Let’s Go Exploring! Santorini and Ios Greece: Glorious Sunsets, Cliffside Views, and Fantastic Value

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FIRECracker

FIRECracker is Canada's youngest retiree. She used to live in one of the most expensive cities in Canada, but instead of drowning in debt, she rejected home ownership. What resulted was a 7-figure portfolio, which has allowed her and her husband to retire at 31 and travel the world. Their story has been featured on CBC, the Huffington Post, CNBC, BNN, Business Insider, and Yahoo Finance. To date, it is the most shared story in CBC history and their viral video on CBC's On the Money has garnered 4.5 Million views.
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“Giddy” isn’t a word I’d use to describe myself, but that’s exactly how I felt.

Standing in our Caldera (“Cave View”) balcony over-looking the aquamarine Aegean Sea, I was on the top of the world.

The salty smell of the sea, the misty clouds, the sunrise over the cliffs. Who wouldn’t be giddy?

And to think we’d almost missed out on all this! Initially, Greece wasn’t even on our radar but thankfully that changed when our host, Luca, in Amsterdam proclaimed “GO TO SANTORINI! JUST GO!” before declaring “LET’S DO A JOINT”! (We quickly learned that Luca only has 2 volumes: silence or screaming)

Which is exactly why we like Airbnb better than hotels. Only the locals know exactly where you need go to get the best value.

And that’s exactly what we got with this place in Imerovigli, the highest point of the island. For a measly $40 Euros ($60CAD/$42USD), we got a balcony with Cliffside views and a giant pool in the backyard. Normally rooms like this on Santorini easily go for $200/night.

Needless to say, we spent A LOT of time on our balcony.

If my cubical had look like that back when I was still working, I would’ve loved Mondays a Hell of a lot more.

We quickly discovered the best (and funnest) way to get around Santorini—by ATV. The feeling of wind ruffling your hair, zipping along the coast is an experience not to be missed.

Unlike the tree that we almost slammed into on our way to “Red Beach”, when I clumsily did a 3 point turn on a small road. I was pretty proud of myself for getting us the rest of the way there without plunging off a cliff, but Wanderer was less than amused. Hey, he’s the one who let me drive, so really this is on him.

We arrived unharmed due to my excellent driving skills, and this is what we saw:

Basically the entire time there, I felt like I was on another planet. Red sand, turquoise waters, black volcanic ash in the background.

We enjoyed a nice refreshing swim, but the couple next to us bolted out of the water, complaining bitterly about it being “freezing” compared to California. Ahhh Californians. Clearly they have never felt the icy wrath of lake Ontario.

Now that I’d gotten the hang of not crashing, we decided to drive the ATV to nearby Oia, the town with the best sunset:

And mouth-watering seafood:

Driving back in the dark through winding roads over-looking the cliff was a bit unnerving, but we did get home with all limbs intact and only minimal amounts of screaming from Wanderer. I made sure to stay vigilant, watching for suspicious white vans the whole way.

After Santorini, we headed to Ios, the island of booze and packpacker parties, but since we were there during low season, the island was pretty deserted. So, not as fun as Santorini, but still pretty sweet to have the entire beach to ourselves:

Ios also happened to be one of the most relaxing and least expensive places we stayed in during our time in Eastern Europe, which helped to offset our costs from UK and Western Europe. Rooms could be had for as little as $20 Euros per day ($21 USD) in low season.

We happily explored the area, ate fresh seafood, and just chilled most of the time. As a result, our costs dropped from $4569 CAD ($3500 US) to $3454 CAD ($2600 US) for the month, even though we ate out almost everyday.

 

All in all, Greece completely blew us away. For a place that we weren’t even going to visit, it turned out to be one of the most memorable places and the best value.

Here’s how much we spent:

Category Cost/couple/day (CAD) Thoughts
Accommodations $51 Because it was low season, we were able to get a place with cliff view and pool in Santorini for a quarter of the regular cost. We also ended up saving a lot of money by staying in a cozy mom and pop Pensione on Ios for $30/night.
Food $43 $26 for eating out, $17 for groceries and alcohol. We cooked for breakfast, ate out everyday for lunch and then alternated between cooking and eating out every other day for dinner. Since we were on an island groceries wasn’t exactly cheap, but still very reasonable. There were lots of dinning options, ranging from pricier places with cliff-side views to inexpensive Gyros and Gelaterias with comfort food.
Attractions $5.4 There were so many free beaches and walking paths to explore, the only cost for attractions was the ATV rental at $20 Euros ($30CAD) per day, plus $12 Euros for gas ($18). Averaged out over the month, that comes out to only $5.4/day.
Transportation $12 We flew to Greece from Hungary with Ryanair and the only other transportation cost was the ferry to/from Santorini and Ios. Walking around the town of Imerovigli was pretty easy and Fira was walkable as well. Breath-taking panoramic views were everywhere and we didn’t meet a single walking path we didn’t like.
Total $111.40

Rating: 5/5 Caldera views

If you’ve never been to Santorini before, GO. GO NOW.

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29 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Santorini and Ios Greece: Glorious Sunsets, Cliffside Views, and Fantastic Value”

  1. We loved Greece so much that we moved here. Living on the island of Paros. It’s about 3 hours north of Santorini by ferry. Next time you’re in Greece, make sure to get in contact!

    Loving your blog. Thank you for sharing your inspiring journey 🙂

  2. AHHHH! Awesome I want to go! I was last in Greece to meet my new ship (US Navy) in 2008. We were in Mykonos. Actually I missed my ship, they had left due to storms so I was “stuck” in Mykonos alone for a few extra days 😀 . I was surprised how dry Greece is, the land reminded me of California in some ways. Beautiful though.

    1. Being stuck in Mykonos is definitely a good problem to have! I was pretty surprised how dry Greece was too. The entire time there it only rained once!

  3. A lifetime ago I took a freighter from Crete to Santorini. We arrived in the middle of the night under a full moon. To this day, it remains one of my most vivid memories. Travel or otherwise.

    I loved Santorini and have long wanted to go back. But I figured by now it was overrun by Californians, Canadians and other riffraff and way too crowded, expensive and spoiled.

    But you make it sound as I remember, although the ATVs are new. So, maybe there’s hope?

    1. While we were there, most of the tourists were from the cruise ships. But since we were there during low season and staying long term, we didn’t have to fight for space once they went back to the ship.

      Go during mid-Oct. Once Nov rolls around everything shuts down, but mid-Oct, there are still enough restaurants open and crowds are manageable. Prices are also WAY lower too.

    2. Went to Santorini in February 2015 and it was not at all crowded or expensive (and not really cold either). Our host, who was awesome, explained that the people you are wary of mainly populate the island from April to September. My wife and I can’t wait to go back.

        1. We flew from Athens, but took a ferry back when we left the island. The ferry is a fun option if you have the extra time, and there are supposedly lots of nice views to take in during a day trip (we did an overnight)

  4. My favourite Greek island is Kalymnos, which has all the rock climbing. Probably has a similar lifestyle to Santorini but also has cliffs. Also lots of goats which are cute in some ways but also quite insistent. Scooters are the way to get around there. I tried bicycles but they aren’t cheaper and they’re a lot harder on the hills. Maybe Mr. Money Mustache would even agree!

    1. Hmm, didn’t know about Kalymnos. We did a tiny bit of climbing on Santorini (the red one that is next to the high point in Imerovigli) but not the hardcore kind. It was fun. Going to have to add Kalymnos to our list for next time!

    1. Some of the places on Santorini were very posh, but I didn’t feel like spending $400/night 🙂 It was good letting the credit cards rest after the massive workout it got from UK and Switzerland.

  5. I was just there this past August it’s amazing! The scenery and color of the water can only be truly understood when you see it in person. I didn’t know water that blue existed!

    You are spot on regarding how cheap it is. We spent $433.00 total for 14 days. That includes flights, food, hotels, and all! We travel hacked transportation and hotel accommodations then only had to pay for food.

    Looks like it was a blast! Cheers!

      1. What is travel hacking. BTW really enjoying your blogs and quirky way of expressing yourself and the experience you and the wanderer are having. I am about to make my first purchase of ETF’s in little old NZ. We have 23 to choose from. Pew Pew from Down Under. Are you planning on coming our way in the near future?

        1. Thanks for the article link on travel hacking. I found the article just after I posted my comment….
          Well let me know when you do decide to come to NZ. I would be more than happy to provide my perspective of any destinations and attractions you are thinking of travelling to or doing. All the best for 2017 … pew pew

  6. So nice to see that you are enjoying yourself in Greece.

    Greece will definitely be one of he destination for my world travels.

    Ben

  7. Just by looking at these amazing pictures I feel giddy. Being an adventurer and foodie myself, I can feel Santorini, Greece calling to me. Your post has given me my holiday destination for 2017. The views are totally amazing and I can’t wait to try the cuisines there. Your post is an explorer’s piece of cake, and I have already jotted down my first resolution of the year: “Traveling to Santorini”.

    1. Awesome! Hope you enjoy it! The fresh seafood is out of this world and the views are breathtaking 🙂 Let me know how it goes.

  8. Was on Ios back in August of 1997 during Vorlesungspause. Spent most of my time at Cookie’s bar at Far Out Camping on Mylopotas beach. That was a fun summer. I still have the T-Shirt from Cookie somewhere “Trash your liver, not the Beach – Cookies’ Bar, Far Out Camping, IOS”. Also spent some time that summer on Santorini (Thira) drinking their home made wine (best wine ever, hands down) and attended the August 1997 full moon party at Paradise Beach, Mykonos (again, I have the T-Shirt from that event somewhere too).

    That was 20 years ago. Makes me wonder what happened to all of those people. That was a good summer.

    1. “Trash your liver, not the Beach”

      Ha ha. Love it. They need to also sell this T-shirt on the Thai islands.

      Glad you had a good time in Greece!

  9. Hi Firecracker, my husband and I are planning a trip to Greece. Any chance you could send a link to your Airbnb apt in Santorini?

    Thanks!

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