We immediately fell in love with Santorini, Greece. This Greek Island is truly one of the most beautiful places in the world. The views, weather, food and people are unmatched. We’d recommend spending at least 3 or 4 days in Santorini to really soak up the beauty. Santorini, Greece can be a very pricey place to explore; however, if done correctly and without sacrificing any quality to your trip, you can visit Santorini on a budget. Here is our guide on visiting Santorini, Greece on a budget.
Note: This post is written based on a trip taken in late June
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What to do in Santorini, Greece on a Budget
Rent a Motorized Scooter to Explore the Island
We rode our motorized scooter all over the island and it was one of the most exhilarating things we’ve ever done! Everyone deserves to ride along the Santorini coastline on a motorized scooter at least once in their life. We would highly recommend it!
If you are looking for something a bit more stable, they also have ATVs that you can rent. Beware that roads are narrow with steep drops to the sea but there is a good public bus system on the island if a motorized scooter or ATV is not your cup of tea. We would not recommend renting a car as it is cumbersome and expensive.
Take a Day Cruise to Some of the Smaller Islands
We explored 3 smaller islands off the coastline of Santorini on a large sailboat. On this cruise, we went to Nea Kameni (uninhabited, volcano), Palea Kameni (uninhabited, hot springs) and Thirasia (inhabited). We particularly liked hiking up to the sparsely populated town of Manolas on Thirasia. The last stop on the cruise was in Oia to watch the sunset. This outing was a full day excursion, 10 hours, and reasonably priced.
We booked this tour through our hotel so our day cruise tour started in Kamari. We were picked up by bus and then taken to a port near Fira. From there, we then boarded a large sailboat to start our trip.
Here is the link to the tour we did: Santorini Day Cruise
Hike from Fira to Oia and Explore Both Cities
This hike is a great way to see the island as you parallel the water while passing by many different small communities and some of the uninhabited areas of volcanic remains. The views from this hike are unparalleled in beauty.
“Hike” is a loose term for this paved walking path between Fira to Oia that we would rate as easy to moderate. The hike took us about 2 hours but we walk pretty fast and most websites recommend budgeting 3-4 hours for this walk. It is mostly in the full sun so be prepared with water and sun protection.
Fira is known for its beautiful Caldera (white houses with blue roofs) and water views while Oia is known for its stunning Caldera and sunset views. Make sure you explore both towns while in Santorini! This side of the island is the “classic” Santorini you see in movies like Mama Mia and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
We were staying on the other side of the island in Kamari (location of a black sand beach). We traveled by riding our motorized scooter from Kamari to Fira in the morning. We then explored Fira for the rest of the morning. After lunch, we hiked to Oia in the early afternoon, explored Fira in the later afternoon and then returned to Fira by bus before riding our motorized scooter back to Kamari.
Go to the Open-Air Movie Theater in Kamari
This open-air venue was a unique and relaxing way to spend an evening in Santorini. The theater was cute and they had both recent releases playing some nights in addition to classics on other nights, such as Mama Mia. We watched a recent release and enjoyed being able to relax while watching a movie outside in the beautiful Santorini weather.
What/Where to Eat in Santorini, Greece on a Budget
What’s that you say? No party ever started with a salad…except in Santorini. Ok, maybe we made that one up but Greek salads are no joke and SO delicious. All the ingredients–cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, feta–are so fresh. Six years later and we still crave these on a regular basis. While we were in Greece, we ordered one at every meal to split (in addition to other food) and we highly recommend doing the same. The Greeks do salad right!
Phyllo Dough with honey and nuts–there’s really nothing to not like about this dessert. Make sure to try this during your time in Greece and Santorini!
Mom & Pop Restaurants
In Santorini, there are many different mom and pop restaurants. We’d encourage you to eat at places off the main drag (without any pictures on the menu) to give you a more authentic Santorini experience.
Our favorite family restaurant was Koralli in Kamari near our accommodations. The food and service were so good, we ate there 3 times. Don’t fix something if it isn’t broke!
Where to Stay on Santorini, Greece on a Budget
Stay on Kamari side of Santorini
Most people would instinctively stay in Fira or Oia because they are the “classic” picture of Santorini with the Caldera views but both of these areas are so popular that they are pretty crowded at all hours of the day. Kamari, known for its black sand beaches, feels more quaint and relaxing. You also won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to stay in Kamari by comparison to Fira and Oia. Fira and Oia are both only a short bus ride or motorized scooter ride away from Kamari too.
Hotel Acropole Sunrise
We stayed at Hotel Acropole Sunrise, a quaint hotel in Kamari, that we booked through Airbnb. The accommodations were simple but nice and the hotel had a pretty sunrise view. The breakfast included with our stay consisted of a variety of fresh baked goods and yogurt. Our host at the hotel was great and extremely helpful too. He picked us up from the airport (for a small fee), making our transfer to our hotel seamless, and also took time to orient us to the island when we arrived. It definitely was a huge bonus to have a kind, friendly and helpful host to help plan your time in Santorini!
We hope this post helps you plan your trip to Santorini on a Budget. Be sure to check out Athens when you are in Greece too. We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Anything you’d add to our guide on visiting Santorini on a budget? Please leave us a comment!
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Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.