How to Visit the Greek Islands on a Budget

Greek Islands on a Budget


Last Updated: 9/22/2015

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?

Firostefani Caldera View SantoriniSantorini Sunset from OiaRed Beach - Akrotiri Santorini

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 and researching for 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.


From the United States:

Getting to Greece is easy although it can be quite pricey depending on where you are flying from. For those of you flying from the United States, one of the best tips for finding cheap flights to Greece is to always look for flights departing out of major U.S. hubs. For example: LAX, JFK, ATL, BOS, IAD, MIA. All of those airports are major hubs in the United States and are usually great starting points when looking for the best deals on flights to Greece.

The best websites to use when searching for flights to Greece and the Greek Islands is Skyscanner and Google Flights. Use both of these sites in conjuction with each other to see what you can come up with for prices.

From Europe:

If you’re already in Europe then you’re more than halfway there. Simply log onto Skyscanner and Google Flights and begin your search. Again, the best deals are always found when searching for flights from major European hubs such as LON, LHR, MUC, BCN, FCO and those are just a few examples of the major hubs in Europe. You’ll likely find great deals on flights to Greece on airlines such as Aegean, Olympic and Ryanair.



Flying to the Greek Islands

Flying is by far the quickest and most convenient way to reach the Greek Islands. The problem is that not all islands have airports, therefore some islands require you to take ferries in order to reach them.

Below you’ll find a short list of the Greek Islands that DO have airports although finding flights to some of the smaller ones islands can be quite tough due to intermittent flight schedules.

  • Chios (JKH)
  • Chania (CHQ)
  • Corfu (CFU)
  • Heraklion (HER)
  • Ikaria (JIK)
  • Ioannina (IOA)
  • Kefalonia (EFL)
  • Kos (KGS)
  • Leros (LRS)
  • Lesvos (MJT)
  • Milos (MLO)
  • Mykonos (JMK)
  • Naxos (JNX)
  • Paros (PAS)
  • Rhodes (RHO)
  • Samos (SMI)
  • Santorini (JTR)
  • Skiathos (JSI)
  • Skyros (SKU)
  • Syros (JSY)
  • Zakynthos (ZTH)

Note: Flights to some of the more popular islands such as Chania (Crete), Heraklion (Crete), Mykonos, Rhodes, Santorini and Zakynthos are very easy to find during the spring, summer and early fall. Depending on the season and the current specials going on, flights from Athens to these islands mentioned above can be found for as low as €40 round-trip. Example: Ryanair offered multiple deals in summer 2015 with flights to and from Athens to Rhodes and Santorini for €23 each way.

Another thing to keep in mind is that flights from Athens to most of the Greek Islands only take about 50-70 minutes. In other words, always search for flights to the Greek islands before booking a ferry.

Ferries to the Greek Islands

As I mentioned in the ‘Flying to the Greek Islands’ section above, great deals on flights can be found if you keep your eyes peeled. That being said, sometimes flights to the islands are far too expensive. In this case, taking a ferry to the island of your choice is your next best bet.

The greek ferry booking form on the right is powered by FerriesinGreece, a major booking hub that sends more than 35,000 passengers to and from the Greek isles each year. They are a trusted site and I use them when I’m booking my Greek island ferry tickets.

If you would prefer booking your tickets in person, you can book your tickets for the Greek Island of your choice by going down to one of the many ticket offices at the Piraeus port in Athens. I should note that the Piraeus port is hectic and very spread out so if you do end up heading down there to buy tickets be prepared to do a lot of walking and shopping around.

Accommodations in the Greek Islands

When it comes to finding accommodations on the Greek islands, your options are just about endless. You have a choice of hostels, cliff side hotels, resorts, short term apartments rentals and more.

Hostels & Budget Accommodations

Use HostelWorld’s advanced search features to find cheap hostels in the Greek Islands or search a wide variety of budget accommodations using (my personal favorite).

Hotels & Resorts

The best way to find great deals on hotels and resorts on the Greek islands is to book your stay through They are a very reputable company that have been around for a long time. has nearly 18,000 property listings in Greece alone and they’re growing every day. Use them and save today!

Apartment Rentals

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.

If you decide to go the Airbnb route, do yourself a favor and Save $20 on your first Airbnb stay using this link.

No Reservations

Last but not least is the most adventurous way to find accommodations on the Greek islands. I should note that this option isn’t for everyone. Those of you who like to plan ahead can go ahead and skip this section. If you’re spontaneous and not worried about making reservations prior to arriving in the islands, a good way to find deals on accommodations in the Greek islands is 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 (note: in high season only). 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 and hotel owners approaching you from all angles wanting your business. Best of 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.

Which Greek Island Should You Visit?

Most people want to know which Greek island they should visit and that’s a tough question because there are so many Greek isles to choose from. That said, the most popular islands such as Mykonos and Santorini are usually at the top of most visitors lists. Both islands are great destinations depending on what you’re looking for. Below you’ll find a short blurb about some of my favorite Greek islands and hopefully this will help you decide which Greek island would suit you best.


If you’re looking for a romantic stay or just want to witness some of the best sunsets on Earth, Santorini is the place to be. Santorini offers cliff side accommodations with mind boggling views of the caldera.

I recently spent 3 nights in this Airbnb in Firostefani and trust me when I tell you that it was one of the most incredible Airbnb stays I’ve experienced to date.

Note: Click here if you want to save $20 off your first Airbnb stay of $75 or more.

Santorini has beaches but they’re not world renowned like some of the other Greek islands. While some of the beaches are quite unique (Red Beach & Black Beach), Santorini is one of the few Greek islands that is not known for it’s beaches. Santorini is more about the views, sunsets and romantic vibes.


If you’re looking for great day parties and wild nightlife, Mykonos would be your best bet. Mykonos is also known for its beautiful beaches and gay friendly party scene.


Milos is my favorite Greek island mostly due to the wide variety and uniqueness of its beaches. There are more than 72 different beaches on Milos and all of them are different in one way or another. Scooter, ATV and car rentals are affordable and are a must if you want to truly explore the lesser visited parts of the island. Once you’re finished exploring Milos, you can take a short ferry (15 mins) to a tiny little traditional Greek Island known as Kimolos.


Rhodes is the 4th largest Greek island and an island that I think everyone should visit on their trip to Greece. I wrote an entire Beginner’s Guide to Rhodes. If you’re headed here for the first time you’ll find my beginners guide to be a great resource.


Scooters, ATV’s and car rentals are plentiful on the islands. Be sure to research rental agencies before arriving on the island of your choice as some agencies can be more reputable than others.

Typical scooter rental prices can be anywhere from 15-25 Euro/day depending on the shop and the engine size of the bike. ATV’s go for around 35-40 euro/day and rental cars can be rented for around 40-50 euros/day.

There is also public transportation (buses) available on select islands although you should be warned that it can be slow and quite intermittent. Renting a motorized vehicle is a much better way to explore the islands.


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.

For example, 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!

More reasonably priced Greek island tours can be found HERE.


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.

6. SAVE $20 OFF your first Airbnb stay or use this Hotel Tonight Promo Code for $25 OFF your next Hotel Tonight booking!


In Santorini, you can pay 30 Euro per night (approx. $33 USD/night) for a cozy room at Katefiani Villas, located in the village of Perissa. The hotel is very clean, quiet and is located just steps from Santorini’s black sand beach (Perissa Beach). The owner, Jacob, provides free transfer from the ferry port to the hotel if organized ahead of time.

Katefiani Villas - Santorini, Greece

My experience at Katefiani Villas

I arrived to Katefiani Villas to find my 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. I highly recommend Katefiani Villas if you’re headed to Santorini.


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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    1. 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!

  1. 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="">Where Do We Go From Here

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

    1. 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.

  6. 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….

  7. 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.

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

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. Hi Ryan,
    I was thinking of booking into Jacobs hotel for 14 days and traveling from there to see the other islands perhaps by air, to save time but I have to watch the cost also, what would be your advise on that please, do you think its not a good idea to stay in one place for so long ??

  12. hi! can you tell me what ferry you used to get to Milos?? I can’t find tickets for less than 50 euros!! would it be cheaper to go from Athens to Santorini first, then Milos? or a then semi lost Santorini?

  13. Would you say your article holds true 5 years later? I want to go to Greece but I find it difficult to start organizing.

  14. Great Post… Stunning! So much more than just white-sand beaches. I’d love to visit the baths, it looks like such a cool experience.

  15. Hey!

    I have to distribute 10 full days between Athens and the islands. What is your recommendation on getting the most out of my days there?

    1. I would recommend spending 2 days in Athens and the rest in the Greek Islands. In Athens, be sure not to miss the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. Walk from Syntagma Square to Monastiraki Square on the shopping street. Take a hop-on hop-off bus to maximize your day in Athens.

  16. hello! I plan on visiting Greece in late September with a friend. first off, is september a good time to go? we will stay there for about 15days. plan on doing hostels for the most part. What is the best way to get around from island to island? mykonos, naxos, paros, antiparos.. ? and cheapest/safest way? would really appreciate your help:) thank you.

    1. Hi Lianna. Yes, September is a great month to visit Greece! You’ll avoid all the high season/summer crowds. Best way from island to island is to book flights ahead of time. You can sometimes find roundtrip flights from Athens to the islands for less than a ferry ticket. Oh, and most flights are only 1 hour or less. If you want to avoid flying you could always check the ferries. Both options are safe and affordable when booked in advance. Hope this helps.

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