How to visit Santorini, paradise island
This beautiful little island is quite possibly one of the most famous islands or destinations in the world! It’s known globally for its white buildings, blue circulator rooftops, private swimming pools in caves, crystal clear waters and incredible breathtaking sunsets.
Oh, and it has the reputation of being incredibility expensive to visit. STOP read this page on how you can visit, enjoy, eat and sleep Santorini on a manageable budget.
Spending 4 full days in Santorini will allow you to relax on the beaches and explore the island, for more information take a read of our blog post What you should do & see in Santorini Greece travel bloggers guide. If you have more time then why not look at getting a ferry to one of the other islands in the Cyclades.
Finding the best flights
Flying direct is not your only option and it might actually work out much more expensive to go this way. Don’t sit back and wait for a miracle direct flight price, instead look at your options flying into Athens or Thessaloniki and getting a connecting flight to Santorini. We also recommend either of these cities for a stopover visit if you have the time!
In low season we have picked up return tickets from Thessaloniki to Santorini for as little as €55 each (USD $60). Astra airways, Olympic, Sky Express, Ellinair and Easyjet all fly regularly so look at both return or single flights with a selection of carriers.
There is also the option of a ferry, but it’s not going to be a quick option, but it’s worth checking if it will you save you any money or add to your adventure.
What is the best season to visit Santorini?
Santorini is a busy island and tourists from all over the world (including from Greece) want to travel to it, experience its beauty and grab some awesome photos. Expect Thira (also known as Fira) & Oia to always be busy, but whilst hotels will all have air-con when you are out exploring there are some big differences in temperature throughout the seasons.
Whether it’s just Mediterranean summer, or global warming kicking in, Greece experiences some phenomenal hot weather and it’s not always comfortable to walk around in. July and August are typically the hottest and also the most expensive for accommodation, sadly for parents, this coincides with school holidays.
The lower more affordable seasons are between early May to late June then early September – middle of October, whilst you may find flights earlier than these months Santorini isn’t really an all-year-round tourist destination, as many of the restaurants and businesses are extended summer seasons only.
Getting awesome accommodation on a budget!
Accommodation areas are split into large tourist zones. True everyone is looking for the Thira or Oia magical location on the cliff face with the amazing private pools and dream setting. If you can get that within your budget awesome (and we are very jealous). But you can enjoy the dream location of Santorini on a normal budget.
Stay away from the main tourist hot spots and look at guest houses, studios or B&Bs closer to the southern coastline.
Just an idea for you all too – what we have done in the past is go basic on the majority of days that we won’t really be using the hotel (for anything more than a bed and shower), then book something incredible for the final day(s) that we are just wanting to rest up and relax.
Staying in Perissa
Perissa is a quiet area compared to the top two northern zones for accommodation and is incredibly cheaper. The quality of options ranges from basic to really traditional and artistic themed, but consider what you want from Santorini if the hotel isn’t everything
- Budget (price range €27-€72 a night) – Marousi Rooms – Clean & comfortable rooms with a private bathroom in a great location.
- Guest House (price range €54-€90 a night) – Mark & Joanna Studios – Family run and with a warm, traditional greek feeling throughout. Small pool and family size rooms available too.
Getting around Santorini, what are the transport options?
Santorini has transport options to get you around, it’s a small island after all but it does get busy!
Santorini has a great public transport bus service, all centred around Thira, linking you to every part of the island. Tickets are purchased on the bus with single tickets the only option available. This is unlike other major city bus transport in Greece, so if you’ve been put off in these locations don’t fear you are going to find something more exclusive to comfort on this island.
Our advice is to use the local transport system, it’s cheap, frequent and reliable. Tickets are cash only and you can only purchase them on the bus.
If you want your own freedom we recommend you hire a car or quad-bike.
Hire a car, motorbike or quad
If you are even considering this, then remember to take out your driving license with you on the trip. Read through the insurance and cover details carefully and check (and recheck) the car with the company before you set off.
If you choose this option please be extra safe and cautious on the roads, every year there are so many accidents. Santorini has a bumpy & hilly terrain, the roads are bendy and there is very little light or visibility on the roads at night. Whilst we don’t want to put you off, please go over-cautious everywhere on the roads to stay safe.
From Santorini Airport (JTR) to your hotel
Santorini Airport to Thira (the central bus station), will cost you only €1.80 per person. The service typically runs a coach every 30 minutes, and you’d be surprised how many people can get on this at once! So don’t be put off with a long or disorganised queue. From Thira you can easily link up with the rest of the island, paying another ~€2 or so for the next ticket.
You have the option to take a taxi too, but you will need to negotiate a lot on the price. Consider teaming up with a few more people as well to share the cost (if possible).
Getting to Santorini Ferry Port (Sea Ports)
Getting to the port! – It can get super busy, and although they officially say not to, we recommend you get there at least 90 mins before you are due to leave. The traffic alone down the winding hills could have you queuing to get to the bottom for over an hour. Best to give yourself plenty of time.
Local buses single ticket from Thira to the main Sea Port €2.30. If you take a taxi make sure it is not on a meter, you could be stuck or slow-moving for a long time before you get down to the ferry departure area.