Santorini was all I had ever dreamed of and more. You’d know that I just came back from Santorini recently. It was my first time that I’ve been at the top of my dream destination list for so long. Santorini is an Instagram dream, and lately, with very dull weather in London, I was desperate for some sunshine. Some hot Greek sunshine.
I just did the fundamental research and booked a trip through travelo.gr at a whim, very last minute, which is very different from me. I haven’t come across any useful blog posts, so I wanted to share with you some of my top 10 things that you should keep in mind if you’re thinking about booking your trip to Santorini.
1. Best time to go
If you think of Santorini as a safe bet destination to catch a few rays, you’ll get it if you go at the right time.
Santorini operates in the “season,” which starts at the beginning of April and lasts until the end of October.
I went to the end of April, which was just fine with a constant temperature of 23 + degrees during the day and 18 + at night. With the lack of shade cover in most parts of the island, the sun can get very intense, so much so that it can feel much hotter than it is. If you don’t lather yourself in a high factor sunscreen before you go out, you’re going to be in trouble. I’m not going to get sunburnt, so I go without it, Evenings can be windy and cold, so take a cardigan or a jacket with you. Santorini was still quite calm at the end of April with the off-peak season. I thoroughly enjoyed the roads were walking without looking like a Tokyo rush hour. The best restaurants are easy to book. The staff was very attentive and friendly, and you can enjoy peace and tranquillity in the most beautiful setting, feeling like you almost have a spot to yourself.
2. Santorini is super expensive
How many have you drivelled over Instagram photos of the most attractive Santorini sun setting over infinity pools with glasses of champagne perched on whitewashed walls, and thought, my god, it must be an exclusive and super-priced place to be! They thought about it again.
For Travelo.gr flying directly to Santorini, the fares will provide by a low-cost carrier (approx. £250pp return at the end of April). You’d have many choices of hotels, all very well, that you’d be able to get around £ 150-250+ a night for three* to 5* hotels. Check the Flight+Hotel Expedia alternative, much better with the Travelo.gr, alternative (check this as there are other stop-over flights you don’t want to do). Once you’re there, the high costs will be food and drink–I considered these to be decent averages of € 10-25 for the main course, € 3.5 for bottled beer, € 10 for smoothies. Find out the spot where you’ve got to have dinner in a better way! Souvenirs are negotiable, so carry the best poker face and A-game to a value agreement. Bring ample money with you, and it’s better than that.
3. How to get there?
There’s nothing better than the comfort of knowing that travelo.gr is your ride waiting to take you straight to the hotel for your arrival at Thira Airport. I would highly recommend arranging a private transfer before your flight, and you will have a tanned Greek man holding your name when you arrive by plane. I paid € 30 online in advance (€ 15pp), and I’m so glad I did so. You can also book mini-van-come-coaches that provide drop-off service to different hotels, which is marginally cheaper, but I don’t think it’s worth your time. Let’s face it after you’re almost 4 hours away from London, and you’d want to get to the hotel as fast as you can, right?
You can schedule your return in advance or, instead, you can get your hotel to order a local taxi to take you back to the airport. It costs € 20 (from Imerovigli) plus my driver frantically made me pay an extra € 5 for’ Reservation of a taxi.’ Nonetheless, once you’re in Santorini, there are a lot of local companies selling rent-a-car or rent-a-quad bikes. There are a lot of local taxis, too–but be careful as they are.
4. Where to Stay?
The main places to stay would be Fira (capital city), Imerovigli (in the middle of Fira and Oia) and Oia (famous for sunset). The thing is when you’re looking online, and many hotels are very close because they’re all clean, down cliffs, infinity pools etc. It depends on what you want: flame–shopping, pool, nightlife. Imerovigli–for a quiet, private Jacuzzi, exclusive. Oia–to chill. Just make sure you stay at least three* for the sake of cleanliness.
5. What to wear?
Getting your Instagram ready for enviable photos? With white and blue being the main colour background for all of your photos, you’ll need to think about what’s best against it. Blue and white sailor stripes are a must-have. White clothes are the basics. Pastel colours look great. Bright red looks gorgeous and dramatic. Think of the floaty maxi dresses, the straight lines, the paint frames. You’re going to look great.
Tick-list List–walking shoes, running shoes, swimwear, summer dresses/wraps, shorts/t-shirts, cardigan/jumper/scarf. Ah, and the shades, essential.
6. Where to see the Sunset?
It’s great to see the sunset over the Caldera on the west side of the island of Santorini.
Those sunset photos you see most of the time from Santorini taken in Oia, with the windmill at the top of the cliff. I did that one of the first days I was there to see it for myself. Here’s a hint though–it’s a massive tourist trap, and you’re going to have to be able to get a spot 2 hours ahead of sunset. At sunset at 8:00 p.m. (end of April), I killed time at a cafe nearby basking in the sun, and around 7:00 p.m. I went to the remains of the Castle and found a place to sit down. One of the many rewards of the off-peak season!
They’re all here for one thing. As the sun sets over the horizon, with open views, and the sky turns orange, it’s pretty breathtaking. Once the last bit of the sun goes away, everybody starts clapping; it’s funny but part of the charm, so go with it. After the sun sets, though, everyone is trying to scurry off to their dinner engagements leading to a massive traffic jam of people, uh, think of the end of a soccer game. Suffice to say it’s a nightmare with the narrow streets of Oia. All I can say is breathe good luck and be careful. So is that worth it? Even if it’s to feed the masses of the excitement and make new friends while you’re waiting for the sunset, it’s worth it.
7. What to eat and drink in Greek?
Greek / Mediterranean cuisine is simple and soothing.
Breakfast served with omelettes, sunny side eggs, pastries, baklava, freshly squeezed juices and delicious coffee. I would highly recommend staying in a hotel where you can have a good breakfast (make sure it includes in your hotel’s price) because it’s great to wake up and have your breakfast served to your balcony or go down to the poolside buffet. If you live in Fira, there are very few other options for lunch, and mini-supermarkets are not good at taking food at all.
Lunch is Greek salads combined with olive oil, calamari, fried eggplant, and souvlaki served with Donkey Beer (local beer) or frozen yoghurt fruit smoothies with Greek honey that are to die. You will end up seeking refuge from the sun several times a day, and various forms of iced coffee are available that are outstanding. If you’re in your wines, Santorini is renowned for producing excellent wines. There are plenty of local menus that I would suggest you try, and if it’s time, seek out some of the vineyards that lay further inland.
For dinner, I’d make the most of the local seafood on offer and ask for the day’s catch. They cook super simple fish–stone-baking them with lemon and olive oil, and because the fish is so fresh, that’s all you need! Even if you’re not a seafood fan, don’t let anyone tell you that you have to eat seafood there. Beef and chicken options are always on the menu, and there are plenty of pasta dishes. I had dinner at the local tavern in Oia and another night at the spectacular outdoor fine dining restaurant in Imerovigli.
8. Only for couples?
There’s a vast conception that Santorini is a great honeymoon destination. And you’re right. It’s a stunning place with white and blue as far as you can see on the sides of cliffs, sea views all around, tiny nooks and crannies at every corner where you can steal a kiss. It’s a romantic place. But having said that, I can see this as a great place to come with friends. To be able to chill and sunbathe during the day and enjoy the nightlife in Fira (capital) at night. Oia and Imerovigli are silent until dusk, but it’s in Fira that’s going to happen. There are a couple of bars and clubs I’ve seen that looked fantastic.