After watching endless Bollywood movie songs, great pictures by photographer friends and fellow travellers all over the internet, there was no doubt in selecting Santorini in the list of places for our dream backpacking trip to Europe for 3 months.
We spent 3.5 days in Santorini and on the 4th day, we boarded the ship to Mykonos with some great pictures posted on social media, thousands of extra calories because of cheese and greek’s endless dessert options and in the end some great memories for life.
Understand the Geography of the Island
Santorini is a very small island where you can ride from one end to another in less than an hour. There are five major villages :
- Oia (Popular for sunset views, we stayed here)
- Imerovigli (closer look at Caldera and fancy Villas)
- Firostefani (famous for 3 bells)
- Fira (capital of Santorini, has lot of restaurants, pubs and major port)
- Pyrgos (a classy old place, completely different from all other villages but no sea view facing villas)
- Akrotiri (famous for sunset view from lighthouse).
The first thing that comes to everyone’s mind with the name of Santorini, is the contrasting blue and white domes but there is lot more this island offers.
Roam around in Oia
We spent one entire day, just roaming around in Oia from one end (Church) to another (Oia Castle). The complete stretch is filled with restaurants, souvenir shops, number of great view points and endless photo opportunities. You can witness the Greeks’ obsession of white all around the Oia. They have painted walls and furnitures white and even the TV in our stay was white.
The best part about Oia is that even if you close your eyes and point your camera in a random direction, believe me you will get a nice postcard shot. However, there are few specific hideouts to get a perfect shot (we will try to cover such places in a photography guide soon).
There are few amazing spots to witness the beauty of nature which I am sure will cost a bit heavy on the pocket, so I just clicked the pictures 😀
You will find some great street performers and artists on the way which are worth giving some time. They know how to gain your attention. I remember the moment we passed this guy and he started playing Hindi songs.
Tip : Streets of Oia usually gets really crowded in the evening. If you want to avoid the crowd and wish to roam around in Oia without tourists, just go early in the morning. We went around 6 am for a morning stroll and it was a great experience.
Sunset at Oia Castle
You can enjoy the amazing sunset from Oia Castle which is the most popular spot for sunset view. However, for the same reason this is the most crowded place in Oia in the evening. If you are a photography enthusiast and fine with reserving your place several hours before or just want to enjoy the view, you will love this place. I decided to skip this and found another alternate spot for sunset view (will cover this in the photography guide).
Spend some time in Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay is a nice hideout from tourists and provide multiple options to spend a nice evening, but you have to put some efforts and take 250 stairs downwards from Oia Castle to reach this place. I found this place very peaceful after whole day walking among the hoard of tourists and crowded restaurants. More details coming soon.
Hike from Oia to Fira
One of the most memorable part of our trip was this 11 km long hike from Oia to Fira. It wasn’t easy but completely worth the efforts as we explored 2 more villages: Imerovigli and Firostefani, on the way. It was a great cardio as my fit bit was showing 29K steps and 177 floors by the end of the day. More details coming soon on a separate article for this hike.
Old village of Pyrgos
You can’t leave Santorini without visiting this ancient village called Pyrgos. Far from the commercial villas of Santorini, this place has its own charm. We spent several hours here, just roaming around in the streets.
Beach Hoping with a sunset at Light house
It was our luxury day as we took a convertible car on rent (which was twice the rate of a normal car – 70 euro/day). On the eastern side of the island, there are a couple of interesting beaches where you can go swimming in the freezing cold water or have a beer at a beach side restaurant. We did a full circle of the island from Oia through Pyrgos, two beaches (black sand beach and red and beach) and finally to Akrotiri Lighthouse for the sunset.
Black sand beach (Perissa Beach)
This beach was completely commercial, filled with restaurants and cafes and it wasn’t very expensive too. Then we met one Salman bhai fan, “Are you from India, I love Sultan movie man”, one shack owner introduced himself.
Red Sand Beach
You will have to put some efforts to reach this beach and go all the way down from the cliff to the beach side. Though it looks far but it will take just 10 min to reach the beach.
Akrotiri Light house
It was a very windy day when we went there for the sunset, we had to literally hold the rocks nearby for stability. But the great view with a nice sunset made all the efforts worth it.
Few other things to do in Santorini
Evening cruises starts at 3 pm (cruise duration is 4-5 hrs) from Fira port. They have different packages and the cheapest option will cost you 99 euro/person. We didn’t get a chance to go for this, may be in our next visit to Satorini in future.
Climb the Imerovigli mountain
This is another thing reserved for our next visit, trail to the top of this iconic mountain of Imerovigli. We saw this on the way of our hike from Oia to Fira but after 8 km, we were not ready for another climb.
Number of days : We spent 3.5 days but someone can easily spend a week here without getting bored.
Best Area to Stay : I would not recommend anyone to stay in Fira as it is more of a city. Oia is the best option from my perspective. If you are staying for a week, you can split your stay in between Oia and Firostefani or Immerovigli. We stayed in Mussess Studios which was one minute away from the cliff and in our budget.
Budget Calculation :
Food : 200 Euros for two people (this amount can vary depending upon your food choices and greed for desserts).
Stay : 180 Euros for 3 nights.
Shopping : We didn’t do any shopping except sovenirs which are 10-20 euros.
Sample Itinerary :
Day 1 : Roam around in Oia and explore Amoudi Bay
Day 2 : Hike from Oia to Fira and explore other Immerovigli and Firostefani villages.
Day 3 : Explore beaches (specially Black sand beach and Red sand beach) , explore Pyrgos and visit Akrotiri light house.