Santorini is sadly most famous for being the location of one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions Earth has ever witnessed. But these days it’s much more famous for delicious food, black beaches and too many tourists in summer. This island has a lot more to offer though than your typical tourist spot on the Med. There are chic art galleries, microbreweries and a host of delightful fishing villages and local tavernas for those willing to look for them.
There are also, obviously, lots of ruins.
So we’ve taken all this into account, gathered real data from real travellers, consulted the WeSwap family and come up with this guide on just how much spending money you’ll need for a trip to Santorini.
|Average Daily Spend in Santorini 82€|
|Currency in Santorini||Euro|
|Local Beer Price||4€|
|Bottle of Coke||2€|
WeSwap Traveller Average Daily Spend: 15€
Ancient Akrotiri: 12€
Oia and Ammoudi: Free
Art Space: 10€
Museum of Prehistoric Thea: 3€
Like it’s neighbouring island Crete, Santorini is home to lots and lots and lots of ruins (being home to one of the most devastating volcanic eruptions of all time will really do that to a place). So our list of recommendations pays tribute to those while offering up some less gruelling activities, including a couple of wonderful little freebies to fill your days with.
First, however, some ruins. In 1967, some keen-eyed archaeologists unearthed an ancient Minoan city that had been buried under volcanic ash for nearly 3,000 years. Ancient Akrotiri is surprisingly intact for an ancient city destroyed by a volcano, with three-story buildings, roads and drainage systems all available to take a peek at. It’s just 12€ to get in but we’d recommend paying the extra 10€ for a guided tour so you have a clue what exactly it is you’re looking at.
Oia is a stunning cliff-top village, made up of narrow streets, whitewashed houses with blue shutters, art galleries and tavernas. On an island that appears designed to watch sunsets from, this spot may be the spot (the village of Imerovigli and Vlichada beach join Oia on the podium). However, it can tend to get pretty (read: too) crowded in July and August.
A slightly excruciating 300-step walk down the cliff face from Oia is the tiny port of Ammoudi, which is home to a number of delicious, if slightly pricey, port-edge tavernas. If on a budget, just head down to soak up the views of Santorini’s blood-red cliffs and Oia itself and watch the fishing boats bob on the port’s shores.
For the culture-vultures among you, Art Space is a must-do. There are loads of wineries on the island, but few double up as an art gallery and museum. Contemporary Greek art lines the cellar walls, while a wine tasting tour is available for a staggeringly cheap 10€. As a warning, generous slurping tends to be encouraged by the owners so make sure you’ve had a big meal beforehand and arranged travel. Conveniently, there’s a bus stop almost right outside if you’re looking to avoid designating a driver.
Santorini is famous for its black sand beaches (red and white sand beaches are also available) and our top recommendation would be the beautiful Perívolos. Slightly quieter than some of the neighbouring beaches (we’re looking at you Períssa), the bars on the shore are aimed at a younger, hipper crowd.
If it’s museums you want then the Museum of Prehistoric Thea should hit the spot. Home to remarkably intact artefacts discovered in Akrotiri it also houses fossilised olive trees that are 60,000 years old. Which, we imagine you agree, is very, very old.
WeSwap Traveller Average Daily Spend: 60€
Santorini Brewing Company: Beer from 3€
The Beach Bar, Perissa: Beer from 5€
Theoni’s Kitchen: Mains from 7€
Metaxi Mas: Mains from 8€
Camille Stefani: Mains from 8€
Like anywhere popular with tourists, trying to find somewhere cheap and authentic to eat or just grab a drink can be exhausting. There’s a lot of overpriced tourist traps selling sun-defrosted “χάμπουργκερ” (pronounced Chámpournker, meaning, well, hamburger) or claiming they do real mezedhes when it’s just supermarket feta on a small plate. When it comes to drinks the closer you get to the sea the pricier they’ll get. So it’s worth heading inland to save money or picking somewhere with premium views if you’re paying premium prices.
If the word “hops” makes you want to tear your hair out, maybe skip this one out. Like almost everywhere else in the world, craft beer has found its way to Santorini in the shape of the Santorini Brewing Company. Their famous Yellow Donkey is sold all over the island and tends to be pretty pricey, but you can pick it up here from around 3€ a bottle. Their Donkey range have to be stored and served cold due to the brewing process, so if you’re handed a warm one (as should always be the case with a beer to be honest) it’s probably gone off so just say “όχι” (no).
If you’re looking to set up camp by the sea for the day you could do a lot worse than The Beach Bar at Períssa. Considering its location and its size, the food is pretty great and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, while beers cost a not outrageous 5€. It’s just a couple of steps from the beach too and there’s live music and DJs late into the night.
On an island covered in pristine white buildings and an increasing range of over-the-top luxury restaurants and hotels, Theoni’s Kitchen in the capital Fira is a welcome relief. You won’t come here for the décor or the views, but you’ll stay for the huge portions of Greek home cooking.
If searching for somewhere extra special to eat, our mantra is normally “if in doubt, look for the locals”. It was this thinking that led us to Metaxi Max. The raki flows freely at this taverna in Exo Gonia and the Greek and Cretan specialities are simply sensational. We’d recommend the Cretan Krasotigania pork or the Ntakos (Cretan barley rusks) if you’re veggie.
Another favourite with locals is Camille Stefani, a rooftop restaurant with stunning views of the east coast. The mezedhes come thick and fast here, often served with a long list of celebrities who have eaten there over the years. Rockefeller, Prince Charles and Princess Diana (not all at the same time) just to name a few.
WeSwap Traveller Average Daily Spend: 12€
Bus from Santorini Airport to Fira: 1.80€
Taxi from Santorini Airport to Fira: approx. 30€
Single bus fee: up to 2.50€
Car Hire Fee: from 10€ per day
ATV or moped hire: from 16€ per day
Using buses to get around Santorini in peak season can be a straight-up nightmare. If you’re lucky to get on one at all, they’ll pack you in like sardines and just knowing when one might arrive is quite the mystery in itself. Taxis also seem to disappear, so car, moped or ATV hire is probably the best way to get around. Just be wary of the narrow roads and cliff edges and with the ATVs or moped, you’ll need a motorcycle license to rent one.
ATMs are in high supply throughout most of the towns on Santorini, accepting all major debit and credit cards. Credit and debit cards can also be used in more upmarket bars, restaurants and hotels but everywhere else it’ll most likely be cash. If you’re heading out towards the remoter parts of the island make sure to have smaller notes on you as the Santorini countryside is constantly in the midst of a change shortage.