Is Santorini Expensive?

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When it comes to the Greek islands, Santorini is at the top of everyone’s list. Located in the Cyclades island chain, Santorini is probably the best-known island in all of Greece, thanks to its picture-perfect sunsets and cute white-washed buildings of the towns. However, Santorini also has a reputation as a high-end honeymoon destination leaving many budget travellers wondering if Santorini is too expensive to visit. Here’s what you should know. 

For a full cost breakdown on Greece, check out this how much does it cost to go to Greece guide.

Is Santorini expensive?

The easy answer? Yes. Compared to several islands, Santorini is expensive. However, I would argue that it’s not the most expensive island (in my experience, that’s Mykonos). I would also argue that while Santorini can be expensive, it is possible to visit the island without spending a fortune. I spent a week here in 2019 and am going back for another few days in 2023 and am happy to share a few tips on the best ways to keep your Santorini costs down. 

How to get from Athens to Santorini

Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands, but it’s quite far south. It’s actually much closer to Crete than it is to mainland Greece and Athens. 

There are two ways to get to Santorini from Athens. The first is to fly, which is usually your best option. It’s the quickest way, and if you book your flights early, you can get a pretty good deal. Alternatively, you can take a ferry from Athens to Santorini. These ferries are quite long, and some are overnight, in which case you will probably want to upgrade and get a room. Since Greek ferries aren’t cheap to start with, I think it’s definitely worth your while to fly. 

Santorini public transportation

The best way to experience any of the Greek islands is by renting a car, and this holds true for Santorini as well. However, renting a car can be expensive, and the roads in Santorini are very narrow and heavy with traffic in some spots, which can be daunting to drivers. In this case, you can use Santorini’s public transportation.

Santorini uses a bus system around the island. The main station is in Fira, and from here, buses connect the different towns and areas of interest. The schedule is posted outside the main station, but the busiest routes run hourly during the daytime hours. You can find the schedule here, which also includes the bus to the ferry port and airport. Tickets can be purchased on board, and costs depend on the route you take. When this article was written, tickets range from 1.80-3.00 euros each. 

Note that taxis are also available in Santorini, but there are only a few, and they are quite expensive. 

How long to stay in Santorini?

How long to stay in Santorini depends on your interests and what type of traveller you are. Santorini is beautiful and a large enough island that there is enough to keep you busy for at least three days to see the main sights or five days if you want to explore more. If you prefer to travel slowly, you could easily spend a week in Santorini and still have something new to see and do every day.  

The best area to stay in Santorini

When it comes to where to stay in Santorini, you have several options. 

If you are a first-time visitor to Santorini and looking to explore by public transportation or local tours, I highly recommend staying in Fira. This is the main town and, as said above, where the main bus station is so, it’s easiest to get around the island from Fira. Fira also tends to have more varied accommodation options. There are a couple of hostels in the area as well as mid-range hotels and some beautiful high-end properties. The same goes for dining. You can find some cheap gyros or nicer dining options. You can check accommodation options in Fira here. 

If you want a romantic Santorini experience, you can stay in Oia. This is the famous sunset town, and while it is beautiful, it gets wildly crowded during the day, especially if there is a cruise ship in town. It’s also considerably more expensive. You can check accommodation options in Oia here.  

You can also consider some of the other spots on the island, like Imerovigli or Akrotiri. They are a little cheaper but also not as well connected, so that’s worth keeping in mind. 

Santorini things to see

So, what is there to see in Santorini? Quite a bit. While it’s not known for the best beaches in Greece, there are still a couple you can visit. There are also some wineries, hiking trails, and of course, the towns themselves. Here are some of my top suggestions for Santorini things to see and do:

  • Sunset in Oia
  • The Red Beach 
  • The black sand beaches of Kamari or Perissa
  • The Old Port (please don’t ride the donkeys!)
  • Skaros Rock 
  • Sunset Cruise
  • Explore the Volcano
  • Ancient Ruins in Akrotiri 
  • Go to a movie at the outdoor theatre 

You can also kayak, scuba dive, or take a local cooking class. 

Best things to do in Oia 

Oia is known as THE sunset spot in Santorini, but there are a few other highlights in this famous town as well. So, when visiting, make sure to add these to your list of things to do in Oia.

  • Look for the views with the famous blue domes
  • Wander the winding streets & check out the local shops
  • Browse through Atlantis Books, one of the most famous bookshops in the world.
  • Visit Amoudi Bay (again please do not ride the Donkeys!)
Is Santorini expensive food

Santorini food and drink

Food and drink in Santorini are the same as you will find on the other islands. You can expect typical Greek fares such as gyros and souvlaki. You will also find plenty of different seafood dishes and wine. Prices are a bit steeper on the island in general because it is Santorini. However, there will be smaller, hole-in-the-wall type spots for gyros etc., where you can eat on a budget. Additionally, once you get out of Fira and Oia and more into the smaller towns, the tavernas are a little less expensive as well. 

Santorini trip cost: how to save 

So, is Santorini expensive? Again, yes. If you are on an extremely tight budget, it might not be the best island to visit. Instead, you should consider nearby Naxos or Paros. That being said, you can still visit Santorini without spending a fortune.  

A lot of the costs here come with the luxury allure of a cave hotel with a pool, fancy bars and restaurants with sunset views. While you can absolutely find these things here and splurge if you like, you don’t have to. You can stick with the cheaper tavernas, go for a smaller hotel, and stick with exploring on your own rather than joining day trips or sailing cruises. 

Another tip for saving money in Santorini is to plan your visit around less busy times. This means visiting during the weekday rather than weekends and, if you can, avoiding visiting during the high season (June-September). Instead, try shoulder seasons like April or October. If you aren’t a hot weather person, you could even come in the winter months for a cheaper experience with fewer tourists.

About Hannah Logan

Hannah Logan is a freelance writer based in Ottawa, Canada. She specializes in finance and travel writing and has bylines at Fodor's Travel, O Magazine, and more. She also runs two travel blogs, Eat Sleep Breathe Travel and Ireland Stole My Heart. You can find her on Instagram and Twitter @hannahlogan21.

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