A recent conversation with a fellow blogger got me thinking about our trip to Santorini last year. Santorini is on my list of top 5 European destinations so it was a dream come true when we visited this magical island from the end of August to the beginning of September last year.
Since moving to London I’ve become less keen on crowds. I understand that with London being a busy city this is not something you can always avoid and even more so while on holiday in popular travel destinations. This post shares our experience of Santorini and the tips we learnt on how to have a more relaxed break in Santorini.
5 Tips for a more relaxed break in Santorini
1. Have a beach holiday on Kamari beach
Kamari is a town on the south east of Santorini island known for its black volcanic sand beach. We spent 5 amazing relaxing days on this side of the island alternating between the hotel pool and the beach. Give me beautiful hot weather and a sun lounger and I’m as happy as a pig in mud! The beach is very well organized with lots of loungers, restaurants and bars. I would recommend wearing sandals on the beach as it does feel quite pebbly under your feet. Also check out Tripadvisor for restaurant reviews if you’re unsure as there are just too many to choose from. In hindsight we should probably have spent the last part of our holiday here and faced the many tourists on the other side of the island first.
2. Experience Santorini early in the morning
After our time in Kamari we then moved to the north side of the island to Oia for 2 days/1 night. Oia is famous for their blue roof tops and unbelievable sunsets. We noticed that Oia was a lot busier than Kamari and filled with tourists taking lots of photos especially selfies. We decided to wake up early in the morning to experience the town while most people were still sleeping. As hard as it is to get up early while on holiday, I love doing this as you get to experience the place from a totally different point of view and you can get a lot more photos with less or even no people in it. “Fighting” with crowds to get photos is not relaxing so getting up early in the morning is definitely worth it!
3. Watch the famous sunset from a restaurant
Experiencing sunset views from the Oia castle ruins is extremely popular with tourists but I had no desire to be cramped in a small space for hours waiting for the sun to set and trying to get photos. Instead we decided to experience the sunset while sitting at a table at a hilltop restaurant called Mamathira in Firostefani (another town near Oia). We had a table located next to the window which was wide open for you to enjoy the views in all its glory. Drinking Greek wine, Vinsanto, and eating delicious seafood while watching the amazing sunset from the comfort of a window table was definitely an unbelievable experience.
4. Watch the sunset from less crowded spots
During the day while walking around Oia we found a possible sunset spot which we returned to later in the afternoon. We arrived there in good time (at least an hour or two in advance) to claim our spot and were able to get some amazing sunset photos. As the spot we found also wasn’t a very wide area people couldn’t really stand behind us and cramp our style 😉
5. Plan your transport in Santorini
Considering Santorini is a big tourist destination we were quite surprised at how disorganized things were at the islands main bus station and Santorini airport. The main bus station is in Fira which is a town located in the centre of the island. We had a few chaotic experiences at the bus station that was enough to put us off using the buses again. The bus station is basically a big parking area where all buses on the island arrive and depart from. There are no signs or bus stops to help you so you may need to ask someone to point you in the direction of the right bus. If you can afford it, rather use prebooked taxis or shuttle buses to get to your destination. We decided on this option to get back to the airport on our departure.
Santorini airport was another unique experience. We didn’t have any issues flying into Santorini airport when we arrived but leaving was another chaotic experience. Again there were no signs or clear information as to what was happening and where flights were departing from. As is clear in the picture below the departures lounge was just one small, overcrowded, confusing and chaotic area filled with hot, sweaty and irritated passengers. In hindsight my hubby feels that it might have been better to catch a ferry from Santorini to Athens or another main island and catch a plane back to London from there.
Another point to consider is that a lot of cruise liners visit the island with day tourists making the island even busier. You can also check Google for a Santorini cruise ship schedule if you’re wondering how busy the island will be and when is the best time to visit.
Overall Santorini was still an amazing place and so worth the visit. Hopefully this post was also helpful with tips to consider when planning a trip to Santorini.
Have you been to Santorini? What time of the year did you visit? Did you find it hectic too? I’d love to hear in the comments.