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News flash: You don’t need to be a honeymooner to travel to Santorini and have a great time!
Also news flash: You don’t need to spend exorbitant amounts of money in Santorini to have a great time!
Although it’s not specially catered to budget travelers, it is totally possible to travel to Santorini on a budget.
When I solo traveled to Crete in 2017, I unexpectedly met some amazing travel backpacking friends at my hostel in Plakias who ended up dragging me along with them to Santorini (I know – darn!).
Even though I was a student on a budget, I managed to make my stay really fun and affordable, while still enjoying some of the luxuries the island has to offer, too!
Interested to know how to travel to Santorini on a budget? Keep reading to find out more!
Related: Check out my top picks for solo travel in Europe with my list of the top 7 safest places to travel alone in Europe!
Lounge on a black sand beach
Santorini may not overall be known for its beaches.
However, it is known for its black sand beach, named Perissa Beach.
This beach got its color from the breaking down of black lava by the ocean.
Lucky for you, Perissa Beach is located on the “cheaper” side of the island.
And, depending on where you stay, it might be just across the street from you (like it was for me)!
So spend some of your time in Santorini on a budget soaking up the sun on this famous black sand beach and enjoying the cool, crystal-clear ocean waters!
Related: Headed to Santorini this summer? Know exactly what to pack and how to pack it with my Ultimate Backpacking Packing List for Summer in Europe!
Jump in the sea at Amoudi Bay
Watch fisherman bring in their fresh catch of the day and even try your hand at cliff jumping if you’re feeling daring at Santorini’s Amoudi Bay!
The crystal clear water and cute white seaside restaurants here are just another great attraction to enjoy in Santorini on a budget.
You’re more likely to get a better spot to hang out and swim if you arrive earlier rather than later in the day, so don’t sleep in on the day that you visit Amoudi Bay (see what I did there?)!
Related: Check out the top recommended tours for Santorini below and see the best of everything when you’re tight on time and money!
Get a (free!) front-row seat to Oia’s world-famous sunset
Oia (pronounced ee-ah) is the town on the northern tip of Santorini where crowds gather in the thousands to watch the world-famous sunsets.
However, most people pay at least several hundred dollars just to get dinner with this view!
My answer to this for those of us visiting Santorini on a budget? Get the same view for free!
Walk to the farthest tip of Oia that you can find. This should bring you to an area with one of Santorini’s famous windmills (below) and then an undeveloped group of rundown buildings.
Climb through the grass around the rundown properties and climb up on top of the roof that’s still intact.
Once you’re on top, you’ll have a world-class view of the sunset for $0!
Related: Stay safe in Europe with these top 7 safest places to travel alone in Europe!
Wander the cliffside streets
Between the towns of Fira and Oia, there is no shortage of streets to stroll with draw-dropping cliffside views!
That’s why wandering these streets is one of my favorite things to do in Santorini on a budget.
While you wander, you can find the best photo spots and take as many pictures for your Instagram (and memories) as your heart desires!
Related: Wondering about the best travel photography essentials to take on your next trip to get stunning pictures? Check out my guide to the best camera for photography beginners + the best accessories!
Explore the island on an ATV
Because Santorini is pretty small, you’ll find ATV rentals all over the island that make it easy to explore.
However, it does cost a little bit to rent, and I know that you’re visiting Santorini on a budget.
So, I recommend choosing one day of your stay for an ATV rental and dedicating that day to doing most of your exploring.
ATV rentals start at about 20 euros for a basic package for the day.
Shop around near your accommodation for the best price, and don’t be afraid to haggle a little bit!
An important word of caution: Make sure you at least wear a helmet while driving/riding on your ATV and take your turns SLOW!
When I was in Santorini, I came across a couple who did NOT take this advice.
The result? The girlfriend was pinned underneath their ATV on the road, wailing in pain. They had to wait for first-responders to arrive, and their arrival was very slow on such a small island with very little equipment.
Not pretty, I know, but this is to illustrate the point – be safe while you ride!
Hike from Fira to Oia
Hiking the cliffside trail from Fira to Oia is one of the top activities to do in Santorini on a budget!
This hike is even more perfect if you time it so that you arrive in Oia in time to see the sun dip below the horizon.
Make sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring water and a snack at the very least.
And if you’re taking this hike during the middle of the day, make sure to wear a hat and sunscreen! It can get quite hot with the sun beating down if you’re not careful.
Related: Ready to explore more of Europe? Get out there with my top 12 solo travel destinations in Europe!
DIY wine tour
Give yourself a DIY wine tour at Gaia Winery, perfectly situated on the beach on the east side of the island!
You can also sign up for guided wine tours, but it’s not necessary.
So enjoy some much-needed R&R with a glass of wine (or two, or three!) and enjoy the view.
Don’t forget to ask the staff about the winery – they are more than happy to share information about the winery history and how the wines are made!
Related: Check out the wine tours I recommend in Santorini below!
Watch the sunset at the southern lighthouse
If you’re staying on the “cheaper” side of the island, this lighthouse is much closer to you than Oia or Fira.
This is an amazing alternative location to watch the sunset in Santorini on a budget with spectacular views over the caldera and the Mediterranean Sea!
And if you’re feeling a little hungry, turn it into a DIY picnic with locally-bought wine from your DIY wine tour and some souvlaki street food.
Related: Wondering what travel essentials you’ll need for your trip to Santorini? Check out these 13 amazing travel essentials that will seriously change your life – I know they changed mine!
How to Eat in Santorini on a Budget
Food trucks are the perfect answer to eating in Santorini on a budget!
They are everywhere in Santorini, especially on the cheaper side of the island near Perissa Beach.
Souvlaki is the national “street food” staple, but you can also usually get other types of sandwiches and wraps.
Most of these sell for only 3 euros or so for a full meal – talk about a budget-saver!
I’m pretty sure I mostly ate souvlaki throughout my entire time in Santorini and I loved every minute of it.
Split family-style meals with fellow travelers
Many restaurants in Greece will offer “family-style” meals, where you order a bunch of dishes that you want and share them with other people.
They’re an excellent way to try a bunch of delicious food without wasting anything – including your money!
Of course, because you’re solo traveling, this means you’ll have to make some friends.
But this isn’t hard at all – and that’s coming from me as a slight introvert!
So go ahead and ask anybody at your hostel if they’d like to go out for a meal with you and split the cost.
They’re probably happy to save some money, since they’re probably visiting Santorini on a budget, too!
Related: Not sure how to make friends while solo traveling? Check out my ultimate guide.
Grocery shop and cook your own meals
And then, of course, there’s the age-old budget-saving advice:
Grocery shop and cook your own meals.
If you thought street food in Greece was cheap, groceries can be even cheaper!
So book a hostel or Airbnb with kitchen facilities and whip up your favorite budget-friendly recipes to eat in Santorini on a budget.
Related: Are you a foodie? Then this is for you! Check out the best food tours in Santorini below!
Eat near Perissa Beach
If you’re still looking for a dine-in option while eating in Santorini on a budget, opt for restaurants near Perissa Beach.
Like I said, Perissa Beach is on the “cheaper” side of the island.
There are plenty of nice lounges, restaurants, and bars near the beach here, but will have much better prices than those in places like Fira or Oia.
How to Drink in Santorini on a Budget
By far, the cheapest way to drink in Santorini on a budget is to buy your own bottle.
Then you can enjoy a casual sip wherever you are, drinking games at your hostel, or a refreshing beer for the beach.
And with so many vineyards in the area, it would almost be a shame if you didn’t buy a bottle of wine to enjoy yourself!
It’s also in you (and your wallet’s) best interest if you have pre-drinks with your own alcohol before heading out to any bars – that way you’re less likely to spend money buying drinks once you’re there.
Avoid expensive bars and clubs
It goes without saying, but I feel obligated to say it anyway:
If you’re visiting Santorini on a budget, avoid expensive bars and clubs!
Most of these will be located in Fira and Oia, so if you’re not staying on that side of the island, it will be kind of easy to avoid them.
But if you do go to any posh bars of clubs, just make sure to keep your budget for the day/night in mind.
And who knows – maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will buy you a drink once you get there!
Take advantage of Happy Hour specials
The beautiful thing about Happy Hour is that it does, indeed, appear to be a universal concept, no matter where you are.
And Santorini is no different!
Happy Hour specials are the budget traveler’s best friend.
Look into and ask about Happy Hours, Ladies’ Nights, and similar promotions at bars and clubs – you just might get an amazing deal simply for asking!
Where to Stay in Santorini: Best Budget Hotels
Ideally situated steps away from Perissa Beach, Villa Kostas is just about the best option for a budget hotel that balances quality with price!
They offer free bicycles for exploring plus air conditioning, a mini-fridge, TV, safe, hairdryer, and bath kit in every room.
The rooms also have private balconies, all adorned in that lovely white and blue you see all over Santorini!
This quaint villa-style hotel is located in Fira and is just a short walk away from the city center.
I love that this hotel is family-run and offers amazing views over the Aegean Sea!
Every room is kept very clean and each has its own private balcony along with air conditioning, a private bathroom, a TV, and a fridge.
I am absolutely in love with the pool surrounded by the beautiful Cycladic blue and white at the Pension George!
Recommended by six independent tourist guides, they have a stellar 9.8 rating on Hostelworld and the same guests return year after year.
It’s located in the traditional village of Karterados in the middle of the island, making it a great jumping-off point for touring around Santorini without being in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Fira.
And, it’s just a 15-minute walk into Fira and a 10-minute bus ride to the main beach!
Where to Stay in Santorini: Best Hostels
Youth Hostel Anna is where I stayed in Santorini, and as far as location goes, it doesn’t get much better than this!
The hostel is directly across the street from Perissa Beach and has all kinds of cheap street food and groceries available nearby.
The outdoor porch area is also great for getting to know fellow travelers and playing drinking games before going out!
At the time of writing, it has a 7.9 rating on Hostelworld.
Villa Kasteli is also located near Perissa Beach and offers both hotel rooms and hostel dorms.
And, there is a bus stop almost directly outside the hostel, making it easy to get to other towns on the island!
Each room has its own private bathroom and the hostel is located on a very quiet dead-end street, so you can get plenty of beauty rest.
At the time of writing, Villa Kasteli had a 9.2 rating on Hostelworld.
Yes, Santorini is expensive, so this is really the third-cheapest hostel you can find on the island!
Bedspot Hostel is located in Fira, putting you right in the middle of those dreamy cliffside houses.
This hostel has all-new amenities and rooftop and garden hangout spots for getting to know fellow travelers!
They also offer both mixed and female-only dorms, depending on what you’re most comfortable with.
This is the perfect option if you’re in Santorini on a budget are only making a quick stop on the island!
At the time of writing, Bedspot Hostel had a 9.3 rating on Hostelworld.
How to Get to Santorini on a Budget
Take an overnight ferry
The most common way to get to Santorini is by ferry. This is either from Athens or from one of the neighboring islands.
So when traveling to Santorini on a budget, opt to take an overnight ferry.
These ferries are not only cheaper than the daytime ferries but are also longer and emptier. Because of this, you don’t have to spend any money on accommodation – you can just sleep on the ferry!
I spread out over a full-size bench couch on my overnight ferry from Crete to Santorini and had the best night’s sleep on public transportation ever!
Check out the ferry schedules and options here.
How to Get Around Santorini on a Budget
The individual villages in Santorini are pretty walkable, depending on where you’re staying.
So if you’re just grocery shopping or going to the beach, you will probably be able to just walk!
Especially if you’re staying near Perissa, make sure you stay somewhere close to a bus stop!
This way, you can stay somewhere affordable while still getting to see the sights that Fira and Oia have to offer.
Regularly scheduled buses travel all over the island and make it relatively easy to get around Santorini on a budget.
Just make sure to ask your host at your accommodation for exact bus schedules and stop locations.
Many hotels offer free or very low-cost bike rentals, along with local shops near where you’re staying.
This is a fast, easy, and active way to explore around your accommodations without having to walk!
However, if you’re planning on straying farther away from where you’re staying, a bike won’t do the trick. That is, unless you love constantly pedaling uphill!
As I mentioned earlier, ATVs are a very popular way to get around Santorini.
They are great for the hilly and rocky terrain and for a little offroad exploring!
Once again, however, a super-duper important word of caution:
Always wear protective gear when riding an ATV and take your turns slow!
I saw a couple in Santorini who did NOT take this advice and ended up pinned under the ATV, screaming in pain while waiting for emergency responders to arrive.
So avoid being these people and practice good judgment and safety when renting an ATV!
Related: Also, cover your bases with travel insurance from World Nomads! They offer the most comprehensive insurance in the business and always give me peace of mind, no matter where in the world I’m traveling.
If you find a few travelers to split the cost, having a car can make things a little easier getting around Santorini on a budget!
This way, you can see the sunsets on your own terms and not have to worry about missing buses.
For finding the best price across rental companies in Europe, I recommend checking out AutoEurope. Click here to compare rental prices and get up to 30% off car rentals with Auto Europe!
For specific rental companies, I recommend Avis all-around. However, Avis is particularly a good option if you’re traveling with a spouse or business partner. This is because unlike most other rental companies, Avis doesn’t charge extra for your spouse or business partner to drive too.
Avis money-saving tips: Pre-pay with Avis and get up to 30% off their lowest rates!
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