Travel

What You NEED To Know Before You Go To Santorini! | Santorini Travel Guide

Sep 2, 2021

Welcome to Santorini! If you’ve heard of Santorini the chances are an image of white washed towns, blue topped chapels and world class sunsets springs to mind. This picture perfect greek island that lies in the southern Aegean Sea, about 200 km southeast of Greece's mainland, now sees nearly 2 million tourists every year. Quite a number compared to the 15,000 people who live there. There's no denying it’s attraction. The island owes its good looks to a volcanic eruption in 1613BC, that formed dramatic cliff drops, multicoloured beaches, and a sea lagoon called The Caldera. This iconic setting has made Santorini one of the most memorable and photogenic of the greek islands. However, Santorini isn’t just any greek island, it has its own subculture that sets it apart from the rest. Yes it’s very greek, but Santorini greek, from signature food dishes made from produce that only grows on the island, to the unique way grapes grow in their vineyards. And on the subject of vineyards and wine … there is so little rain on Santorini, that wine in more plentiful than water.

 

The island has seen quite a transformation in the past 60 years. It’s hard to believe it had no electricity up until 1960, especially when looking at the glamorous town of Oia which has now become a haven for sun seekers indulging in the romance of luxury hot tub apartments and fancy restaurants. On first looks it certainly seems like Santorini has a lot going for it so, naturally, we wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. Although sunbathing all day overlooking the caldera with a frappe might be tempting, Santorini is so beautiful, you’ve got to get out there and explore all the wonders this island has to offer. In this video we’re going to take you through food, language, money and transport. But let’s start with our top things to do here on Santorini. Fira is on the top of a cliff edge and is home to the Old Port right underneath it. The port is almost 600 steps down, or you can opt for the cable car which runs every twenty minutes. There is another option, to take a donkey ride up and down. We sadly saw a lot of unhappy donkeys made to stay out in the sun with sores on their backs from carrying tourists. As a result of seeing this I can only ask you avoid riding the donkey’s and instead do what we did - walk down and take the cable car back up! At the port you’ll find souvenir shops, restaurants and this is also where you can pick up a tour to the nearby volcano or hot springs. A fun way to see the island is to rent an ATV! We found a ton of rental shops in Oia. We were their off season so didn't need to pre book but if your there in July and August you might find you need to do this.

 

Driving one of these along the coast line was so much fun, just make sure you have a driving licence, wear the helmet provided and wear protective clothing to stay safe! There is a fantastic walk that runs from Oia to Fira. It takes about 3 hours to complete and runs all along the coast line with views of the Caldera and cliffs the whole way. The walk is incredible but there is not much shade so it’s wise to start early, bring sun cream and drink plenty of water. We took a half day boat trip with ‘Sunset Oia’ that took us around the caldera visiting the white and red beach and hot springs. Santorini’s hot springs are on the tiny, uninhabited island of Palea Kameni. The volcanic activity underground maintains the springs’ temperature at 30°C to 35°C. The boat also provided us with snorkelling equipment so we could jump in and cool off in the water and ended with a fantastic BBQ on deck! Oia is where you will find the iconic blue domes famous to Santorini. The town is carved into the rocks and is the best place on the island to view the sunset over the Caldera. Oia’s Byzantine Castle is a popular spot to watch the sunset from, but if you want to avoid the crowds then we recommend making a dinner reservation at one of the restaurants to ensure you get those killer views. Whilst exploring Oia we met up with Nikos from Santorini Walking Tours who gave us a tour of the town to teach us a little more about the history of the island. Nikos knew so much about Santorini and gave us a great insight to how the island has transformed over the years. Whilst we were chatting I asked him to take me though some basic Greek language to help me get by. So can we start with the basics? Because my greek isn’t the best. Hello? (Yasou. Or Yasas, the plural.) Please? (Parakalo.) Parakalo. Thank you? (Efharisto.) I think that’s the most important one. I think it’s always nice to say ‘Thank You’ in the language. How do you ask for the bill? (Ton logariasmo. Or you can just do…) Oh! Just the sign. That’s a universal sign across the whole world. Do you need to know Greek to come to Santorini?

 

You don’t really need to know Greek to travel anywhere in Greece if you ask me. Greeks are hospitable, we’re exposed to tourism, so people will step in basically if they see your struggling to find something or to order something. So that should not be a worry of yours. And of course there’s a lot of people that speak perfect English, if not everybody speaks at least a few words in English. Good enough to get you a long way. Well thank you so so much for joining us today it’s been really interesting and I’m looking forward to practicing my Greek. Thank you India, it’s been lovely meeting you. Driving a car is the best way to get around Santorini as there’s so much to see either side of the island and not everywhere’s accessible by bus. In fact, you can hire one through Holiday Extras. Check out the link below. Anyway, here’s a few things to keep in mind before you set off. To hire a car You need to be at least 21 and have a valid driving licence In Santorini, you drive on the right. I use the rhyme ‘right is right’ to remember! The speed limit in the towns and built up areas is 50km/hour Car parks in tourist spots like Fira and Oia can be busy during the summer months, so you might want to factor in a little more time to find a space. Driving around the island is spectacular and a great way to see the landscape, just keep in mind that the roads can be narrow and windy so if you want to really enjoy the views, stay safe by parking up and take it all in from there! The activities on the island are one thing, but in all honesty if you come to the Santorini for nothing more than the food, you will still leave very happy!

 

It has a unique greek cuisine that is shaped by the the produce that grows on the island. I fell in love with all the food we were eating so wanted to learn how to cook it at home. Santorini Experts offer a cooking class that does just that so I jumped at the chance of joining. Maria taught me how to make Tomatokeftedes or tomato fritters that are a famous greek delicacy but originate from Santorini. They consists of a thick batter of tomatoes, onions, mint, and flour, dropped in hot olive oil, fried crisp and then eaten with greek salad, tzatziki and fava - delicious! Compared to other Greek Islands I found the food in restaurants to be quite a bit more expensive, but if you wander off the tourists routes a little you’ll find some cheaper gems like Niko's Place Grill House in Oia, where you can get a Gyros for just two euros fifty. And on that note, let’s talk money. The currency is euros and although tipping isn't a necessity, it’s always nice to leave some spare change if you fell like you’ve had good service. But double check the bill first in the more touristy areas, as they might have already left a 10% service charge on the bill. Anyway, let’s take a look back at our spending here in Santorini.

 

This frappe cost €3.25. This Greek salad cost €15. Fuel cost €1.76 per litre. This ATV cost €40 to hire for 24 hours. Our hotel in Oia cost £120 per night for a double room Premium travel Insurance with Holiday Extras cost £15 for 3 days For up to date exchange rates, visit xe.com or download their app. And as our time in Santorini comes to a close, don’t forget to subscribe for loads more awesome travel guides. Santorini has been on my bucket list for a long time and do you know what? It has totally lived up to my expectations. This island is beautiful and the landscape is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. So now that our trip has come to an end, all that’s left to do is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the sunset. Yamas!

Related Posts