Tips and tricks to a Santorini holiday

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The 1st of July already!! This year has just flown by. And the hottest day of the year so far (a casual 32 degrees), so I’m preparing myself for dying from sun stroke. Thank you, pale-and-ginger-genes. Will I still sit outside in it all day? Probably.

Since it’s getting close to the prime holiday season I thought I’d do a little guide to Santorini for any one who is lucky enough to be going. I certainly wish I was going again!!

Now I haven’t edited the pictures because I want you to see what Santorini is truly like – not the perfectly edited version we all know and love – but the beautiful and slightly bizarre place it really is.

The thing about Santorini is that the holiday is what you make of it. That’s how I feel about it anyway. We went for a week and spent alternate days exploring and relaxing. I’d say we could have easily spent another week there and not gotten bored of exploring. When I went last year I stayed in Perissa, more towards the south of the island, at the Arapiou apartments. I’m not going to recommend the apartments because, honestly, they weren’t anything special. It’s the location that made them worthwhile in my eyes.

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Perissa itself is a little town with two main streets, one of which goes along the beach front and is full of restaurants and tourist shops, and the other is one road in with the usual restaurants and tourist shops as well as a supermarket, bakeries, a bus stop, and car/bike rentals. Basically it’s your typical Greek town. Be careful at those tourist shops though! I wanted some sandals because the ones I brought were hurting and this little old lady had me try on shoes, packed them up, and had us buy them before I’d even had chance to figure out if I liked them! Don’t think I’ve ever been so pressured in my life, the shoe lady was a force to be reckoned with. The supermarket has everything you could need (evening runs for fruit and wine, anyone?), the bakeries sell the most delicious little pastries – I think the cheese and bacon was one of my favs.

In Perissa you have the sea in front of you and a mountain behind you with a church half way up it, what more do you want? That’s the main thing I took away from Santorini; that the Greeks sure know how to build churches in the most bizarre places! This isn’t even the strangest. Even though you have to properly hike and probably do a bit of mountain climbing to get to it.

If you’re thinking of going to Santorini you probably know a bit of history behind the place, but if you don’t know there was basically a massive volcanic eruption many many years ago which created Santorini and a few little islands a short boat trip away. Perissa has a black beach because of this and is pretty much made up of little pieces of volcanic rock which makes it ridic hot in the day time. We wondered why everyone was on sunbeds rather than the beach on our first day, we soon figured out why! My tip for this is find your perfect suntanning spot from the road, then get your towel ready and run as fast as you can to that spot and throw your towel down ASAP. I probably sound like I’m over exaggerating, but I was always very close to tears every time I went on the ‘sand’. Or, you know, just get a sunbed and pay for drinks from the bars to keep them. That’s probably much easier but we liked our secluded spot on the beach where no one else dared to go. So worth it. The eruption also makes the start of the seabed feel weird, because it’s basically solidified lava. Fun times, huh. It’s very slippery so be prepared to fall over from time to time. There are some fish down there though so definitely take your goggles!

For me these quirks added to the experience. How many people you know can say they’ve walked on solidified lava and got a tan lying on volcanic rocks? NOT MANY, that’s how many!! Once you’ve finished burning your feet you’re all set for one of the best beach days you’ll ever have. I’d definitely recommend taking a few peaches with you to munch on throughout the day. The juiciest, tastiest, ripest peaches I’ve ever had. I always get a little sad eating them at home now because they’re never as good. OH and Greek yoghurt!! Make the most of the real stuff! But if you get a bit more peckish the beach front is full of restaurants to choose from. We tried a few and all were top notch, definitely go out of your comfort zone a little and get a Greek dish because they are obvs gonna be delish on a Greek island.

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We didn’t go out all that much in the evenings, but on one of the nights we did I got a mango mojito, and it was perfect. There are so many bars around you’re bound to find the perfect one for you. Quiet ones, relaxed ones, loud ones, full or empty ones. You won’t be struggling! Almost a year later and I still feel myself pining for one whenever I see this picture. The bar was pretty cool, with live music playing (commonly referred to as Greek Elvis), with plenty of cosy seats. My boyfriend got a Greek beer, I think, I think he enjoyed it? Cocktails are way more interesting though. Other nights we bought a bottle of wine from the supermarket, took a couple of wine glasses from the apartment, and headed down to the beach to sip it under the stars. This was probably my holiday highlight, I’ve never seen the stars as clear as I did there and it just felt pretty magical to watch the night to by as we sat there admiring the view. It was one of those times where you think the world is something special and I forget that far too often.

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On one of our exploring days we took a boat trip to see the little islands off our bigger island. It started with a bus transfer to the port from your closest bus stop here I enjoyed a few nibbles. The boat itself was pretty awesome (just search for ‘caldera boat’ and you’ll see what I mean), and our guide was such a character with so much knowledge to share. We went from Athinios port to Nea Kameni, which is an active volcano, where we got to walk around the rims of the volcano with a talk from our guide on the sciencey side of things. From there we went to Palea Kameni to take a swim in the hot springs (where there was also a church for some reason?). I also found out there that my boyfriend is apparently the world’s slowest swimmer. They were awesome to swim in but moving back to the cold water was horrible to get back to the boat.

After that the boat carried on around to Therasia, a tiny tiny island with a population of less than 300. We had some time there to either do a bit of sunbathing, go to one of the restaurants at the port, or take the very steep walk up to the town. We chose the restaurant option because we’d already done a lot of walking and could do with some food, but I’d love to see the town at some point in the future. Along the waterfront you’ll have lots of people asking for you to go to their restaurant, but definitely take your time to choose the best for you. Where we went we got muscles for starters and I got stuffed peppers as my main. There is something to be said for Greek cooking. The muscles were so fresh and tasty. The peppers so so soft and delish, and the potatoes that came with it were devine. The Greeks’ love of oil honestly makes everything taste amazing. We looked in one of the tourist shops and discovered that Therasia was very cheeky with its souvenirs, stocking up with Santorini ones and simply writing ‘Therasia’ on them in black pen! We had a good laugh at that, very sneaky but it kinda made me want to buy things more because I knew I’d always smile when I saw it.

Once our time on Therasia was up we all piled back onto the boat and headed up to Oia where people could get off in time for sunset if they wished. Then it was back to Athinios port and to our bus transfers!

It was a full day out and cost about £25 each which I would say is definitely worth it! It was a once in a life time thing, and I can tick walking on a volcano and swimming in hot springs off my bucket list. And you get to see Santorini from an angle you couldn’t otherwise, seeing the absolute scale of it’s height which I still find incredible whenever I think about it. Absolutely gorgeous.

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One day we went to the town of Akrotiri which has a red beach (if you fancy a bit of a hike to get it it), a great take away food place (the best giros we had the whole holiday), and an excavated Minoan settlement. We didn’t head down to the beach because more walking did not sound fun so we were happy just taking a few pics then heading back to eat our giros. We made a couple of friends whilst eating – the cutest cat and the most frightened dog – so they got a little food off us, obvs. The coolest part of this day was the settlement. It is said to be the inspiration for Plato’s Atlantis because it was there before the big volcanic eruption and got covered in ash, then it was under water for a long time. It was so interesting to see and work out where the different houses started and ended, which where town halls, finding sets of stairs to upper floors. I’d say it’s a must see.

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We read about the walk from Thira to Oia on trip adviser and couldn’t wait to do it ourselves. All the reviews said it would take just a few hours, but if you plan on enjoying the walk and taking breaks because you’re in 30 degree heat DON’T LISTEN TO THEM. We thought a few hours would be easy peasy, but it turned into a full day with stops for photo ops, enjoying the view, heading into one of the towns along the way for some food. I’d make make the most of it, take your time. You’re on holiday!! No need to do it in record time. The views are too stunning for that. Take your time to admire all the gorgeous hotels, the mass number of churches, the sun reflecting off the sea, boats heading towards the volcano. It’s an easy enough path to follow so don’t worry about getting lost, or taking ages to do it.

On this walk it becomes obvious why Santorini is one of the top honeymoon destinations. Some of the hotels, apartments, WINDMILLS (yes, you can live in a refurbished windmill for the week) are to die for. We didn’t spend much time in Thira, mainly just went to the museum which honestly wasn’t the best. It was mainly filled up with bits and pieces from Akrotiri so you may as well spend the day there instead. Oia is a love town, with tiny pathways, cute shops and plenty of restaurants. As we all know, it’s known for it’s sunsets, so I was really excited for this because we all love a good sunset. I have to say it was a bit of a let down. For starters it was so cramped with all the other tourists fighting for a view, and it looks like a normal sunset. I think you’d see better ones at other parts of the island. I actually saw the most amazing sunset when we were on the coach back to the airport, typical!! I’d definitely suggest exploring Oia during the day when it’s not as crowded, I didn’t get chance to but I’m sure it’s a lot nicer.

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More on the practical side of things, I’d say bus travel is the way to go. We considered renting a car, and whilst it was probably more comfortable it would have been far more expensive. On the buses (think less bus more coach) it was less than 2 euros each to get to the next big town, much more worth the money. But I guess it depends on how often you would use the car. Buses worked out well for us because we weren’t travelling every day. Food wise, we ate out every other day, opting for fruit and pastries for breakfast and lunch and cooked pasta in our apartment for dinner. Which in itself was really nice because you can chill with whoever you’re with on your little balcony as the sun goes down rather than being surrounded by people. When we ate out we’d just get a main each, sometimes a starter, and a 2 litre bottle of water to share and it always cost less than 30 euros which we thought was pretty cheap! Plan wisely and you don’t need to spend a fortune in Santorini. Then you have leftover money for ice cream, fresh juice and cocktails!! I didn’t really want to recommend places to eat in this because I think every place is probably just as good as the last. We completely winged it and I don’t think any restaurant let us down. Just be sure to go for the Greek dishes! At one place my boyfriend ordered a burger – big mistake, it tasted like one of those microwavable ones. Eww.

Overall, Santorini is probably the best holiday I’ve been on. And not because we relied on what was in front of us like it’s so easy to do on holidays, but because we made the most of our time there and saw everything we wanted to. You have to do that to truly appreciate the beauty of Santorini, and you won’t regret it for a second. Even if you start crying as you get near Oia because you’ve been walking ALL day and just want to sit down and have a rest because you wore the completely wrong shoes. Who did that? Me? What? I was happy again once I got to the top of the last hill. Promise.

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Do you have any tips for a holiday in Santorini? Or tips that you use on every holiday?

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