Doing a bit of island hopping in the Aegean is a dream for most people. The sun, the sea, picturesque towns and wonderful food. There could be nothing better!
But with so many islands to choose from, and so little time, which one do you go for? There are of course the bigger islands, with all the modern dining options like McDonalds and KFC. But we know you are like us! You want something more authentic. More alive with the traditional way of things. More natural beauty and less fortnight in Kos resort. And when you think of natural beauty and picturesque sunsets in picturesque towns, the word that springs to mind is Santorini! Or island, that is. But is Santorini expensive? We have the complete budget breakdown for you.
We will dissect living costs, accommodation and where to stay to avoid astronomical prices. Compare ways to get around the island, and what to do for fun while there. Excursions, tours, and going solo, it is all covered. Plus, that all important factor, food, drinks and dining out! Do you have a tonne of cash to splash? Or are you looking to save in the sun? We have the top information that is going to definitively guide you to the conclusion for the one question on our lips…
How expensive is Santorini?
Is it expensive to eat and drink in Santorini?
A great way to gauge if Santorini is expensive is by looking at the costs for food and drinks. And there are beautiful tastes waiting to be sampled in the Med!
A local beer will generally be around €5 on average, with cocktails setting you back €12. When dining, house wines are a safe bet for your wallet at €5 or so. It is always worth looking for those 2 for 1 happy hour signs too, as this can be a saviour.
As most wineries are open from spring to autumn, it is always a good time to visit! Wine tasting and tours are always a pleasurable experience on a Greek island. And with the traditional process on Santorini, you are bound to be entertained. Whilst it can be nice to book group wine tours, you can always go it alone, and this will bring the costs down a lot. Wonderful wineries like Venetsanos weave in local culture with food and wine pairings, prices start from €15 per person. Make sure to book early, these tours can fill up fast!
When it comes to eating, there are cheap ways to survive. Local tavernas and cafes sit off the beaten track, in tiny side streets and away from the prime real estate on the cliffside. Indulge in mediterranean treats like gryos, tzatziki, and spanakopita, and local wines for a fraction of the cost. But be wary, even in these places you are likely to be paying between €2.50 and €3 for a coffee. This can rise to as much as €6 if having coffee with a caldera view!
You can also buy food from local supermarkets. It may also be worth booking a hotel with a kitchenette, if on a tight budget.
How much does a meal cost in Santorini?
On average, you can expect to pay €20 per meal in a mid-range restaurant. In higher end restaurants in a good location expect price tags of €35 for one meal, without even adding drinks! Meals out every day is pretty much the fastest way to splash your cash on the islands. Though it really depends where you choose to dine.
If you are wanting to see Santorini on a budget, avoid any restaurants that perch on the cliffs, or overlooking the caldera. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any location with sunset views, or decent views in general! You will be paying more for a meal than anywhere else. About 1/3 more in fact.
But rest assured, there are ways to keep your meal costs down, without having to cook! Local cafes and street food vendors serving gyros are generally much cheaper. Plus, head to local bars that serve you small snack plates with your drinks. Dining out at street food vendors is also a great way to meet locals and do some people watching. It is one of the best pass-times!
One thing you need to know about on every holiday is tipping. Islands in Greece work on a slightly different tipping system than it would in mainland Europe. Rather than pay on percentage, for meals in a restaurant it’s advised to leave €5 in tips per person. Generally it’s not expected to tip when buying street food. Unless you really feel it is warranted.
How much does it cost to visit Santorini?
If you are still wondering if Santorini is expensive, the best answer is, it really depends. This may seem like a hedged response, but most budgets can be accommodated if you spend mindfully. Of course a trip to Santorini will, on average, cost you more than a trip to mainland Athens, but this is true for many a Greek island. The island is small, and most things have to be imported onto the island.
Save for the standard exports like wine and olive oil, which is grown and produced on the island in plentiful amounts. Indeed, they are almost more abundant than water!
So, if you are planning a trip to Santorini on a shoestring, there are ways to keep down the costs. Booking your trip outside of the summer months will pay dividends, as will booking a suite or apartment with kitchen facilities. Whilst eating out every day can prove expensive. cooking your own meals for even half the time can dramatically reduce costs.
There is also plenty of street food to enjoy such as Gyros and falafel. There are also plenty of Asian inspired fast food locations, if this floats your boat. Hiring a vehicle is also cheaper out of the summer season, so you can avoid those costly tours and go it alone. Or, if you want to keep it really cheap, take local transport! There are a variety of public bus routes taking you to all the prime tourist locations. And most routes will only take 30 minutes or so.
If you were to build a holiday like this around March or April, you would be likely be spending around €60 per person, per day, including accommodation. Hotels like the Fira Livin Cave Rooms are great as they offer very clean, comfortable and interesting rooms, with a communal kitchen for guests to use. For the price, this is one of the best value hotels. Great location, and a real feel of Santorini in every room.
However, if budget is no object, there are no limits to how much it would cost for a trip to Santorini. Some of the most luxurious hotels sit in Oia. Staying in hotels such as Echoes Luxury or Canvas Suites over this shoulder period would likely cost around €110 per person per night alone! These suites are breathtaking, however, with private pool and breathtaking views of the Caldera. This is where you will also find some of the most expensive clifftop restaurants, where beautiful views over the Caldera are as delicious as the food. But it comes at a price, as we have seen above.
Another expense that is likely to max out your wallet is taking taxis. This can be very enticing after a hot day in the sun, or when facing those hills. But they can be costly! A taxi from the airport to one of the main towns or port is likely to cost €35 on average. Plus prices go up in the evening, and after midnight. If you are on a tight budget, best to avoid and plan your trips using local transport.
Is it expensive to live in Santorini?
Another good judge of a location is by daily living costs. And alas, Santorini (as with many Greek islands) is an expensive island to live on. One big consideration is that many prime living areas are taken up with hotels and holiday rentals. So finding accommodation for all year round can become pricey. It also very much becomes about who you know. The more connected to the community, the better.
On top of that, you have electricity, internet, and gas which will set you back €2 per litre or so! Aside from this, work is generally seasonal (between March and November), which means you will have to save your pennies for the winter months when work is scarce. Except if you are a digital nomad who can work from home, in which case this won’t phase you.
It is delightful taking a trip to the island in the winter months. This is when you can really get to know locals and see those picturesque volcanic areas without an influx of tourists. You also get the chance to see how much prices fluctuate through autumn, and whilst it does dip a little, island comforts still cost a little more. Supermarkets are the only places to buy your essentials (there are no weekly open air markets at all in Santorini). However, the minimal amounts of clothing stores on the island will certainly help you save those pennies, so that is a plus!
How can I go to Santorini on a budget?
By now, we have seen that yes, Santorini is expensive. But it needn’t be! There are several things you can do to reduce the cost of your trip.
Make sure to book early. This is a massive takeaway to remember. booking a year in advance is likely to win you some big deals on hotels and flights to Santorini. And if you avoid peak season, you will be saving even more! Shoulder seasons are April to May and October to November. High season between 25th July to 5th September. Avoiding peak season can land you some cheap deals on flights to Santorini from the UK and mainland European countries. On some budget airlines you can hope to snag a bargain at around €60 per person!
The great thing about Santorini is that there is hardly any rain on the island. Though it might be cooler in the shoulder seasons, you can still enjoy the beauty of the island. And still get some sun!
Bear in mind, however, hotels are always going to be a little more expensive on a small island. Decent hotels in prime locations are at a premium. One hot tip is to stay in the capital Fira, not Oia. With cheap and charming hotels, and lots going on in the town, Fira will not disappoint. Alternatively, head to Perissa. There are tonnes of cheap hostels and family friendly hotels here, with those iconic black sand beaches too!
While views are wonderful in Oia, it is not worth the extra charge if on a budget. Those sunsets can be enjoyed without dropping a tonne on your accommodation. Take a bus over to Oia for dinner and drinks instead. Getting around Santorini on the local buses is easy! Alternatively, buy wine from a local shop in Fira, and enjoy a cold glass on the beach when you arrive.
It may feel like ‘the thing’ to go to all the best restaurants on holiday, but it’s lovely to dine informally too. Meet more locals, and see more of the culture by heading to the town centres for street food. Those views don’t need to cost a bundle, and can be experienced from anywhere you choose to pitch up. So snag a picnic and take a sunset trip to a top spot and enjoy alone. Al fresco dining, maximum romance!
Another word on busses. This is a great way to get around the island and save money on costly taxis. The bus routes go to all the top tourist hot spots, and run morning to evening. This is also a great way to get around Santorini for some sightseeing without splashing on organised tours. Private, sunset or more specialist tour prices can rise exponentially.
You can, however, find some pretty cheap tours if you are willing to book in advance. A real crowd-pleaser is the 2hr volcano and hot springs tour, including a short boat cruise. This you can find for around €20 per person, if you pick the right tour operator. Sorting your own tours, however, will always be cheaper. Just grab your guide book and hit the road!
What can you do for free in Santorini?
So, as we have seen by now, Santorini is expensive in some areas. But, there are plenty of ways to make it cheap. There is so much natural beauty all around, and this is what people come to see! The expensive hotels, bars and restaurants are just an additional plus point, if you can afford it. If you cannot, you are not missing out!
Sandy beaches of red, black and white litter the coast of Santorini. Take a bus to the Minoan ruins of Akrotiri, walk up to the three bells of Fira and enjoy the exquisite view. There are a so many beautiful historic sites and religious buildings and art galleries to visit. And of course, not forgetting the beautiful views over the caldera! Renting a scooter, RTX or car is a great way to get around. Or get acquainted with those busses. It certainly opens up a world of free and exciting places to visit if you’re wanting to do Santorini on a budget. Just make sure you know when the last busses leave, to avoid having to take a taxi.
Whilst guided tours cost money, there are also some free tours offered. Research online before you go, and keep and eye out for flyers in shops on on hotel message boards. It is customary to tip your guide afterwards, but this is discretionary, based on paying what you can afford. And if you really want to play for maximum cheapness, there are a wealth of hiking paths https://www.alltrails.com/greece/santorini. Spend your mornings walking from Fira to Oia, or between Perissa, Imerovigli, and many more. As we all know by now, nature is free, and there is natural beauty abound in Santorini. Tie this in with some cliff jumping at Amoudi Bay, or climb the Profitis Ilias (the tallest range on Santorini) near Mesa Vouno. Here you can take in the majesty of the Prophet Elias Monastery.
And when you get tired, the busses await!
Is Santorini expensive? The budget broken down
So there you have it! Budgeting Santorini in a nutshell. While there are lots of ways you can spend your hard earned money in Santorini, there are also ways to save. The key takeaways from this is to know how you are going to get around the island. Avoid taxis, book your vehicle in advance for extra savings, or travel using public transport.
When booking hotels, you can find a fair few reasonable priced options in Fira and Perissa, avoiding the expensive and sought after Oia region. It is also wise to find somewhere with cooking facilities you can use, if you are on a tight budget. When dining out, you can find a wealth of delicious local street food vendors, or little cafes and tavernas. And remember this rule: the better the view, the bigger the price! Restaurants with great views of the Caldera are apt to increase the price by 30%.
And the final and best thing to always remember, avoid July and August! Peak season—especially when the kids are out of school—will not only be costly, it will be crowded. But whatever time you visit, there are a wealth of free things to do. From glorious volcanic sandy beaches in red, black and white, to castles and monasteries, and gorgeous views over the sloping towns and villages. If you do it right, you could get away with spending less than €100 per day! And if you don’t care how much you spend… well. Prices can rise exponentially!
Yes Santorini is expensive, but it needn’t break the bank.