Santorini, one of the most famous Greek islands you’ll most certainly have on your bucket list, and for good reason. But before you start planning your vacation, read these 10 mistakes not to make in Santorini!
These are all things I wished I’d known before our one week in Santorini, exploring the island and its surroundings to the fullest. Of course, most of these things are important to have in mind especially when you visit for a short time, and you want to take maximum advantage of the time there.
Because when it comes to such a popular destination, there are certain things you should simply avoid doing!
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10 mistakes to avoid on your Santorini vacation
Bringing high heels for Oia or anywhere on the western part of the island
That’s right, you will need to find other kinds of shoes to look fancy with your outfits, especially if you will choose to stay in the Western part of the island.
Essentially, Oia, Fira, Imerovigli, or Firostefani are perched on the top of cliffs, have narrow alleyways paved with slippery stone. On top of that, you will most likely have to go up and down the hill no matter if you head for the restaurants or to take pictures.
There’s no wonder you mostly see women barefoot in all those perfect Instagram pictures from Santorini.
So my suggestion would be to bring on some comfortable flats that would also look nice with a dress – sandals or espadrilles are my favorites!
Not planning your trip
I get it, Santorini is a small island so it shouldn’t be hard to see the most important attractions, right?
Mainly because it is such a popular attraction, and especially during the peak season, you will find it hard to skip the crowds and get to see the most beautiful places on the island if you don’t plan ahead of time.
Especially when you have only a few days to spend here, I strongly recommend planning your daily itineraries.
Luckily for you, I have already come up with comprehensive Santorini travel guides you can steal!
Especially when it comes to seeing the sunset in Santorini, you will want to:
- head to the Castle at least 1 hour ahead of time – bring drinks and food, and get ready to catch a good spot and wait for the outstanding show;
- book a restaurant with a caldera view a few days in advance, especially if you want to go to a restaurant in Oia.
We were naive enough to think we could find a table without a booking, and we ended up having to fight for a spot on the stairs heading towards the castle. Thus, learn from our mistakes and plan your days!
Additionally, if you want to skip the crowds and see Oia or Fira at your pace, wake up early and start your itinerary from here.
Not booking your hotel in advance or for the right period
Sure, you can travel on a budget to Santorini, but you must follow a few simple rules:
- book the hotel in advance
- choose the right period for your vacation
But what does that mean?
Simply put, you will want to start planning for your vacation as early as possible. This way you will take advantage of any early booking offers.
You will also want to skip the months of July and August – this is when the island is not only crowded but also extremely expensive. Anything from the accommodation, to food, drinks, or tours will be much more affordable when you choose to go in June or September.
Here are some useful guides you can check out before you book your stay in Santorini:
- Top 10 luxury hotels in Santorini with private pools perfect for couples
- 11 lovely and cheap hotels in Santorini with caldera view
- Cheap hotels in Santorini: where to stay on a budget
- Where to stay in Santorini – the absolute guide of the best areas!
- A dream list of the best options for Airbnb like apartments in Oia, Santorini
Skipping car insurance
Streets in Santorini are narrow and steep in certain areas of the island, the soil is volcanic so it is very slippery and you can run into sharp stones.
On top of that, you’ll notice that the traffic in Greece is very similar to the one in places like Southern Italy or Turkey.
Choose to rent a car and don’t skip buying insurance for a carefree vacation.
Discover Cars is a great aggregator that will help you find and book the best option for renting a car during your trip, helping you save up to 70% on your car rental. You will also have the option to add insurance in only a few minutes! Rent your car here!
Not going to the beach
While Santorini is not the destination you will want to choose if you love spending time on the beach, you should still give them a chance and make your way to the eastern part of the island.
There are plenty of volcanic beaches on the island and you must see the black beach in Perissa or Kamari, the famous Red Beach, or the white beach made out of marble.
Bring some special shoes and you can even go for a swim!
Coming to Santorini to party
Albeit you’ll find a few bars in Oia where you can sip a cocktail into the night, Santorini is mostly a honeymoon destination geared towards couples and people who want a different kind of travel experience.
Read next: Plan your ultimate honeymoon in Santorini!
If you are looking for endless party nights, you are looking at the wrong destination. Choose to go to Mykonos or Ibiza instead.
Not trying the local products
The local wine in Santorini is not very well-known internationally, mostly because they don’t produce huge quantities. However, these special vineyards receive plenty of sun and not too much water, resulting in a strong and sweet wine you shouldn’t leave without trying.
If you want the authentic experience, go on a wine tasting tour where you can also try various other Greek tasty products.
Here are a few options you’ll want to check out before your trip:
- A private guided winery tour
- 4-Hour Sunset Wine Tour
- Check out this full list of food and wine tours of Santorini and choose the one that better suits your needs
Not planning for the right time to go to Amoudi Bay
Less popular than Oia, Amoudi Bay can get pretty crowded as well. And when you choose to go during the day, you won’t enjoy it so much!
The ship we took to the volcano and Therasia left us in Amoudi Bay a little bit after lunchtime, when the sun was still high on the sky, on a hot August day. Needless to say that climbing hundreds of stairs, without any water, in the smell of donkey poo, wasn’t the greatest experience for us.
That’s why you’ll want to head to Amoudi Bay early in the morning and come prepared with:
- plenty of water
- comfortable shoes you can climb in
- the right mindset to climb back to Oia while avoiding the donkeys
Not booking a professional photographer
If there’s one place you will want to go all-in and spend that money on a professional photoshoot alone or with your family, that’s in Santorini.
I’ve invested a lot of time and money in my photo gear and I’m lucky to be able to take some pretty pictures myself, however not all people have that, and if you want to take couple pictures it is almost impossible without the help of a photographer.
What I love about Flytographer is that you have so many great local photographers to choose from, they know the region and when and where exactly to go for the perfect shot.
On top of that, they have been featured everywhere from The New York Times to Martha Stewart Weddings and have been called “The Future of Travel Photography” by Conde Nast Traveler and “The #1 Gift for Travelers” by Forbes.
They are a female-founded company, with an all-female team, that has over 3 million photos captured and over 10.000 5-star reviews!
You get 25USD off your first photo session, as a gift from me when you book here!
Your Santorini lookbook
Not looking for the hidden spots where you can skip the crowds
That’s a mistake I see many people making in so many places around the world.
You see on Instagram or read somewhere about a few places and everyone flocks there and forgets about all the other stunning places in that destination.
I normally like to look around for hidden gems, the places where locals spend their time, the traditional and authentic cafes or tavernas, and other points of interest that a place has to offer. And Santorini is no short of these kind of places!
Get lost on the narrow streets of Oia, choose Imerovgli for pictures, rent an ATV and explore the South-Eastern part of the island, go to the Open Air Cinema in Kamari at night, eat along the sea in Kamari or Perissa at a local taverna, stroll along the streets of Megalochori, or go for sunset at the Akrotiri lighthouse.
Other Santorini useful resources
Don’t forget about insurance – at AardvarkCompare.com you can compare from over 30 insurance plans and find your best option.
If you want an organized vacation and want to forget about having to think about timetables, flights, cars, accommodation, attractions, and whatnot, head over to Tourradar and book your next vacation. They have vacation options only for Santorini, but also packages including Athens and other islands from the Cyclades.
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