Santorini was one of the highlights of my trip to Europe a couple of years ago, and definitely, the place I was looking forward to visiting the most (I didn’t realise how much I would love Istanbul and Florence, silly me right?).
Of all the places I visited, I spent the most time researching for my Santorini trip, as it is one of those places you dream of, so it has to be perfect! I worried that the hotel wouldn’t look like anything as it did in the photos, that the island would be crawling with people and that it would be a long day of travel getting there. I couldn’t have been more wrong! These are my tips for planning a trip to Santorini to make it as perfect as you had always envisioned!
Santorini Trip: Accommodation
You’ve got two main options when organising somewhere to stay in Santorini: stay up on the cliffs where it costs a bit more, or stay further down south near the beaches where it is cheaper.
I had been dreaming of those world famous views over the caldera since I first saw Santorini in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants, and so for me it wasn’t much of a choice; I knew I had to find somewhere beautiful at the tip of the island with a gorgeous view.
Oia, Imerovigli, Fira & Firostefani
If you’re looking for a view, these are the towns for you. Oia is the most expensive and the most popular, Fira is cheaper and most popular with the young crowds, and Imerovigli and Firostefani are much smaller but more costly than Fira. I would recommend Imerovigli if visiting during tourist season. It is probably the quietest town and also the highest on the island, making the views magical. If it’s quieter, I think Oia would be amazing if you’re looking to splurge.
If you’re looking for cheaper accommodation or being closer to actual beaches (you won’t really find any proper beaches in the towns mentioned above), head down the south of the island. Kamari and Perissa are the most popular and have the most comprehensive range of hotels. If travelling with family, these hotels are great as they have much bigger pools for the littlies!
Either way, make sure you book in advance to save some money. If you are hoping for a caldera view room, research TripAdvisor and find out by looking through the photos and subsequent reviews which rooms have the view. Then, email the hotel and see if you can reserve it.
Santorini Trip: When to Visit
The island shuts down over the low season or from November until April. Most hotels and restaurants shut (many of the owners only live on the island during tourist seasons) during this time, so although it is probably doable with some places open, it may not be your best bet. Also, the weather might not be too nice, and that’s not the Santorini you want to experience.
I visited in July, which is smack bang in the middle of the high season. However, I found this didn’t cause any real issues. I booked my hotel (Langas Villas) in advance. Hence, it wasn’t as expensive as it could have been, I chose a quieter town that was close enough to the bigger ones. I visited places such as Oia much earlier in the day before the day trip crowds arrive around lunchtime! Although it can be stressful, visiting in peak tourist season is very doable, not to mention the weather is perfect!
The weather may not be as lovely during the shoulder months – April, May, late September, October & November – however, it is warm enough for a visit. You may even get lucky and have some perfect beach weather. Most places will still operate in these months, so if you can get some time off, these months are a great time to visit Santorini, especially as it can be a lot cheaper!
Santorini Trip: Getting There
I didn’t realise how easy it was to fly to Santorini until I did it! In most cases, you will have to fly via Athens unless some small airlines are running direct flights during summer (but don’t bet on this – it’s easy to go through Athens anyway). Aegean and Olympic Air fly from Athens, I flew with Olympic; there is a small 40-seat plane (with propellers!!) which I thought would be terrifying but was actually incredibly smooth and only took about 30 minutes. I flew back with Aegean on a normal-sized plane and it was the quickest flight of my life; I think it took about 20 minutes!
If you can book in advance, you’ll be able to get some great deals on flights – probably not that much more expensive than the ferry in some cases! The airport is about a ten-minute drive from Fira, and a taxi is the best way to get to your hotel. Make sure to hurry out of the airport once you land as there are definitely not enough taxis for everyone!
Despite the ease of flying to the island, many people still choose to do it by ferry, especially if they are island-hopping. From Athens, there are three different ferry options. The fast ferry takes about 5 hours, while the Blue Star ferry, the regular ferry, takes closer to 8 hours. Many people actually recommend the slower ferry as it is more scenic. Unlike the fast ferry, it has open-air decks. As expected, the slower ferry is cheaper than the fast ferry.
Have you ever been on a Santorini trip? What are your tips or reviews of the island?