Learn How to Travel to Santorini for Cheap

Frugal Travel Guide to Santorini

Frugal Travel Guide to Santorini

You’ve probably seen photos similar to the one above. Sun kissed white sands and blue domed rooves of the Greek islands. You’ve probably fantasized what if would be like to vacation there, but then are taken aback when you see that hotels are around $250 per night in June. Just about 5x the average hotel price in Athens. This guide will help show you how to travel to Santorini for Cheap and still have a blast.

Immediately, you rule out any sort of stay on Santorini because now you start thinking about how much the transportation to get there will cost, as well as the food, experiences, and other unexpected costs.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you can live on the picturesque island of
Santorini in the South Aegean Sea for less than $50 per night.

If you’re willing to live a little frugally.

Scroll a little further down for estimated costs for June 8th to June 15th, 2016 sample dates & costs in a table.

TRANSPORTATION

There are two main ways to make it to Santorini and other Greek islands –

  • Ferry
  • Airplane
Ferry Prices from Athens to Santorini

Ferry Prices from Athens to Santorini

Getting to Santorini via ferry can take anywhere from a few hours to half a day, if not longer. The best search engine that I’ve found for finding ferry tickets is from FantasticGreece. Not only do they aggregate in all of the popular ferries, they allow you to book thru them as well.

For our sample dates, I found a round-trip ferry on the Blue Star Delos boat for 40 Euros ($43.42 USD).

The cost of the ferries are pretty reasonable considering you’ll be on them for 5-8 hours. If you get seasick easily, have no fear, there is RyanAir, easyJet & Aegean Air that all fly to Santorini for relatively cheap.

Screen Shot 2016-02-15 at 5.07.18 PM

If you’re a fan of RyanAir, they fly directly to Santorini (JTR) from Athens, Greece (ATH). Typical fares on RyanAir cost anywhere from $50 USD to $100+ USD round-trip.

It appears that easyJet flies to Thira Nationa Airport (JTR) from Geneva, Switzerland (GVA); London-Gatwick, UK (LGW); Manchester, UK (MAN); Milan, Italy (MXP); and Venice, Italy (VCE). EasyJet has slightly higher prices since they are flying to Santorini from much further away.

This isn’t really budget friendly, but Athens-based airline, Aegean, offers flights to Santorini and a ton of other destinations in Greece. It is the most expensive out of the three, but remember these tips for finding cheap flights.

Finally, keep in mind that some of these budget airline’s routes are seasonal! So, triple check that there are even flights during the time of year that you would like to visit.

Protip – If you’re really strapped for cash, grab some food before you get on board the aircraft or the ferry. You should be able to take some food items thru security at the airport or at the port of call. Remember that the budget airlines like to charge an arm & a leg for anything extra. From what I recall, the food & drinks on the ferry weren’t terribly priced.

ACCOMMODATION

So, you’ve finally made it to Santorini – or at least have your way of getting there booked. Now you need to start thinking about accommodations for the week ahead.

When I went to Santorini, I showed up on the island without a place to stay. Luckily with a little perseverance (and about 3 hours of time) I was able to negotiate with the local campground in Perissa to allow me to stay in a private bungalow for nearly half of the advertised cost.

But, I highly doubt you’ll take the approach that I did.

Map of Santorini - Oía is on the North of the Island while Perissa is on the southwest coast.

Map of Santorini – Oía is on the North of the Island while Perissa is on the southwest coast.

There are a few options for lodging on Santorini –

  • Campgrounds
  • Hostels
  • Hotels

In order to stay on Santorini for $70.00 USD per night, you need to keep in mind that you won’t be up in Oía where all the famed sunset photos are taken. You’ll be staying on the opposite side of the island in a town called Perissa.

As I mentioned, I arrived in Santorini without a place to stay for the night (and the nights to follow). Luckily I did some research beforehand and knew that hostels in Oía were out of my price range – they run anywhere from $25 to $50ish USD while Perissa hostels can be as cheap as $7 per night. I hopped on the local bus for about 25 minutes and only a few dollars to make it to Perissa.

Now, keep in mind that Perissa isn’t nearly as commercialized as Oía and other parts of the island. So, I walked around for awhile and found a travel agency to see if they knew anyone with accommodations for the night. The woman behind the counter seemed very doubtful, especially when I told her what my budget was. She said that she was going to call some people and for me to stop back later.

While waiting to head back to the travel agent’s office, I found Perissa Camping. I walked into their main office and talked with the guy behind the desk, asking if it was OK to sleep on a lawn chair overnight for $5. He seemed apprehensive to let me do this since I didn’t have a tent with me and would be exposed to the elements. We kept talking back and forth for a little bit and he eventually decided to let me rent a bungalow from him for a heavily discounted rate for a few nights. From here, I ended up moving to the Youth Hostel Anna with their enormous 20 bed shared room for $7 per night ($50.15 for the week).

Youth Hostel Anna Price

Youth Hostel Anna Price

Now, keeping in mind our sample travel dates of June 8th thru June 15th, 2016, you could stay at this hostel for ~$50 USD for a week. They have everything including Wifi, safes, clean bathrooms, a supermarket up the street, and much more.

Average Cost of an AirBnB

Average Cost of an AirBnB

In between Hostels and Hotels, are AirBnBs (get $20 for your trip with that link!). Now, there are a few on AirBnB’s website, but the average cost for an AirBnB in Oía is ~$413 per night while Perissa is around $75 per night. So, before I proceed any further, we’ll just rule this out.

Over 1,100 Hotels on the Island of Santorini

Over 1,100 Hotels on Santorini

Santorini has over 1,100 different hotels on the island. So, you should be able to find a decent deal – even cheaper than the AirBnBs on the island. Looking at only 3-star hotels and above, you can actually book several places for as low as $40 per night (roughly $300 for the week).

If I had to choose, I would totally sleep in budget accommodations primarily because of the money saved and due to the fact that you’re not in Santorini to stay in your hotel room all week long. The money saved could be used for renting a quad (which I discuss below) to get all around the island.

FOOD & DRINK

Image Courtesy of allabouttourismandtravelintheworld.blogspot.com

Image Courtesy of allabouttourismandtravelintheworld.blogspot.com

Now onto one of my favorite thing about Greece. The food.

Food costs can add up quick, especially if you’re eating out every meal in Thera or Oía. I’ve heard that 50% of your bill goes towards the view that accompanies the food.

When I first got to Thera when trying to meet up with a friend I met in Athens earlier in the week, I ordered a rum and coke to sip while watching the sunset over the sea. Little did I know that rum & coke would cost me about $10. To put that into perspective, that was 1 night’s accommodation.

Supermarket in Perissa, Greece (next door is a 24 hour bakery)

Supermarket in Perissa, Greece (next door is a 24 hour bakery)

I can’t speak too much about the availability of grocery stores in Thera or Oía, but Perissa has a couple of options near all the hotels, AirBnBs, and hostels. It was important to me at the time to save money on food except for a couple of nice meals out. So, I made sure that the accommodations I had were able to provide a stove top to cook on.

You could probably spend about $75 USD for the week on groceries.

Then eating out three times and getting coffees in the morning, you would spend around $100 USD.

Factor in some beers or locally made wine around $45 USD.

So, your food & drink costs will come out to about $220 USD for the week.

OTHER TIPS

The one highlight of Santorini was renting an ATV from Marks Bikes in Perissa. During June, the mid-season rate is 25 Euro per day on a 150cc quad. With all the money you save on lodging and not eating out, you can ride this quad all over the island and not have to rely on the bus system.

While I had a quad for a few days, I went to Santorini Brewing Company, various wineries, cliff jumping (the hike there is worth it!), exploring old mills, and so much more all over the island.

  • Stay away from the touristy areas, even if that means you have to take a bus to get to the other side of the island. Even renting a quad is a possibility
  • Limit drinking & eating out
  • Limit activities that cost a lot of money – private tours, massages, etc only if you want to splurge on them.

ADDING IT ALL UP – FINAL COSTS

Weekly Costs for a Trip to Santorini
Item Cost
Travel to Santorini and Back to Athens $43.42
Accommodations $50.15
Food and Drink $220.00
Activities $100.00
Other? $50.00
TOTAL $463.57 USD

You could easily cut some costs from the Food & Drink category if you want to – or even the Activities column. But, the point of this blog post was to show you that you can live very comfortably on Santorini for a week in the middle of the summer for less than $70 per day.


Remember, this was an informal guide at showing you how you could travel to Santorini for cheap. This wasn’t exactly my experience with the island, but it was damn close.

Hopefully, you can take away a few of these tips and techniques to save a few bucks when you visit this dream island.

Cory

Life-Long Learner, Explorer, & Web Developer. Currently a Software Engineer at Jazz.

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