Monday, 29 June 2015

Santorini Dreaming - Mini Guide

Santorini has got to be up there in my favourite places in the world! It is just one of the places that I swear the minute you "dock" or "land" there the weight of the world just floats off your shoulders. I found it impossible to be stressed about anything while there (even with a pretty serious bout of food poisoning from the previous destination).

Ferry or Plane??

No matter how you arrive in Santorini you will be instantly greeted with friendly locals, warm salty air and one of the most beautiful views you ever did see! Santorini has a reputation for being beautiful and it does not disappoint. My friend and I arrived by Ferry from Athens and then left by flying. The best way to decide what works best for you is to think about the amount of time you have, your budget and where you are coming from/where you going to be departing to afterward. 

Tip 1: Be at the ferry port early to get a good seat on board - if you buy a general ticket.
Tip 2: Blue Star Ferries take around 8 hours from Athens to Santorini - while high-speed ferries can take around 5 hours.  So keep in mind for a few extra Euros you can book VIP seats (airplane seats) - which are a little more comfortable and guarantee you a seat.
Tip 3: Have some cash handy for purchasing food and drinks.
Tip 4: The ferries generally stop at more than one Island so make sure you pay attention to when it's your turn to disembark.
Tip 5: For more information have a look at Santorini Dave's Website. It has everything you need to know about the different ferry options.

Where to Stay??

Picking a location on the Island is easy for most, as the majority of people want to stay in Oia or Fira. They have the majority of the hotels, shopping, restaurants and not to mention the beautiful caldera views. But there are several different options depending on what you are looking for during your stay, your budget and also the time of year.
"The caldera towns are trendier, the restaurants better, the clubs more sophisticated, and the hotels more luxurious. The beach towns are more relaxed, less expensive, and have a feel closer to the other Greek islands"   -- Santorini Dave
My friend and I booked our trip a little bit last minute and also during a popular time to visit the Island (August) and therefore we were a bit limited to where we could stay. The hostels and cheaper hotel options were all booked up in Oia and the more expensive hotels were just not in our budget considering we were on a multi-country trip. So we booked a private room in a Hostel/Hotel on the other side of the Island, in an area called Perissa (a beach town). For us this worked out just fine as we spent lots of time at Perissa beach, we rented a 4 wheeler and drove to other areas such as Red beach and then booked a tour to the mini islands and a trip to Oia for the sunset. In retrospect I do wish we booked earlier to stay in Oia as really that is the quintessential Santorini location but we enjoyed our stay in Santorini nonetheless.

Tip 2: Pick a destination - based on your intended needs/wants
Tip 3: Top areas include Oia, Fira, Imerovigli, Kamari
Tip 4: Remember Santorini is a small Island so no matter where you end up staying you can easily get around to the different towns by 4 wheeler, taxi, or bus.


I think one of the most surprising factors about Santorini is that it doesn't have the typical beaches that you may encounter in most other sunny destinations. However that doesn't mean they aren't enjoyable nonetheless. 
Some of the more notable beaches include:
Black Sand Beaches: Kamari Beach, Perissa Beach, Perivolos Beach,
Red Sand: Red Beach
Tip 1:  Check out a few different beaches like Perissa and Red Beach
Tip 2:  Rent a Quad bike to get around - especially the bottom half of the Island.
Tip 3:  From Oia you can get to Armeni Beach by walking down 286 steps, but consider taking a donkey on the way back up!


Basically the most famous thing about Santorini is the picturesque Sunset with the blue water and backdrop of a cliff of white buildings.
Tip 1:  Go early to get a good spot - yes there are better spots to get the best pictures
Tip 2:  Have a mini picnic. The lead up to the sunset can take quite a while - bring snacks
Tip 3:  Take photos and then put the camera down and just enjoy the moment because seeing it through a lens is just not going to do it justice.

General Tips:
Tip 1: Have cash on you - you never know when you will be faced to climb a mountain or pay to ride a donkey - and trust me the answer is always take the donkey. I didn't have cash and had to do the climb which was bad enough but then the donkeys come tearing down the path at you and you quickly learn how to become one with the rock face.
Tip 2: Rent a Quad. It's a lot of fun and a great way to explore the Island.
Tip 3: Eat Lots - Greek food has got to be some of the greatest food on Earth! Plus the beer and wine aren't too bad either ;)


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