Santorini is for Lovers, but Go Anyway!
Took a trip to Greece with two female friends, and when our host asked, "Where to next?", we replied "Santorini!" :D To which she jokingly (I think) asked if we were lovers. HA! -_-
In addition to a lovers' paradise, I think Santorini makes a wonderful girl's trip! After all, anyone who enjoys beauty, relaxation, wine, and nightlife will enjoy Santorini! I'm here to bring you 3 perfect days in Santorini!
~ First some tips ~
1. Stay in Fira (Thira) for affordability and convenience to everything else on the island!
If you look at a map of Santorini, Fira is center of the island, along the west coast, and 10 minutes from the airport (which is on the east coast). In Fira, you'll find the main bus lot, affordable hotels, and proximity to nightlife that all make this a great place to stay; after a long night out, it's much easier to get back to your hotel than if you were staying in Oia or elsewhere. Stay close to the main street where all the action is! Our hotel, Golden Star Hotel, was a ~5 minute walk to the bars/clubs.
2. Save money without losing (much) time by taking the bus to get around!
Cabs will cost an average of 25-35 euro to go 10-25 minutes - our 10 minute cab from the airport was 20 euro booked through our hotel. A cab driver also tried to charge us 15 euro to go five minutes to our hotel! (We haggled him down to 10 euro...). The buses, however, are a ridiculously cheap 1.60 euro, have a comfortable coach-style seating, and from Fira, will take you to all other parts of the island in about the same amount of time as a cab (furthest point is approx. 30 mins). BUT, board first so you don't end up standing! Also, there was one incident where the bus was delayed 15 minutes, so in a rush, a cab may be the best option. Any hotel or restaurant can order a cab for you if you can't find one.
3. Bring your walking shoes! I say this in general when visiting another country. The best way to explore is on foot! And the best way to explore on foot, is to be comfortable! I did manage to get away with a low block heel to go out at night - because, again, the nightlife was a 5 min walk from our hotel!
4. Don't drink the water, and don't flush the toilet paper.
When rinsing my mouth after brushing my teeth, I was horrified the water coming out of the faucet was salty! Also, you may see signs not to flush paper, even in your hotel room. The septic system is not as great. I will say I forgot this several times, and nothing catastrophic happened, but still try and respect it.
~ What to Do - Day by Day ~
We spent less than 48 hours in Santorini - arriving 11AM Friday and leaving 6PM Saturday. I would definitely recommend at least three full days to not feel rushed and to adequately plan so that you're not losing too much sleep! Knowing what I do now, here is how I would spend three days in Santorini! You could also swap Days 1 and 3, depending on whether you want to relax first (beach) or are so excited that you just want to start exploring (Oia)!
Fly in the night before or before noon day of.
1. Take a beach day!
Being an island, expectedly, Santorini has many beaches. Being a VOLCANIC island, I will say they are NOT characterized by white sand and turquoise waters like the Caribbean, but rather rocky, dark sand and deep blue waters. There are many "black sand beaches" but don't be fooled by that term - it's just code for dark rocks/dirt. Still, here are some beach recommendations depending on your goals and interests:
Secluded and Picturesque: Red Beach and White Beach
25 minutes from Fira are the Red Beach and White Beach, named for the colors of the rock walls carved out as the backdrop to the beaches. The White Beach is only accessible by boat, so choose Red Beach if you don't have more than three hours - this includes travel time to and from the beach and the hike from the drop-off point down to the actual beach. We tried to do this in two hours and never made it down to the beach. I also saw boat tours, boats to White Beach, so that will probably take half the day.
Popular and Family-Friendly: Perissa Beach and Kamari Beach
These black sand beaches are easy to get to and more in line with the beaches you may be used to if you want catch some rays and enjoy some restaurants nearby.
2. Have some Greek street food.
No pics but WOO CHILD!!! I could not (CANNOT) stop thinking about the chicken pita I had at Lucky's Souvlakis - crispy, juicy, flavorful, I'm missing it so much! It's a highly-rated quick stop worth checking out. Also in the area are places for falafels, crepes, coffee, pastries, etc.
1. Start the morning with a Santorini photoshoot.
Flying Dress Shoot in Imerovigli
First of all, book in advance. This is a highly sought after location for romantic photoshoots and flying dress shoots. There are many companies that shoot for several hundreds of dollars, but I booked a local photographer through Airbnb Experience for half the price.
Two of the popular places to shoot with blue domes are Oia, and the lesser know, Imerovigli. The benefit of shooting in Imerovigli is that is is less crowded and a short distance from Fira (and the bus goes here in less than 10 mins). In case you've ever wondered, the flying dresses are rentals at an extra cost. I mean, try packing all that fabric into your carry-on! Be sure to confirm the dress ahead of time - with photos if possible. I also read early morning is best to avoid the hot sun, and I agree. By 10:30AM, I was feeling the heat, which seemed surprising to me for mid-October!
2. Spend late afternoon at a winery.
Greek wine may not be as popular as French or Spanish wine, but it is certainly worth trying! There are wine tours that will take you to multiple wineries over the course of several hours that cost $150+. There are several wineries, but Venetsanos and Santo Wines are two of the most popular ones due to the scenic view of the waters, AND they're not very far from each other at all - why not try making a wine tour out of both?! Due to time constraints, I opted for booking a food and wine pairing at one winery: Venetsanos Winery for 35 euro per person. It included four pairings which the connoisseur explained for each, and we easily spent over two hours here. Venetsanos is known to be a more intimate, peaceful setting, as I heard Santo can be pretty loud and more "touristy." Still, I would try Santo if I ever went back, as they also do tours of their winery, and I hear the sunset here is nice.
3. Party until morning in Fira!
Fira is the neighborhood for nightlife - two clubs were right next to each other - Enigma and Mamounia, and around the corner were a few bars, including a very crowded one, 2 Brothers, with CHEAP drinks (5 euro Long Island Iced Tea? Yes, please!). Both clubs were still empty at midnight - because apparently the party don't start till after 2AM! Too bad we needed to be up early for our flying dress shoot, so we LEFT at 2AM. By then, more people had trickled in. Therefore, for a late night out, I suggest not planning anything for the next morning.
1. Spend the day and watch the sunset in Oia.
Oia (EE-yah) is the postcard picture part of Santorini. For a more romantic (and pricier) setting, book a beautiful cave house here! But if you're staying elsewhere, wear comfortable, easy-to-clean sneakers, and head out by late morning/early afternoon via bus or cab 25 minutes (from Fira). In Oia, you can easily get lost in all the twists and turns leading to the water. While there are many restaurants in town, a local recommended we hike down 20 minutes to Ammoudi Bay for the best fresh seafood - we had Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna. The stairs leading down are covered in donkey poo, FYI, hence my recommendation to wear easy-to-clean close-toed shoes. Don't worry, you can cab it back up for 5 euro per person (it's discouraged to take the donkey rides...I mean just look at the poor souls)! Finally, if you have time, stay to watch the sunset at Oia Castle - it must be amazing because apparently it gets super crowded at this time. Unfortunately, we were already on a flight back to Athens at sunset.
Fly out the next morning.
Planning a trip to Greece? Use this post and my post on Athens to help! Been to Greece? What did I miss?? For many more photos and videos, view my gallery for Santorini - Not Just For Lovers!