If you’ve always thought of the Greek island of Santorini as a luxury destination with astronomical prices to deal with, travel blogger Meggy Mac found out differently on her recent backpacking trip to the island.
She discovered a multitude of free adventures and a volcanic island full of budget accommodation, many reasonable eateries and stunning mountain clifftops and coastline to explore.
As part of the photo journal, Meggy Mac shares her Santorini adventure in photos.
Meggy also stayed at CAVELAND Hostel, the 5 Star Hostel in Santorini.
Here you can find the Hostelgeeks review of Caveland Hostel.
Also, make sure you give the best fun things to do in Santorini a read.
Without further ado, let us wander with Meggy around the beautiful Greek Island.
Update: new guide to 5 best volcano cruises in Santorini
Santorini Backpacker Guide
Our trip to Santorini began in the south of the island in Perissa beach.
We stayed in a brilliant hostel in Perissa, five minute’s walk from the black sands of the volcanic coastline, where wide, dark, open mountain ranges open up behind the coast and invite you in to explore.
Read: best hostels in Santorini – put on a map and compared
You can spend an entire day getting lost in the winding roads and vineyards that spiral out of Perissa in to the hills.
From the top, the sky and the sea merge in to a hypnotic haze, with everything so blue you almost forget other colours exist.
Quad bikes can be hired all over the island at a reasonable cost and give you a lot more freedom to roam and off-road from the beaten track the busses traverse.
As for renting a car, you should only consider a small car. Any big car is not handy as it will be hard to park and such.
We always recommend Discover Cars. It is easy to compare cars and you can get the insurance with them. It is much cheaper!
The streets of Oia and Thira are also an obvious must, absolutely every direction you look in is a photographer’s dream land: the world renowned architecture teetering on the edge of the dark cliffs and snaking down to the sea in Oia, to Amoudi Bay.
Take the 300 (exact) steps from the main laneway in Oia to the base of the cliffs where deliciously expensive seafood restaurants sit nestled amongst lapping turquoise waters.
Its deep red rusty cliffs mirror much of the coastline, for example the magnificent red beach in the south, a 15 minute quad ride from Perissa.
If like me you’re on a backpacker’s budget, I suggest taking a picnic and walking round to the left where the fun of Amoudi really hits.
There’s cliff jumping and amazing views towards Thira and the caldera and volcano of Santorini, and you can while away an afternoon snorkelling and swimming in the dazzling, crystal clear water.
Just prepare yourself for the climb back up – poor old donkeys are on hand if you feel a heart attack approaching.
Places of interest around Oia, apart from its toy town, other worldly streets, include the infamous blue domed churches, and the windmill viewpoint cannot be missed at sunset.
Easy to stroll past, but very much worth visiting, is the Atlantis Bookshop, set up by two English backpackers 15 years ago.
They offer a lovely selection of books, including their own definitive guide to Santorini for 5 euros. There’s also options to ‘hire a cat’, and their rooftop balcony offers quieter, amazing views across the caldera.
Like many backpackers we met while in Greece, Gyros were pretty much our staple lunch and sometimes dinner in Santorini.
They’re so filling, not too unhealthy and only around two euros (2€).
Otherwise, most restaurants in the main towns will be around 15-20 euros for a burger or pasta dish.
There’s also a lot of places outside the main towns and on Perissa Beach that do deals for two including wine and a main meal for around 20 euros.
The Final Night in Santorini
Our final nights on Santorini were spent closer to the main town of Thira, away from the quieter south.
We stayed at the five star Caveland Hostel – built into actual caves, with each room carefully and colourfully decorated, as well as its exteriors and pool area.
They’ve got two cute doggies and provide free breakfast, yoga and massages.
We only paid around 20 euros a night, and with most breakfast plates coming in over 10 euros in Santorini, free breakfast is something it’s good to take note of when booking hostels or accommodation.
Read the full review of Caveland Santorini here.
So there you have it – you can drink in the magical sites of this unique jewel of the Cyclades for as little as 30 euros a day, including accommodation if you plan well.
Make sure your camera is charged up and fit, because as you can see from these photographs – every new blink opens up a place and scene you won’t want to forget.
Megan McEachern is a 25 year old travel writer and photographer from Scotland.
She has worked for the BBC, STV and MTV as well as writing for national newspapers and magazines. Recently returning from exploring and working in the Southern Hemisphere for a year and a half, she is editor of www.meggymac.com, a blog specializing in budget travel without scrimping on the destination.
She loves snowboarding, vintage cameras, plays the ukulele and has a fluffy white dog called Millie.
Megan currently lives in Glasgow and spends her weekends taking trips to Europe and exploring Scotland’s wilderness.
More Guides to Santorini
Make sure you give the best fun things to do in Santorini a read.
We also wrote a review on 5 best volcano cruises in Santorini.
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Hostel Packing List
It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.The most important things to pack are:
- eye mask
- key chain flashlight
- the right backpack, the Nomatic (our review of Nomatic here) or Lowe Alpine Lightflite 45 Pack
- packing cubes
- generic padlock (fitting all locker types)
- quick-dry travel towel
- universal power adapter
- travel-sized toiletries