Looking to visit Santorini on a budget? Santorini may be known as being a luxury destination, but it can also be a budget friendly destination. Check out this guide for how to have an incredible trip to one of Greece’s top destinations while on a budget!
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Why Visit Santorini for a Budget Trip?
Santorini is a beautiful Greek island in the Aegean sea, known for its dramatic landscape and stunning sunsets. Atop Santorini’s gorgeous cliffs are beautiful white cave houses with blue dome churches.
So why visit Santorini? Santorini is a bucket list destination in Europe, and Santorini’s popularity is rising amongst travelers across the globe. Santorini is a volcanic island with stunning views. After traveling around the world, Santorini is still one of the top most beautiful places I have ever seen.
Is Santorini Cheap?
As one of Europe’s most famous destinations, Santorini is typically not cheap. However, the good news is that any destination can be made into a budget trip – if you plan it right.
There are many aspects to consider for planning a budget trip to Greece, from accommodation, to transportation, to things to do, to saving money on eating and drinking. This comprehensive guide will show you exactly how to plan a budget trip to Santorini.
Things to do in Santorini on a budget
One of the most important ways to keep your trip to Santorini budget friendly (but still amazing) is to find free or cheap things to do! Santorini offers plenty of these free and cheap activities that will ensure your trip is amazing.
9 Free or Budget Friendly Things to do in Santorini
1. Watch the Sunset
Santorini is famous for it’s beautiful sunset, in fact the sunset here is said to be one of the most beautiful in the entire world. Watching the sunset is one of the best free things to do in Santorini!
To view the sunset, make sure you are on the Caldera side of the island. You’ll find tons of tourists heading to the Oia castle, which is a nice spot if you don’t mind the crowds.
Another option is to view the sunset from Fira. Sitting at outdoor bar + sipping wine can make for the best place to watch the sunset! If you are staying in Imerovigli, you may even see the sunset right from your accommodation.
For a quieter and more romantic sunset view, try heading to the other end of the island to catch the sunset from the Akrotiri lighthouse. This is arguably the best way to view the sunset, as it is more serene and avoids the large crowds.
2. Hike from Fira to Oia
The reason Santorini is so immensely popular is because of its incredible views. The landscape was formed by volcanic eruptions which has made it very dramatic.
To experience these amazing views, one of the best things to do in Santorini is to complete the hike from Fira to Oia. I recommend starting the hike from Fira, as it is a bit less uphill and you will get amazing views of Oia as you approach.
The full hike from Fira to Oia is a little over 6 miles, and will take a few hours to complete. If you plan to do this hike in the summer, get an early start as it will get quite hot out. Also, it’s essential to bring plenty of water as for most of the hike there is nowhere to stop.
3. Explore the picturesque village of Oia
Picturing yourself among the white washed cave houses and blue dome churches of Greece? Well, the place you are thinking of is none other than the beautiful village of Oia.
Oia is the most popular town on Santorini island, and therefore can be expensive to stay in. However, it makes for a great place to spend the day and walk around (for free!). Oia is where you will find the picturesque white cave houses perched atop the dramatic cliff overlooking the Caldera.
Apopular spot in Oia is the castle, which is a surviving watchtower from a fortress during medieval times. The views here are incredible, and arguably some of the best on the island. This area is also free to visit.
4. Check out Amoudi Bay
Walking distance from the village of Oia, you will find the picturesque Amoudi Bay harbor. This is a beautiful harbor to visit, although it is a long walk that does include a lot of steps to get down to the harbor.
Visiting the harbor gives you a chance to get close to the water and gives you a different perspective of Santorini. There are also a few seaside restaurants along the harbor, but these restaurants are a bit on the pricey side.
5. Visit Santorini’s Beaches
Santorini is not as well known for it’s beaches, but it does have some nice ones! The beaches are located on the opposite side of the island in Kamari and Perissa. Visiting the beach is a great free activity, especially on a hot summer day!
6. Hike Profitis Ilias
Profitis Ilias (Prophet Elias) is the highest point in Santorini. Located around 3km away from Pygros village and reaches 1860 feet high. Profitis Ilias makes for a nice hike with great views from the tallest mountain in Santorini.
7. Visit the Ancient Site of Akrotiri
Akrotiri is an archeological site on Santorini. It was once an ancient Bronze Age settlement that was completely destroyed by a volcanic eruption in 16,000 BC. Similar to Pompeii in Italy, the volcanic ash covered and preserved buildings which have since been uncovered by archeologists.
Today, you can walk through the excavation site of Akrotiri and get a glimpse of the ancient city that once existed here.
Akrotiri is relatively small and will only take 1-2 hours to visit, however it makes for a very unique thing to do in Santorini. It only costs 12 Euros per person to visit this incredible site. The site is also completely covered, making it a great activity for a rainy day.
8. Visit a Winery
Did you know Santorini is famous for their wine? You should definitely try some Santorini wine on your budget trip!
While there are several expensive half day wine tours available, you can instead just go directly to one of the wineries for a wine tasting or a glass of wine.
Santos and Venetsanos Winery are both highly rated and offer excellent views. At Venetsanos Winery, you can do a winery tour for around 12 euros a person or a tasting for around 26 Euros. You can also choose to just have a glass of wine and enjoy the incredible views. In the high season, you will likely need to reserve your spot online ahead of time.
9. Take a Boat Tour to the Santorini Volcano and Hot Springs
Boat tours are very popular in Santorini, and there are many different tours to choose from. If you have the budget for it, I do recommend one of the Catamaran sunset tours that include food and drinks. The unfortunate thing is that those tours can cost around 100 Euros per person, which isn’t very budget friendly.
However, there are some boat trips that are much more affordable. For example, this half day boat ride to the active volcano and hot springs for only around $30 per person.
Taking a boat tour is also a good option if you are wanting to visit the red beach. The red beach has had many landslide issues and can be dangerous, and so it is best to admire it safely from the water!
When to go to Santorini for a Budget Trip?
One of the most important aspects for planning a budget trip to Santorini is deciding when to go. The Greek islands are very seasonal, and prices will vary depending on what time of year you are there.
Fall is shoulder season in Santorini, and is a great time to visit Santorini on a budget. The weather is still warm, with averages of 15-30C (60-86 F). Additionally, the Aegean Sea is still warm enough for swimming, especially in September.
Most hotels and businesses will remain open through the month of October, and the closer to November the cheaper prices will be.
Early September on the other hand, can still be quite hot and busy with tourists, and so if you are looking to go in the fall late September through October will be the best time for an enjoyable yet budget friendly trip to Santorini.
Spring is another shoulder season, and an amazing time of year to visit Santorini on a budget. The weather is slowly warming up and ranges from 10-25 C (50-76F) in April and 15-30C (60-86F) in May. There can be occasional rain and fog still at this time of year, especially in early spring.
April to early May is the best time for a budget friendly trip and will have less crowds than the summer season. The Aegean Sea won’t start to warm up until later in May, but if you are brave or don’t mind the cold you can try to swim!
One thing to keep in mind is that Greek Easter (typically in April) can be a very busy, therefore more expensive weekend to visit.
Summer in Santorini is considered The High Season. Weather in summertime is sunny and great for being out on the water. Temperatures are typically between 24-30 C (76-86 F).
However, prices during summer time raise significantly due to it being peak season.
A good example of how avoiding peak season saves you money is this: We stayed hotel room with a hot tub and caldera views in April for a reasonable price. That same hotel we stayed at in April was 3 times more expensive in June of the same year. Therefore, summer is not the best choice to get great value on Santorini hotels.
Summer is also extremely crowded, especially in popular places such as Oia. Santorini is a small island, and summertime sees insane numbers of tourists. Additionally, many cruise ships that stop there for the day and have thousands of passengers getting out.
In general, the Greek islands are very seasonal and close down in the winter months. Especially the tourist areas, such as Oia, will be almost completely closed up during winter.
Santorini does have a year round population in the town of Fira. However, many restaurants, shops, and activities will be limited or closed completely, especially outside of Fira. Additionally, many hotels close completely during the winter months.
If winter is the only time you can go to Santorini, you will want to stay in Fira. There will not be many tours or activities running, but renting a car would allow you to still visit sites that have opening hours in winter such as Akrotiri, as well as visit Oia without tourists to get some photos.
Delphi is an awesome day trip from Athens. You can be there in a few hours, but there are some amazing things to see along the way.
If you have a little more time, Meteora is a stunning destination, and a great road trip option from Athens.
Both of these are very budget-friendly places and are completely underrated destinations in Greece.
Santorini on a Budget – Where to Stay
There are many hotels and hostels on the island of Santorini. To keep your accommodation costs in budget friendly try to not stay in Oia and stay in one of the following locations instead:
The capital of Santorini, Fira, has a wide selection of accommodation, with plenty of budget friendly choices available.
Fira has a variety of local restaurants, giving you more options to find budget food and drinks. Fira also has museums and activities, such as the museum of prehistoric Thera. This makes for a convenient stay as many things are just a short walk from your hotel.
One mistake budget travelers can make is booking cheap accommodation, but not accounting for cost of transportation, and then spending more money + time trying to get to where they want to visit each day.
This is one reason why Fira is a great choice for a budget trip to Santorini. Staying in Fira allows you to be in the center of everything, making your transportation costs lower. Fira is well connected by the local bus system and is close to the airport.
Looking for something romantic or more relaxing? Yet still want to travel on a budget to Santorini? Imerovigli may be the perfect choice! Known as the balcony to the Aegean, Imerovigli has incredible caldera views. It is one of the main towns and one of the highest points on the Greek island of Santorini.
Imerovigli is located a little over a mile away from Fira, and consists of mostly accommodation and some restaurants. It is quieter here, yet still close enough that you will easily be able to get to where you want to go.
Imerovigli is a good location for honeymooners, couples, or those visiting the island of Santorini for the first time. It also makes for a great location to see the famous Santorini sunset. Not only is it much more affordable than the popular village of Oia, but it is also more private and less crowded.
Perissa + Kamari
Going in the high season or looking for a more laid back beach vibe? Check out one of the beach towns of Perissa or Kamari. Both of these villages offer great budget options for your vacation to Santorini.
Perissa + Kamari both are on the opposite side from the Caldera. So while neither has the famous Caldera view, they do both have very budget friendly accommodations and you can be steps away from the beach!
Both of these villages are also well connected by the public bus system, making it possible to travel to other parts of the island. Alternatively, you could choose to rent a car to further explore Santorini.
Perissa or Kamari are great for the summertime, as the weather is perfect for the beach and many of the beach bars and restaurants will be open. Other villages, such as Imerovigli will also have higher prices in high season.
Getting to Santorini on a Budget
To get to Santorini, you will either need to fly or take a ferry. Both of these can be budget friendly options. Depending on the time of year and where you are coming from, taking a flight can usually be the quickest and cheapest option.
Fly to Santorini
Many people choose to fly to Santorini, and for good reason. Flying is the fastest way to get to Santorini. Flights from Athens are super quick, lasting only around 30-40 minutes. The great thing about flying is that it gives you more time in Santorini!
There are several direct flights from Athens, and these flights are typically pretty budget friendly. Prices vary based on the airline and time of year, but on average you should pay between 50-100 Euros per person for a roundtrip flight.
If you are coming from an international destination, it will likely be cheapest to fly to Athens first and then fly to Santorini.
Some of the airlines that fly to Santorini from Athens include SkyExpress, RyanAir, and Aegean. Out of these options, I personally can recommend Aegean.
Ferry to Santorini
Taking a ferry is a popular option and is very unique to Greece. A ferry is a great choice if you are already on or going to another island nearby, such as Mykonos or Naxos. You can also take the ferry directly from Athens.
Ferries will take longer than flights, but can be a fun way to get to Santorini if you enjoy being on the water. There are high speed ferries (SeaJet) and slow ferries (Blue Star). On average ferries can cost between 35-140 Euros per person. Ferries are also more common in the summer months.
SeaJet can go from Athens to Santorini in around 4-5 hours, while Blue Star will take closer to 8 hours. If you are at all prone to seasickness, you will want to avoid the high speed ferries if possible and opt for the BlueStar.
Budget Friendly Transportation in Santorini
Santorini does have a public bus that is easy and safe to use. The bus is by far the most budget friendly way to get around Santorini as bus tickets cost around 1-2 Euros per ticket.
Fira is the main hub for the bus, and bus routes include transportation to the ferry port, airport, and other towns such as Oia, Imerovigli, Perissa, Kamari and more.
One important note is that for the bus you will need cash to buy the ticket.
Car rentals are surprisingly affordable in Santorini. There are several car rental companies at the airport and can be budget friendly depending on when you go. We rented a car for 4 nights in the spring and paid around 100 Euros total.
A car rental makes sense if you plan to do a lot of exploring of different parts of the island. Keep in mind that most cars will be manual, and that Santorini can have some steep driving. Another thing to keep in mind is that in popular areas such as Oia, parking can be difficult to find.
Scooter or ATV Rental
Renting a scooter, quad bike, or ATV is another popular thing to do in Santorini. Scooters cost around 30-55 Euros per day, while an ATV will cost 50-150 Euros per day.
I personally wouldn’t recommend a scooter or ATV because the roads can be curvy and have pot holes, and getting in an accident on an ATV may not turn out well. It is however a very popular way to get around Santorini.
We opted for a car rental, as it was actually more budget friendly and felt a bit safer than driving the ATVs.
Eating and Drinking on a Budget
The cost of food and drinks can be another consideration for keeping your trip to Santorini budget friendly. Also, its important to remember that you can’t drink the water, so keep in mind you’ll need to buy water.
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind in regards to keeping your food and drink costs budget friendly:
Gyros are a Greek specialty! Gyros are a delish street food option that is a great choice for anyone on a tight budget. It’s a very affordable meal that typically only costs a few Euros. You can also choose to save money buy eating Gyros at lunch so that you can splurge on a fine dining restaurant at dinner.
Take Advantage of Happy Hours in Santorini
Looking to have a drink with a view? Taking advantage of happy hour drink specials can help you get the most out of your money. Not all bars offer happy hours, but some do and these specials typically take place between 5-7pm.
Book a hotel that includes breakfast
Booking a hotel that includes breakfast can help you save some extra cash. It’s also convenient to not have to worry about finding a spot to eat in the morning.
Grabbing a few snacks, drinks, sandwiches, or items to make a meal at the grocery store will likely save you money rather than eating out. This is a great option if you are traveling with kids or if you are staying in an airbnb and have a small kitchen.
How Long to Stay in Santorini for a Budget Trip
Santorini is an amazing destination, and I highly recommend staying 3-4 nights if your schedule and budget allow for it. Staying 3-4 nights will allow you to have time to explore and enjoy this beautiful island.
How much will it cost to visit Santorini?
Cost can vary significantly based on when you are going and how much you are wanting to spend. However it is possible to visit Santorini cheaply. Below you will find the average price for things on Santorini island.
Budget Hotel Cost Per Night: 60 – 150 Euros (Varies significantly based on season and town)
Average Cost of a Gyro: 5 – 6 Euros
Average Cost of a Meal: 15 – 25 Euros (Avoid eating in Oia or Ammoudi Bay due to higher prices)
Average Cost of Water: 1 Euro
Average Cost of a Beer or Glass of Wine: 5 – 6 Euros
Average Bus Ticket: 1-2 Euros
Top Tips for Visiting Santorini in the Cheapest Way
- Visit in the shoulder seasons of Spring or Fall to get the best deals on the best hotels
- Stay in Fira or Imerovigli if Caldera views are a must. If you are more flexible, stay in the Kamari beach or Perissa beach towns for the best prices and cheap hotels
- Eat breakfast at your hotel and a cheap meals such as Gyros
- If you order seafood make sure you know the price ahead as they typically base pricing per Kilo and it adds up quickly
- Take advantage of the free + cheap activities mentioned above
- Utilize the local busses – public transport here is cheap + safe and can easily get you around the entire island
- By food + drinks at the grocery store when possible as it is a great way to save money
So, Can Santorini be a Budget Destination?
Absolutely! If planned right, you can definitely visit Santorini on a budget.
Santorini has a plethora of free and budget-friendly activities which can keep your costs down significantly. Staying in the right place and going at the right time will also help you keep your Santorini trip on budget. You do not need to stay in expensive hotels or spend a lot of money to enjoy everything that one of Greece’s most popular islands has to offer.
Santorini is a beautiful destination in Greece, and is truly a must visit!