How to plan a holiday in Greece
I like to plan my holidays and I usually do it well in advance. On this occasion, I did not and I paid the price, quite literally. My first trip to Greece was expensive and painfully so, mostly because it never needed to be quite so costly.
If you're holidaying on a shoestring, the Greek Islands are less than ideal. But your visit to the Greece can be reasonably affordable... if you don't do what I did.
Tips for an Affordable Holiday to Greece
- Don’t travel in July. Flights, ferries and accommodation are all much more expensive during the peak tourist season between July and August. If you’re really desperate to travel to Greece in July, try booking well in advance — least six months out wouldn’t be a terrible idea. Not speaking from personal experience, obviously.
- But seriously, have you considered travelling to Greece in September? From all local accounts, it’s actually the best month to see the islands. The weather is a little bit milder, (a Greek summer can be very intense), accommodation is cheaper, and it’s far less busy, which makes it much easier to actually see the islands.
- Flights to Greece will never be cheap but, if possible, book your departure and return for a Wednesday or Thursday. These tend to be the cheapest days to fly. Even if you're not planning to visit in July or August, it pays to book early. Don’t, you know, start to book your flights four weeks before your planned departure date.
- The same applies to ferries from the Greek mainland to the islands. They quickly book out in the summertime, so be sure to book early to give yourself more options than just the expensive fast ferry.
- Book. Your. Accommodation. Early. I’m repeating myself for good reason. There is some variety in accommodation on the Greek Islands, there are even some hostels. But these are very popular islands and, as one might expect, hostels book out fast, as do other budget accommodation options. Don’t book your accommodation on the 21st of June if you’re planning to visit around the 15th of July, for example.
Accommodation in Santorini
- You probably don’t need to stay in a cave apartment right on the rim of the caldera of Firostefani in Santorini that provides unfettered sunset views. While all cheap accommodation options are likely booked out if you’ve left it late, there are some less expensive alternatives just a little further inland. Santorini is also really narrow. Staying a little more inland probably means you’re adding a short 10-minute walk to the popular coastal footpath. But if you’re a sucker for a view (like me), prepare to hand over all your spare euros on accommodation in Santorini.
- Fira, Oia and Imerovigli are the most popular spots to stay in Santorini but have you considered Perissa? Located on the island's south east coast, Perissa might not give you a caldera sunset view but accommodation there is easily more than half the price. Buses run between Perissa and Fira — just a 30-minute ride — and you can connect to Oia from there. Need more convincing? Perissa has an incredible black sand beach and you’ll be just a short bus ride from Ancient Thera. Why not go against the grain and watch the sunrise over Ancient Thera while the rest of the island is sleeping?
Eat and drink
- Look up affordable places to eat and drink in Mykonos and Santorini before you arrive. If you have fewer euros to spend on lunch than fingers on one hand, you’ll do well to be prepared. Affordable dining spots are not around every corner. Save time and money by plotting the best spots on a map before you arrive. Be prepared: you’ll mostly be dining on a combination of gyros, kebabs and souvlaki.
- Cocktails on the waterfront are always expensive. It would be wise to limit yourself to just one before moving a few paces inland to where the drinks are at least half the price.
Try Athens or Nafplion
- How about spending more time in Athens? Not only is Athens far more affordable than the Greek Islands but there is so much to see and do. From ancient ruins (like the Parthenon, for example) to world renowned museums and trendy eateries and rooftop bars, Athens is effortlessly cool.
- Not into the big cities? What about Nafplion? Bringing together beautiful beaches with incredible food (at amazing prices), Venetian architecture and lots of sightseeing opportunities, Nafplion is another great place to visit. Often overlooked by tourists (except Germans, the Germans know what’s up), Nafplion is a great addition to any itinerary. Be sure to tackle the steps to Palamidi Fortress for a sweeping view of the seaside town.
To learn from more of my travel mishaps during my holiday in Greece, read through 'You can totally see four Mykonos beaches in one day'.