Santorini is one of the most beautiful places in the world and also a very popular spot to visit during the summer season. They’re so many reasons why, but some of them are the breathtaking views, the crystal clear blue water, the world famous iconic blue domed chapels of Oia and the most beautiful sunsets in the world which draw out both locals and tourists each night to watch them. The island itself is a caldera (volcanic crater), and the half moon shape of the island makes for some amazing photos. Everyone had heard about at least one of those once and that’s why this place attracts so many travelers from all around the world each year.
Santorini has always been a dream of mine and so high on my bucket list since forever, but it is obviously not a cheap destination and that’s the reason why I was waiting for so long to visit that place. I just waited for the right moment, but life taught me that there will never be a perfect moment for anything and that you should always listen to your heart. One day I just woke up with this idea to book a flight to Santorini to celebrate my 28-th Birthday there, because life is too short, there’s just no time to waste and because I really wanted to do this for so many years! So I said to myself: “The time is now or never!” – and I was sure that I will find a way to spend 8 days on the island on a budget together with my boyfriend.
SEE THIS PARADISE ISLAND THROUGH OUR EYES
And yes, that is absolutely possible and we did it! I’ve never regretted my decision so I want to give you this simple advice – if your inner voice speaks to you loud that you should do the same this year, just do it! I will explain you exactly how easy is to travel Santorini on a budget!
HOW TO GET TO SANTORINI ON A BUDGET
Yes, it’s totally possible to fly cheap to Santorini.I recommend taking a plane to Athens first, because you will find tickets to the island from there which are cheaper than 20 EUR for both directions. And the bonus you get is that you can easily combine a short 1 day visit to the capital of Greece and see the Acropolis (one of the oldest wonders of the world), which we were lucky enough to see and also had enough time to explore the city and then go back to the airport, because we landed around 9:00 am in the morning and our flight to Santorini was around 8:30 pm.
ACOMMODATION IN SANTORINI ON A BUDGET
Avoid booking hotels with caldera view, especially in Oia, because you won’t believe how much you will pay only because of that. Yes it is really beautiful and breathtaking and one of the best views I have ever seen in the world, but if you want to experience Santorini on a budget, we don’t recommend booking such hotels and villas. Especially if you’re looking for the “5 star villa with private Jacuzzi with a view to the caldera experience” you have to be prepared to pay the price for this, which is starting from 500 $ for a night!!! It’s crazy, right?
And the most disappointing part of this all is that you’re actually not always getting your privacy, as most of the accommodations with the caldera view are offering rooms next to each other and even more disappointing is the fact that they’re main small roads in the middle of the properties almost everywhere, where tourists are allowed to walk and most of them if not everyone stop to take pictures right in front of your “private” pool for example.
Anyway, there’re always exceptions, but you have to be ready to pay the price for them. Those places are some of them:
Staying on the south of Santorini – the budget friendly option.
We spent 8 days in total in Santorini, but we wanted to get the most of the experience so we decided to book hotels as cheap as possible for the whole stay, but also to spent 2 nights in a very special place to celebrate my Birthday and have the most romantic experience. And this is exactly what we did, but I will tell you all about it in details later and of course will make sure to share with you the very well kept secret of Santorini!
We spent 3 nights in Perissa and 2 nights in Kamari. Both places are famous with their beaches and affordable hospitality.
↠ By the way, if you decide to book some of the bellow recommended places on booking.com, don’t forget to first register trough this link so you can get 15€ credit (or equal on your currency) for your first booking! You’re welcome!
Perissa is a coastal village on the southeastern edge of Santorini and is most noted for its astonishing beach. Characterized by black lava sand and deep blue waters, the beach here is well-organized with sun beds and umbrellas, and a few beach bars. The water was crystal clear and we had a great time. Close to the town there is another incredible beach called Vlichada, that we found and felt in love from a first sight with it.
Another beautiful beach on the south is the Red Beach, which is very popular, but super busy and that’s why we didn’t like it so much and decided to spend our time at Vlichada Beach and Perissa beach instead. We just rented a scooter and were able to explore everything around the small town easy and for less money.
Where to stay in Perissa:
We stayed at Aretousa Villas and paid about 70€ for a night, which is ok for the busy period that we were visiting (the middle of July).
If you’re looking for a bit of a luxury place check Meltemi Village Hotel which is around 100-120€ per night, but you will experience a luxury stay and great hospitality for a reasonable price.
And if you’re looking for something in the middle check Anezina Villas .
Kamari is another coastal village in Santorini with a beautiful beach, it is closer to Oia and to many hidden gem beaches like Monolithos, Vourvoulos, Pori and Playa de Baxedesreece , which we didn’t miss to explore. Zhivko also got very lucky to have a surf experience at Pori beach, because of the weather conditions and we met few local guys, who were surfers and made some quality memories with them.
Were to stay in Kamari:
We spent our time in Kamari at Blue Sea Hotel and paid about 60€ for a night. The place has a great location close to the beach and had a lovely breakfast.
If you’re looking for the luxury this is your place: Casa Vitae Suites
And for something in the middle check this one: Selini Ηotel
Megalochori is a lovely little town, really picturesque, where you can get an authentic experience meeting locals and escaping the hustle and bustle from the north of the town. I watched few of the most beautiful sunsets here and I cannot recommend more getting off the beaten path and find places like this to experience some magical moments and create unforgettable memories…
Were to stay in Megalochori:
We didn’t stay in Megalochori, because we had a scooter all the time and were able to travel from one place to another easily, so we visited this beautiful village during our stay in Perissa, but here’re some nice places that you can check:
Pyrgos is Santorini’s old capital city. It’s a pretty small town with a castle, a monastery and 33 churches! It’s not as visited as the rest of the towns in Santorini because it doesn’t have a view to the caldera, but it’s very beautiful and picturesque. In Pyrgos you can find boutique and budget hotels with lower prices. Advantages of staying in Pyrgos is that the place is not as touristy so the prices are more budget friendly and you can expect a great staff and facilities.
Were to stay in Pyrgos:
We didn’t stay here neither, but if we had some more time or if we ever come would definitely try one of those places:
THE CALDERA VIEW
If you’re looking for the luxury accommodation and honeymoon romantic experience with the breathtaking world famous caldera view anyway, it’s very important to choose the right part of the island to get the most of the whole experience. Here are some good recommendations:
Instead of staying in Oia, which is the prettiest, the busiest and most expensive spot to stay on the island, I recommend booking a place at Thira, which is the heart of Santorini and the most touristic developed part with many souvenir shops, restaurants and cafes. But there you can find so many hotels on much more reasonable price.
Where to stay in Thira:
Firostefani and Imerovigli
I recommend staying in Imerovigli or Firostefani, which are smaller towns close to Oia and you can find what you’re looking for on a more reasonable price.
Also I am not sure, that one of the best sunsets I have seen during our stay was from Oia, actually it was from Imerovigli, when we decided to do a spontaneous walk on the late afternoon and suddenly saw this beautiful view happening in front of us, during our short walk.
Where to stay in Firostefani:
Where to stay in Imerovigli:
Akrotiri is the name of the archaeological site of Santorini that gives the name to this little town in the south of the island. The advantages of staying in Akrotiri are that the views are amazing and the sunset is something else and for those looking for absolute tranquility this place is perfect, apart from everything and the accommodations with a private Jacuzzi and view to the caldera are so much affordable than the ones in Oia, Thira, Imerogvili and Firostefani. We would definitely choose this place among all the towns on the caldera.
Where to stay in Akrotiri:
Staying in Oia is definitely one of a kind experience, so if you decide to book even for a night and really feel the romantic vibes of this beautiful island, here’re our recommendations of the places we dream of visiting someday:
Where to stay in Oia:
GETTING AROUND THE ISLAND ON A BUDGET
For me and my boyfriend the best way to explore an island is to rent a scooter and get lost. To rent a motorbike in Santorini costs around 15 EUR per day, you just need a driving license A + M category.
Santorini has a really good public bus system which too and therefore makes it really cheap to visit and get around the island. The public bus serves the whole island so it was easy to move from one place to another. Tickets are either €1.80 or €2.30 one way depending on the journey.
Of course you can also rent a ATV and explore the island that way, but the price was double the price for renting and scooter, so we skipped this.
FREE ACTIVITIES IN SANTORINI
Find hidden spots to watch the sunset
There are so many hidden gems in Santorini! Trust me on that! Everyday we found a new spot to watch the sunset and each and everyone was different and speechless.
Walk from Fira to Oia
If you love walks, this is the right thing to do for you. You will explore both towns, while enjoying the beautiful caldera view. It takes a good few hours so be prepared for a long walk, but as a bonus you stay in a good shape during your holiday!
Wine Tasting in Megalochori
Santorini is full of wineries and we even found this place called Gavalas Winery in the small village of Megalochori, which invites visitors to taste their wines for free!
Explore a new beach everyday
They’re so many beautiful beaches in Santorini! I really didn’t know that this beautiful island is so much more than just the famous Oia and Thira with all the countless beautiful white chalk houses on the cliffs! I found the most amazing beaches here! Starting from Vlichada, which is my favorite one, Red Beach, Perissa trough the wild beaches on the north tip of the island. And 8 days are such a great amount of time to explore each and every one of them!
THE BEST BIRTHDAY EVER
So as promised, now I’m going to tell you all the details about my Birthday and how we were able to afford staying at our own private villa and enjoy our private jacuzzi with the most incredible view! Just because you got so far almost to the end of my post, I will also share the very well kept secret of Santorini!
Everyone talks about the incredible sunsets that can be watched from the island, but did someone mentioned the even more amazing sunrise that you can see from the other, less known side of the island?
Yes, that’s right, on this photo here you see the most incredible sunrise we have ever watched!
To celebrate my Birthday we decided to stay at this beautiful villa in Vourvulous – a less known village on the other side of the island, right behind Thira and we paid like 3 times less of the price that we would pay to stay on the other side! The village is also very close to some less touristy beaches, but with the bluest water and the most important thing – we had our privacy. That was the best Birthday I have ever dreamed for and that incredible sunrise was the perfect gift!
We totally recommend staying at this gorgeous place called Auntie’s Villas – Palea and because we love you and want to say thank you for getting almost to the end of this post, we want to give you one more bonus hint. By using this link here, you can sign in and get 35€ (or 40$) coupon that you can use to make the booking. You’re welcome again, always for you!
WHERE TO EAT IN SANTORINI
There’re many places where you can taste the delicious greek cuisine in Santorini and the prices vary in the different parts of the island of course. But as I know, that maybe most of you will be interested in the restaurants in Oia, I lined up my favorites from the most affordable ones and ordered by yummy(⋆) rating:
Unfortunately I cannot recommend many other places, as we really didn’t eat at many restaurants. Well, actually maybe 3-5 times and one of them was on my Birthday, because it was part of the celebration. Actually this was the key for how we really spend our days in Santorini on a budget – we were always looking for such kind of accommodation – room with a small kitchenette so we could buy products from the supermarket and cook our own food. It wasn’t hard at all to find such place, I think all almost all of the hotels in Perissa and Kamari have such rooms, so make sure to book one and save hundreds of euros for food. Of course, don’t miss trying one of the above mentioned restaurants at least 2-3 times, because this is of course part of the experience!
DON’T DO THIS IN SANTORINI PLEASE
My final words to finish this post here will be about something that’s really bothering us and I can’t believe that is happening in this beautiful place. Unfortunately it is also one of the most touristic things that almost everyone does while in Santorini, especially in Oia and this is the famous “Donkey Ride”.
Please, people, don’t do this! Ever! It is awful! We were there and saw it with our own eyes – the donkeys were looking so sad, tired and exhausted. There’s nothing cool about that and we’re strongly against this way of making money by using the poor donkeys and the rich tourists. We know that maybe you thing this is a “must do” attraction while on the island, but it is not cool at all and those pure animals were truly suffering while wearing people with their shopping bags on their backs all day long in the heat. It’s not something to do and be proud of, please understand this! Donkeys are our friends, not a ride!
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Thank you so much for reading this and if you have any questions or need further help while planning your visit on budget to Santorini, I will be more than happy to hear from you in the comments bellow!