Santorini !!! The city of our dreams. I guess it’s the same with pretty much anyone. When you think of the Greek islands, you picture white buildings with blue windows and blue dome rooftops, cute churches, and a stunning sunset. Santorini was one of the three places on our ten-day Greece trip. As expected, we decided to begin our journey at Santorini (I mean, cause why not?).
Be advised, Santorini is one of the main tourist destinations in the world, so it can be a little heavy on the pockets. In this article, we have recommended things to do while in Santorini without stretching your budget too much.
1) SUNSET AT OIA
Santorini is a caldera, which means most of the towns are on a cliff overlooking the sea. There are many places where one can see the sunset. However, with its impressive architecture, Oia has one of the most famous sunset spots in the world. That being said this is also one of the busiest and most crowded places to visit at sunset. If you wish to go there, go early, so you get a good spot. If on a budget, avoid going to have dinner at any of the cliffside restaurants as the prices are exorbitant.
2) LIVE IN a CAVE HOTEL
One of the things we recommend when in Santorini is staying in one of the famous cave hotels carved into the cliff rock. This is one of the most romantic experiences, and not all hotels are insanely priced. There are a few hotels which, if booked well in advance and not during peak season, can be well within one’s budget.
For more information on hotels in Oia – Santorini click here
3) HIKE FROM FIRA TO OIA
There are many small towns in Santorini; Fira is one such town which is more lively as compared to the quiet, composed Oia where after 10 pm it may be a little challenging to find any place open. If possible and within your ability, the hike from Fira to Oia is a must. The hike is around 12kms long and passes through the four main towns of the caldera; Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli and Oia. Try to avoid this during the peak summer as the heat can get bad. We did this one late evening in May, and the weather was perfect. The full trail took around 4 hours with multiple photo stops and refreshment breaks. This trail offers you some of the most stunning views of the sea.
4) WALK DOWN THE KARAVOLADES STEPS OR TAKE THE CABLE CAR AND HAVE A MEAL AT THE OLD PORT
The Karavolades steps is a long stairway (567 steps to be precise) from Fira town all the way down to the Old Port. The old port has a few nice old fishermen restaurants and helps to escape the hustle and bustle of Fira. When it comes to going down to the Old Port, you have multiple options. Our suggestion would be to walk down the stairs as it is a long walk and then you can take the cable car back up. You also have the option to take a donkey ride back up, but that was not really for us.
5) ENJOY THE LOCAL DELICACIES
Santorini being an island, has a lot to offer in terms of seafood. We would suggest moving off the main road and wandering down the more off-beaten tracks to enjoy the best food the island offers. Visit the small cafes and restaurants, which offer different delicacies of octopus etc. Pretty much all the restaurants offer homemade wines, so it would be best to ask them to suggest the wines.
Greece is also famously known for its frappes, and there is a cute little café – Passaggio – as you enter Oia, which offers fantastic croissants and affogatos. It was our favorite go-to place for our early morning fix while we were in Santorini.
6) Enjoy the unique volcanic features of the island
Being a volcanic island, the beaches in Santorini are quite different from beaches one is typically used to. You can visit the famous Red beach or Black beach. The Red beach is located at the village of Akrotiri and is easily accessible via the public bus service on the island. The beach with the backdrop of the towering Red rock formations is something to see. Other than the Red beach, another beach worth visiting is the Black Sand Beach – locally known as Mesa Pigadia Beach. You can take a local bus from Akrotiri to get here. When you’re there, make sure to visit the family-run tavern, which is an ideal spot for lunch or a quick drink
Overall, Santorini is a must-visit if you ever visit Greece or the Kikladhes islands. It can be very pricey and overly crowded during the peak summer months. We visited in early May, and it was worth it; the days were hot and busy but not too crowded, while the nights were chilly and quite empty, with only a handful of tourists around.
Do you think we missed anything? Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below …