you.
There are water taxi boats that connect Perissa with Kamari. I think this is the fastest and most pleasant way to visit both beaches in one day.
I spent one day on Paralia Perissa in the beginning of October. I wish I stayed for a few days more to enjoy the beach, the promenade, Ancient Thera and the lovely surroundings.
Bonus Tips for Budget Travelers to Santorini
My best advice for those who want to visit Santorini on a budget is to brace themselves for eating most of their meals at home.This means you should rather look for accommodation with self-catering (apartments or villas) rather than hotel rooms with breakfast but without cooking facilities.
Eggs, avocados, tomatoes, feta cheese, bread and olive oil are fairly cheap, so you’ll be able to cook and enjoy delicious salads and omelets without spending a small fortune on that. You just need a stovetop, a pan and a few dishes to save a lot of money.
Eating out is 15-20% more expensive on Santorini than on other Greek islands, at least in my experience. For example, a starter dish that cost on average 9-10 Euros on Aegina, Crete or Corfu is about 12 Euros in many Santorini restaurants.
Last but not least, do use public buses instead of hiring a car or using a taxi.
Santorini is an island that can be as expensive (or as cheap) as you want it to be. Just make the right choices for your budget and you’ll have the time of your life.