Santorini is well-known as an exotic island destination for honeymooners and romance-seekers. For this reason, it’s not usually thought of as a place to travel “on a budget” for “bargain seekers.” Nonetheless, Santorini is actually quite affordable if you do it right and can still be immensely enjoyable even with limited funds. Here are 6 tips for watching your wallet while still enjoying your trip…
Budget Tip #1 – Choose Cheap Accommodation
The total cost of your trip starts with the hotel accommodations you choose before you arrive. If you’re trying to do Santorini in less than 100 euros per day, your hotel room can quickly eat up your entire budget if you’re not careful. Fortunately, there are plenty of affordable accommodation options that still come with all of the best Greek hospitality you could ever want. My personal favorite is Smaragdi Hotel in Perivolos Beach. The first time I visited Santorini in 2009, I stayed in one of their Petite Budget rooms for about 20-25 euros per night ($30-$35 USD per night). Their prices for these room types are still very affordable today.
Budget Tip #2 – Go Grocery Shopping
It’s also helpful if your hotel room includes a refrigerator and some cooking utensils. I’m not a big fan of cooking in the room myself, but some basic kitchen supplies can come in handy — a fridge especially. Use your in-room refrigerator to store snacks, beverages, and especially alcohol if you want to save big in that department. There are plenty of good supermarkets around the island. Just ask your hotel staff for the nearest location. Some will even pick you up from your hotel and drive you to the market to earn your business. Talk about service! Grocery delivery? Well, almost.
Budget Tip #3 – Avoid Tourist Traps
This should go without saying despite your budget preferences. Like any other tourist destination in the world, Santorini has its share of “tourist traps.” Quite frankly, if you’re not using your common sense, you had it coming! The most common tourist traps in Santorini are sunbeds on beaches, taxi drivers, and overpriced cafes and restaurants where you’re paying for some unmentionable benefit — like the view! Sunbeds cost money basically everywhere you go around the island. Personally, I enjoy the perk of having my own sun lounger and umbrella with the option for beach-side service. Some beach bars simply require you to order food and drinks. Others will charge you a fee for the use of the beds and umbrella (usually sold as a set of 2 sunbends and 1 umbrella). But remember: the beach itself is always free! Grab a towel and lie in the sand and pay zero.
Budget Tip #4 – Relax On The Beach
Speaking of the beach, this is an excellent way to enjoy Santorini without paying for anything at all. You only need a towel (optional if you’re really into the sand, pun intended), a book, and maybe some snacks. I could literally spend hours just relaxing on the beach in Santorini, and so can you. You did come here to relax, right?
Budget Tip #5 – Use Public Transportation
The only public transportation in Santorini is the local bus system. Be sure to check running times before you go. Also, be aware that most busses connect in Fira. This means getting to your final destination may require at least one stop and a bus change before you finally arrive. The bus fare is very affordable (2 euros one-way on my last journey) and very safe. Using busses will just require more planning on your part, but you can always take the bus to your destination and then hire a taxi for your return, or vice versa.
Budget Tip #6 – Dine For Two
Restaurants in Santorini can be one of your greatest expenses during your trip on the island. Like any other vacation, it’s the hotel room and the eating out that usually costs the most. Here’s my recommendation for saving in Santorini restaurants — look for “dinner for two” options if you’re traveling as a couple. These affordable dinners usually include entrees, side dishes, and even drinks to boot! Check the specials boards out front before you go inside. Or ask one of the friendly waiters working hard to earn your business.
So there you have it! 6 tips for doing Santorini on a budget. Follow these guidelines and you’ll definitely save money on your next trip to Santorini.
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