With so many travel guides about Greece in general, I hoped to make this mini guide to the island of Santorini stand out by providing information based on our experiences as
semi budget travelers. Although most people come to Santorini to splurge on a fancy hotel with a pool overlooking the ocean, we knew our budget might not allow that. And if you’ve got the cash to burn, I say go for it. One of the few places that blew us away- it was just as beautiful as we had imagined it to be. We still had a great time: we rented a car (with my mom in tow!), hiked around to explore ruins and alleyways, ate so much delicious reasonably priced food and enjoyed the famous sunsets the island is known for. Here is a a mini guide to Santorini to help you make the most out of your dream trip the whether or not you’re on a budget!
Check all available options for accommodations- including AirBnB & Agoda
There are so many hotels on Santorini, and of course you’re thinking you’ll stay in the town with all the white washed houses. You can stay at any one of towns along the caldera: Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and Oia all have fantastic views of the volcano. Some hotels in these towns can cost up to $15000 a night but there are also reasonably priced splurges. After some thought as to what we really wanted to get out of this trip, we decided to stay in Imerovigli, which is famous for its beautiful sunsets (apparently they are the best on the whole island) as well as having a few good food options nearby. Saved us tons of money but we still had the beautiful views, and we could day trip to Fira in the rental car.
We stayed at the Rhapsody Apartments where the owner, George, made us feel welcome and provided us with tons of information on everything from food to renting a car. I love the personalized experiences you get from AirBnB. Plus, we had a 2 bedroom apartment with a kitchen and a view for under $60 a night. SCORE.
Renting a car isn’t an expensive option, and we highly recommend it. This way you can get to every part of the island easily. There are so many car rental options, we recommend checking with your hotel/front desk to see who they recommend at the moment.
Where to visit
Drive to Faros, a lighthouse near Akrotiri. Here you can park at the end of the street and see the lighthouse. You’re not allowed to enter the lighthouse, but the views here are worth the visit.
Stroll through Oia and take tons of photos. Eat. Repeat.
Hop on a boat and visit the nearby volcano island (Nea Kameni) & bathe in the natural hot springs (Palia Kameni). The volcano island walk is a bit of a hike and you don’t get much time to get to the other side and back so you gotta hustle a bit. Note to bring more water on the next visit. Don’t forget the sunscreen!
For an incredible sunset + amazing food, head over to Amoudi Bay. You can park at the end of the parking lot, giving yourself time to get there before the sunset starts. Pick a table at one of the waterfront restaurants and enjoy the sunset.
We also had a memorable meal in Fira at Nikolas Taverna. Friendly and delicious food!
There are red, black, and white colored beaches. Take your pick. Maybe you don’t want to visit them all, but we loved these in particular:
You have several options for getting here: by boat or you can drive and park in the lot, walking down to the beach.
We also visited Perissa Beach & a few others- I’ve forgotten the names, but you’ll create your own itinerary so just drive around and when you see a beach pull over! The beauty of renting a car is you can go wherever you want. The beaches are all beautiful with clear, cool water so make time for a swim. One thing to remember is how HOT the black sand can get. It is scorching! Take your shoes as close to the water as you can or you’ll have to run back to your spot, trust me.
Visit the Minoan Bronze Age settlement at Akrotiri.
Dating back to 1627 BC, the ruins were buried under volcanic ash and excavated in 1967. There is also a museum, but visit the ruins first then you’ll have a better understanding of the artifacts in the museum.
You can also take a trip from the Old Port (Skala Pier) to the top of Fira, or the other way around. Takes about 10 minutes total but the views are awesome!
With a little research before your trip, you’ll be sure to have a great time on Santorini. The views are dreamy. Greek food. Sunsets. You really do feel like you’ve stepped onto paradise island, especially if you go in the off season when the tourist numbers are low so you can sometimes have the beaches almost to yourself!
The best time to go
Now we’re not bound by any work schedules, so the best time to go is in the off-season. October/November is perfect, as the crowds have mostly disappeared and the ocean is still warm enough for swimming. The costs of hotels and apartments also decreases and they are more options in the off season. We highly recommend going during this time for the best overall experience, value for money.
Any other tips to add for visiting Santorini? Let us know in the comments below!