In Planning, Trips & Tips, Uncategorized on
May 3, 2016

Santorini Travel Guide – Welcome to Paradise

santoini on a budget

Santorini is picturesque to say the very least. So much so, it feels that you’ve stepped into a fairy tale or some far away land that doesn’t exist. Definitely pinch me moments, like all day every day. So it was an apparent no brainer for us that we chose Santorini as one of the stops on our honeymoon. Since Santorini is such a magical place, we wanted to make sure we did it right. After spending a week in paradise, I wanted to share my Santorini travel guide on where to stay on the island and what to do to fully enjoy your stay in Santorini.

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Santorini Travel Guide

The best way to get to Santorini?

The two best ways to get to the island is either by ferry or by plane. Aegean Air is a great affordable regional airline with fantastic customer service that gets you around the islands super quick, I’m talking 20 minutes from Athens to Mykonos. You can also fly into the island from locations other than Greece by flying EasyJet.  We were in Mykonos before and chose to take Blue Star Ferries as our transfer to Santorini and it was extremely easy, comfortable and convenient. Taking the ferry is also a great way to do Santorini on a budget! Travel time was only a couple hours and can easily be spent catching up on sleep or grabbing a beer or snack from the snack bar. Choosing between a ferry or flight really depends on where you’re coming from and both options are easy, affordable and painless.

Now, where to stay in Santorini…

The island of Santorini is actually pretty big, and to narrow it down, I highly recommend staying on the side facing the caldera, so you can catch the famous sunsets from your hotel. Now, the best places to stay in Santorini are Fira, Imerovigli and Oia (pronounced ee-uh).

Fira

The capital of the island if you will, is the main city center and hub. It’s a lively and fun part of the island, full of shopping, nightlife, and cliffside bars. Fira is also home to some of the best places to eat in Santorini. The street food here in the Fira main square, especially Nick The Grill, is incredible and extremely affordable (3 euros), which helps keep Santorini on a budget! This area is perfect for young travelers looking to party at the many backpacker bars offering what seems to be all day happy hour or for any traveler who would like to be in the thick of it.

Imerovigli

This part of the island is much more relaxed and resort-like. I felt this area was perfect for our honeymoon since we could be lazy at our hotel, Tholos Resort, and lounge at our hotel pool, sipping on cocktails, and enjoy the views of the sunsets from our private balcony. It is quite dreamy and fabulous. It is also a great location because it is within walking distance to Fira, which is great if you want a mix of both relaxation and a spontaneous, wild night whilst on the island.  I highly recommend a hotel an Imerovigli for couples looking for romance and the hotels are just as luxurious as Oia, but with a much cheaper price tag. If you do stay in Imerovigli, I highly recommend grabbing lunch or dinner at Avocado, it is hands down one of the best restaurants in Santorini.

Oia (pronounced ee-uh)

Oia looks like you’ve stepped into a screensaver, it is that beautiful. Your inner photographer will definitely come out and you can spend the day taking pictures of the beautiful Oia backdrop, that consists of white-washed buildings and colorful dome roofs. It is also the spot to watch the famous Santorini sunset, so take it in from either the castle or from one of the many amazing restaurants in Oia. We had initially wanted to stay in Oia, however, the resort prices are crazy expensive. So if money is no issue, I highly recommend staying in this part of the island.

Now for the fun stuff on the Santorini Travel Guide

Santorini Travel Guide on Things to do

Do a Boat Cruise & Volcano Tour of Santorini

These are really touristy, but they are undeniably really fun. You can book one in Fira Town at around 25 euros /$28 usd for a few hours on the water. It’s a great time because not only do you get to dip in the Aegean Sea and sip on white wine, but you swim to the hot springs and tour the volcano. What I enjoyed most about doing this was just crusing on the boat, swimming in the sea and watching the sunset, wine in hand.

Spend the day in Oia

Oia is magical – point blank. It’s idyllic, especially with it’s white washed buildings and brightly colored roofs. I highly recommend spending the day in Oia, grabbing lunch in nearby Amoudi Bay and dinner at a restaurant with a caldera view. Be sure to bring your camera because it is photo opportunity heaven! Also, the sunsets in Santorini are some of the most famous in the world, especially when the sun goes down against the Oia architecture. I highly suggest watching it from the Oia Castle, since it offers some of the best and unobstructed views. Get there early, bring a little picnic (great way to do Santorini on a budget!), and fall in love all over again. Like hearts for eyes emoji kind of love.

Go to Amoudi Bay for Fresh Seafood

A trip to Santorini should include a lunch or dinner at the hidden gem, Amoudi Bay. Tons of fresh seafood, ranging from sea bass to octopus, you can find something here for everyone. The restaurants in Amoudi Bay are among some of the best restaurants in Santorini, so I highly recommend having your hotel make a suggestion and call in a reservation for you..

Paint the town red in Fira Town

Great shopping. Awesome gyros for super cheap. Fish pedicures. Nightclubs. Happy Hours. This part of the island does cater towards tourism, however, it is just such a great time. Perfect for doing Santorini on a budget, the food here is both delicious and super cheap (gyros for 3 euros). Not to mention, we started our night by grabing BOGO drinks at backpacker bars for next to nothing. If partying isn’t your thing, Fira has hands down the best shopping on the island!

Just lounge poolside

This is why I highly recommend investing a little bit more in your hotel while on Santorini and get a hotel that faces the caldera, has a pool & bar (it gets hot!), and provides a balcony with sea and sunset views. We stayed at Tholos Resort in Imerovigli and spent mid $200’s in high season. It provided complete privacy on our balcony, a pool, drinks and an awesome location (it’s right next door the the Grace Santorini, which is highly, highly expensive). The best part was that on scorching hot days, our plans consisted of just laying around the pool, swimming, having a cocktail or two, napping, grabbing lunch then taking in the sunset from our private balcony. So in conclusion, Santorini is perfect for lounging all day, moving at a snails pace, and just enjoying life.

Explore the Island

The best way to explore the island is to rent a mode of transportation to explore on your own. When we were in Santorini, we rented a Smart Car and drove around the island and explored Oia, Amoudi Bay, and the beaches. And even though we nearly died driving our Smart Car, it was such a great way to explore and see things we wouldn’t have otherwise if using the bus or taxi. The towns are spaced out relatively far from each other (Oia is about 5 miles away from Imerovigli), so the best and quickest way to get around is by renting a car, scooter or moped.

Take Away Tips from the Santorini Travel Guide…

  • It can get really hot in Santorini and the beaches are far from the hilltop villages. Invest a little bit more in your hotel by choosing accommodations with a pool. You’ll thank me later…
  • Wine tasting is an incredibly popular activity on the island. Since we had our fairshare of yummy white wine at the pool and dinner, we opted out but have heard amazing things about the wine tours in Santorini.
  • Do Santorini on a budget by eating street food. The gyros are so delicious and honestly, fat kid heaven! They even put fries in them! Also, if you do eat out, order a Greek salad at every meal. The feta there is unreal!

In Conclusion

Santorini is hands down the most beautiful place I have ever been and there is nothing quite like it. Being able to travel here can be done both fabulously and affordably. With a little research, you may realize that it is not as expensive as everynoe else makes it out to be. Look out later this week on how to do Santorini that fabulous way without breaking the bank!

As always, thanks for stopping by and if you’re still not convinced that you should go to Greece, check out my Greece photo diary.I apologize if the beauty is too much.

Xo,

Chloe

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  • Alex

    I think you definitely chose the right spot to stay, romantically relaxed but still close enough to Imerovigli to walk – perfect! You say ‘one of the stops on your honeymoon’? so you got to go to a few places? How lucky! All as picturesque as Santorini? #FlyAwayFriday

    • Ya, I loved Imerovigli! It’s so pretty, romantic and quiet but still close to all the fun/party in Fira Town. We also went to Mykonos for a few days, Instanbul and Athens for just a night. We did a honeyfund for our wedding regestry since we have lived together for years before we got married so we really went all out for it! It was so worth it!

  • Oh Santorini has been on my bucket list since I was a little girl…those photos! So dreamy… #FlyAwayFriday

    • Oh my, dreamy is the only word to describe it. Well, that and magical! Haha!

  • TravelBlond

    oh sooo beautiful !!! Greece has been on my bucket list for a while now. Great photos and very informative guide.

    • Thank you lady! It’s a wonderfully beautiful place!! I hope you make it there someday!

  • Love C and D

    Santorini looks absolutely beautiful! I can’t say we had ever really thought about going there, but having seen these pics that may just change. Thanks for the advice on how to get there, what to do and where to stay – we will definitely be coming back to this post for tips if/when we get there. Love C and D x #FlyAwayFriday

    • Ya, I think you both would love it! There’s not a whole lot in a siteseeing sense since the whole island is a landmark! It’s just great to go, unwind, unplug and eat and drink! Definitely a trip thats good for the soul.

  • Wow! Santorini looks incredible! I’ll be bookmarking this in case I ever make it to Greece (or I guess I should say: for WHEN I make it to Greece, not if!)

    • Yes!! I agree! When You MAKE it!!! <3

  • This is great! I’ve always wanted to go to Santorini after spending three months living and working in Greece. I unfortunately never had the chance to visit the islands and that’s why I’m very eager to go back! I love Greek food and how beautiful and rich in history this country is. Thank you for this beautiful travel guide, I’ll use this as a reference when I go back! #FlyAwayFriday

    • Oh my, Greek food is mine and my husbands favorite. So much so, we had it for our rehearsal dinner so we could bring a little bit of our honeymoon to our closest friends and fam! Haha. Obsessed much? Ya but no shame! its just sooo good!

  • nattiekaf

    I was in Santorini earlier this summer, it’s so beautiful! And I actually went wine tasting there and it was awesome! I had no idea Greek wines were so good, now I’m kind of obsessed haha. And you are totally right about getting a hotel with a pool, its so worth it!

    • OMG!! How good are they? I fell in love with their white wines! Being from California we have amazing wine and theirs was just as good. Who knew?! Haha!! and Yes! Get’s too hot not to have a pool 🙂

  • Arggg! I have never been to Santorini but I have to get there one day. I though the island was smaller where you can walk everywhere but now I see that is not true. I would like to take as many caldera views as possible.

    • Ya, the island is pretty large. I was with you thinking it’d be smaller until I started doing my research. You can cover a lot of ground by foot, and would recommend a car or bus over to Oia for the day 🙂

  • Beautiful photos, Chloe! We absolutely loved swimming at Ammoudi Bay, and stayed 2 nights in Oia + 3 nights in Fira: you’re totally right, Oia is incredibly expensive! What a stunning place though.

    • Ah! Isn’t Ammoudi Bay the cutest little fisherman’s village ever?! I fell in love with it!!!

  • AdventuresOfAjerseygirl

    Wow every time I see photos of santorini I’m in love. It’s a place I have wanted to visit for a long time and it’s on the “one day” list which is growing! We have done a few Greek islands and I love the laid back vibe of it all and Greek food is amazingly good and cheap if you find the right place. Fab read #flyawayfriday

    • Aww it’s totally a “once in a lifetime” location! You have to go! I absolutely love it and when we went we found a pretty decent deal on our hotel, around $200usd/night, which is insanely good for August! Hope you have a chance to go soon! XO

  • Santorini seriously seems like a place in a fairytale! We’re planning on going in March so I’ll pin this for sure! Yay!

    • OMG you’re going in March?! You’re going to love it! It’s so magical!!

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