Anyone who has ever visited Santorini knows that it’s the gem of the Greek islands, and anyone who hasn’t visited should really have a look at my Santorini Photo Diary because it is gorgeous! Once you’re convinced that you need to visit this beautiful island, you’ll need this Santorini Travel Guide to make the most of your stay. Read on to get all the info you need for planning a wonderful visit to Santorini!
Santorini Travel Guide
When To Visit
Santorini gets really busy in the summer so I wouldn’t recommend coming during the high season. Instead, aim for the shoulder season of April/May or September/October, when the weather is still mild and the crowds have dissipated. I visited in late September to early October and it was still warm enough to lay out on the beach, it was the perfect time to visit! Some businesses do close during the winter, so be aware of that if you plan to visit in the off-season.
How To Get There
Santorini can be reached by boat or plane. The airport is small and your flight will likely connect through Athens, after which point it’s a quick 45 minutes over to the island. Alternatively, you can take the scenic (and cheaper!) ferry ride from Athens but it takes 8-9 hours because it stops at several islands along the way (there’s also a fast ferry but it’s just as expensive as flying and still takes several hours). The ferry is also useful if you’re staying at different islands during your vacation. Once on Santorini, utilize the public transportation (which are in the form of coach buses) to get between the villages on the island. They run pretty regularly and are much cheaper than the overpriced taxis.
Where To Stay
The most iconic village on the island is Oia, but that also makes it the most expensive. Also popular is Fira, and this is where all the buses run through. I stayed further south on the island in Perissa, which has black sand beaches and is much more quiet. I liked being a bit removed from the hustle and bustle so that I could enjoy a relaxed visit, and it was definitely cheaper to stay there. Staying further from Fira or Oia means relying on public transportation more though, because actually the island was bigger and the villages more spread out than I had expected. Depending on what kind of trip you want and the size of your budget, you have a number of villages to choose from on Santorini!
What To Do
I could just walk around for days admiring the views and enjoying the beautiful white washed churches set against the crisp blue sky. But there are also a lot of great things to do while you’re here. Don’t miss out on the hike from Fira to Oia, the views are worth every step. It’s about 7 miles, mostly flat (more of a trek than a hike), and it took me 3 hours since I stopped to take a lot of photos. To get on the trail from Fira, just walk towards Oia along the road closest to the water and follow it straight out of town, you can’t miss it. And be sure to wear sneakers and bring a bottle of water! You can also do atv rentals which are super fun and really popular around the island since it’s an easy way to get around (it cost €25 per day). If you’re a thrill-seeker, check out the cliff jumping at Amoudi Bay. To get to the cliff jumping spot, go to Oia, follow the steep steps down to Amoudi Bay, swim across the small channel to the rock formation, and on the left side is a church and jumping area. You should also do the volcano tour, do a winery tour, hike to ancient Thira, lay out on the black sand beaches, and watch the sunset in Oia!
Where To Eat
You know from my comments on Greek hospitality that I loved my experience at Ampelos Wine Bar in Fira. On top of the delicious food and divine local wine list, Ampelos has the best hospitality, you’ll feel like you’re dining with your long-lost Greek cousins! If you’re staying in Perissa, go to the roof deck restaurant on Saturday night when they have live Greek music and traditional Greek dancers. The whole restaurant is lively and filled with music and dancing, it’s so fun. Plus the food is cheap, delicious, and plentiful! If you’re going to watch the sunset in Oia, which you should because it’s iconic and totally beautiful, you should try to get a table at one of the restaurants all the way at the end of town. That way you don’t have to battle the crowds and you can enjoy nature’s show with a drink in hand! I also really enjoyed lunch at Katris Lakovos in Oia because it has wonderful views, a relaxed atmosphere, and really a delicious menu of choices.
Where To Drink
After everyone enjoys the sunset in Oia they head over to Fira, which is where the nightlife is centered! Start yourself off at Tropical Bar where you can get happy hour specials and dance around to some catchy music. The vibe here is fun and relaxed and the patrons are more of a middle-aged crowd. Then if you want to move on to the nightclub scene, head for bars like Highlander, Two Brothers, and Town Club. Along that stretch of road you’ll find plenty of options and they don’t charge cover so check them all out to see where people are congregating. The public buses stop pretty early, at about 11pm or midnight, so you’ll have to get a taxi home at the end of the night if you’re not staying in Fira. To get to Perissa from Fira it was about a €20 taxi ride, whereas the bus was about €2.
Need To Know
Because the island of Santorini is a bit of a pain to get to, make sure you give yourself enough time to enjoy it once you’re there. I stayed five days and I could’ve easily done more. It’s also a really popular option to explore several Greek islands within one vacation. Santorini is a very safe island, but as always you should take proper precautions and use common sense whenever you travel. The Greeks on the island all speak English so there aren’t any language barriers to worry about. The currency is Euros, credit cards are accepted at some places, and ATMs are widely available on the island. I hope this Santorini Travel Guide helps you and I hope you enjoy your trip! Don’t forget to take a look at my Santorini Photo Diary to see how beautiful this island is!