The small but stunning Santorini is like no other place I’ve visited and despite putting it off for the last couple of years, it is now one of my favourite European cities. If it’s not on your bucket list, then I suggest you swiftly add it.
I visited Santorini for 4 days in early June, which if you ask me was perfect timing. The weather was beautiful and warm but not too hot, prices weren’t sky high yet and crowds weren’t too ridiculous. Come July and August, things tend to get a little crazy and a little pricey in terms of accommodation.
But in true Wanderlust and Pasta style, I promised you a travel blog for the thrifty and frugal. And so, here is my thrifty and frugal blog post about things to do in Santorini on a budget.
Obviously, Santorini is the ultimate destination for relaxation and luxury, but it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to enjoy what Santorini has to offer. There’s plenty to do and see — even on a budget!
Door way on the path from Imerovigli to Fira.
Free things to do
- Hike from Fira to Oia, or vice versa depending on where you are staying. Oia is quite remote and the hike there, whilst relatively easy, takes a couple of hours. If that’s not your cup of tea, be sure to at least walk from Fira to Imerovigli. It’s only half an hour at most and the views are absolutely stunning.
- Get lost exploring the white washed streets of Oia, Imerovilgi, Firostefani and Fira. Make sure to bring your camera! I think I spent a good couple of hours just wandering and taking photos.
- Climb Skaros Rock in Imerovigli. You can’t miss this big rock formation as the entire town of Imerovigli literally overlooks it. Head down the stairs towards the Grace hotel and you’ll find the path. Beware though, it’s not for the faint hearted. In order to climb on top of the rock, there isn’t any actual stairs but more so a make shift ladder by way of a little rock climbing and athleticism. But don’t stress, I saw people do it dresses and thongs (jandals, flip flops, sandals etc).
The best part of the rock isn’t the view from the top though, but the little church nestled into the cliff on the opposite side called Theoskepasti. Take the path round to the front of the rock (facing the sea) and you’ll find the church. Not only are the views on point, but it also makes for the most amazing photos too.
Me standing on top of Theoskepasti Church.
- Walk down to Amoudi Bay at the bottom of Oia for a swim, a bite to eat or just to explore. The stairs are quite steep, so on your way back up you can get a donkey ride if you must (€5 per person). Although, I really did feel sorry for the poor donkey’s and didn’t opt to ride one myself.
- Explore the black sandy beaches. Kamari, Perissa and Perivolos are the most popular and busiest beaches on the island and are located on the opposite side to Imerovigli and Fira.
On the beach you can hire umbrellas and beds for a small fee, or you can simply bring your own towels and find a spot along the water line or off to the sides. We visited Perissa, and paid €6 for two beds and an umbrella, which is incredibly cheap considering we pay €20 at the beach closest to us in Padova.
- Red Beach is also another beach to visit. It’s famous for its red sand and red cliffs surrounding it. It’s a little bit of a mission to get to, having to park and walk a little to actually get there but it was totally worth it.
- Have a lazy day at Lioyerma Lounge Pool Bar. If your hotel doesn’t have a pool or you fancy relaxing for the afternoon after a morning exploring Oia then Lioyerma is your answer. It’s a free public pool and lounge area, you are just encouraged to purchase something from the café. They do light snacks and drinks. This is also a great spot to watch the sunset from too.
Lioyerma Lounge Pool Bar.
- Find a magical spot to watch the sunset. Most people opt to watch the sunset at least once from Oia but be warned, expect it to be crowded and definitely get in early if you want the best view. If you ask me, the sunsets are also just as beautiful from Imerovigli and Fira.
Paid things to do
- Book a day cruise or hire a boat. There are a million and one options for those wanting to experience Santorini by boat, and as you could imagine prices do get steep. But there are also very affordable options out there too, you just need to do your research. We opted for a six hour cruise with Caldera’s Boats which only cost €26 per person. It included a stop at the volcano and a guided tour, a swim at the hot springs, and a two hour lunch break on the island of Thirasia.We were also so close to booking a €110, five hour catamaran cruise that stopped at Red Beach, White Beach, Thirasia and the hot springs. This option also included a BBQ lunch on board as well as drinks.
The bay in which we stopped at to visit the volcano.
- Wind down and watch a movie at Kamari’s open air cinema. Each week they play a different movie in English and it only costs €8 a ticket. Drinks and snacks are available as well.
- Visit the ancient archaeological site of Akitori. This ancient city was lost to a volcanic eruption and excavated centuries later and can now be enjoyed by tourists. Entry price is €12.
- Hire an ATV and explore the island. Our hotel, Spiliotica on the Cliff, arranged our ATV hire and we paid €40 for two days. However, no matter where you stay on the island, it’s full of rental places so you’ll have no problems finding an ATV at a competitive price.
More info on Santorini…
Where we stayed: Spiliotica on the Cliff. We paid €610 for 4 nights accommodation in a ‘standard double room with caldera view’, with breakfast. This may seem a little steep, but in comparison with other hotels with the same view and facilities, it was an incredibly great deal. As a guest you also receive 10% off the menu at their cafe and restaurant Blue Note. I originally booked using booking.com, but ended up emailing the hotel directly and saved €110 for the exact same room!
Where we ate: We tried to keep our food cost to a minimum, and decided against eating at fancy restaurants with a view. Instead, we opted for cheap meals like gyros’ and greek salads. Here are a few places we tried and recommend:
- Why Not! Souvlaki in Firostefani
- Yogi’s Gyros in Fira
- Chillibox in Fira — best frozen yoghurt I’ve ever tasted! A little pricey but definitely worth it.
- Asia Club Chinese in Fira. Right next door to Chillibox.