An Expert Traveler Dishes On How To See Greece On A Budget
By DeAnna Taylor
Toni Tone has mastered the art of seeing destinations that others view as too expensive, on a budget. The 29-year-old U.K. based traveler recently gave us her secrets on how she has managed to visit Greece without breaking the bank.
Travel Noire: How many times have you visited Greece?
Toni: I have visited Greece three times — Zakynthos once and Santorini twice.
Travel Noire: Is Greece really as expensive as it looks?
Toni: Greece is like any other destination in Europe. It can be as expensive as you want it to be. I think when it comes to Santorini in particular, some people are of the opinion that it’s excessively pricey, which isn’t the case. I think those opinions are based heavily on the fact Santorini is so picturesque. People see images of it and seem to assume it’s inaccessible.
Travel Noire: When visiting Santorini, where is the best place to stay for those on a budget?
Toni: If you want to save money in Santorini, the best place to stay is in Fira. Fira is the capital of Santorini and on average, it’s less pricey than other key areas of Santorini — such as Oia and Imerovigli. While you can find better views outside of Fira, Fira is still very beautiful and also boasts great views of its own. Fira is also more lively and bustling but can be quiet on the outskirts if that’s your preference. There are also many more dining options, to suit all budgets.
Travel Noire: You took some amazing photos at pools and hotels, how can one duplicate them?
Toni: Some luxury hotels let you use their facilities if you spend money in their restaurant or at their pool bar. Be sure to email them in advance for permission or reservations though. Don’t just assume you can rock up! When you think about it, it’s great marketing for them. Not only do they end up making money from non-guests, but they also get free online promotion from people taking photos at their establishments and posting them on social media. I think more places should follow suit, providing it doesn’t spoil the experience for paying guests.
Travel Noire: What do you suggest for transportation?
Toni: If you intend on visiting Santorini with one person, or by yourself; I recommend buses for transportation. As like anywhere, they’re much cheaper than taxis. In Santorini, the main bus station is in Fira and the buses can take you to each end of the island for under five euros. The buses are also very clean and air-conditioned which makes for comfortable traveling. If you’re a confident driver, you can also rent scooters for the day. This is a good idea if you want to see as much of the island as you can, in a short space of time.
Travel Noire: Can you give us the rundown on places to eat?
Toni: If you want a reasonably priced breakfast, I recommend Galini Cafe in Fira. Their omelets are delicious, and so is their French toast. You also get a decent view of the caldera (collapsed volcano) from there. For cheap and cheerful grub, you can’t go wrong with Greek gyro or souvlaki (strips or cubes of meat, usually served in pita). Lucky’s Souvlakis in Fira, is the most popular souvlaki spot on the island, and the food is very cheap. If you don’t mind paying a lot more money to eat and you want a breathtaking view or a romantic setting, I highly suggest visiting Kapari Wine Restaurant in Imerovigli. If you can, ask for an outdoor table from 6-7pm, so you can watch the sunset. I can honestly say, watching the sunset from that restaurant was one of my most memorable Santorini moments.
Travel Noire: How did you prepare and budget for this trip?
Toni: I always use my budgeting tool to help me plan my vacations. It’s a document I developed many years ago, and it allows me to budget for trips, while simultaneously knowing how the vacation will impact my finances when I return. If anyone wants to check it out, you can find out more about it and purchase it here.
Travel Noire: Are there any other tips you can give?
Toni: Do your research before you go! For example, some hotels get bad room reviews, but they have awesome pools open to paying customers. Some restaurants have basic food but serve great cocktails and have amazing views to match. Choose where to go wisely. I recommend using TripAdvisor before visiting anywhere new.
Travel Noire: Where can our audience reach you for follow-up questions?
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.