Anytime I visit another country, I always find it helpful to get insider tips from people who actually live in that region or have travelled there. Today’s “Tips from Travelers” is all about Santorini, the famous Greek city by the sea with its widely recognized candy-colored houses and bright white buildings with their iconic blue domes. Yes, you know the city I’m talking about. More than likely you’ve seen photos of this cliff-side town and your interest was piqued long before you made the decision to actually go.
For those of you planning a trip to Santorini, these four Instagrammers who have been featured on our Travel Lushes Instagram page, have some insightful tips to help you make the most of your epic journey. From advice on the best time to visit Santorini, to things to do when you get there, learn from other travelers who are just like you.
Monique Gray (@just_go_monique), a recent college grad whose solo travels are quickly gaining her notoriety all over Instagram.
I remember seeing a sign in Fira (the main town in Santorini) that said “more churches than houses, more donkeys than people, and more wine than water” and I totally agree with this. Santorini has been a dream come true for me and I hope it will meet your expectations as well.
Some of my top recommendations for the amazing island are:
1. Visit one of the black sand beaches (Perissa and Kamari).
I had a chance to visit both and I prefer Perissa because it is quieter and the pebbles didn’t hurt my feet. In Perissa, the drinks were cheaper and I absolutely loved my 5 Euro Sangria. I also received a 30 minute back massage for 10 Euros which was a great deal!!!!
2. Experience a fine cuisine and/or superb drinks overlooking the gorgeous Caldera for lunch or dinner.
I highly recommend doing this at least once on your trip on Santorini. I ate at three reasonably priced restaurants in Oia and Fira and was satisfied. I prefer Volcano Blue out of the other restaurants because of its locations, not to mention its amazing food and drinks. The waiters were very pleasant and they even gave me two free glasses of wine so maybe I’m biased! PK Cocktail Bar had the best view and their drinks are to die for. You need to make reservations and pay a deposit beforehand if you want to watch the sunset here.
3. If you want to laugh and maybe be on edge for a few minutes, then I recommend going up or down on one of the donkeys from the Old Harbour.
The donkeys will carry you up or down the 587 steep stair path. I chose the donkey that was colorful, but she had her own agenda! It was very bumpy and she would turn the corners very fast while stopping on the ledges that literally had me on the edge of my seat.
4. I always dreamed of coming to Santorini so I splurged on my hotels in both Firastefani and Oia at 4 and 5 star hotels thanks to some great deals from Expedia.
If you want to splurge I highly recommend Firostefani hotels along the caldera because it’s very close to Fira. If you are with a significant other, I recommend Oia because it’s very romantic. During my fourth night, I stayed in Fira Backpackers Hostel for 16 Euros a night where other solo travelers recommend it. It’s a clean and very friendly young backpacker hostel. Additionally, it has a pool, a full fledge kitchen, and you will meet some cool people if you decide to do a budget trip to Santorini.
5. If you can swim, I highly recommend the volcano tour and afterwards swimming in the hot springs.
The boat will dock twenty-five to thirty meters away and as you swim, the water will change to a brown color. DON’T wear your favorite bathing suit.
6. Everyone must watch the famous sunset in Oia.
You should get there more than an hour or so, securing a great spot around the castle because Oia will be filled with people all trying to get their perfect spot so they can see the sun slipping down into the amazing sea of the Caldera. I’ve seen the sunset twice in Oia and secured good spots each time. There hasn’t been another place where I witnessed the crowd clapping as the sun makes its way lowering down behind the ocean.
7. Extra Suggestions:
There are so many other things to do like visit the Red or White beach, hike the Fira or Oia path, go to a winery, and/or stay in a cave house, but these are some of my top recommendations.
@Citygirlexplorer, an avid traveler who works in the city but says her heart is by the sea.
Santorini is, simply put, a dream. It is for couples, for friends, for families, for lone explorers who simply want to take in the beauty and majesty of the Cyclades. My advice to offer anyone interested in visiting Santorini is to:
8. Just go.
If you arrive to Santorini without a plan, it’s OK because there is so much beauty to see in the island itself that that should keep you busy for the time of your stay.
9. Rent a car.
By renting a SmartCar, I was able to see most of the island in just two days. From Ammoudi Bay to Akrotiri to Monolithos, I was not confined by the pressures of time or taxi fares.
Enjoy your stay in one of the most beautiful places in the world!
* Message her on Instagram if you have any questions about her trip to Santorini.
@Shanetxb, an aspiring architect and photographer who loves capturing special moments and exposing what matters.
10. Where to stay:
Spend at least 1 night in Oià; it has the most amazing sunsets ever!
11. How to get around:
Buy a bus pass; much cheaper than a taxi (and less frightening while driving the tight island roads).
12. What to eat:
Get the fresh Greek-style calamari while in the island; scrumptious!
13. How to get there:
Just a strong suggestion, but don’t take a cruise to Santorini; instead just fly there and spend your whole vacation on the island, because even then you’ll never see all its beauty.
Karina May (@karinamayphotographs), a professional photographer based in Queensland with a love for all things travel & adventure.
14. When to go:
Santorini is a truly beautiful island. If you want peace and quiet, head over in their winter. However if you want a bit more action, the middle of summer is best.
15. What not to miss:
No matter what, make sure you enjoy the sunset from Oia; this is definitely one of my favourite travel memories.
*View Karina May’s awesome travel photography portfolio here.