Welcome To Paradise
When people think of the island of Santorini the first thing that comes to their mind is, without a doubt, its extraordinary beauty and the dazzling views.
The first thing that catches your attention when you set eyes on a Cycladic island is the whitewashed houses, usually accompanied by blue doors and windows. The houses are evidently in absolute concordance with the light blue sky and the vast Aegean Sea. This harmony has been established many years ago for various purposes. Nowadays, these colors constitute the hallmark of Cyclades and represent Greece, as they also match its flag.
As for utility reasons, the white color of the houses is of paramount importance. The ideal climate of Santorini offers hot summers and the bright sun is present several months of the year. The inhabitants, in order to confine the heat in the interior to a significant extent, had to construct their houses accordingly. The white color reflects the biggest part of the dazzling light, preventing the houses from getting warm and that was a basic goal of the traditional architecture. Making the houses heat resistant, the summers are much more tolerable and pleasant.
They eventually started to add a bit of blue color in the whitewash to “break” the brightness. So there is always blue in the whitewash even if it looks white to you, and by adding more blue you can have nice white and blue designs.
While blue was the most common because a long time ago there was a cleaning agent called “loulaki” that had that distinctive blue color. People using it for bleaching clothes and bedding and every house had some.
Currency And Weather
Currency: Santorini uses the Euro “€”.
*The official language is Greek but the majority of people can hold proper conversations in English and are friendly and eager to help.
January: 10% crowded – (Low Season – many restaurants, hotels, and businesses will be closed, beaches will be empty but the island is not “dead”)
February: 10% crowded – (Low Season – many restaurants, hotels, and businesses will be closed, beaches will be empty but the island is not “dead”)
March: 20% crowded – (Low Season – but slightly more people start to visit the island as the high season approaches, many restaurants, hotels, and businesses will be closed or just about to open, beaches will probably be empty but the island is definitely not “dead”)
April: 40% crowded – (High Season – the beginning of the high season and most restaurants, beach bars, cafes, and businesses open in April as it is also the Greek Easter and lots of Greeks visit the island to start preparing for the high season)
May: 70% crowded – (High Season – All of the businesses of the island will be 100% open and operational but the island is still not full, the beaches are getting busier every day and the weather is awesome)
June: 90% crowded – (High Season – almost at full capacity but not yet super busy…everything will be open and super fun!)
July: 100% crowded – (High Season – the heart of the high season and when the island gets super busy and crowded, but still you will have a great time while the weather is super hot – do expect to spend most of your time on the beach or the swimming pool – not as busy as in August though)
August: 110% crowded – (High Season – the busiest month for Santorini, try to avoid if possible because everything becomes more complicated and takes more time)
September: 90% crowded – (HIgh Season – it will still feel like the long tail of August sometimes but it will get less busy at the end of the month – weather still feels like summer! See also below)
October: 70% crowded (High Season – the weather gets colder but you can still possibly enjoy a swim in the sea or the pool – for many of the businesses October is their last operational month)
November: 30% crowded (Low Season – the early days of winter and the month where the weather gets considerably colder – many businesses, hotels, and restaurants might be closed)
December: 10% crowded (Low Season – the heart of the low season and one of the coldest months in Santorini, no swimming, many closed businesses but always an amazing landscape and wild beauty)
Electricity Info: 220V
Getting from the airport arranged by your hotel will run you about €25, however, if you book it yourself it will run you around €12 -€17 each way depending what area of the island you are staying with Santorinitransfers.gr.
Keep in mind you will have to figure out how to get to your hotel if you don’t use your hotel arranged transportation once you get dropped off which definitely can be confusing navigating the small cobblestone roads so contact your hotel and give them the time you should be arriving so they can help find you.
As small as Santorini is, unfortunately, it isn’t quite small enough to be able to walk everywhere.
The regular bus is a cheap bus service that runs island-wide, although you might have to change at Fira for some journeys. At around €2 per trip, it’s a really cost-effective way of seeing more than one part of Santorini during your stay. Taxis are also reasonably priced and plentiful.
As always, take an official taxi (the taxi stand in Fira is by the bus station).
The preferred mode of transport for getting off the beaten path on the island is renting an ATV which you can rent from as little as €20 for 24 hours. It’s a great choice for zipping around the island and taking in the views, although the cliffside roads, cobbled streets make it a test for the nerves.
Santorini is known as a romantic destination, and there are many luxury suites and villas overlooking the water where you can rekindle a relationship. The islands also have plenty of accommodation for travelers heading off on a solo retreat or a group of friends away on a fun holiday. From 5-star resorts to cave hotels, you can find your dream Santorini.
I stayed at the Residence Suites which offered some amazing breathe taking views in Oia.
Oia(Not Too Budget-Friendly): Scenery and Sunsets
Oia in the far north is very beautiful and known for its artists’ colony. With its blue-domed churches and white buildings set along the cliffs, this is the scene that many people envision when they think of Santorini as it is the island’s most photographed city. It is the best placed to see the sunset, however, the sunsets in Fira are spectacular as well. A bit quieter than Fira, Oia is a honeymooners’ destination. The cliff hotels are intimate and romantic and many offer spa treatments and terraced pools looking out onto the Mediterranean. There are also a variety of upscale restaurants and taverns located throughout the town.
For those amazing sunsets in Oia expect to do battle with the cruise ship crowds.
Alternatively, look at nearby Imerovigli and Firostefani to escape the swarms, it’s usually much easier to bag a seat in a sea view restaurant or café, or a space on a viewing spot, in these overlooked villages.
Fira For Best Shopping & Nightlife
Fira is Santorini’s capital and is centrally located on the island’s caldera(a large volcanic crater). Fira is where you’ll find most of the shopping on the island. It has dozens of stores lining its small cobblestoned streets. You’ll discover everything from cheap souvenirs to trendy clothing. Santorini is especially known for its jewelry shops.
Avoid shopping near where the cruise ships dock at, you will definitely spend more money on souvenirs and food.
For those looking for a nightlife scene, Fira is the best option on the island. Many of the bars and clubs are located in Santorini, built into renovated cave houses. There are also many cafes, bars and taverns tucked along the town’s cobblestone side streets.
Where To Eat On A Budget
You’ll find endless horror stories online about how expensive eating and drinking in Santorini can be. But do your research and you’ll find plenty of good value places to sample the freshest fish and delicious Greek cuisine preferably washed down with a glass of local white wine or an ice cold Mythos.
In Fira’s maze of charming cobbled streets, you’ll find many affordable places to eat, including Parea, a traditional Greek taverna offering excellent value for money on moussaka, seafood, and other classic dishes, together with friendly service.
Pelican Kipos, which sits hidden away in a beautiful garden oasis mere steps from Fira’s busy central square, is also a great find. The food is delicious and the Greek beer is served at €5 for a half-liter, which is cheap for such a prime location.
The main road running between Fira and pretty neighboring village Firostefani boasts some out the beaten track gems.
Check out Salt and Pepper (booking is recommended for this tiny place), and Kokkalo, where the steaks are so big they come with a mini meat cleaver for carving.
Over in honeymooners’ paradise Oia, the bargains are harder to come by. If you love a kebabs Pito Gyros is well worth veering off the tourist track for. Grab a mouthwatering gyro special and a beer for around €5, just don’t expect the sunset views that Oia is famous for, as this backstreet hole in the wall overlooks a car park.
Set back Views– You’ll pay less if you choose a hotel set back from the cliffside with little or no real views.
Hit Happy Hour – Drinks get very expensive on Santorini. Drink your fill during happy hour, when they have 2 for 1 drinks and 1 EUR shots. Perissa beach is a popular nightspot.
Street Food – The street food in Greece is fantastic! It is also extremely affordable, with gyros averaging 2-4 euros. I highly recommend checking out the street food in Fira Town Square (Nicks’ the Grill is excellent). All the options are incredible and extremely easy on the wallet.
If you’ve had your fair share of street food, dining out in restaurants can be very affordable. I highly recommend going off the beaten path to either Kamari or Perissa for true authentic Greek cuisine. Kamari and Perissa cater more towards the locals, as opposed to Oia or Firastefani, who cater more towards tourists, which may result in more expensive dining options.
Avoid Staying & Eating In Oia – The main town is the most expensive place on this relatively cheap island.
Avoid staying and eating at the main restaurants here and you’ll find yourself cutting your costs in half, and most restaurants near where you go to watch the sunset charge a 24% sale tax along with some o so beware.
Avoid The Docking areas – Avoid shopping near where the cruise ships dock, you will definitely spend more money on souvenirs and food.
Visit Prehistoric Thera –Visit Museum of Prehistoric Thera for For €3 (free if you’re a student).
Tours –For as low as €20, you can take a 2-hour boat ride going to the volcano and hot spring.
The boat departs at Old Port.
*The tour starts at Nea Kameni, where the active volcano is. You have to pay €2.5 if you want to hike and see the crater. The hike takes about 45 minutes.
*From Fira, you can walk 588 steps downhill, ride a donkey for €5 or ride a cable car for €6.
Visiting Low Season – Cheaper prices, fewer tourist, however, keep in mind in some of the low season months, it can be cold and businesses are closed.
As you can see Santorini can definitely be done a on a FreQk’n Budget.
Hopefully, these tips and recommendations make your trip to Santorini amazing.