From its white houses and blue domes to its clear blue skies and amazing beaches, Santorini is indeed a perfect holiday destination for everyone. Best for couples for a romantic getaway, family and friends or solo-travellers who loves to see beautiful landscapes. With its picturesque scenery, you’ll definitely have to include this island in Greece on you travel bucket lists. And so, we are here to tell you travel tips and things to do in to make Santorini one of your best holidays.
Booking a Cheap Flight
Getting a cheap flight is one of the crucial part of travelling. Luckily, Michael has been part of the Jack’s Flight Club where he was able to get the return direct flight from Newcastle(U.K) to Santorini for only £70 via Thomas Cook. However, since we were planning to go to Italy after Santorini, we just paid £35 for a one-way ticket which usually costs like £200 – £500. So we really saved a lot.
Best Month To Visit Santorini
Many travellers advised that the best time to visit Santorini will be April to November as this is the part of the year when the weather is nice and warm with a very little chance of rain. However, we have to remember that June or July is the hottest month in Santorini where temperature can get up to more than 30 degrees Celsius and the also the peak season for tourists as this is their summer season.
We went to Santorini in mid-September and the weather is beautiful! Bright and sunny days with temperature from 19 to 26 degrees celsius. We didn’t experience rainfall until the last day of our stay (where we were heading to the airport), so it didn’t really bother us. However, if hiking is one of the things you are planning to do (which I would say a must) in Santorini, I would advise to better avoid the summer as it will be really hot!
Where to Stay in Santorini
We chose to stay our 4-nights in Karterados which is near the Main Street. We are near the bus stops, shops, and easy access to anywhere we want to go in Santorini as it is in the centre. We paid £90 per night for a double room which is quite a good price as we just booked it a month before our planned travel.
One thing about Santorini is that hotels can be expensive depending on the place and month you are staying. Usually the best hotels or apartments that are located in Oia, which gives you the most beautiful sunset view, are the most expensive ones. It can go from £200- £800 per night. Although, you’ll be able to find a really good but affordable hotels, studios, apartment or Air bnb if you plan and book it two or three months earlier. Remember that hotels with beautiful views, even though it is expensive, can get full easily especially on peak season so you better book and plan your holiday ahead of time.
Why Hiking in Santorini is a Must
We planned to hike from Thira to Oia on our first day in Santorini. Our hotel is not really very far from the place where we should start the hike which is in the Hotel Atlanta. Just starting from this point, you will already have a beautiful view of the island which made both of us mesmerised.
They said that trail may take 4-6 hours. But we chose to chill and enjoy the view as long as we will reach Oia before sunset. Anyway, we had the whole day ahead for us to see everything.
There are two ways you can go for hiking. First, you could go to Oia in a very early morning and witness the sunrise then hike all the way to the Thira. Or you can do what we did, where you can hike from Thira then witness the popular sunset view in Oia. The question is which one you prefer: Sunrise or Sunset?
The main thing of this hike is you’ll see the beautiful Caldera. You’ll also enjoy the shops that you’ll pass by as you walk along. There also plenty of restaurants to try which gives you a romantic and amazing view while enjoying your greek cuisines!
Greek Cuisines usually involve pasta, salads, fish, meats, cheese, lemons, olives and herbs. Prices are not too expensive and are reasonable. Like in this restaurant we dined in, we only paid around €30 for 2 cuisines and drinks. A good price for having this romantic view and really good food. This is one of best dinners we had and one that we always remember.
The Most Beautiful Sunset in Oia. I never fell in love with a sunset until we saw this one in Oia. To see this most famous sunset in the world is definitely a bucket list. After almost 7 hours of hiking, we were able to reach Oia just before sunset. We went to the castle area which is the popular spot which is usually very busy but you’ll only be able to see the sunset over the ocean here. We decided to go to the other side of Oia where the shot below was taken. This is a much better spot with less people and you get to see the sunset over the village lighting up the white houses.
Aside from this amazing sunset view, Oia is also a georgous little village, with its churches and castle. You can also enjoy shopping and dining in restaurants around. This is also where you can find the Blue domes for which Santorini is popular.
Transport going back from Oia to Thira/Fira can be quite difficult at this time after sunset. Remember that this is a major tourist destination here in Santorini. Taxi will be very difficult to find. Bus is the only transport available and you have to be prepared for a very long queue, waiting time and possibility of you standing inside the bus. The journey is 30 minutes and fare is only €2 per person. Getting a private transport from your hotel can be the easiest way possible for you to get home. Many hotels offer this in Santorini as they know that transport is usually a problem although this can be quite expensive. Like in our experience, we paid around €40 going back to our hotel from Oia.
Santorini Boat Trip
On our second day, we decided to go for a boat tour to explore the other islands in Santorini. We booked our bout tour via Viator.com which costs us around £60 for the ‘Volcanic Island Cruise’. There are various kinds of trips and tours available online so you can choose easily whatever you like and suits your budget.
One good thing about this tour is that we get round trip transfer from our hotel place so it is definitely hassle free. The coach will then take you to the boat which will let you see more of the beauty of Thira while on a cruise. First stop is the Nea Kameni Island which is known for its volcanic origin. From here, you’ll be hiking until you reach the top and get near to the volcanic crater.
Make sure to wear your comfortable shoes suitable for hiking as climbing Nea Kameni is really rocky and can be steep. You definitely want to enjoy and feel safe while hiking this beautiful place.
From the top, you’ll enjoy the beauty of Caldera whilst learning more from the tour guides about the historical beauty of Santorini which makes this tour a really must to do in Santorini.
After this, you’ll head back to the boat and it will take you to the hot springs which you’ll be able to enjoy as you swim into the warm water. This part of the tour is really relaxing . However, if you don’t know how to swim or not confident about it, better to stay in the boat and just enjoy watching as the water is really deep.
After the fun and relaxing hot spring, the tour will then take you to Thirasia for lunch. Another beautiful island in Santorini which has various cool restaurants along the resort. If you love seafoods(like us), you’ll definitely like this place cause the food is great and fresh. You’ll be able to enjoy having a meal while enjoying the breathtaking view of this island. You can also go up the mountainside to the higher elevation which has more restaurants than at the bottom and a better view.
The last bit of the trip will then take you to the Oia. This involves another climbing of stairs more than 200 steps! There is an option for you to pay and get a donkey halfway of the climb which costs £5. However, we chose to just climb instead of getting a ride from a donkey as it looks really cruel and sad seeing the donkey carrying the tourists in the hot weather. Instead, we just enjoy the climb together.
This part of the tour is really good for the tourists who has not visited Oia and wanting to see the popular sunset view without hiking, like we did. We kinda find it good for us as well cause at least we will be able to see the sunset for the second time around and more time for us to go around Oia. Afterwards, a bus can take you back to your hotel after the sunset so you won’t have the problem of transportation.
Visit the beaches!
There are plenty of popular beaches in the Santorini, but the one that makes us really interested is the Red Beach which is located in Akrotiri.
On our third day, we decided to be more relaxed (without any climbing this time) and rent a buggy to go to Akrotiri. There are many places where you can rent a buggy. This can be really expensive depending on the kind of buggy you want. For us, we paid £100 to rent the buggy until 6pm.
If you don't fancy renting a buggy, but still want to go to Akrotiri, there are buses available that go to that place so you don't have to worry. Although, renting a buggy and driving around the Santorini is so cool and fun and it gives you more freedom to stop and see anywhere you want on this island.
Parking is not a problem in Santorini and most of them are free. As you walk your way to the Red beach, you have to climb this very steep and and rocky part of the mountain. Bear in mind to be extra careful and wear a proper shoes to keep yourself safe during the hike. This climb will only take you around 5 minutes and you’ll be able to reach the Red Beach.
Because of its interesting, amazing color and scenic view, Red Beach become a popular destination and here in Santorini and can be very crowded especially in summer.
Swimming in the Red Beach is possible and it is very clean. However unlike any other beaches which have fine sand, this one is rocky and walking in bare feet can be painful so you have to wear your slippers. You’ll still surely enjoy this beautiful and one of a kind beach in Santorini wether you love to swim or just want to sit on the beach chair and relax on the coast. We also found out that snorkelling is also possible here but we decided to just relax as it will be our last day. But, if you have enough time and money, it will be a good experience to try the snorkelling here.
Aside from Red beach, there are also what they call as the black beach in Perissa and Kamari; and the white beach which is located in the southern side of Santorini which can only be accessed via boat from the Red beach.
More Activities in Santorini
In our three days in Santorini, we can say that it is enough for us to enjoy the beauty of the island, see the important places and tick all the must-dos. However if you still have more time ( and money, of course! ), these are the other things we think you can do in Santorini (which we also thought of doing):
- Try the Greek Night Out – they said that this one of the must things to do here but we were not able to try as we ran out of time.
- The Kamari’s open air cinema
- Do the Wine tasting tour
- Go for Greek cooking classes
- See the Santorini while riding a cable car (Thira port cliffside)
We always think Santorini is the most romantic place we have been and really a different place compared to other countries in Europe. It has its own beauty that will surely capture your heart. You definitely have to try visit this wonderful island and understand why it is the best holiday destination.