Santorini vs. Athens: Which One Should I Visit?

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Santorini and Athens are some of the most iconic Greek Islands, so it’s easy to be confused when deciding which to choose for your next vacation. The breathtaking landscape, unusual architecture, and exquisite sunset of Santorini can be a difficult trade-off for the rich historical background, packed summer streets, and antiquated modernity in Athens.

You should visit Santorini if you prefer sunsets, romance, natural beauty, volcano views, sailing trips, and boutique hotels. Athens offers more in terms of history, culture, ancient ruins, and historic sites. Your choice will depend on your interests and how you plan to spend your time.

Cost of Stay: Weekly (USD)$907$598
TransportationPublic buses, taxis, car and motorbike rentals, organized tour buses, cable cars, and ferries.Organized tours, metro (subway), buses and trolleybuses, tram, suburban railway, taxis, car rentals, lime electric scooters, and happy train.
Notable AttractionsFira, Oia, Caldera, Akrotiri Archeological Site, Red beach, Pyrgos, and Beach at Perissa.The Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, National Archeology Museum, The Plaka and Anafiotika neighborhood, Ancient Agora, and Olympeioin.
WeatherMostly warm from June to September with splashes of rain, and cold from November to MarchHot months start from June, the hottest being July, and lasts till September, before the onset of cold from November to March.
Food and DrinkFava me Koukia, Tomatoe Gefthedes, Saganaki, Greek salad, Keftes, and Greek wine.Briam, Tomatoe Keftedes, Horiatiki salad, Retsina, Ouzo, and Octopus meal.
Activities for KidsMuseum for Prehistoric Thira, Kamari Beach, Sunset in Oia, Perissa Black Sand Beach, and Three Bells of Fira.The Parthenon, Theatre of Dionysus, The Acropolis Museum, Goulandris Modern Art Museum.
Nature AttractionsSkaros Rock, Perivolos Beach, Amoudi Bay, Nea Kameni, Perissa Black Sand Beach.Areopagus, Lake Beletsi, National Garden, Mount Lycabettus.

In the rest of this article, we’ll explore the cost of staying in both destinations, their main attractions, weather, food and drinks, safety, and transportation methods to help you decide where to spend your next vacation.

Cost of Stay

The cost of staying in Santorini varies depending on your preferences and taste in hotels, transportation, and cuisines. On average, a single tourist staying in Santorini for a week should budget about $907. If you’re traveling on a budget, consider visiting in the low and shoulder season.

For a budget traveler looking for cheap hotels with good weather, the best time to explore this exquisite Greek Island is between late May, early June, late September, or early October.

If your destination is Athens’s historical city, you should be ready to spend around $598 on transportation, food, accommodation, entertainment, etc. It’s best to visit between March to May and September to October to lessen your expenses, as tourist influx is usually low.

Best Affordable Hotels

Where you sleep is as important as where you visit. There are numerous affordable hotels to pick from in Athens. If you’re a minimalist, Amalia Hotel is the best fit for you.

It has been in existence since 1960, and its pride is in the simplistic yet artsy design it carries. The rooms are spacious and well-lit through the numerous windows in each room. However, the best thing about it could be its location, right on the National Gardens.

Santorini vs. Athens: Which One Should I Visit?

In Santorini, most hotels offer a view of the breathtaking Caldera, hence the reason for their pricey nature. However, some are more affordable than others. One of such is the Marvarit Suites, located in Mesaria. All conveniences, including satellite TVs, free Wi-Fi, are provided for guests, and every room has a sitting area, a desk, and a hairdryer. The hotel is situated close to the Monolithos and Karterados beaches.

Main Attractions

Even though Athens and Santorini are top vacation destinations in the world, they offer different values and attractions that you must be aware of before making your decision.

Your first stop should be at the capital of Santorini, Fira. Take long walks in the narrow alley of white-washed houses and blue-domed roofs of the Caldera’s expansive view right before you as you stride.

Consider taking a walk, about ten minutes to the capital, to the Firostefani Village, where you will face the unbelievable panoramic view of the island. Top your experience off with a ride on the cable car after you’ve descended over 500 stairs and enjoy the island’s view from another angle.

In Athens, be ready to fill your head with a lot of history, starting from the Acropolis, a testament of Athens’ might, once upon a time. The magnificent Parthenon temple on the Athenian Acropolis commands every visitor’s attention with its rows and columns of sculptures. The vastness of the temple itself inspires the thought of the endless vastness of the world.

Other iconic structures in the Athenian Acropolis are the Temple of the goddess Athena, the Temple of Athena Nike, The Erechtheion, and The Statue of Athena Promachos.

After experiencing the Acropolis, stroll southward into the famous Plaka district. The homely rural feel mixed with the somewhat urban floor is something you cannot miss. Ancient churches, restaurants, shops, and houses bounded by well-trimmed bougainvillea line the street.

Activities for Kids

As alluring as Santorini is, it can be a challenge to find activities suitable for kids. However, there are things you can do together with them. One of them is to walk from Fira to Oia. With so many distractions on the way, be sure to pack some food and set out early, preferably before the sun is out. Note that this is an activity you will enjoy with older kids.

The Acropolis tops the list of places kids can visit in Athens. They can tour the gigantic temples and experience the massive sculptures. Another place you can visit with your kids is the ancient Agora Workshop, where you’re allowed to create your artwork.

Food and Drinks

On a sailing boat in Santorini’s waters, that is the best place to enjoy Souvlaki and Gyros. As you take in the flavorful delicacy and blame yourself for packing on calories, you can dive into the water and burn some off.

Don’t forget to taste the Fava Puree with capers and scallions. The oven-baked Santorini white eggplant is heavenly, and top it all off with their abundance of wine. There is a reason Santorini is called the glutton’s heaven.

Athens is not short of culinary adventures. Bite through the saganaki’s crusty top and be thankful for its insides that melt in your mouth. Fruits and vegetables that are spicy, that’s what the Greek salad, Horiatiki Salata offers. It is a traditional Greek food. Don’t forget the spinach pie, as well as the Mousaka. Complete your meal, each time if you can, with the ever-satisfying Greek wine.


Like almost all other tourist destinations, the summer is the time for a massive influx of people. In Santorini, the weather is warm with little rain between late April and early November. The hottest weather is in June, July, August, or September. Hotels are generally cheaper from November to March.

For guaranteed sunshine, the best time to visit Athens is between March and May, and from September to November. During these months, the weather is warm but not blazing hot like in July and August. Athens has good weather year-round, but it can be wet from November to March. Most of the rainfall occurs during winter.


Greece is generally safe for tourists, and the crime rate in Santorini and Athens is low. However, you need to take some precautions and stay alert. Scammers often attempt to take advantage of visitors, so you should pay attention to whoever is offering help with your luggage. Also, beware of fake taxis without meters that try to overcharge tourists.

Street crimes like pickpocketing, mobile phone theft, and purse snatching are also at a high level in both destinations, so pay attention to the people around you at all times.


With the high influx of tourists from around the world into the island with the most beautiful sunset in the Mediterranean, it is only reasonable that there are ample transportation means. Santorini boasts of an array of transportation means to ease tourists’ movements. There are public buses to convey you from one place to another if you wish to explore the island that way.

Car rentals are available for those who wish to explore privately. You can also rent motorcycles to explore the secluded places at your convenience. Other means of transportation include cable cars from Fira to the town and ferries for movement between islands. Public buses are the cheapest means of transportation in Santorini.

Athens has more modern transportation. Buses, taxis, rented cars, scooters, and even organized tours are available. The fastest means of transportation in Athens is the subway. If you’re on a budget and wouldn’t mind the slow pace, the tram is an excellent choice.


For your next vacation away from the stress of daily life, Greece is a perfect place to catch that rest.

If you’re particular about serenity and calmness, Santorini is the place for you. The vastness of the chic boutiques and hotels’ waters and luxury, the whiteness of the buildings, and narrow alleys all come together for a peaceful feel.

Santorini is family-friendly, but there are only a few kid-oriented attractions. If you’re going on a vacation with your kids, Athens holds the biggest promise in that regard. Explore the different museums and temples that tell the history of western civilization.

Brittany Rajeckas

Brittany is a lifelong travel lover who can't get enough of hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities. When she's not actively traveling, she's usually already planning her next trip into the great unknown.

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