Santorini, the dreamy Greek island of pristine white houses, beautiful beaches, and bliss.
Things I did and loved in Santorini
- For the budget traveller, Perissa is a great place to stay. Home to the black sand beach, Perissa is low-key and low-cost in comparison to the highly popular Fira, though it does still have a small stretch of bars and restaurants.
- But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to Fira. Definitely go to Fira. It has shopping and restaurants and bars and the iconic white houses on the hillside. You can get there via bus.
- From Fira hike to the northern tip of the island to Oia. The hike (more like a walk) takes 4 to 5 hours (though they’ll tell you it takes 2) and is SO WORTH IT. You’ll walk through quiet Greek towns, into the countryside, and past countless pristine blue-domed Greek Orthodox Churches, all the while hugging the oceanside cliffs. Make sure to get there in time to watch the world famous sunset in Oia.
- The town of Akrotiri has some great red and white sand beaches. But for the historians, there’s also a partial excavation of a city that was buried by a volcanic eruption in the 17th century.
- As always, I would strongly recommend staying in an airbnb while you’re here. There are a number of little vacation homes you can rent on the cheap (ours was 25 euros per person, first picture below).
Get in, around, and out
- Coming from Athens, you can take the 8 hour ferry from Piraeus to Santorini. And if you have a Eurail Pass, you’ll get a discount on Blue Star Ferries. Don’t bother paying to sit inside. The view is stunning and and there is plenty of covered seating on the deck. But as with all free-for-all seating ferries, hurry on to snag the best spot!
- The ferry will drop you at the bottom of a very steep cliff. Your host or accommodation may provide transport up the hill, but there are also busses and I believe donkeys (if you have a few spare hours) to take you up. Don’t plan on walking.
- Rent ATVs (four-wheelers) to get around the island! While ATVs won’t get you as far as Fira, they’ll get you to the red and white sand beaches of Akrotiri. They’ll also give you the ability to explore deep into the diverse terrain of the island. They’re just great. Rent ‘em.
Things to eat
- It’s really tempting to eat everything in the local bakeries because they’re cheap and freggin’ delicious. But they’re also pretty fatty (think croissants, pastries, fried dough things). So I urge you to branch out from these bakeries, lest you want to forever associate Santorini with the feeling of having just ate a big fatty cheeseburger.
Things to note
- You may see Santorini called Thira or Thera. You may also see Fira called Thera. Haven’t figured this one out.
- Time is relative. Combine island life + Greek culture and you get a very loose concept of a “schedule”. Just roll with it.
- If you’re a water-from-the-tap drinker, you won’t be here. The tap water in Santorini is very salty!