After months of waiting and trying (and failing) to plan activities/ outfits, my Santorini adventure has now been and gone. Sob.
As I’d hoped it’s a great island to visit but there’s definitely more to it than what’s on Instagram, so I’m sharing my thoughts and experiences over the next few blog posts including different areas visited, activities you should put on your “to do” list and a guide to Santorini/Greek food.
The map above gives shows key areas of the island we visited.
We stayed in Kamari (cam-are-ee) which is a large village about 10 minutes away from the airport. I found it to be a fairly usual beach resort that was perfectly suited to couples and families, but with a little more polish and charm.
From bars, restaurants to the beachfront hotels, you can barely walk a few steps without coming across something that was pretty enough to snap a pic of
The volcanic-black sand is also pretty striking from a distance; however up close much of it was made up of pebbles which made it a teeny bit painful to walk on barefoot.
If you’re going to spend a decent amount of time on the beach and go in the sea, a pair of special beach shoes are recommended (they’re widely sold in supermarkets and gift shops for between 5-7e)
There were over 60 bars and restaurants spread along the sea front and side streets close by, and what the Mr and I both loved was that mot of them offered traditional Greek food (more on that in a future post). That may sound weird, but there are so many places that cater for the nationalities that visit rather than showcase their own local cuisine which is always a shame.
We stayed at Aegean Plaza Hotel which was on a side street about 350m walk from the beach front. The hotel was white, simple and lovely, and the restaurant catered very well for both traditional Greek and international palettes at breakfast time. All of the staff were also lovely.
We had a great pool and mountain view from our second floor room
The only negative thing about our hotel location was the noise from low flying planes. Due to the resort being extremely close to the airport, the planes are just a few hundred metres above buildings as they’re making their approach to land. Flights take off and land at all hours of all days and, even though the noise only last for a couple of minutes, it’s loud enough to block out the sound of people/ music.
The place that absolutely EVERYBODY has in mind when they go to Santorini is Oia (ee-yah) as it’s pretty much the poster child for the whole of Greece – whitewashed buildings, blue domes and views for days, this is where you’ll find ’em all.
I’ve read that some people were unimpressed with Oia feeling it to be very small and dirty compared to the photos you see of it on Instagram, however I don’t feel that to be true at all. The part that is most photographed is part of a much bigger town which is spread across the top of the Caldera that people don’t seem to capture quite as much, and as you can see from my pictures above everything was pristine.
This part of the town had one main “street” running along the top, with many flights of steps and smaller streets that lead down towards the Caldera edge. All of them are crammed with lovely little shops (designer and souvenir) bars and restaurants which are wonderful to browse. At certain times of day they can get quite crowded as this is also the place that the world and his wife flock to see the sun set each evening (more on this in my next post).
In short you cannot visit Santorini without coming here! The hotels here are far more upmarket (private plunge pools, private sunset terraces and staff posted at every entrance to stop non-guests from barrelling in to get the best angle for their photos. Trust me, I have first hand experience with this) and stunning but I imagine would be a nightmare to get to with full suitcases, no roads particularly close and all the stairs in Greece.
Fira (fear-uh) is the Island capital and I’d say very similar to Oia but without the iconic reputation. Lots of little streets lined with places to shop/eat/drink and great views over the Caldera. I also believe it’s the place on the Island where the young and beautiful go “out out” so obviously we don’t fall into this category to confirm or deny this!
Fira is also home to the Santorini branch of Sephora.
make sure you manage your expectations with this one, it’s pretty compact in-keeping with the other shops, however it carries most of the Sephora own range and mini products, plus a pretty decent amount of fragrance and skincare. I picked up ‘a few’ items for the road and ended up 50e worse off, so it’s still pretty easy to part with cash despite its size!
Just around the bay from Kamari, this is pretty much the only photo I took in Perissa because we just found it a bit “meh”. Everything was very spaced out, there wasn’t the variety of places like in Kamari and things just seemed more expensive for no apparent reason. The beach is slightly better than Kamari but for me that was the only thing it really had going for it.
Way to get around Santorini
Bus: Probably the cheapest mode of transport (each one way journey is 1,80e per person) services run approximately every 20 minutes towards Fira and connect to other places from there. They’re privately run and have a handy sign in the window that says ‘local bus’ as well as a conductor on board that has a decent amount of change. They tend to really pack people on during busy times of day, so be wary that you may have to stand.
Taxi: Probably the most expensive mode of transport (it cost us 20e for a fairly straight, 15 minute journey) but the most efficient and reliable. Perhaps only use them for shorter journeys or those very early or late in the day, or if you’re dressed up nice and don’t want to be sweating next to loads of other people on the bus.
Quad bike/ motorcycle: this isn’t something we used but is extremely popular and widely used by tourists. Definitely approach with caution as locals aren’t sympathetic to inexperienced foreigners and the roads can be quite winding and hilly.
So that’s my whilst-stop tour of Santorini; my next post is going to be about the things I think you definitely need to do during your holiday, so make sure you come back for a look.
Thanks for reading,
All photos taken using Huawei P Smart and Fuji bridge camera. Nothing has been done to alter the contrast, colour or view in any of these images.