Touristy? Yes. Gorgeous? Insanely.
Explosive sunsets and blindingly white stone buildings; beaches that run the gamut from golden to black and even a rusty volcanic red; ocean that smudges perfectly into the sky in one sweeping swathe of blue; the charming town of Fira, rutted with cobblestones, and Oia, where in contrast the polished stones underfoot pose a different kind of threat to your footing.
Even amidst the churn of the ferry at Athinios port, the ocean still glittered a crystal cerulean.
All things considered, it’s not difficult to see why Santorini was named the most beautiful island in the world by the BBC in 2011.
Best of all, this is Greece, so it’s not terribly expensive to start with. You can camp right by the beach for a song, stay in a hostel, or find one of the many reasonably priced villas and apartments, all of which should offer a free transfer from the ferry port or airport.
We stayed at Katefiani Villas, which I can highly recommend. Bright, clean and just a couple of minutes from the beach, it’s right around the corner from a fantastic bakery and a stone’s throw from the supermarket, restaurants and bus stop.
Here’s a few more tips to stretch your travel budget a little further.
Bakeries are your friend
Most places don’t do breakfast, as you’ll probably notice. Don’t worry – there are plenty of bakeries, some of them open 24/7! We lived on slices of pie from our local bakery, mainly the chicken pie, breaking it up with the beef and cheese or moussaka pie for variety. Plus there are lots of cheap kebab places around, some better than others.
Supermarkets are your friend
Santorini is an island, so things are a little more expensive here. Nonetheless, you should stock up on the basics at your local supermarket. If it’s a little too far, you can call and they will pick you up! Seriously (at least, that’s what the posters advertise).
The bus is your friend
If you’re on a budget, don’t rent a vehicle. All those scooters, quads and cars roaming around? They’re convenient, but nowhere near as cheap as the local bus. If you must rent wheels, shop around. We found a sweet deal at Dimitri’s in Perissa, on the main road just a short walk back from the beach.