We’re a group of five who flew altogether from Athens to Santorini on the early chilly morning of the Greek spring. A short convenient ride we reached the town of Oia where our accommodation is located and our host met us there. Oia is the old town of Santorini where you will find the blue dome churches and the ruins of a castle where people flock to see the beautiful sunset. It’s lively and full boutique shops, fancy restaurants, bars, cafes and the most luxurious hotels in Santorini. We stayed at the biggest cave house of Zoe Houses, it’s big enough for 6 people and equipped with a fully functional kitchen. The best part of the house is the balcony, which we share with few other guests staying in other houses of the property. Having breakfast here is what we look forward each day. This is our life for 5 amazing days, no complaints just grateful.
Every corner around Oia is picturesque, it’s a haven for artists and photographers. A man from Israel is doing his painting in front of our house, we had a small talk and I handed him over a cold beer and I started negotiating for the price of his work. It won’t go down to less than EUR 500 which is my entire budget for this trip to Santorini, so it’s a no deal. In Oia, there are plenty of souvenir shops selling paintings and other works of art, you can haggle.
Sometimes we fancy on tavernas facing the caldera, food is delicious and yes, pricey! But there are days that we fill ourselves with Gyros (a greek food) for just 2.50 EUR. There’s a supermarket nearby so we decided to cook sometimes and one day, we had an Adobo for dinner, cooked using the local ingredients. There’s a wide variety of food places around the island, it will fit easily to anyone’s budget. (More about the budget on DIY Travel Guide Santorini article.)
The beaches around Santorini is not as spectacular as the beaches in South East Asia, however, the waters are clear and perfect for swimming. Due to volcanic element’s around the island the beaches are mostly black sand. We spent few hours in Kamari beach and checked out the famous Red beach one afternoon.
We strolled around Fira – the capital of Santorini to feel the vibe of a busier side of the island. Things are cheaper here compare to Oia – food, accommodation, souvenirs, etc. It’s the entry point of Cruise Ship vacationers who spend a whole day in the island so it gets really crowded here. Night life is more vibrant in Fira since it’s the capital. Bars and clubs are everywhere. During sunset, it gets less crowded as everyone is heading to Oia to catch the best spot though the views of the sunset throughout Santorini are magical.
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One of the highlights of the Santorini trip is the sunset and we are lucky that we’re staying smack right at the place where tourists all over Santorini gather to watch and celebrate the sunset. The ruins of once a Venetian Castle that dominated the cyclades became the best sunset view point of Santorini. It’s the most romantic sunset viewing I have ever seen, people applaud, friends tossed their wine glasses, couples kissed – it became a Santorini tradition.
Then there’s a nearby paradise called Amoudi Bay which is just few hundred steps below the town of Oia through a steep staircase. Either you drive around, walk or hire a donkey to climb down. It has few tavernas serving fresh seafoods. The waters are clear and calm and perfect for swimming. We went down here to catch our private sailing with a catamaran at the Caldera which is one of the highlights of the trip. We usually don’t splurge on activities but this is certainly not be missed and surely value for money (95 EUR). While we enjoy the sail around the caldera with a bottomless service of local wine, we made stops at the white beach, red beach and other places for swimming. It included lunch which is fantastic – freshly grilled meats and variety of local dishes. The cruise ends at sunset.
1. There are plenty of affordable accommodations in Santorini, you just have to book few months in advance. Though the hotels not facing the caldera are cheaper, we opted to stay in Oia and in front of the Caldera and we found a good deal with Zoe Houses. We paid 250 EUR a night which can accommodate up 6 people including breakfast. That’s only EUR 41 per person per night, spending few Euros for once in a lifetime experience, why not?
2. Cheap food is available. Gyros is just 2.50EUR and it can easily get you full. There are supermarkets where you can buy snacks and bakeries for breakfast or afternoon delights. You don’t need to spend so much money for good food, the restaurants not facing the caldera are much more cheaper.
3. Flying is not the only option to reach Santorini, there are plenty of ships that travels in different timings all day from different ports in Athens.
4. Buses are available, you don’t need a private transport to go around the Island.
5. Island of Therasia which is on the other side of Santorini have the best seafoods. We booked a tour to the volcano which has a stop in Therasia island for lunch.
6. Spend at least 3 nights to enjoy the best of Santorini.
I covered more details in my DIY Travel Guide Santorini article.
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I really want to visit Santorini for the same reasons you did before you went, blue domed churches, white houses, narrow streets and to see the Caldera. I read the Santorini Caldera is one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world! The artwork you bargained for was super expensive, I would have passed as well! I think you chose a good hotel, the price was reasonable for 6 of you and it was worth a little more for the view, which is a once in a lifetime experience! I hope I make it to Santorini some time soon!