How to spend 5 days in Santorini

Going on holiday on a budget as a student

Santorini is one of the most famous islands in Greece with a lot of things to do. Every year around two million tourists go to visit the beautiful island with its buildings with blue domes and amazing views, according to specialist travel agency Greeka.com.

I went to Santorini in the first week of April this year and I will share my experience and tips with you.

A little disclaimer: This article is just from my own experience, and it does not mean that everyone should follow it.

If you decide to visit Santorini, you need to choose how you want to get there. Some people arrive at Athens airport, the capital of Greece, and then take the ferry to Santorini which is a few hours, but for me, it was easier and cheaper to take the plane from Gatwick Airport to Fira Airport, which lies directly on the island.

Before you travel, I would advise you to book a car because you will need it during your stay. If there are just two of you, like we were, a small car, even a two-seater is enough because you will have to climb hills and drive through narrow roads sometimes.

Most car pick-ups are a five-minute walk from the airport and easy to find. We picked up our car and went straight to our Airbnb, which we booked on the Airbnb website.

I always prefer an Airbnb on my holidays because I do not like to be restricted when I must eat or what I have to eat in the hotel. An Airbnb is more like a home for a few days where you can cook your own meals.

We arrived around the afternoon, so we just spent the rest of the day exploring our surrounding area and went food shopping for the next days.

Our Airbnb was up in the mountains, which was lovely, and we had an amazing view from our terrace overseeing the ocean, the village, and more beautiful mountains around us. I recommend staying outside of the town centre to save money.

The island is small and depends on where you are staying it does not take long to get to the town centre. As an example from the north of the island to the south it takes around 20-30 minutes by car.

On our second day, we went to Thira, I would say the main city on the island. It is an adorable little city where you can shop, eat, and drink in small alleys. Most of the shops are very tourist-oriented but in a cute way and not like these loud horrible tourist shops you find for example here in London.

If you want to buy ice cream in Santorini, you will pay around €14 for two people, which is very expensive in my opinion. But I find this was one of the rare things that were high in price. 

The food itself was generally mid-priced, and compared to London I found it cheap, even though everyone says it is an expensive island.

We walked around this city a lot and one piece of advice I would give you is, besides nice summer slippers, pack some comfortable trainers as well. The island and especially the towns have stairs and plenty of the surfaces are uneven, making for a challenging walk. Your feet will forgive you for wearing your trainers. I know for some people, myself including wearing trainers in summer is hell, but here it is the better option.

We spent the third day on a three-hour boat trip that took us from Thira port to Nea Kameni, an volcanic island, which I highly recommend. On the island, you will hike to the top of an old volcano, which was surprisingly steaming as it was so hot, with a stunning view as you can see around the whole island.

We had enough time to explore the volcano by ourselves and take pictures. For this trip, my advice again is to wear trainers because I did not, and I wish I had. It is not the end of the world, but it is just more comfortable for hiking.

The next stop of the trip was the natural bath, where you swim in water that has been turned a coppery red colour from the volcano. We jumped from the boat and swam around 40 meters to the bay into the reddish water – and though we had been told it would be hot, it was more of a gentle lukewarm temperature, still a bit warmer than the ocean. Maybe during the peak time of summer, when the ocean is heated up, the bay is warmer.

After this amazing experience in the ocean, we swam back to the boat and headed back to the port where we hopped onshore. 

If you are considering going to Santorini, do any kind of boat trip with some activities because it is worth it. We paid €25 for our trip, which was a fair price for this experience.

On the fourth day, we went to the Perissa beach which I highly recommend. I loved it there, the water was clear, and I could see my feet, which is very important for me when I am going into the ocean, otherwise I am a bit scared. The sand was black due to the volcanic stones, which was different but interesting. 

After our swim, we drove up to Oia, the north of the island and spent some time there walking through and exploring the small, beautiful town. It was not very busy, which I enjoyed but I think that was due to the time of the year.

In the evening we went to Barolo, an awesome restaurant with a breath-taking sunset view, which we took in while we were waiting for our food. For dinner, we had seafood pasta, lamb skewer with the best mashed potatoes and some bread. To be honest, I am not the biggest fan of eating out as most of the time I am disappointed, but this restaurant convinced me, and I highly endorse it. In general, my recommendation is to eat out at least once in a restaurant with an amazing view where you can watch the sunset.

On our last day, we drove to the west end of the island, to the Lighthouse of Akrotiri, where we had again an amazing view from another side of the island. We walked to the edges of the cliffs, which was a bit scary, and we had to be very careful because there was no fence or anything to protect us. But the view was worth it.

When our departure day rolled around it was with heavy hearts that we left what had become our second home. Not only had we fallen for this little island but we were all too aware of the weather waiting to greet our return to London. Still, holiday blues aside, we were happy that we had the opportunity to visit Santorini so we can tick one more destination from our bucket list.

Santorini tips:

  • TRAVEL OFF-PEAK, because the island is quite small and personally, I know I would not enjoy this island in peak time with overcrowded alleys all the time.
  • If you decide to travel around the end of March or the beginning of April, do not underestimate the sun. During the day it is strong already and I got a bad sunburn.
  • However, in the evenings, it still gets cold, so pack your jumper, light jacket, and long trousers.
  • Hire a car or a quad for comfortable travels. Buses are available as well, but I recommend your own vehicle for comfort.

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