A Travel Price Comparison for Greece Santorini vs. Heraklion for Couples, Attractions, Food, and Nightlife

Should you visit Santorini or Heraklion?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

If you're trying to decide where to visit between Santorini or Heraklion, this travel comparison, which includes costs, can help. The overall cost of travel is usually a consideration when deciding where to go next, and the cost comparison down below can help you decide based on the average prices from other travelers along with your own travel budget.

Santorini

Santorini is a historic, romantic, and stunning island. It's considered by many to be an absolutely beautiful destination, too. Because of its quaint atmosphere, it draws plenty of visitors, too. Visitors also love the food, scuba diving and snorkeling, and beaches.

Heraklion

Heraklion is a bustling, historic, and vibrant city. It's a large city, so you'll find plenty of things to do around town. Visitors also love the museums, nightlife, and food.

Santorini and Heraklion: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Nice resorts
  • Good scuba and snorkeling destination
  • Popular beach
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
  • Quaint atmosphere
Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Active nightlife
  • Popular beach
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers


Is there more to do in Santorini or Heraklion?

Visitors will generally find more to do in Heraklion than Santorini. While Santorini is larger than Heraklion, Heraklion has more sights, attractions, and activities for tourists. Heraklion is better known for its museums, food, nightlife, beaches, and big city activities, while Santorini is more popular for its resorts, scuba diving & snorkeling, hiking, shopping, impressive beauty, and quaint atmosphere. Santorini is more touristy than Heraklion and is known for its beautiful volcanic beaches, stunning natural beauty, and breathtaking sunsets over the whitewashed villages. Heraklion is well known for its archeological sights, local Cretan restaurants, and its vibrant nightlife scene. Also, Heraklion is famous for The Palace of Knossos.

How is Santorini different from Heraklion?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Heraklion and Santorini. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Santorini or Heraklion?

Santorini
Heraklion

Heraklion is a great city for its historical sights. Also, Santorini is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its sights and museums.

With a variety of museums, monuments, and historical sights, a trip to Heraklion can be an interesting and educational experience. The city is filled with historical sights and archeological ruins. The impressive Palace of Knossos is a must-see, but also make sure you visit the Koules Fortress, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, and the Natural History Museum of Crete.

If you're looking for an educational opportunity, there are a decent number of museums and historical sights around Santorini. One of the most impressive historical sights is Akrotiri Archaeological Site. The island has many archeological sites as well as the Archeological Museum in Fira.


Is the Food Better in Santorini or Heraklion? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Santorini
Heraklion

Heraklion is a great city for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Santorini is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Heraklion has a huge number of terrific restaurants. The city is home to countless Cretan restaurants that range in style and budget. There are fine dining restaurants as well as local dives with casual street food. The restaurants reflect the island's multi-cultural past with many styles and flavors available.

There are many up and coming restaurants in the Santorini area. Popular foods on this island include fava, Greek salad, and kofta.

Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Nightlife?

Santorini
Heraklion

Heraklion is a great city for nightlife and partying. Also, Santorini is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its evening party scene.

The nightlife in Heraklion has something for everybody. The city has some of the best nightlife on the island of Crete. There are many all-night clubs as well as bars that stay open until 2 or 3 in the morning. In particular, there are many British tourists hanging out at the clubs and bars.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Santorini. It is one of the calmer, more romantic islands in Greece. For the best nightlife, you'll want to stay near Fira.

Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Resorts?

Santorini
Heraklion

Santorini is a world-class destination for its luxury resorts. However, Heraklion is not a resort destination.

Santorini is a world class resort vacation destination. The resorts range from all-inclusive options to resorts with a more local feel. The island is one of the most romantic of the Greek Islands, and the resorts are no exception.

Heraklion is not a resort destination.


Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Scuba Diving and Snorkeling?

Santorini
Heraklion

Santorini is a island with good options for its diving and snorkeling. However, Heraklion is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

It's fun to get in the water and check out the local marine life in Santorini. Some of the best snorkeling places are found at Red Beach, White Beach, and the less accessible Kambia. One of the island's best diving spots is Caldera Beach.

Heraklion is not a scuba or snorkeling destination.

Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Beaches?

Santorini
Heraklion

Heraklion is a great city for the beache. Also, Santorini is not as popular, but is still a nice island for the beach.

You'll have a great beach vacation in Heraklion. You'll find world-class beaches just outside of town, if you're willing to explore a little. Agia Pelagia Beach is about half an hour away and Limanakia Beach is also not a bad day trip. If you want to stay closer to town, head to nearby Amnissos Beach.

Plenty of visitors enjoy relaxing on the beach in Santorini. The island has many beaches, most of which are made of black pebbly sand that are a result of the island's volcanic history. Popular beaches include Perissa Beach, Kamari Beach, and Perivolos Beach.

Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Hiking?

Santorini
Heraklion

Santorini is a island with good options for its hiking trails. However, Heraklion is not a hiking destination.

Plenty of visitors go hiking around Santorini. The best hiking trails on the island pass by quaint villages and offers stunning ocean views. You can also hike along the edge of a volcano.

Heraklion is not a hiking destination.


Is the Shopping Better in Santorini or Heraklion?

Santorini
Heraklion

Santorini is a very popular place for its shopping opportunities. Also, Heraklion is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for its shopping areas.

Santorini is well-known for its shopping. Towns around the island are filled with clothing and jewelry boutiques as well as many unique Greek shopping experiences.

Many visitors go to Heraklion to go shopping. There are a number of unique shops around town that sell everything from traditional pottery to homemade jewelry.

Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Families?

Santorini
Heraklion

Santorini and Heraklion are both notable destinations for the whole family.

Santorini offers lots of family activities. It is a calmer destination than many of the Greek Islands. While it's a great place to relax with kids, the beaches aren't as good as they are on some of the other islands. Most families hang out in Kamari and Perissa Beach.

Heraklion is a family-friendly place to visit. In town you'll find many historical and educational sights such as the Palace of Knossos, the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, and the Koules Venetian fortress. Kids will also enjoy walking the Venetian Walls that are in town. If you're willing to head a bit outside of town, in about half an hour you can reach the Cretaquarium, Dinosauria Park, or Acqua Plus Water Park.

Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Couples?

Santorini
Heraklion

Santorini is a world-class destination for its romantic activities. Also, Heraklion is not quite as popular, but is fairly good for couples.

Santorini is a great island for couples, as it has plenty to offer. It is a dream honeymoon destination that is famous for its picturesque setting and luxury resorts. For many couples, this is a top pick for a romantic trip to the Greek Isles.

Couples visit Heraklion frequently as it offers plenty of romantic activities. Most couples head outside of town to other parts of the island, but those who linger in town for a while will enjoy world-class museums and fascinating archeological sights.


Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Santorini
Heraklion

Heraklion is a great city for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Santorini is not as popular, but is still a nice island for backpackers.

Many backpackers visit Heraklion. The city is filled with budget-friendly hostels that often have a social atmosphere and a fun vibe.

Santorini is a good island to visit for backpackers. The island has its share of 5 star resorts, but if you head a few streets in you'll find some surprisingly affordable accommodation. Backpackers are welcomed on the island and beaches are free, so it's possible to get by on a relatively low budget.

Is Santorini or Heraklion Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Santorini
Heraklion

Santorini and Heraklion both offer notable public transit to get you around.

While Santorini offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There is a bus system, KTEL Santorini Buses, that runs 23 buses during the summer months but only a small fraction of that operate during the winter months.

Heraklion has a few public transit options. KTEL buses travel both within town and to nearby villages.

Is Santorini or Heraklion a more walkable city?

Santorini
Heraklion

Heraklion is a great city for its high level of walkability. Also, Santorini is not as popular, but is still a nice island for its ease of walking around.

Heraklion is a very walkable city. Many parts of the town are walkable and doing a walking tour is a great way to see many of the city's sights.

Santorini is a somewhat walkable island. Many towns on the island are walkable, including Fira, but the actual island is too large to explore on foot.


For even more information, also check out Is Santorini Worth Visiting? and Is Heraklion Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Heraklion or Santorini?

How long in Santorini or Heraklion?

Visitors can find plenty of fun things to do in both Santorini and Heraklion. With generally more activities and things to do, visitors tend to spend more time in Santorini than in Heraklion. Usually, 3-7 days is a good amount of time for Santorini, and 1-3 days is enough time in Heraklion.

Families should spend more time in Heraklion than Santorini. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Heraklion, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Santorini than Heraklion. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Santorini that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Heraklion than Santorini if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Heraklion.


  • How many days in Santorini or Heraklion? Ideal Length of Stay
    Santorini 3-7 
    Heraklion 1-3

One day in Santorini or Heraklion?

You'll find nightlife and food around the quaint island of Santorini. People often spend their time relaxing at one of the resorts. Since there is so much to do in the area, one day is probably not enough for all of it. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

You'll find shopping and museums around the city of Heraklion. Many visitors spend time at the beach while visiting the area. One day is a great amount of time to relax and see the many things that Heraklion has to offer. It has many unique tourist attractions and fascinating things to do.

A weekend in Santorini or Heraklion?

You'll find food and scuba diving and snorkeling around the romantic destination of Santorini. You can also relax and pamper yourself at one of the resorts. A weekend is usually not enough time for a trip here as there is plenty to do. This island offers a variety of activities to choose from.

You'll find museums and nightlife around the accessible destination of Heraklion. People usually spend lots of time at the beach. This is a popular place to visit for a weekend.A weekend should give you a good understanding of everything this city has to offer. This city offers a variety of activities to choose from.

Five days in Santorini or Heraklion?

You'll find scuba diving and snorkeling and shopping around the romantic island of Santorini. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. If you have five days, this island makes for a great vacation. It's also a relaxing resort destination. Five days should give you a good understanding of everything this island has to offer.

Travelers enjoy the nightlife and food when visiting the accessible city of Heraklion. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. It's also a great beach destination, too. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.


A week in Santorini or Heraklion?

Santorini is a popular choice for travelers. One week here is typical. People enjoy relaxing at one of the resorts. While some people choose to spend more or less time in Santorini, one week is sufficent for most. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.

Heraklion is a popular choice for travelers. It's a great spot for a beach vacation. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips. It will give you the chance to have new experiences.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Luxury Tours to Greece, The Best Budget Tours to Greece, The Best Tours for Seniors to Greece, and The Best Contiki Tours to Greece.


Which place is cheaper, Heraklion or Santorini?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Santorini is €175, while the average daily cost in Heraklion is €158. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Santorini and Heraklion in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Santorini 93
    Heraklion 81
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Santorini 186
    Heraklion 162
Compare Hotels in Santorini and Heraklion

Looking for a hotel in Santorini or Heraklion? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Santorini


Hotels in Heraklion


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Santorini Hotel Prices and Heraklion Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Santorini 28
    Heraklion 31

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Santorini

Also for Santorini, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Wedding Transfer for Guests: $25
  • VIP Limo Transfers From & To Santorini Port: $82
  • Try find your better than us! Airport transfer service in Santorini APT-HTL(JTR): $31
  • Transfer Perissa To Oia : $46
  • Transfer From or To Santorini Airport Designed By You: $15
  • Shuttle Transfers From or To Santorini Port: $21
  • Shared transfer to/from the airport/port : $74
  • Shared Transfer From Airport and Port to Santorini: $17
  • Shared Transfer : $33
  • Shared Departure Transfers to Airport or Port Santorini : $33
  • Shared Arrival Transfer: Santorini Airport to Hotel or Cruise Port: $27
  • Shared Arrival Transfer from Airport or Port to Oia Village: $54

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Heraklion

Also for Heraklion, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • From Private Helicopter Transfer to Greek Islands: $4,006
  • Knossos and Arch Museum of Heraklion (Guide+Transfer+Ticket) : $229
  • Knossos palace & the Archaeological museum of Heraklion (with Transfer): $217
  • KNOSSOS PALACE private tour ( with Transfer from Heraklion Prefecture ): $196
  • Semi Private Wine and Olive Oil tour (Transfer & Lunch Incl.): $162
  • Transfer Heraklion Airport to RETHIMNO CITY area up to 7 : $157
  • Transfer Heraklion Airport to ELOUNTA area up to 7 customers: $139
  • Heraklion Int Airport (HER): Transfer to Heraklion hotels: $136
  • Heraklion Cruise Port: Private Transfer to Heraklion city: $136
  • Transfer Heraklion Airport to Panormos area up to 7 customers: $131
  • Transfers in Crete from-to Airports/Ports/Hotels/Villas: $128
  • Private Transfer from Heraklion Airport to Georgioupolis: $126

Is it cheaper to fly into Santorini or Heraklion?

Prices for flights to both Heraklion and Santorini change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Santorini 48
    Heraklion 52

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Santorini

For Santorini, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Santorini Caldera: Sunset Cruise with Dinner: $69
  • Romantic Sunset Caldera Cruise with Dinner: $69
  • Volcanic Sunset Cruise with Dinner: $80
  • Catamaran Tour with BBQ Dinner, Drinks, and Music: $91
  • Volcano and Hot Springs Sunset Dinner Cruise: $96
  • Santorini Sunset Dinner Cruise Including Nea Kameni Visit: $98
  • Santorini Cooking Class with Wine Tasting: $107
  • Santorini Volcano Sunset Cruise Including Dinner on Board: $108
  • The Aegean Cooking Class: $109
  • Cooking Class in Traditional cave house in Santorini!: $120
  • Sunset Cruise with Swim Stops, Dinner, and Drinks: $120
  • Fira: 4-Hour Walking Food Tour With Tastings: $123

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Heraklion

For Heraklion, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • From Village Cretan Night, Live Dancers & dinner: $48
  • Cretan Night with Dinner & Live Show: $49
  • Crete: Olive Oil Festival, Farm Dinner, Live Show & Pickup: $59
  • Cretan Farm with scenic view: Olive Mill Festival & dinner: $64
  • Amazing Sunset Safari Route with Dinner: $83
  • Cook with Locals | Cretan cooking Class at Archanes (transfer - lunch included): $86
  • Crete: Land Rover Safari with Sunset Viewing, Dinner, & Wine: $90
  • Full-Day Jeep Safari Tour with Cooking Lesson: $97
  • Food tour tasting walking tour: $123
  • E-bike Food Tour Tasting in Heraklion : $125
  • Walking Food Tour to Explore and Eat in Heraklion: $144
  • Private Interactive Cooking Class with Aggeliki : $158

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Santorini 36
    Heraklion 38

Tours and Activities in Santorini

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Santorini.

  • Santorini Panoramic Blue Shade Tour-Firostefani, Imerovigli, Oia: $62
  • 3 Hour Tour in Oia: $120
  • 3-Hour Santorini Highlights Tour: $71
  • 4 Hour Eat and Drink Private Tour in Santorini: $295
  • 4 Hour Private Guided Tour in Santorini: $218
  • 4 Hours Private Custom Tour in Santorini: $185
  • 4 hrs island tour and photoshooting, Oia Blue domes, Red beach : $196
  • 4-Hour Private Custom Santorini Tour: $161
  • 5-Hour Private Custom Santorini Tour: $182
  • 5-Hour Private Tour of Southern Santorini: $400
  • 6 Hours Land Tour Ideal for Cruise Ship Passengers: $283
  • 6 Hours Santorini Private Tour: $250

Tours and Activities in Heraklion

For Heraklion, here are a few prices for actual activities, tours, and tickets provided by various companies:

  • 4x4 Safari tour Southern Crete Tripitis Gorge: $108
  • Adventure Safari Tour Secrets of the southern Crete : $100
  • Ηeraklion Walking Tour with Archaeological Museum: $82
  • 4-Hour Giouchtas Trekking Hiking Experience from Heraklion: $90
  • 4x4 self drive adventure: $87
  • Adventure Jeep Safari Amazing sunset : $85
  • Agios Nikolaos-Spinalonga-Elounda Tour TR: $47
  • All Year Tour to Knossos Palace & Heraklion: $616
  • All-Day Knossos Palace Tour & Olive Mill Visit: $693
  • Archaeological Museum of Heraklion Tour: $86
  • Archaeological Museum of Guided Walking Tour: $85
  • Archeological Museum of Heraklion & City tour: $196

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Santorini 26
    Heraklion 26

Sample the Local Flavors in Santorini

Also in Santorini, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Half Day Simply Santorini Tour with Wine Tasting: $60
  • Top Sights Day Trip, Wine Tasting, & Oia Sunset: $62
  • Fira Town Walking Tour with Wine Tasting: $75
  • Visit to a Wine Museum and Wine Tasting in Santorini : $76
  • Notos Day Tour through History & Wine Tasting: $98
  • Santorini 4 Hour Private Oia Tour & Wine Tasting : $104
  • Wine Tour with Sunset in Oia: $105
  • Santorini Highlights Small-Group Tour with Wine Tasting from Fira: $109
  • Wine Tour Santorini: $118
  • 3-Hour Wine Tasting in Santorini : $125
  • Small Group Local Wine Tasting Tour In Santorini : $131
  • Wine tasting and Carving lesson in Santorini: $131

Sample the Local Flavors in Heraklion

Also in Heraklion, these are the prices for nightlife and alcohol related activities from various tour providers:

  • Ecobike Tour with Wine Tasting: $94
  • Wine Tasting E-Bike Tour: $95
  • Ecobike Wine Tasting Tour in Heraklion: $114
  • Half Day Small Group Wine Tour with wine Tastings: $125
  • Half Day Semi Private Wine Tour with Tastings: $133
  • Full Day-Ecobike Old Villages Tour & Wine Tasting: $142
  • Semi Private Heraklion Valley Wine Tour with Lunch: $159
  • The Gourmet Wine Tour of Heraklion area: $180
  • Private SUV Wine Tour with Lunch: $182
  • Full day Knossos Palace, Local Distillery, Lunch @ Archanes: $192
  • Knossos, Olive Mill, Winery - Distillery with Tastings & Lunch : $196
  • All in One - Ecobike City Tour - Food Tasting - Wine Tasting: $200


When comparing the travel costs between Santorini and Heraklion, we can see that Santorini is more expensive. However, the two cities are actually relatively comparable in price, as the difference is somewhat minimal. Generally, this means that you could travel with generally the same travel style and level of luxury in each place. Since both cities are in Europe, it's no surprise that their costs are relatively close, as many destinations here have somewhat similar travel prices overall.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Santorini Expensive? and Is Heraklion Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Santorini or Heraklion?

Santorini has a larger population, and is about 4 times larger than the population of Heraklion. When comparing the sizes of Santorini and Heraklion, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.