When I was researching for our honeymoon, I spent hours pouring over Pinterest and google searches trying plan and maximize our time spent over there. When I came back, I wanted to put together a complete travel guide for my readers so they would be the best equipped for their travels. So let's get into it.
What to Do and See in Santorini Greece
First let's do a quick overview of what Santorini looks like.
Santorini is a big C surrounding the caldera which is the "active" volcano area. More on that here. Where we stayed was in the middle of the island it was a town called Imerovigli. I HIGHLY recommend staying there. Everyone talks about Oia this and Oia that (pronounced Eee-yah). Well Oia is on the point and the farthest away from everything. Also, I personally think the sunsets were the prettiest in Imerovigli because you are straight onto them as opposed to Oia, which is on the point. Plus in Imerovigli, there are fantastic restaurants walking distance. We actually kept on running into couples that were taking taxis over to eat in our town from Oia.
Also, in Imerovigli you are a 25 minute Caldera walk to Fira. Fira is the capital and a little more touristy. That is where all the shopping is and it feels more like a port city if that makes sense. That is where all the donkeys are if you have heard about Santorini. We never even encountered them but we will discuss further. So if you stay in Oia, you are pretty isolated over there. Don't get me wrong it's beautiful but you are just on the farthest point from anything else.
Now let's chat about how to get there.
You can take the "high speed" ferry or fly. I put high speed in quotes because it wasn't. Our ferry from Athens was 5 hours. Granted maybe there are faster ones but that is the one that was bought for us. If you can fly from Athens I would highly recommend it. Aegan airlines flies you in between all the islands and will take you directly to Santorini, Greece. Great resource here on the travel aspect.
Once you are there how do you get around?
It all depends on where you stay. If you take the ferry into Santorini you will arrive at the new port. Our hotel arranged for a pickup. We had a large Mercedes van that picked us up and dropped us and a few other couples off. There are taxis at the port as well. I would recommend trying to pre-arrange your pick up because I have a feeling they are very expensive at the port. Read down further about ways to get around the island.
What to do.
Walk/Hike the Caldera Path
The days you want to get moving there are so many things to do. You can walk the Caldera over to Fira and take in all the sights along the way. That was probably my favorite day. It took us an hour to walk over mainly because I kept on stopping and snapping these gorgeous pictures.
all images via Meet at the Barre Blog
I was so infatuated with doors there.
Take a Tour
There are so many tours in Santorini that you can arrange ahead of time or you hotel can help you. I was a little leery thinking about the hotel kickback but I did research and they were pretty on point. We did a Catamaran sailing trip. They brought you to all the famous beaches, the red, white and black beaches. You can jump off and snorkel, then they take you to the hot springs and finally end with lunch on the boat. We did the the morning one but there also sunset cruises as well. It was pricey but really worth it! Here are tons of other options as well.
Rent Four Wheelers/Scooters
Once again your hotel can arrange this for you. They will call them, have them delivered and arrange the pickup. Super easy. The scooters were around 20 euros a day and the four wheelers 40. She said that does vary with the peak of the Season (July/August) in Santorini Greece. We didn't rent a car just because of how centrally located we were but once again if you need to, your hotel will take care of it for you.
Check Out the Wineries/Beer Tastings
The second form of income in Santorini Greece is their agriculture, aka wineries. There were parts of it that reminded me of the Italian countryside. You can either go on an arranged wine tour or pick your own. The Boutari Winery is beautiful and very educational. Also, check out the Santorini Brewing company. Definitely worth it!
Eat Amazing Food and Drink Wine
More on that down below.
Take Hundreds of Pictures
So you can look back and relive the beauty.
Watch the sunset
Like this one from our hotel in Imerovigli.
For my husband and I just to sit still and relax......I don't think it has ever happened until we went to Santorini. We actually just spent one whole day relaxing on our spacious sun deck, bathing in the sun, reading magazines and books. Then, occasionally glancing up and going....."can you believe we are really here??? Look at this view?!?!?"
Where to stay
I am partial to Imerovigli as mentioned above. If you want complete peace and serenity, stay there. If you need a little more hustle, then stay in Fira or Oia. We stayed at the Gold Suites and it was truly a luxury, official website here. The staff there were incredible. Anything we needed including aspirin at midnight and a one in a million charger adapter for Mark's ancient computer plug (but that is a whole different story....just be smart and bring a power outlet). If we go back to Santorini, we are staying there. No questions asked. Plus, a lot of the places include breakfast but made to order anything you wanted with this view???? Yeah, you see why it was a complete dream.
What to wear
Definitey bring sneakers. You will need them if you are hiking along the caldera. Santorini feels like it is uphills both ways.....I'm not joking. Just bring the sneakers and don't worry about what you look like. I also brought a sturdy pair of sandals. Bathing suits, cover ups and something you can get sweaty in walking. When we were there since you are so high up it did get chilly at night, so a light jacket or big scarf. If you go in the heat of the Summer you will most likely be fine. Also, bring a hat to shield the sun because that sun is strong.
What to bring
Sunscreen. I cannot stress that enough. Since you are so high up, you get great breezes but you will burn. Like I did the first day even with sunscreen on. Bring 50 and reapply, then reapply again. Dramamine for the ferry or the catamaran. Sneakers for your hike and the most important your camera to capture all the once in a lifetime sites.
What to eat
Everything. Our hotel had a hefty breakfast every morning. Insiders tip you may laugh but pack ziplock bags with you. Those chocolate croissants at breakfast??? Yeah you know when they taste great? At 2 in the afternoon after a 45 minute hike. Or make a little sandwich from your croissant and breakfast meats. Trust me, it is the perfect snack to hold you over to dinner. This is where we eat Avocado and Anogi in Imerovigli (multiple times it was just so good). Then Argo in Fira. Highly recommend. I made a reservation for a table with a sunset view by email and they responded the next day. Selene is world renowned. I am disappointed we didn't get there since the reviews are quite impressive. It was pretty far from our suite and we just ran out of time.
Takeaway points. Everyone is very friendly and speaks English. It is clearly not their first language but you will be able to get by. Get your Euros before you get over there. Most places take credit card but they prefer cash. I will touch on this more but in Europe the tipping system is different. A lot of times it is included already in the price, so read your bill. With that said, they do rely solely on tourism for their source of industry so if your service is great, it is greatly appreciated by the locals. I will have more on this later about traveling in Europe. Bread and water is not included in your dinner and you will be billed if you ask for it. It is safe over there but like with all things, just be mindful. We walked the caldera path at night. We made sure to stay close to other people on the path and not be entirely by ourselves but that is just common sense.
Also, everyone talks about the stray animals there. All the ones we saw did have collars on and the restaurants "adopt" them and feed them at night. I wouldn't go petting and loving up on them by any means but they weren't vicious strays like some forums lead me to believe before I left.
So what do you guys think? Do you feel like you were there? I tried to be as specific as possible (you know I like to know all the details!) If you are traveling there soon and have any questions please feel free to email me! I would love you forever if you could pin and share with your friends. I want everyone to see how awe inspiring Santorini is! If you have been there, did I miss anything? What would you include?
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Original post you can find here at Meet @ the Barre Blog