White and blue dominate the scenery in this city. The iconic white architecture of the buildings creates a visually stunning sight that captures the hearts of many. The city's universally recognizable symbol, an intense blue eye, can be spotted throughout. Santorini, a destination that attracts countless tourists from around the globe, has risen to become one of Greece's most renowned islands. Alongside Mykonos, it stands as one of the most desired and "bucket-list" Greek islands. With its immense popularity, some clichés have transformed it into a place where numerous individuals can revel, while others advise caution. By heeding these suggestions, you can easily find yourself among the former. Here are a few things you should embrace and others you should avoid that are seemingly minor yet capable of making a significant difference.
Don't just bring sandals to look cool in the pictures
An aspect often overlooked is that Santorini is essentially a mountain, and many of its attractions are not accessible by car but rather through steep, narrow, rocky streets. These pathways can become quite slippery, particularly when descending, posing a risk of accidents that could potentially mar your vacation. This is why opting for hiking shoes is a wiser choice, ensuring a safer and smoother trek. For capturing picturesque moments, you might consider packing your stylish sandals or high heels in a separate bag.
Take a boat tour of Santorini and its adjacent islands
This is an absolute must. The main island of Santorini offers breath-taking vistas, distinctive architecture, and a handful of remarkable museums. However, if you're eager to connect with nature, the best course of action is to embark on a boat journey and explore the nearby small and diverse islands. While you might be enticed by budget-friendly options that offer a few hours of sailing without disembarking, be cautious as these trips often become overcrowded. This approach is not recommended as it could significantly diminish the overall experience, leading to potential regrets.
If you're open to investing a bit more, consider reserving a semi-private yacht that can transport you around the island, affording the opportunity to witness the volcano and disembark for a swim in the Aegean Sea. These trips usually span 5 to 6 hours and include delectable cuisine freshly prepared by the crew. The yacht's crew is both skilled and knowledgeable, offering excellent insights into Santorini. We personally arranged our yacht through Caldera Yachting, and credit goes to them. The vibrant blue sea is truly incredible; in some areas, it glistens like sapphires and is surprisingly not chilly at all!
Don’t stay in Oia and Fira, go to the other zones
The majority of tourists tend to gravitate towards these two areas of the island due to their widespread recognition and popularity. However, the island is replete with numerous hidden gems waiting to be uncovered, offering a distinctive experience and a reprieve from the crowds. Within its boundaries lie several mountain villages that are bound to leave you in awe; some even boast renowned beaches. It's important to note that neither Oia nor Fira host beaches; only ports can be found there.
For those yearning to bask in the sunlight and take a refreshing dip in the ocean, a visit to Exomytis, Caldera Beach, or my personal recommendation, Perivolos Beach, is highly recommended. Perivolos Beach boasts a stunning expanse of black volcanic sand that's perfect for relaxation and leisure.
Don’t buy souvenirs at Oia
Oia boasts the iconic blue domes and renowned white houses, along with a multitude of elevated sky pools that enhance the visual allure of every seaside perspective. En route to these sites, you'll encounter numerous charming souvenir shops offering similar items available in the centre of Fira, albeit often at a slightly elevated price. For instance, purchasing one of Oia's distinctive blue eye bracelets might cost you around 10 euros, whereas the same item can be acquired for just 5 euros in Fira. As such, if you find yourself in the vicinity of Oia, it's advisable to postpone your souvenir shopping and make your purchases while strolling through Fira.
Engage in a sunset stroll, whether in Oia or Fira
Santorini stands as one of Europe's most captivating islands, and the allure of its sunset beckons a considerable number of visitors. Make no mistake, it's truly breath-taking. However, the immense influx of tourists all seeking the same panoramic spectacle jeopardizes the essence of this distinct encounter. Yet, there are alternatives that can reshape this experience for the better. Firstly, consider observing the sunset from Fira, a comparatively less crowded and much more serene location. Alternatively, opt for witnessing the sunrise, as the early hour dissuades many from partaking. It's a serene way to begin your day, and its charm only intensifies as the day unfolds.
For a sunset spectacle, partaking in dinner on one of the terraces proves to be a delightful option. I highly endorse The Vine; apart from the remarkable view, their culinary offerings exhibit extraordinary quality and taste!