September 28, 2016

How To Do Santorini On A Budget


santorini travel guide

If you’ve been on the Internet in the past 5 years you’ve definitely stumbled upon a photo of Santorini. And you have definitely told yourself at some point, “I have to go there.” 

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one. I have been dreaming of seeing the white houses and blue-domed churches of Santorini for as long as Pinterest has existed, and I finally made my dream come true this past summer. I’m not a fancy hotel kind of girl, but I’ll be honest guys: all I wanted was to stay in one of the island’s luxurious resort with a perfect caldera view and the most insane infinity pool your eyes have ever seen.

But as you guys know if you’ve read along for some time, I am a budget travel blogger and the hope of my blog has always been to show people that travel is possible for you and it doesn’t have to be expensive. So here’s how I made a relatively cheap weekend look way more expensive than it actually was:

Where To Stay

The first thing you have to know is the majority of the pictures you see of Santorini are in Oia, which is the most popular tourist area on the island (just look at a few pictures and you’ll see why). I made it my goal to stay in Oia no matter what I had to do to make it happen because I wanted to walk out my door and be right in the middle of the action.

The best way to stay in Oia on a budget is by using Airbnb. I stayed at this cave house that came out to less than $70 a night split between my four friends, and this place was an absolute dream! Our house was beautiful, comfortable, and had an amazing view of the caldera which was the best thing to walk out to first thing in the morning! The listing is owned by the sweetest older couple who brought us fresh bread and orange juice every morning. Here is what our place looked like:

santorini cave house

santorini cave house

santorini cave house santorini travel guide

santorini travel guide

Cost: ~$50-100/night

Note: These Airbnb’s get booked REALLY fast, so make sure to reserve many months in advance!

Where To Eat

Passaggio Drinks & Bites

Passaggio is a cute little shop that’s a cafe by day and bar by night. It’s on the western side of Oia and serves coffee, tea, smoothies, salads, and other healthy breakfast and lunch items. They also have a rooftop terrace so feel free to grab a smoothie for breakfast and hang out for a bit! To get here, just take the main walking path all the way West and you’ll see it on the left.

oia, santorini oia, santorini
oia, santorini

Vegan Options: Yes
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Cost: $-$$
Atmosphere: 4/5

Lolita’s Gelato

Lolita’s is rated #1 place to eat in Oia for good reason! There’s nothing better than delicious gelato on a sunny day while on vacation, and this place was such a treat for us. Being vegan, it’s extremely difficult for me to find dessert that I can eat: much less chocolate dessert! And Lolita’s was the first shop I’ve found to have chocolate non-dairy ice cream. It pretty much made my week.

lolita's gelato

vegan ice cream santorini travel guide

Vegan Options: Yes
Cost: $
Atmosphere: 4/5

Lotza Restaurant

It was already dark out when we ate here and I sadly didn’t get any photos, but this was a place I highly recommend for a more affordable dinner. The restaurant is actually owned by the same owners as our Airbnb, and was just a few steps away from the house which was really convenient! They serve a variety of items including traditional Greek food, and the restaurant has a caldera view which is an added bonus. If you get the chance, be sure to meet the owners and hear about how they met!

Vegan Options: Yes, when modified
Vegetarian Options: Yes
Cost: $$
Atmosphere: 4/5

Budget Tip: For a really cheap lunch, head towards the center of Oia where the buses meet and grab a gyro for 3 euro! You can’t leave Greece without having one 🙂

What To See


As I mentioned earlier, Oia is where you will see the best views of the typical “Santorini” white towns you see in photos. One of the best things to do during your trip is to simply wander through the streets and get lost. After all, your favorite souvenirs from your trip will be pictures!

santorini travel guide santorini travel guide

santorini travel guide

And make sure you walk towards the top of the town to the famous sunset spot where you will get the best view in all of Oia! If you stay for a bit after sunset you’ll see the town start to light up and it’s pure magic.

santorini travel guide


Imerovigli is a town on the way to Fira and is where you will find many of the 5-star luxury hotels. Though most of these hotels are very private and cannot be accessed, simply walking around the town is beautiful and you can peek into places and see some amazing views! To get here, hop on one of the island’s public buses for just a few euro.

santorini travel guide santorini travel guide

But if you’re more like me and like to live on the edge… you can walk through the back of the Grace Hotel to see one of the most amazing views you’ll ever see. Go up to the bar and grab a drink, and you’ll get a taste of one Santorini’s best resorts without having to spend $600/night!

imerovigli santorini budget guide imerovigli, santorini

Sunset in Fira

Although Oia is a beautiful town with incredible views, I believe the best sunset spot in Santorini is in Fira. Unlike in Oia, the caldera view faces directly West which makes for one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see! Hop on the bus to Fira and grab dinner or drinks here in the evening – it’s guaranteed to be an incredible end to your day.

Fira, Santorini

Fira, Santorini

Santorini is one of the world’s top tourist destinations and you can easily end up spending way more than you planned if you’re not careful. But I hope with these tips, you’re able to dodge some of the unneccessary cost and visit this beautiful island without breaking the bank!

Have you been to Santorini and have any budget-friendly recommendations to add to the list? Share them with me in the comments!

meet the writer

I'm Donna Irene.


A photographer, writer, and educator with a passion for helping people quit the hustle and live filled with purpose. When I picked up
a camera over 10 years ago, I had no idea it would take me around the world getting to photograph for everything from fortune 500
companies, brands, and people like you.

And now that I've been to 40+ countries and counting, I want to
use my talents to inspire others to use their creativity to make the world better. Follow along for resources on authentic travel experiences, sustainability, and building a business with intention.



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  1. Thank you for this article. Not only the tips are much appreciated, but the pictures are just amazing ! I’m glad you’ve been able to visit Santorini. It looks like heaven. If I ever end up going there, I’ll remember your tips ! 🙂

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Photographer, educator, environmentalist, and dog mom. I've turned a passion for photography into my dream job and I want to
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Hi! I'm Donna.