For a lot of people, the small Greek island of Santorini is a dream destination.
Indeed, it is exceedingly beautiful! From the moment you step off the boat and take the long, zigzag road up the mountain, you will see a picture-perfect scene with clear blue skies, ancient doorways, white-painted walls, and pastel-colored roofs.
You will never get a bad shot when you take photographs in Santorini. The whole place itself is straight out of a storybook.
And when you go visit during spring when there are not so many people, the villages of Oia and Fira are a study of serenity.
There are no hordes of tourists taking turns making a jump shot. It’s just you and the occasional wanderers walking around Oia and Fira’s sharp corners and meandering alleys. It was the perfect place for me to take a rest on my 7th week of solo backpacking in Europe.
With all its beauty, Santorini can be very pricey especially during the summer season. If you would like to wake up with a view of the caldera, for example, you can stay in one of the numerous traditional houses by the cliff and pay 80 euros per night and up for the privilege.
As a backpacker, I was definitely on the lookout for cheaper accommodations. I didn’t know if it was possible in Santorini, despite it being off season. After all, beauty doesn’t come cheap!
I was very glad then to have found Caveland Hostel; not only did I meet my budget of 15 euros/night, I also got to stay in the best hostel I’ve ever known.
Located in the small village of Karterados, a 20-minute walk from Fira town, Caveland has beauty and history perfectly combined. All the pictures online didn’t prepare me for the reality of Caveland.
Aptly named because of the cave-like accommodations that used to be a winery back in the 1700s, everything in it fits the light and airy atmosphere of Santorini, with its light-colored walls and artistic bric-a-brac decorating the place.
The small touches — from the wall mosaic made of discarded red tiles to the chandelier made of grape vines — give Caveland a unique and very personal touch. Each decor has its own story to tell, and there is nobody more willing to share it than their creator, Caveland co-owner Kostas Sakavaras.
“People throw away a lot of things in Santorini that I can still use,” Kostas says, over a plateful of spicy vegetarian spaghetti that his brother and business partner Giannis Sakavaras hurriedly fixed after a long day’s work. “I pick them up from the streets, or people give them to me, and I make my wall decors.”
Among the hundred and one things he had rescued from the dump is an old part of a wooden church altar which the pastor had decided to replace with something more modern. The piece of wood had several layers of paint, and at the bottom was signs of gold inlay, giving a clue to the altar’s real age.
There are many more such treasures lying around in Caveland. From the tiles and stonework, to wooden cuts and pieces of marble, Kostas has an unerring eye in identifying beauty in every scrap of material, bringing them to life in Caveland.
Kostas and his brother Giannis were responsible for making Caveland one hostel to remember. Both were travelers and Couchsurfers themselves, and they wanted a place that they would like themselves as backpackers.
Together with Kostas’ fiancee, Veronika, they took over the operation of Caveland from a friend who used to run it as a luxury hotel in the 1990s. Kostas is the artist and carpenter, and Giannis — who was taking care of the booking and administration when I arrived in the absence of Veronika — usually does carpentry, electrical work, and a number of maintenance activities.
Each of them puts in long hours everyday starting at 6am, rushing to make the place how they want it to be, especially before the tourists arrive. Caveland is less than a year old, but its reputation seems to be well-established already. Last March, reservations for September were already coming in.
“It’s crazy,” Giannis said. “I don’t even know where I’ll be in September, and they’re already booking their stay here.” I, as a guest, don’t wonder though. With something as beautiful as Caveland, you would definitely want to make sure you’ll have a room there when you arrive in Santorini.
I sat chatting with Kostas and Giannis over their plate of spaghetti, sitting in the kitchen that used to be where the grapes were extracted. While they were taking their turn in telling me the history of Caveland, I could clearly hear the pride in their voice.
Indeed, they should be proud! Caveland IS beautiful. Each room is different, and rather than fill them up with beds — they could easily accommodate 60 guests at a time rather than the 47 that they have now — they prioritize making each unit a comfortable homey living area.
Even my own 6-bed dorm room is cozy and spacious. It’s painted in pastel colors and has been left mainly untouched since the 1700s except for the installation of modern conveniences.
My roommate, a young German guy named Felix, was very personable as he shared his stories of traveling and how, like me, he found Caveland so unlike the other hostels we’ve ever been in.
“We get a lot of guests who extend their stay,” Kostas says, and of course, I’m not surprised. If I didn’t have a limited time in Europe, I would have stayed longer too. I’ve stayed in hostels during my travels, and there was nothing more comfortable and full of history than Caveland.
I went to Santorini to have a chance to reflect and rejuvenate. I didn’t expect to get that as well in my hostel. Needless to stay, if there are a few places that made my Eurotrip more memorable, Caveland was definitely one of them.
Check out the Caveland website for more information. You can also check out the other hotels in Santorini for more options.
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hello, will you be able to share how much you spent for 4 days in santorini including airfare or ferry fare. thank you and hope to hear from you.
I came across your post and I am interested in staying in a private cave at Caveland. I was hoping you could give me more detail about the cave/the restroom is it clean? Is this hostel safe? Also, I’m assuming they provide you with clean sheets and towels but I just wanted to confirm with you because of the picture you posted with one bare cave:)
Hi Aleah, thank you for your Santorini post, i’ve enjoyed being inspired by your photos and stories. May i just ask for your opinion, i planned to bring a couple of days worth of Euro then just use atm there to get cash (i read atm forex is better then), are machines there easy to find? I’ve been reading of scary stories of cards being eaten by atm’s… Or should i bite the bullet and exchange all my money here at home, what would you suggest?
A cave?! I love it, what a great find and that price is much less than I thought (although I wonder if it is still the same price). Good one Aleah. This looks so peaceful and unique.
@ Van_Hailen: The hostel is perfect 🙂 I stayed 4 days in Athens and 4 days in Santorini. 3 days is not enough! So many sites to see in Athens. If I had more time, I would have stayed 2 weeks in Greece.
looks really interesting. and the hostel might be the perfect place to stay at when i do push my solo travels as well 🙂
How many days did you stay in Greece and where else did you go aside from Santorini. You think 3 days in Greece is fine? Or I would need a lot longer? thanks! 🙂
@ Jovie: Check out the Destinations categories. You can find posts there that will answer your questions about Europe. 🙂
hi aleah.. i just discover your blog and i’m in awe of your travelling. i’m really interested to konw more about your europe backpacking including the visas, total money spent, itirenary etc. because i’m hoping to do the same too. hope to hear from you soon..
@ Megan: I know right? That place is really wonderful. You were there during summer, so you had nice ocean views and barbecues and grape pickings. I was there during winter (or at least beginning of spring) so the outdoors didn’t look so good. I think Giannis and Kostas wouldn’t appreciate it if I published a picture of the pool at that time. 😀 The puppies are big now, but they had been given away. The mother’s still at Caveland though 🙂
Best kept secret in Santorini, but probably won’t be for long! 🙁 The pictures in this post don’t capture the gorgeous ocean views or decent-sized outdoor pool, either. My two person cave was really nicely furnished, and my boyfriend and I had an amazing time picking local grapes on the side of the road, cooking pasta in our cave kitchen, and enjoying wine on the roof of the cave as the sun set over the ocean…also there was a litter of puppies when we stayed in August; huge bonus!
@ Christian: Plan your Eurotrip na and make sure to go to Santorini!
@ Bailey: Don’t forget to mention to Kostas and Giannis that you’ve read this post. 🙂 Do give my regards to them!
I am dying to make it to Santorini in the next year! I will definitely keep this hostel in mind as 15 euro/night is usually what I want to spend! Thank you!
waah!! sobrang inggit ako! 😀
@ Dong: Yeah, that’s why I really love solo travel!
@ Tina: Hope you get the chance to stay there!
I want to experience go in this cave..Thank you for sharing some info..
it’s really when you go solo that makes a travel exciting as you interact more with the locals. pastel colored rooms. nice.
@ Monisima: Thank you. That’s a very nice compliment 🙂
@ Riz: Yeah, it’s really different. And it being in Santorini makes it all the more special!
The Cave room looks amazing. I hope to experience the hostel in the future.;) kakaiba kc xa. 🙂
It’s so beautiful there. I love the fact that I can feel like I’m traveling with you when reading your blog:)
@ Koen: Thanks. My stay there was made more memorable because of the friendliness of the two brothers. Their passion for Caveland can be seen in how they run the place. Hopefully, I’ll find the time to go back there!
This hostel really seems like a perfect accomodation. The two owners really sound like passionate people who like to give this place a real personality…more people should have that attitude…combined with the heavenly environment, it really seems like dream-destination…beautiful pictures as well…and well-written as always…
@ Shawi: Yeah I was glad to find it. I usually don’t write about hostels in my blog but it deserves a special mention.
@ Marky: I stayed in hostels/BnBs in Germany and Italy, but Caveland is still the best. It’s unique kasi in its location and theme.
A grand way to live like a ‘cave’ man for the day. Aside from the scenic places, the hostels in Europe are well designed. Parang mga boutique hotels na dito.
hey Aleah, thanks for sharing. this is indeed a precious find.
it would be an interesting story to tell your grandchildren that you’ve slept in a cave. haha.