How to Visit the Greek Islands on a Budget
THE GREEK ISLANDS
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 lesser known 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
Traveling to the Greek islands can be pricey depending on where you are flying in from. The best tip for finding cheap flights to Greece is to check out sites such as Skyscanner and Kayak. Be sure to use both of these sites to compare all flight prices.
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 in your area.
GETTING 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.
Tip: Aegean Airlines operates from Athens to many of the Greek Islands.
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.
Flights from mainland Greece to the Greek islands tend to be expensive but are the best choice for those with little time to burn. If the prices don’t suit your budget, look into taking advantage of the popular Greek island ferries setting sail daily.
Tip: The Greek Island Ferry Schedule can be found here.
Book your tickets for the Greek Island of your choice by going down to one of the many ticket offices at the Athens port of Piraeus. The most popular Greek ferry lines are Megajet, Blue Star, and Anek.
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.
Ferry Prices from Piraeus (Athens) to Santorini: 34 Euro. Prices vary when you travel from island to island. We paid 16.50 Euro for our ferry from Santorini to Milos.
HOW TO FIND ACCOMMODATIONS
When it comes to finding accommodations on the Greek islands, your options are endless. You have a choice of hostels, to cliff side hotels, resorts, short term apartments rentals and more.
Hotels & Resorts
The best way to find great deals on hotels and resorts in the islands is to book your stay through Booking.com. They are a very reputable hotel company that I personally use when I book the majority of my accommodations. Booking.com has over 14,000 property listings in Greece alone and they’re growing every day. That’s a heck of a lot of accommodations!
In my opinion, renting an apartment on the Greek islands is your best bet. Trust me when I tell you that there’s nothing better than being able to check into your own private accommodations, some of which have full kitchens, balconies overlooking the sea and are located in some of the best locations on the islands. I’ve stayed at many apartment rentals during my travels and when I want to find a quality apartment to rent, I always start my search over at Airbnb.
As a matter of fact, if you’re interested in using Airbnb to find your Greek island accommodations, be sure to read: How to Save $25 on Your First Airbnb Stay!
Last but not least is the most adventurous way to find accommodations on the Greek islands and that’s to just show up with no reservations at all.
I know, it sounds a bit crazy but when you disembark your ferry at the port of the island of your choice you will notice many hotel owners lined up and awaiting your business. It will likely be an overwhelming experience as they all tend to pounce on their prospective guests but if you stand your ground and haggle a bit, you will be sure to find a great deal on your accommodations.
Speak with some of the hotel and guesthouse 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.
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. Remember, they are at your mercy. Good luck!
Tip: 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.
CHEAP ACCOMMODATIONS IN SANTORINI
In Santorini, we paid 30 Euro per night (approx. $40 USD/night) at a hotel called Katefiani Villas located in the Perissa beach area. The owner, Jacob, provided a free transfer from the port to the hotel/apartment.
Note: Transfer is usually included, but just ask to be sure.
We arrived to Katefiani Villas to find our beautiful little room with a queen size bed, television, refrigerator, air conditioning, private bathroom, and beautiful balcony with table and chairs. 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 Katefiani Villas 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.
SANTORINI TOURS ON A BUDGET
If you’re the type of traveler who enjoys taking tours when you travel and you want to find an affordable package deal to Santorini, I highly recommend you look into taking one of these very reasonably priced 2 and 3-night tours by Viator.
The beauty of these tours is that they cater to two different types of travelers; budget travelers and travelers that don’t mind spending a few extra bucks.
Viator’s Santorini Tours include round-trip ferry transportation from Athens for the budget traveler (8 hours one-way) or a round-trip speedboat crossing (5.5 hours one-way) for those who want to enjoy more time on the island. You also have the option to choose from 2, 3, or 4-star accommodations on Santorini. It’s your trip. You choose!
CHEAP ACCOMMODATIONS IN MILOS
In Milos, we paid 50 Euro per night (approx. $67 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 two minutes walk from the main port of Milos.
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 per night.
My best advice for you would be to use this link which will save you $25 OFF your first Airbnb reservation. Once you’re all signed up, start your search for some of the many affordable apartment rental options in Milos.
GETTING AROUND THE GREEK ISLANDS
Scooters and Rental car shops are plentiful on the islands. We rented a scooter for the day in Santorini for 10 Euro per day.
In Milos, we rented a small car for 35 Euro per day. Both options are extremely affordable and highly recommended.
There are also public buses that will bring you to different areas of the islands but as with most public transportation, it can be very slow.
Your best bet would be to rent a car or a scooter, grab a map from a local hotel and explore the islands on your own time.
TIPS FOR 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, dine out and more. Here are some tips below that will help you save money on the Greek islands.
1. Find yourself a room or apartment equipped with a stove top or full kitchen. You will save lots of money by simply taking a trip to the grocery store with a meal in mind. Save the leftovers 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.
4. Ask a local where the best places to eat are. Sometimes, all it takes is a quick chat with a local to find a hidden gem. Follow the locals and deals are to be found.
5. If tours are your thing, don’t settle on the first tour you see. Shop around a bit and you’ll be surprised to find alternative tour companies that offer the same packages as the big name companies and much lower prices.
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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