I’ve got a few Kleenex to hand while I’m writing this because I’m prepared for it to get EMOSH. I’ve been back in rainy England for about a month now, but it’s finally time to reflect on my b-e-a-utiful holiday to Santorini – and what better way to reflect than with a little Santorini travel blog?!
Of course you don’t need me to tell you that you should visit the picturesque Greek island (hasn’t Instagram made it top of like everyone’s travel bucket lists by now?), but if you are thinking of booking a trip in the near future then hopefully you find these little Santorini travel tips useful.
1. Visit Oia
Let’s start with the most obvious – you absolutely need to visit Oia when in Santorini. While the whole island is beautiful, the two towns of Oia and Fira to the north of the island are where the picturesque white buildings and blue domes that you’ve seen all over Insta await you. Staying in Oia is pricy AF and I’m still always one Asos order away from Overdraft Hell, so we stayed south of the island in Perivolos; however, Santorini’s so small that it takes a maximum of 45 minutes to reach Oia from Perivolos. There are also regular buses that run between the south of the island and Fira, so getting up to the magical postcard-perfect views is super easy. And once you get there, it is SO worth it.
Uh-huh, it really is as pretty as it looks online. Narrow streets with quaint pastel buildings, winding staircases to cliff-edge cafes, and #demviews – Oia’s got it going on. We visited Santorini in September and the towns were still busy but not overwhelmingly so, so mooching around was pretty chill. The cafes we stopped in were always fairly quiet and getting a good view was never a struggle (which makes sense as it’s what the town is all about – ain’t nobody got time for going to Oia and sitting inside by the loos).
2. Explore the island on quad bike
Quad bikes are everywhere in Santorini, and we decided to hire one on our third day to do a bit of exploring. We paid about 35 euros for one bike that would seat us both (though the woman only spoke to James about how to actually ride it and didn’t let me even do the test drive – thanks hun, nice to see some international feminism). Apart from the fact the helmet wreaked havoc with my hair, this was one of my favourite experiences from the holiday. As I mentioned, the island’s pretty small so getting around it by quad is easy – especially when the speed limit is basically 30-40mph everywhere, so you can just get Google Maps on your phone.
It was so nice being able to cruise around and stop at the side of the road when a good view appeared. Parking in Oia and Fira is also really easy (and you don’t even need to Pay & Display, reeesult), so it’s also a great way to get to the more popular parts of the island. If I was to go back to Santorini I’d definitely hire a quad for a few more days, as there were other towns it would have been good to see (and I just felt very cool tbh)(probably/definitely didn’t look it though).
3. Get a view for the sunset
Oia and Fira are beautiful by day, but one thing you 100% need to do in Santorini is visit them in the evening for the sunset. The sunset over the caldera (which I think is just a fancy word for the volcano but hey I’m no geography teacher) is one of the most iconic views of the island, and luckily there are plenty of options for viewpoints. A lot of people simply gather around the cliff edges, but we were feeling faaancy so we chose to book a table at a nice restaurant to enjoy the sunset with some cocktails. As we were there in September, our restaurant was super quiet and so we could have got away without booking, but I think it’s always advisable to make a reservation just to be on the safe side.
We chowed down on a gorgeous meal and a couple of cocktails at Ombra, which gave us a stunning view (as well as an impromptu photoshoot when we asked the waitress to take a nice snap of us at the table. Following her direction we ended up with THE cringiest photos of us both looking out at the sunset, which unfortunately have now had to be burned in a fire. Soz).
4. Visit Perissa Beach
I might be a bit biased with this one because we were staying only a 5 minute walk away, but I still think Perissa Beach is a must-see wherever you’re staying in Santorini. Perissa felt like more of a traditional holiday destination, with a strip of bars and restaurants along the beachfront. While it’s obviously not as pretty as Oia and Fira, there are still some really nice places to eat and drink. We spent most of our evenings at Perissa Beach for dinner and casual drinks, but also paid it a visit in the day to check out the beach bars and watersports.
During our day at Perissa Beach, we spent a couple of hours sipping drinks and sunbathing on a super fancy bed at one of the beach bars; but then kept it real like the Jennys from the block we are and also hired a pedalo boat to drink Smirnoff Ice on. You can take the people out of Coventry, etc… Other options include jet skis, banana boats and those things crazy people like that propel you out of the water through some kind of wizardry. With plenty of bars and delicious giros always in easy reach, Perissa Beach definitely gets a thumbs up from me.
5. Take a Boat Cruise
Finally, onto one of my favourite experiences of the whole holiday: the sunset boat cruise (or ‘booze cruise’ as my boyfriend insisted on calling it the entire time. Y tho?) It was a half-day cruise around the north of the island, starting at about 2:30 in the afternoon and lasting for five or six hours until after the sunset. During that time we sailed around some of Santorini’s best hidden spots, including the volcanic hot springs, the red beach and the white beach. At each spot the boat stopped for swimming and snorkeling, or you could just lay out on the nets and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Oh, and did I mention it was an open bar with unlimited free wine? I was one happy woman.
Halfway through the tour, we all chowed down on the most beautiful traditional Greek barbecue, served on board. There was feta, stuffed vine leaves, Greek salad, potatoes and a choice of meat (this was before I turned vegetarian, so I’m having some serious nostalgia over that chicken. Miss you bae). The boat trip culminated with a stunning view of the sunset – considering I’ve never really seen the hype around sunsets in the past, it says a lot about the magic of Santorini that I became like sunsets’ number 1 fan on this holiday. Seriously, I could have filled this post with sunset images because I took approx 1302, as each minute just got more beautiful (though the wine might have been influencing my emotions at this point).
We booked our half-day boat cruise with Sunset Oia, which included a pick-up and drop-off from our hotel, the open bar and barbecue for around 90 euros each. For everything you got (did I mention FREE WINE?) I think it was great value, and I’d 100% recommend it as one of the must-dos of Santorini.
So there we have it, my top tips for visiting Santorini! Overall I absolutely adored the island and it was one of my fave holidays evER. Book it now. Just do it. The ‘gram will thank you…