If you’ve ever thought about going to Santorini, Greece – go. It’s really such a nice island to visit with the gorgeous blue and white houses on the caldera, turquoise waters, amazing sunsets, and delicious seafood. I wish we had spent more than 2 days there as there was so much to explore. Keep reading to see how we spent our time there, even though it was limited.
Why you should go
- Gorgeous views everywhere!
- Amazing sunsets.
- Delicious seafood.
- Relaxing atmosphere.
- Great place to hike and go exploring.
- There’s a picture worthy spot every corner you turn.
- Lunch/dinner next to the water.
Where to stay
- Santorini is a relatively small island. It’s 10 miles long and about 1-3 miles wide depending on which part of the island you’re at.
- Popular areas to stay are all the major towns – all are near the cliffside for great water views:
- Fira – largest town; central to the island; great bus hub for transportation
- Oia – where the Cycladic houses are; best area to stay if you want to watch the famous sunset in the privacy of your own home instead of fighting for a space with tourist; one of the most expensive areas
- Imerovigli – more of a quiet town
- Firostafani – another quiet town
- Here is a map by santorinidave of areas and descriptions of where to stay in Santorini
- Since we didn’t have reliable transportation and didn’t want to rent a car, we stayed in Fira where there is a bus station that all the buses go to and we could pretty much go to any major town from there. There was also a taxi station next to the bus station as well.
- We stayed at Sweet Pop which was pretty much right in the middle of town. It was very accessible to plenty of shops, restaurants, water views and also a short walk to the old port.
- I really liked staying in Fira because it’s affordable, very central on the island, the bus is very accessible, there are plenty of shops and restaurants that also open fairly late, and the architecture and views are amazing.
Things to do in Santorini
Tour of Santorini
We were originally going to do the Fira-Oia hike (about 6 miles), but our flight got in to Santorini at 5:00am and we decided to go a different route and take a more leisurely Santorini Full-Day Sightseeing Tour instead.
What the tour covers:
- 9 hours of transportation on a tour bus
- Optional tour of the ruins at Akrotiri (entrance fee not included). The alternative is to check out Red Beach).
- Optional lunch (at own expense) next to Perissa Beach (black sand beach) and time to swim/hang out/lounge at Perissa Beach.
- A stop at the Prophet Elias Monastery – the highest point of Santorini for views and pictures.
- Wine tasting at a local winery
- End in Oia with time to have dinner, explore or watch the sunset.
I would recommend this tour if you’re limited on time and want to experience most of Santorini.
Explore the town of Fira and walk (or ride a donkey) down to Old Port
There are so many cute little shops and restaurants in Fira and you can spend a good amount of time just browsing.
When you’re feeling adventurous, you can make your way down to Old Port for more exploring. There are a few ways to get there:
- Take the cable car (6 Euros).
- Ride a donkey (6 Euros).
- Walk (Free but will take you about 25 minutes).
We were actually going to Old Port for a tour and we thought it was a joke that google maps told us it was going to be about 25 minutes of walking since walking down stairs doesn’t normally take that long. If you decide to walk, wear comfortable, non-slip shoes. I was wearing flip flops and slipped every 5 seconds from the smooth stone and tiny gravel. The upside is that the view of the cliffside caldera and the water is amazing, but it did take me a while to get to the bottom. There are a few shops when you get to the bottom, but there isn’t too much to do unless you’re going on a boat.
Volcano & hot spring tour
What’s a trip to an island if you don’t take advantage of enjoying the water surrounding it? After the walk down to Old Port, we boarded our boat for a Santorini Volcano and Hot Springs Boat Tour.
What the tour covers:
- Guided boat ride
- Guided volcano hike (entrance fee not included)
- Enjoy the hot springs at Palea Kameni (need to know how to swim)
This was a nice way to explore more of Santorini. The boat ride was really refreshing on a nice day. I enjoyed the volcano hike and the views are amazing. Sadly, I found the hot springs a little disappointing. The hot spring was this murky light brown color (which can possibly stain your light swim suit) and it was barely warm. There was little spots of warm water, but it was not a “hot” spring to me. The other thing was that the boat stops 30 meters from the hot spring and you have to swim in cold water to get to it. Since I wasn’t a strong swimmer and failed to fully read the description when we booked this, I struggled a bit, but wanted to make the most of our experience. Overall, I thought it was a cool tour, but the hot spring was a bit of a let down.
If you google “Santorini”, most of the photos probably show the town of Oia and it’s white homes and blue domed churches. If you could only could choose one town to visit, this is the one you should probably go to. In addition to a picturesque spot around every corner you turn, there are plenty of shops to explore, restaurants to check out, and it’s the best spot to watch the famous sunset.
Go to Ammoudi Bay
Ammoudi Bay is a port that’s 300 steps (be careful walking down – it’s a little slippery) below Oia. It’s known for seafood restaurants, boat rides to other places and a great place for cliff jumping.
They say the best view of the sunset is at “the castle”, but it’s crowded with tourists. Since sunset is usually around dinner time, make a reservation at one of the restaurants at Ammoudi Bay and enjoy some food and wine in a more private area. We did that for one of the nights and it was one of my favorite moments while in Greece.
Where and what to eat
We came here during our Santorini Tour per the recommendation of the tour. Unfortunately most of the food was just alright, but the seafood was delicious.
I had a few people tell me to come check this place out and I should have listen to them sooner as our hotel was right down the street. I should have listened to them because it was once of the best pita I’ve ever had with the most tender meat and a place I wanted to go back to again, but ran out of time.
This was a bakery that pastries and coffee. We made a quick stop here before our volcano tour and wish we had gotten more. In addition, they are open 24/7 so you can get pastries any time you’re craving!
After you walk down the stairs to Ammoudi Bay, this was the first restaurant on the right side. Since we didn’t make a reservation, we were going to eat at the first spot that would take us and that would give us a sunset view. Luckily, Sunset Ammoudi gave us a great spot and let us eat and drink for 3+ hours while the sun set. Ammoudi Bay is known for their seafood and this place did not disappoint! The calamari was one of the best calamaris I’ve had in my life and me and my friends still talk about it. The only part that was okay was the actual pasta, but the seafood that came with it was amazing. All the seafood was fresh and cooked perfectly and I cannot rave about it enough. It was a very lovely night.
Overall, I love Santorini! I wish I had an extra day here to do more exploring and eat and plan to do so if I ever get the chance again.