Anyone who’s seen the photos wants to go there. Those who Expedia-ed it know it’s not cheap.
Travel Smart. Make the best use of your time and money @Santorini! I had the best five days my life on the magical Greek island for just over GBP 350 (HKD4,300). That’s including direct return British Airways flights from London, four nights in a hotel and three days of car rental. Moreover, I only booked two weeks before departure and it was coming up to peak season.
Here are a few tips I want to share with you, which may inspire you to travel there and are also useful takeaways for future trip planning.
1. Bring a friend (or two)
I enjoy travelling alone, but there’s nothing like sharing the experience and joy with a travel buddy (Thank you Bel!). They share the cost too (e.g. Hotels, car rentals, meals etc.)! ;)
2. Know your options
There are two legendary ways of getting from London to Santorini.
Option 1: London >> (Fly) Athens >> (Ferry) Santorini
- People generally perceive this to be a cheaper option
- It’s great if you have more than 5 days and want to visit Athens too.
- But beware that there are limited ferries every day and no night ferries (so you can’t sleep there for the night to save on hotel and time). Duration is 5-8hrs depending on the provider and price.
Option 2: London >> (Fly) Santorini
It was a more expensive option, as British Airways pretty much monopolized the route. At the time of our research, it was around GBP500 direct return.
UPDATE (after trip): EasyJet is now a notable BA competitor on this route, prices fluctuate a lot. Read more: http://goo.gl/YGRxww
The ferry option happened to be around GBP 100 (HKD1,200) more expensive, and also 3x less quality time on the beautiful island.
3. Cross-check multiple Online Travel Agents (OTAs)
Even same company’s .co.uk has different prices from its .com.hk
Remember I mentioned BA’s price was around GBP500? That’s the price on Skyscanner.net (UK version) and Expedia.co.uk. However, we accidentally found out a very different story if you use Expedia.com.hk (credits to Bel). Long story short, we managed to get the same deal for 1/3 of the price booking through Expedia.com.hk instead of the UK site.
This is something I don’t have enough data and information to give a legit explanation for… but this had happened before when I booked a package from HK to Tokyo during peak season. And booking via a UK travel agent site was cheaper than HK sites. My guess is supply and demand are not synced across all OTAs, so try the ones with less demand and compare!
4. Transportation. Driving. Taxi.
There are buses on Santorini, however, if you can drive, drive.
Time is money. Because we rented a car, we could go anywhere anytime; we watched sunset every evening at Oia and went to different beaches during the day. Renting a car on the island is affordable, petrol is cheap, and you can park literally anywhere for free.
5. Try out different hotels
a. We tried two. Very affordable (still had in-room balcony!) to classic white volcano cave with sea view infinity pool. We loved both! :)