Santorini is undoubtedly one of the most famous islands in the world and, that fame is well deserved. It is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. Its shape and incredible landscape was formed after a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC. It is best known for its dramatic cliff views over the ocean, its white houses and its breathtaking sunsets. Having experienced it all last summer, we can say that none of it is overrated!
The two major towns on Santorini that everyone hears about are Thira and Oia. They are the most popular for good reasons. It is in these two towns that you will get the best views and the best overall “Santorini experience”.
They are also both known for some of the most iconic sunset views in the world. We were lucky enough to experience one in each town and they truly are at the top of our “best sunset” list.
The most high end restaurants and stores will also be found in this area. With that being said, staying in those two towns, especially Oia, comes with a pretty hefty price tag.
It was unfortunately outside of our backpacker budget and so we decided to stay in the much less known town of Perissa. We have made a list of Pros and Cons from our experience.
Pro #1 – Affordable accomodation
Staying in Perissa instead of the other 2 popular towns will save you a significant amount of money. We found an incredible hostel to stay at right on the black sand beach. It is called Utopia Guesthouse. They offer private rooms as well as dorm accommodation. We were able to get a private room at a pretty reasonable price for Santorini standards. We really enjoyed our stay at here and 100% would recommend it. Not only were the rooms spacious, clean and air-conditioned, the host also had a vegetarian restaurant and bar right on the beach! The bar is open to the public but you are staying at the hostel, you get free coffee in the morning, free water as well as a discount on drinks! They also had free beach chairs to lounge on! Unfortunately, we somehow lost almost all the pictures we took at the hostel but you can check them out here to see more pictures and get more information.
Pro #2 – Black Sand Beach
Although Santorini is an island, it does not have the typical Greek white sand beaches with crystal clear water. It is a lot more all about the towns and the scenic views. The great thing about Perissa, is that it has the black sand beach. In our opinion, it is the best beach in Santorini if you want to swim and lay around for a few hours. The water is super clean and clear and the beach is spacious and there are plenty of beach chairs to rent if your accommodation doesn’t provide any. We definitely took advantage of being right on the beach to spend a couple hours each day taking some sun and cooling off in the sea.
Pro # 3- Affordable food and drinks
Perissa was definitely the most affordable of the 3 towns we visited in all aspects. We were able to get dinner for under 10 euros and a foot-long gyro for lunch for only 5 euros! There were also small markets where you could get snacks and groceries if you have access to a kitchen. We were also able to get a 2L bottle of good wine for 5 euros which was definitely a big win for us! Eating and drinking in Thira or Oia could easily cost you double if not even triple at most restaurants.
Con #1- Transportation to Thira and Oia
We chose to use the public transit system from Perissa to enjoy the 2 more popular towns. The schedule for these busses indicates that they come about every 20-30 minutes. Unfortunately, that was not always true. And even when they are on time, sometimes they are full before they get to your stop so the driver will continue on. On our first evening on Santorini, we had to wait almost 90 minutes before we were able to get on the bus to Thira. The bus rides also take much longer than you would expect. It took us about 45 minutes to get from Perissa to Thira and if we wanted to go to Oia, we had to take another 45 minute-bus from Thira to Oia. It is definitely not the most convenient way to travel around the island but it is the most affordable. The better way would be to rent a scooter or a 4-wheeler to have more freedom, but it will cost you an extra 30-40 euros per day. Another thing to note, if you have a sensitive stomach and are prone to motion sickness, these buses can be a little rough. The roads are winding and the ride is full of sudden stops and gos. We saw more than one person getting sick on the bus during our 3 days here.
Con #2- Not much life in the town
If you are staying in an accommodation like ours where the is a bar and music in the evening, this might not be a problem for you, but otherwise there is not much to do in Perissa. The buses to other towns stop running between 10 and 11 pm so unless you want to pay a very expensive taxi fare, your evenings will be spent in Perissa. If you walk along the beach, you are likely to find a hostel that has some nightlife but in the town’s main street, after dinner time it is pretty much dead.
Overall, Perissa was a great fit for our budget! If you want to save some money and are willing to sacrifice some convenience and use the public buses, than Perissa will be a great option for you.
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Lots of Love,
Ben and Bianca