FEW FACTS ABOUT THE ISLAND
There is one place in the world, that in Tripadvisor’s rank of the most beautiful islands conducted in 2016 is just straight after Hawaiian Maui. A place where you ask uncle Google and type a word Greece selecting graphic results, on the first page you can see 70% pictures from this island. Why clinging to the steep cliffs white houses with semi-circular blue roofs make Santorini’s the most popular island in the Cyclades? What really attracts millions of tourists to visit this impressive landscape every year? And why most of them then say: “Oh, we have to come back here again”.
So we decided to go and check it out.
BEST TIME TO GO
The peak season is between June and September. However, choosing an appropriate time of your dream staying also depends on your priorities. Do you want to soak up the sun, get gold tan and have a dream temperature while swimming in the emerald Aegean Sea? So, definitely you should visit island in peak season. The warmest sea temperature is usually the highest in the end of August and early September. However, please note that 80% of all visitors come in these months so in short it’s hot and crowded. If you are not a sunbather type and simply just don’t like crowds – visit Santorini in April, May, October or November. This is the perfect time to explore in pleasant temperature unique streets, have more space to capture beautiful shots of sunset and freely pick climate cafes and restaurants. What if I have a limited budget and do not want to spend a fortune? Come in low season between December and March. The prices of food and transport admittedly not change that much but for sure you will get the best possible price of accommodation. In our opinion the best time to visit the island is the end of May, beginning of June or end of September. The combination of great weather and cheaper accommodation, still seems to be the most optimal option.
HOW TO GET TO THE ISLAND?
During the season, we have a choice of many charter flights from various European countries. This is what we did paying for flight from Warsaw only 499 PLN (about 125 USD) per person with 20 kg registered baggage included. I think it’s very good price as for Santorini, which is usually quite expensive direction.
Other plane options
The plane + ferry
To spice up the holiday adventure, you can consider ferry option too. Fly to Athens first and then jump on the ferry from Piraeus Port. I would recommend Blue Star Ferries (I took one from Athens to Rhodes few years ago and it was super comfortable). The views along the way are truly unforgettable! The ferry runs every day throughout the year, and during the season they run additional courses. From Athens to Santorini dreamland separate us about 8 hours on deck.
A very popular option is also a ferry from Crete to Santorini…, which is much more popular and affordable. You can then add a variety to stay 1 or 2 days on Santorini. This kind of course take about 2 hours.
Car + ferry
This is probably the most time-consuming option but if you are travelling throughout Europe and you plan to go to Santorini as well, nothing stands in your way to take a ferry. Then, we have the comfort that we do not have to worry about the transport on the island. Anyway, we were really surprised when we saw a polish car there… From our polish hometown to Athens is 2200 km!!!
WHERE TO STAY?
Affluence of our wallet and planned budget for accommodation more or less will verify location of our hotel. The highest price shelf is definitely Oia, Fira, Imerovigli and Firostefani. We pay here for the location, views, luxury and five-star service. There are mostly villas rather than hotel giants. Although the four-zero prices per night we can also find in other places on the island. The best deals are apartments, private accommodation and small hotels located in other towns. Most of them we will find in Perissa, Perivolos and Kamari. A huge plus of these locations is certainly access to the beaches because on the island it is rather sparse. Just check for ex. on booking.com availability of accommodation at selected dates and set the filter of the lowest prices.
WHAT TO EAT?
On Santorini you can pick and choose among the restaurants, cafes, bars and fast food. However if we are in Greece, it is a particular worth to focus on tasting the local delicacies. And there is a choice. I love the fresh, aromatic Greek cuisine and I think is one of the best in the world! For a dinner in the restaurant with appetizer and a carafe of wine for two people we should pay an average of approx. 35-40€. Everything depends of course on the prestige and location.
If we want economical choice we should try irreplaceable, delicious pita gyro or souvlaki in fast-food places. It will cost us around 2-3.5€. Greek salad in a place like this cost approx. 5-6€. Also, we often did the shopping in bakeries, where for a large sandwich or a small pizza we paid approx. 2-3€ per piece. In the same place, you can also get a refreshing cup of Frappe for approx. 1.5-2€. I strongly recommend! If someone wants to and have the ability and intent to cook, most of the ingredients we can get in many supermarkets.
Taxi and private transfers
Before arrival you should first think about transportation to your hotel, especially if your hotel not provides the transfer. There are not a lot of taxis on Santorini, so probably it is better when you will reserve it in advance, especially if you have any unusual hour of arrival/departure. The cost of a taxi from the airport to the Fira should not exceed 20 €.
In our opinion it is the most comfortable option to independently move around the island. There are quite a lot of car rentals on Santorini so if you solve this issue prior to arrival, you will get your reserved car at the airport and then you are able to drive to the hotel on you own. You do not have to rent a car for your entire stay. Most hotels also can help in the rental car, so sometimes 1 or 2 days are enough to see all the attractions. Cost of rental an economic Chevrolet Matiz is 25€ per day. The better the car, the more expensive it is. Obviously. You should consider rental from private owners – they have very competitive prices and are not so particular about checking the status of the car 😉 A huge plus of the island is certainly the fact that most of the car parks are free. However, during the season they are quite crowded, especially those in Oia before sunset.
On Santorini works great network of public buses Ktel. At the first sight they look like a typical tourist buses. Timetables and prices can be checked on the website. As a rule, for a one way you should pay from 1.80€ (eg. Fira-Oia) to 2.50€. Fira is of course a transfer point connecting all locations on the island. Buses also run to the airport. Bus stops are very often so we do not have to worry about getting to other parts of the island.
Unfortunately. Animals overcome a very tiring way, often in unbearable heat. I do not recommend this type of transport. That’s your choice if you want to try it.
From the port, you can also get to Fira using the convenient and fast cable car. The price is 4€ per adult one way. Check timetable here.
Scooters & ATV
One time we wanted to feel again Asian climates and rent a scooter. So just to aware you. If you want to rent a scooter you must have a license for category A or A1! So we decided to rent something similar as ATV, which can safely be rented for a normal car license. Depending on the engine power price per day in the high season is from 20€ up to 40€. Quads are very popular way of transport so probably you will see a lot of them on the island…
And by the way, you can’t climp o the buildings 😉