How to Visit the Greek Islands on a Budget

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Greek Islands Collage

Everyone wants to visit the Greek Islands at some point in their lives, right? I mean, how could you resist the urge to want to watch one of Santorini’s famous sunsets and visit the beautiful beaches of the somewhat undiscovered island of Milos?

Many people are under the impression that it is extremely difficult to visit the Greek islands on a budget. This may be true for those who lack the skills when it comes to planning a trip, but in reality those who arrive prepared will find that that are a variety of ways to visit the Greek Islands without breaking the bank.

GETTING TO GREECE

Getting to Greece can be pricey depending on where you are flying from. The best tip for finding cheap flights to Greece is to log on to www.kayak.com. Enter your departure airport, and then enter Athens International Airport (ATH) for your arrival airport. Next, plug in the specified dates for your trip. And hit Search.

Note: Flexibility is key to saving money when it comes to booking flights. If your travel dates are flexible, your much more likely to find a flight that suits your budget. Click the “Make my dates flexible” link and select +/- 3 Days before hitting the search button.

Once the search results pop up, take a closer look at Kayak’s Price Trend feature located on the left hand side. The Price Trend graph is known to be approximately 75% accurate when it comes to forecasting the future of flight prices. This tool is really helpful when it comes to gauging whether you should book now or hold off for the time being.

If you are not happy with the price results, try changing your home departure airport to an alternative airport that is either in close driving distance or an airport that you know you will be able to find a cheap flight to from your go to airport. Sometimes you will find much cheaper flights when flying to alternative airports.

Greek Island FerriesGETTING TO THE GREEK ISLANDS

There are several ways to reach the Greek Islands but it really depends on which island you’re planning on visiting. Some islands have small airports that allow visitors to fly in versus taking the ferry.

If you’re headed to an island that has a small airport and you would like to fly, repeat the steps shown in the Getting to Greece section above.

Note: Flights tend to be slightly expensive to the islands from mainland Greece. If the prices don’t suit your budget, look into taking advantage of the popular Greek Island ferries setting sail daily.

Those who are planning on taking a ferry to one or multiple islands should refer to the following website for prices, routes and ferry schedules: http://www.greekferries.gr/.

Book your tickets for the Greek Island of your choice by going down to one of the many ticket offices at the port of Piraeus. The most popular lines are Megajet, Blue Star, Anek, and a few others.

Note: If you are departing from Athens, please note that you will need to catch your ferry at the port of Piraeus (PIR). You can reach Piraeus effortlessly by train or metro from just about anywhere in the city. The metro runs from 6AM to 12AM.

FYI: Ferry Prices from Piraeus (Athens) to Santorini: 34 Euro. Prices vary when you travel from island to island. For example we paid 16.50 Euro for our ferry from Santorini to Milos.

FINDING ACCOMMODATIONS ON THE GREEK ISLANDS

There are many ways to find accommodations on the Greek island of your choice.

OPTION #1:  The first way to find cheap accommodations in the Greek Islands is to check out the going rates for hotels and hostels on Agoda.com.

OPTION #2:  Do a quick search on apartment rental websites such as Airbnb.com, or Roomorama.com. Sometimes renting a fully furnished apartment can be cheaper than getting a hotel, especially if you’re splitting the costs with a friend or two.

OPTION #3:  The best way to find cheap accommodations in the islands is to show up by ferry with no set accommodations at all. When you disembark the ship you will notice many hotel owners up ahead awaiting your business. It will likely be an overwhelming experience but if you arrive prepared, you will be sure to find a great deal on your accommodations.

Speak with various owners and find out what they have to offer you. They need your business. The great thing about them needing your business is that you can usually negotiate the cost of your accommodations based on how long you are interested in spending on the island.

The best part about OPTION #3 is that you’ll be able to negotiate with hotel and apartment owners. I’m not kidding when I say that there will be 25 or 30 hotel and apartment owners approaching you from all angles wanting your business. They are at your mercy! Think of it this way, they need YOU! You don’t need them.

By choosing to simply show up on the islands of our choice, we were able to lock in the following prices.

Katefiani Villas Perissa Santorini Greece

SANTORINI

30 Euro (approx. $36.00 USD/night) at a hotel called Katefiani Villas located in Perissa. The owner Jacob provided a free transfer from the port to the hotel/apartment (this is always included, but ask to be sure) and when we arrived we were ecstatic with the condition of our room.

It was an extremely clean room with a queen sized bed, tv, refrigerator, air conditioning, private bathroom, beautiful balcony with table and chairs, and best of all it was a two minute walk from Perissa beach. There was a mini market three buildings down, restaurants all over and a supermarket within 10 minutes walk.

The location was perfect, the beach was beautiful, the owners were very helpful, and the price was excellent. We highly recommend this place if you’re headed to Santorini.

Note: Contact Jacob on his mobile number at +30 6946 590351. You’ll also be able to find him at the port by asking around for Jacob of Katefiani Villas.

Rousa's Apartment Milos Greece

MILOS:

50 Euro (approx. $60.00 USD/night) for a beautiful two bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, full sized refrigerator, living room, dining room, and giant balcony that was located about 2 minutes walk from the main port of Milos (Adamas).

We split this apartment with a couple from Colorado that we had met on our travels. Splitting the cost of this apartment meant that we had two nice private bedrooms in a spacious apartment with a full kitchen so that we could head to the supermarket and cook up a feast, and that we did!

The amazing thing is that you can actually find cheaper accommodations than we did, but you’ll have to be ready to really haggle if you want to get yourself a room for two for less than 25 Euro/night.

Note: Sometimes it’s good to know an area that you would prefer to stay on the island of your choice. This helps when a hotel owner approaches you and tells you that he would like to show you his place. The worst case is that you take the ride with him to see the hotel and you decide it’s not for you. The good thing is that you will now be able to stroll around the area in search of another hotel and you will have technically received a free taxi ride to your destination in exchange for taking a look at the hotel.

Moto Manos Scooter Rental in SantoriniGETTING AROUND THE ISLANDS

Scooters and Rental car shops are readily available and plentiful on the islands. We rented a scooter for the day in Santorini for just 10 Euro. In Milos the four of us rented a small car for 35 Euro/day.

There are also public buses that will bring you to different areas of the islands but these buses are a little on the slow side so it might not be worth your time.

SAVING MONEY ON THE ISLANDS

Depending on where you’re staying or where you’re heading to on the islands, it can be pretty pricey to shop, eat out, etc.

1. Find yourself a room or apartment equipped with a stove top or full kitchen. You will save tons of money by simply taking a trip to the grocery store with a meal in mind. Save the left overs for later and pack them for lunch before you head to the beach!

2. Talk to local shop owners and try to get to know them a little bit. After a few minutes chat, you might be lucky enough to score a little discount on an item you’re interested in purchasing. Either way it’s good to be social, and you may even learn something interesting about the island from your new friend.

3. Rent a motor scooter or car to make the most of your stay. Be sure to ask your hotel which rental agencies they recommend. Some hotel owners work with different car rental shops or have a friend that owns one that may be able to give you a deal on your rental.

CONCLUSION:

Visiting the Greek Islands does not need to cost a great deal of money. What many people don’t realize is that there are always cheaper ways to do things when it comes to travel. Many tend to book the first thing they see instead of doing the proper research and really find themselves a deal. Now that you’re well equipped with the knowledge necessary to enjoy the Greek Islands on the cheap, go ahead and start planning your trip today.

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30 Comments

  1. Corinne

    July 11, 2010 at 12:54 PM

    You are so right! And what's more is you can take a ferry to and from Turkey as well. Since we've lived here we've visited Chios and Rhodes that way. It's a great way to travel. Are you going to Rhodes? Here is our post on it: http://www.reflectionsenroute.com/?p=198. Also, if you have plans on coming to Turkey, ask us just about anything!
    My recent post Ode to Baliks-

    • RTW Ry

      July 15, 2010 at 11:36 AM

      That's very true Corinne. Thanks for mentioning that. Turkey is very accessible from the Greek Islands, especially Rhodes. We did not get to Rhodes, only Santorini and Milos. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Jessica the hedgehog

    July 12, 2010 at 9:29 PM

    We've gotten a bit behind on your travels, but are looking forward to catching up. Glad to hear you're having a great time in Greece! We haven't been to the islands yet, but we really really enjoyed Athens.

    We'll be reading your posts about Egypt closely too. There's a possibility we may head there for 3 weeks this fall. But we're still deciding between Egypt and a few other places. So many places to choose from!

    Happy travels, guys!
    My recent post <a href="http://www.hedgehogswithoutborders.com/blog/entry/where+do+we+go+from+here">Where Do We Go From Here

    • RTW Ry

      July 15, 2010 at 11:40 AM

      Hey Jess,

      Yeah we enjoyed Athens as well. Pretty cool city and it was around 35C every day so if you like the sun, it's the place to be!

      As for Egypt, it's an amazing place to visit. The only thing I would recommend is to make sure you stay there for at least 2-3 weeks because I don't think you can really immerse yourself in the culture and every day life without being there for a decent amount of time. One week in Cairo is a joke! There is so much to see other than the Pyramids and the Egyptian Museum. Walk the back streets, eat where the locals eat, take the black (private) taxis but make sure you're ready to haggle, befriend the amazing locals, and learn to cross the roads on your own without having the tourist police assist you.

  3. Ayngelina

    July 12, 2010 at 9:34 PM

    Wow such a thorough overview. I'm definitely bookmarking this on delicious. I love these types of posts, keep them coming!

    • RTW Ry

      July 15, 2010 at 11:40 AM

      Thanks Ayngelina, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  4. Andi

    July 13, 2010 at 1:12 AM

    Awesome advice for a place I sooo want to visit.
    My recent post India- Day 6

    • RTW Ry

      July 15, 2010 at 11:41 AM

      Thanks Andi, you'll have to get there one of these days!

  5. Suzy

    August 1, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    Great information especially as I have been dying to make it to the Greek islands but can never seem to find a cost effective way of doing so.

    • RTWRy

      August 2, 2010 at 1:53 PM

      Yeah, it's tough but… it CAN be done! Glad you enjoyed the post.

  6. Jaime

    September 6, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    This is an awesome post with great advice. I am gonna have to come back to this for when I get to Greece on my RTW trip! Oh & the pictures are amazing. They make me wanna go right now!!!

    Thanks for the info!

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  9. Torri Sandone

    February 15, 2011 at 10:10 PM

    I concur what a mighty well written article, thanks for writing it.

  10. Mykonos

    March 27, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    This is certainly great advice for anyone traveling to the Greek Islands. I wrote a post specifically about Mykonos, let me know what you think!

  11. Liv

    April 29, 2011 at 6:38 PM

    Rhodes is an easy daytrip from Turkey, or longer of course! The Greek islands are marvellous, but can be expensive to visit, so articles like this are invaluable!

    • Ryan

      April 29, 2011 at 7:44 PM

      Thanks Liv! Glad you enjoyed the article. Be sure to share it with your readers as I think they would probably be interested in this.

  12. Elise

    May 1, 2011 at 11:39 AM

    What a great comprehensive post. I will be keeping this bookmarked for when we head to greece! Thanks guys!

    • Ryan

      May 1, 2011 at 10:39 PM

      Thanks Elise! I was just telling Liz how I’d like to get back to Greece this year. Fingers crossed! ;)

  13. Nomadic Samuel

    August 1, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    I love the thorough review. I can’t wait to go there myself!

  14. Dimitris

    October 22, 2011 at 7:40 PM

    When you go to Santorini you should visit the wineries… you can see the way the prodice wine, the pales with the old wooden barels and of course wine testing….

  15. Pavlos

    October 24, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    In Greece , everybody says that Milos is a wonderful island.. but… if you go there as a couple.. after the end of the holidays you will break up… ;) or if you go alone you will find your soulmate… Anyway this islands has wonderful beaches and very quiet places to relax.

  16. Diane Krania Meeuse

    December 25, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    I speak Greek
    Would like to see the Greek islands

  17. AudreyD.

    February 21, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Hum, quite happy to read this today:) We’re heading to greece in May, I’m bookmarking this! Great tips!

    • Ryan Gargiulo

      February 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM

      Thanks Audrey. Glad to hear you found them to be helpful.

  18. Grazyna

    September 17, 2013 at 2:47 PM

    Wow, I love this article! I’m from Poland and I’m going to plan my vacation trip on 2014 with your helpful information. Wish me luck!

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  20. Greek lover

    January 21, 2014 at 1:41 PM

    Thanks for all the tips! Will definately take them into account!

  21. Escapist

    February 18, 2014 at 5:23 AM

    Ferries can be great and rather cheap in Greece but due to the economic crisis, the companies often halt operations – strikes are frequent. And getting stranded on an expensive island like Santorini for several days might not be the best experience for a budget traveler.

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