After spending a few days in Mykonos, I will admit that my expectations of Santorini were lowered; I was not sure what to expect and I certainly wasn't confident that a few nice photo spots would be enough for Santorini to capture my heart.
I will start off by saying that in comparison to Mykonos, Santorini is a much calmer destination; it is known to the world as the "romance" island, great for lovers and honeymooners.
We arrived in Santorini by ferry boat, which was very smooth and very similar to our experience when traveling to Mykonos. I had already arranged our transportation to the hotel (strongly encouraged!) so we had one less headache to deal with.
We stayed in an area called Perissa, which is a village towards the south of the island. It is quite a bit far from Fira and Oia (the most famous spots in Santorini) but easily accessed via bus or private transport. Our hotel was called Sellada Beach Hotel, a boutique hotel located near Black Beach, a beautiful area very well suited for tourists looking to relax; I strongly recommend this area but it is important to note that it isn't as close to the capital (Fira) as some people would prefer (about 25 minutes south).
Some of my observations about Santorini:
- It is a volcanic island so the beaches aren't the best: if you're after a beach vacation, this is NOT the island to visit; expect to see black/red sand and rocks, and cold water.
- Transportation is tricky: the island is very spread out but the main areas are very dense. Fira is the capital of the island and where the central bus terminal is located. Buses to the capital run on a very loose schedule so plan ahead. Renting a car is always an option but the roads are very rough, there aren't any traffic lights on the whole island and drivers are nuts!
- The blue domes are far: the famous blue domes aren't in the capital but in Oia, an area towards the north of the island. Getting to Oia requires a 25-minute drive through some of the scariest roads, very close to steep cliffs and narrow paths.
- Oia is a great place to watch the sunset but it is VERY crowded. It seems like everyone who goes to Santorini is after the same picture and while the drive to Oia is totally worth it, you must be prepared for crazy crowds around the part of the island, especially when the sun sets.
- Santorini is less expensive than Mykonos, people are kinder and more fond of tourists and the pace is definitely more relaxed but be aware of CRAZY bus drivers. I was almost run over by a bus driver who basically ignored I was on the street and clipped the back of my shoe with the giant bus tire (a scary moment for sure!)
Santorini definitely did not disappoint; it is a beautiful place with breathtaking sights and an incredible vibe. I still think it would be enough to see it as a cruise stop instead of an overnight stay, but I found it way more inviting than Mykonos. We spent 2 nights on the island and it was plenty of time to explore and enjoy everything it has to offer. There are incredible catamaran tours that take you around the whole island and are totally worth the time and the cost.
We left Santorini by plane and even though the airport is very small, it is easy to access and very organized; I liked it much better than the seaport.
My recommendations for anyone thinking of visiting Santorini:
- Schedule your airport/port transfer ahead of time: arriving in Santorini can be overwhelming so it's always best to have a transport plan to avoid the stress of feeling "lost".
- Familiarize yourself with the bus routes and schedule: if you choose to move around by city bus, it is important to keep in mind that schedules aren't followed strictly and buses are scarce on weekends.
- Wear comfortable shoes: Santorini's streets are very steep and very uneven so comfortable walking shoes are a must.
- Familiarize yourself with the map of the island: like I stated before, the tourist spots are much more spread out than in Mykonos and other places in Greece. Distances are longer and therefore it takes more time to get from one spot to the other.
All in all, Santorini definitely met my expectations. It is an amazingly beautiful place and I will forever cherish the time spent there. I hope to go back one day with the rest of my gang. Thank you, Santorini for a wonderful time!
Some of my favorite Santorini photos: