When it comes to traveling to Santorini island, you will only see dreamy pictures and over-the-top reviews everywhere you look. And I’m not saying that’s not true, Santorini is truly a stunning island you’ll want to head to next.
However, to make the best out of your experience, you will have to plan well in advance and avoid some mistakes we’ve done on our vacation.
And because I want you to go prepared, I’ve summed up some of the things nobody will tell you about traveling to Santorini. These aren’t huge, but knowing them will make it easier for you to have a memorable vacation!
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But before we start, here are some useful information you’ll need when planning your vacation:
Book your flight by checking Skyscanner.com – this is an online aggregator that will show you all the best combinations and will help you optimize prices and timetables.
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 and packages including Athens and other islands from the Cyclades.
Things nobody tells you about traveling to Santorini, Greece
Seeing the sunset
Yes, the sunset on this island is one of the main attractions, and one of the most popular things to do in Oia.
While most people will head to the Byzantine Fortress or to one of the restaurants nearby, that isn’t the only great place to watch the sunset from. However, it is the most crowded one. Even though I absolutely loved the experience, I must be honest and say I was a bit annoyed by all the people stumbling down the stairs without caring that we were there before.
If you want to avoid having to deal with this, there are far better places to watch the sunset in Santorini:
- Book a 4-Hour Sunset Wine Tour.
- Go to the Akrotiri Lighthouse and get your camera ready to take some stunning pictures.
- Book a table at one of the less popular rooftop bars or restaurants in Fira, Santorini’s capital city.
- Hop on a boat and sail around the caldera on a sunset caldera cruise with dinner.
- Forget all about the hustle and book a hotel with a caldera view and you can see the sunset right from your private terrace – you have here a list of affordable hotels with caldera view or luxury hotels with private pools.
- Step outside Oia and head to the hills behind the city.
The trip to the volcano and spring water
While I loved hiking the volcano (even though I didn’t really have the best shoes or outfit for that), I must admit I wasn’t a big fan of the spring water bath.
If you choose to go on a volcano hike, make sure to bring suitable shoes (no open-toe sandals or slippers, the volcanic stones are slippery and very sharp), something to cover your head, and lots of water.
There will be quite a climb, and there isn’t anything to guard you against the sun. Once you get to the top, you’ll see the crater of the active volcano and Santorini island in the distance.
For all that, and the trip to the new island of Thirasia I think the trip was definitely worth it. However, in between these 2 stops, we went bathing in the “thermal spring waters” close to the volcano.
First of all, the water is not that warm. Secondly, because it is filled with iron, the color is a bit rusty and also the smell. I didn’t quite enjoy diving here and if you’re like me, you might just skip it and spend the time on the boat.
The Santorini Wine
Everyone knows about Italian, French, or even South African wine. However, not many know about the wine they make on this small island in the Cyclades.
Santorini has a special kind of vineyards that grow in a circle, get plenty of sun throughout the summer, and not so much water. That’s why you must expect a sweet and strong wine.
If you’re a wine lover, you simply shouldn’t miss going on a wine tasting tour, or at least stopping by at the Santo Winery. They will show you the process of making wine on the island, you will have the chance to taste at least 3 types of wine, and you’ll be stunned by the view!
Check out this full list of food and wine tours of Santorini and choose the one that better suits your needs.
If you’re looking for a vacation by the sea, Santorini might not be the exact place to head to. People mostly come here for the views, food, and posh cities. Not for the beach or sea.
That’s because Santorini is a volcanic island and, even though you will find beaches (when you know where to look for them), they don’t have sand or an easy way into the sea.
You must bring special shoes (or buy them there) when you choose to take a bath in the Aegean Sea. That’s also because the black pebble sand will get really hot during the day and it will be impossible to step on it without proper shoes.
On top of that, you won’t find easily accessible beaches in some of the most popular towns on the island.
You’ll have to travel to places like Kamari, Perissa, or Akrotiri to spend a day at the beach. Or choose to stay there! Here is a very comprehensive guide on where to stay in Santorini, depending on your needs and wants.
Donkeys in Oia and Fira
Since both towns are set on the cliffs, getting from the sea up could prove to be a bit challenging. That’s why you’ll find local people offering their services to help you climb the hill on their donkeys.
Even though I know that has been their role for so many years, I can’t help but think they don’t really feel comfortable carrying lots of people every day, under the hot sun.
Additionally, and something nobody will tell you, they leave behind lots of poop. And that’s something you can smell in both Oia and Fira. Especially as you climb from Ammoudi Bay to Oia.
Factor in the crazy heat you get on a summer day, and you’ll understand why that’s not a great idea.
The cruise ships in Oia
I know pictures of the caldera look so stunning with a cruise chip in them, but you will want to check their schedule before you plan to go on a day trip to Oia.
That’s because the narrow streets of this popular small town in Santorini get even crazier on the days when thousands of tourists climb from the cruise ship and only have a few hours to spare.
If you don’t stay in Oia, try to avoid visiting on a cruise day.
Taking pictures in Santorini
All those pictures that you see of people on top of those traditional cave houses in Oia? Those are private properties and you will have to talk to the owners to allow you to go there for some photos.
The easiest workaround would be to hire a local photographer for a photo session. They don’t only know the best spots to go to, best hours, but also know the locals and have their connections.
Flytographer is a great option just for that. You can choose from plenty of great local photographers, see their previous work, and know what exactly to expect. Get the best deal for your photoshoot in Santorini here!
Other Santorini useful information
- 2 days in Santorini – the ultimate guide
- 3 days in Santorini itinerary
- Plan your ultimate Santorini honeymoon with this guide
- Cheap hotels in Santorini: where to stay on a budget
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