Top 5 “Weird” Tips For a Cheap Trip to Santorini

from Trey Ratcliff at

Oh hell no, I ain’t paying that!! My girlfriend wanted me to take her to Santorini for a week for our anniversary and until I heard the 300 euros ($455) per night cost of a simple room, I was also looking forward to relaxing on a beautiful Greek island.

The room price would have hurt me 2100 euros, or $3,188 for a week. Boy do women know how to inflict financial pain! I didn’t realize what I’d agreed to! I could buy a return ticket to Melbourne from Athens for less than that. If I was staying in a Four Seasons hotel or resort, that would be be a great price, but given that it was a simple, small family-owned hotel, the price was insane.

So I wanted to make my karthoula happy, and I also wanted to have a good time, but I didn’t want to be one of those idiot tourists that accept the first price they are given. There had to be a way to enjoy Santorini without being robbed at gunpoint. There definitely is, and I’m about to show you how. I have split the costs down according to the five main activities.


Many people reading this are not already in Greece, but in faraway lands such as Australia and the U.S. With that in mind, I will show you how to make huge savings before even landing in Greece. If you are already in Greece, I suggest you skip down to the next part.

Most people these days know that it is a waste of money to go through travel agents, because they also need to make a commission, which means that prices they offer are usually higher than what you will find on the Internet. This is only true if you let the travel agents control you as opposed to you controlling them. What do I mean by that?

If you walk straight into a travel agent’s office and ask for a price from Melbourne to Athens, they will give you the route that is fastest for them to find, with the least amount of effort, and the maximum amount of commission.

The better way to approach this is by firstly using a flight search engine on the web. I recommend staying away from the more popular and well known ones like Kayak and Expedia  because they also take a huge commission and seem to enjoy treating customers like fools. I recommend you start with something like Momondo or Skyscanner. The price differences can be huge. If you don’t believe me, try comparing Momondo and Skyscanner to Kayak or Expedia and see what comes up.

Once you have received the cheapest price possible from a search engine like Skyscanner, I suggest you print it out and visit three travel agents. In shopping centers they are usually next door to each other so it shouldn’t be too hard.

Tell them you have looked at prices on the Internet and would like to hear what is the best price that they can offer you. They will try to pressure you to find out what price you found and you will tell them, “Well, actually I would like to just know what is the cheapest price you can offer me and then I will compare.” Do not give them the price. They will only undercut it by the minimum possible. If they don’t know the price they will do their best.

Once they offer you a price, they will refuse to print it (unless they are new) out because they don’t want you to take it to the next travel agent and get a better price. It is illegal of course for the travel agents to stifle competition but they do it anyway.

Tell them that you want to go with your partner, but she will not take you seriously unless you show her a real quote. Usually at this point they relent and print it out for you. If not, it’s no problem, just get them to write down the figure on a piece of paper.

You then go to the next travel agent and tell him the same thing you just told this guy. You will then have three quotes (or four if you are really hardcore!). You take the cheapest quote to the travel agent that seemed the most flexible and open and you ask them to beat it.

And there you have it – using the competition of the marketplace to get the best price for the consumer.

By the way, if you are interested in other ways of finding seriously flights, check out Top 5 Unique Tricks for Flying Cheap for the Hardcore Budget Traveller.


Most people already know that taking a ferry to the islands is way way cheaper than flying. A return ticket by ferry can be less than a one way flight. Tickets start from 30 euros ($38.58) one way (depending on the season), and Blue Star Ferries seem to have the best prices.  I recommend using a ferry search engine that compares all of the different companies together like Petas but there are many others also.

What most people do not consider is the time of arrival and the extra cost of getting from the port to your hotel and back in the middle of the night. Arriving at 2 a.m. or so might seem cheap, but if the hotel is not picking you up for free and you are forced to catch a taxi in the middle of the night, do not expect to pay what you would pay if you were catching a taxi during the day. And, if your hotel is within walking distance of a bus stop, the public coaches/buses are much cheaper than a taxi.


This is where most of your money would normally be spent. Luckily this is not a ‘normal’ travel article and I’m about to tell you how to save BIG.

So the first quote I got from the Internet during peak tourist season was the 300 euros per night for a simple room.  After searching some more I did find some better priced ones, but they were not radically different. What I realized was that I was using a search engine that was getting most of the Google traffic when people typed in Santorini Hotels. And then I thought, what about using a search engine aimed at a younger crowd with a smaller budget, that didn’t get anywhere near as much traffic from Google?

The results were radically different and I was still getting what I wanted,  a clean, private room with a double bed, kitchenette and bathroom within walking distance of one of Santorini’s world famous beautiful beaches. The hotel even had its own swimming pool.

You can see for yourself the cost of one night in a hotel on July 1 using one of the mainstream search engines versus a budget travel search engine. At the time of writing this article, the mainstream search engine’s prices range from just below 300 euros per night, compared to the budget search engine which offered the same for around 50 euros ($64.30) per night, including breakfast and airport pick-up.

Why the huge difference? Because the mainstream hotel search engines get all the Internet traffic and it is in their interests to show you only the most expensive hotels as their commission is larger. If they were to show the cheaper hotels, their commission would be very small – and given that they receive 90% of the traffic, why should they? If you avoid peak tourist season, and schedule your trip for end of May, you will get even better prices.

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By far, the cheapest way to get around Santorini is using the KTEL public bus. The journeys are cheap, costing approximately two euros ($2.60) one way – bargain! You can check out the routes, timetables and costs here. It is also the most environmentally responsible.

The buses are great for getting you from town to town, but sometimes you want to go off the beaten track, and the cheapest way to do that in terms of vehicle hiring and petrol costs is by hiring an ATV (a four wheel bike). For as little as 20 euros ($26) per day, you can hire one of these beauties and go anywhere you want to on the island. The price is the same if you want to hire a scooter.

You just need a standard driver’s license from any country to hire one of these. You do not need a special permit.


The best tip I can give you here in terms of eating delicious food at decent prices is to avoid the town of Fira, the most famous part of the island with all the beautiful houses you see in movies. It’s great for a visit. But once you are done visiting, get yourself out of there before you start getting hungry. I say this because as soon as you get hungry the smell of the mouth-watering cuisine will be too much to resist. And so will the insane prices.

Stick to taverns outside of Fira, where the prices are about a third of what you can expect to pay in that town. A delicious meal outside of Fira on average costs seven euros ($9) and the service is much better. In Fira you can expect to be taken for granted and ripped off. If you really want to go budget, most hotel rooms have a kitchenette where you can prepare your own basic food.

If you are interested in more articles such as this, you can visit a travel site I write for along with some of my friends who are also world travellers – backpackingonthecheap.

Images are thanks to the following artists in respective order Stuck in CustomsJean SpectorShelby PDXhozinjableu celt


  1. Great tips. I’ve always wanted to go to Santorini, thanks. I would like to add one more general travel tip that saved my last trip to Rome from total disaster. I lost my passport during the
    day but had no idea it was missing. Fortunately, I had an Okoban
    tracer tag on it. A waiter where I ate lunch found it and entered my
    tracker number on their website and I was sent a text message (and
    an email) before I ever even knew my passport was missing. Lucky for
    me because I was leaving in the morning for Germany and getting a new
    passport would have been impossible. I found these tags at It saved my trip and I now have tags on
    almost everything that goes with me on a trip.

  2. Thanks! But what about flying from New York?? I don’t think we can do that here with the travel agents…

  3. Ok you have said it three times stay in Fira if you are looking for fun nightlife, but you failed to advise us what else is on offer in the rest of Santorini. You can’t expect a visitor to eat in all of the restaurants in Santorini. And you have told us nothing much. I think the writer did give us an idea what to expect.

    Bully for you!

  4. Cheap holidays to Santorini might be adventure that the family will talk about. I think article will help especially to those people who will go to Santorini.

  5. she spelled it “kalkomathimeni” not “kalomathimeni” so you are both idiots haha. “even (heaven forbid) paying a (pretty reasonable) cab fare” Perhaps you’ve never been to Greece, if you had, you’d realise that nearly all taxi drivers there are criminals and pick up other people along the way to where they are driving you and make all of you pay the fare…or maybe you are a taxi driver I don’t know… Oh and by the way $2 souvlakia (I think you mean €2 as Greece uses the euro in case you didn’t know) is not exactly amazing advice – but hey kudos to both of you for trying to sound smart 😉

  6. Thanks for your advice. Our family is planning on traveling this spring.
    As you were a local of that place, Can you please suggest couple of good hotels for stay in Fira.
    That would be of great help..Thanks !!

  7. I am going to Santorini for a week on October. It would be my first time to go to the Greek Island so I don’t have any idea about the weather there during that time. Hope it’s going to be fine. For the place to stay, I always prefer Hostel as it is much more cheaper.
    When I was in Paris for 3 days last March, I was able to get a lodging fee for 25 Euros/day. Tho it’s a room of six people inside, it can be quite scary for some who are not used to it; but for me, I find it exciting as I meet new friendly people. In terms of safety in the hostel, so far, they provide a locker room for you to keep you precious belongings.
    Now for Santorini, i think the expensive part is only the flight. Unless if I take the boat which would take me 8hours to reach the island from Athens.

  8. Great article. I would also would like To know the name of the hostel did you stay at. Thanks

  9. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I personally don’t inflate airfare prices, so the fare I quote IS the rock-bottom price. If it’s a flight-only booking (which I rarely do) I inform the client that there’s a per person fee. As you said, we make NO commission on flights, so that doesn’t even factor in. Also, there’s a big difference between Custom FIT agents and big agencies like AAA. I provide highly personalized service and dedicate hours to researching the very best options (including flights) for my clients.