10 classic Mediterranean islands on a budget

With sunshine, superb beaches and charming towns, Ibiza, Mallorca, the famous Greek islands and other Med hotspots often come with A-list prices. Here’s how to enjoy them without spending too much cash

Even the epic photos don’t quite prepare you for Santorini, with its encircling black cliffs. The island was formed by an enormous volcanic eruption in 1600 BC, and the subsequently collapsing caldera formed these sheer faces. Its extraordinary landscapes justly attract hordes of visitors and, unsurprisingly, Santorini, or Thira in Greek, is one of the pricier Greek isles.
Stay The island’s volcanic soil produces renowned wine, and at Caveland caves dug from the volcanic pumice to be used as wine cellars now provide fun and stylish accommodation. Dorm beds cost from €23, doubles (book ahead: they sell out quickly) from €70.
Hang out Atlantis in the north-western town of Oia may just be the best bookshop on the planet; it certainly has one of the best settings, overlooking the sea in this whitewashed old town. Born through passion, and a bit of whimsy, it now runs food, film and literary festivals through the year.
Eat Naoussa calls itself a traditional taverna, although its prices are a little high. The food is good, though, and factor in the location (its terrace is a good place to watch the sun set over the caldera) and it’s a bargain (main courses from €10.50).
Day trip Boat trips run to Thirasia, another sliver of the island before its eruption, on the other side of the caldera. If you can, bring a moped, stay the night and explore what Santorini must have been like 30 years ago (there are a few old-style rooms to let from €40 for a double).
Way to go There is an airport (served by easyJet and Norwegian from Gatwick), but though it’s a longish ferry trip from Athens (6-9 hours, greeceferries.com, from €40), nothing beats entering the caldera by sea. It does leave you with the problem of making your way up the cliffs on the switchback road. A donkey ride is traditional, if not exactly comfortable.
Andy Bostock

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