There’s a reason Santorini attracts more than two million tourists each year — the white-and-blue washed island in the Greek Cyclades is basically heaven on earth. But it’s also about twice as expensive as Athens, with hotel prices in the summer climbing to $250, on average, per night. Never fear — it is possible to stay here on a budget; just follow these five key pieces of money-saving advice.
Related: How to Plan a Trip to Greece
Don’t Go in the Summer
The months of June, July, and August are the busiest and most expensive in Santorini, not to mention the hottest.
Instead: The off-season and shoulder season months of March, April, and early May and October and November see the mildest temperatures and the lowest prices. Flights from Athens to Santorini on a budget airline such as Ryanair reach 123 euros (or about $139 USD) in July but are only 53 euros (or $60 USD) in October.
Don’t Stay in Oia
The most popular town on Santorini — with iconic blue and white churches and the best sunset perches on the island — is the most expensive (and crowded). So, if you want a room with a view, you’re going to pay big for it.
Instead: Stay in the capital town of Fira, where you can easily take a 25-minute bus ride over to Oia to catch the sunset before heading back for the town’s lively nightlife scene. Alternatively, stay on the opposite end of the island in the southern town of Perissa, where you can access a black sand beach and plenty of budget hotel and hostel options.
Don’t Take Taxis
A cab is a hassle-free option for getting around, but you can easily spend hundreds of euros on taxis alone by the time your trip is complete.
Instead: Take the affordable (and safe) public bus, which will drop you anywhere on the island. Alternatively, rent a scooter or ATV.
Avoid Cliffside Restaurants
Sure, the most jaw-dropping views are from the cliffs, but the restaurants here will charge around 30% more than inland restaurants.
Instead: For a more authentic and less expensive meal, head inland. For example, the family-run Tavern Tzanakis in Megalochor serves up traditional Greek moussaka, grape leaves, and fresh-caught fish at a reasonable price. Falafeland in Fira is another great option for grab-and-go gyros. When in doubt, go where the locals go.
Skip The Pricey Tours
If you want to save money, we recommend only paying for private tours that would otherwise be difficult to organize yourself, like a half-day tour of the island’s wineries (around $137 USD with Santorini Day Tours).
Instead: Do it yourself! A two-euro bus ride is all it takes to access the island's beautiful beaches, the Minoan ruins of Akrotiri, and the sun-kissed village of Oia.
Want to take that trip for free - and score some valuable miles for your next excursion? Check out our top pick travel credit cards for the best welcome bonuses, perks, and plenty of cash back.