In the warmer months of the year, Santorini is a little slice of heaven centered in the midst of the beautiful azure waters of the Aegean Sea. This picture-perfect island dotted with pristinely white Cycladic houses is blessed with hundreds of unbeatable views of breath-taking sunsets. There is no other place in the world like it. Here we share how to properly travel Santorini.
BUT there’s a downside to all this beauty on one little island.
Unsurprisingly it is also a paradise wedding destination, a hotspot for honeymooners and at certain times a tourist-infested island. So, when is the best time to visit and really get the best of what this magical island really has to offer?
For optimal sightseeing conditions where the adventure is ripe and the luxury is ever-present, we suggest visiting between March-May or September-October. During these times the weather is warm and pleasant, the wineries and restaurants are open for business, and those annoying tourists still haven’t arrived yet.
Where To Stay?
But where should you consider staying? Check out our video below on the best place to stay in Santorini!
Now that we have the best time to visit and where to stay out of the way, let’s look at the best ways to travel and explore the island.
How To Properly Travel Santorini
Although the island is very small with a max length of 18 km and a max width of 12 km, walking everywhere is out of the question. Driving from one end of the island to another takes about 40 minutes, so you can imagine how long it would take to walk it. On top of the time it would take, Santorini is not a real walk-friendly island as there are no sidewalks on most of the roads.
This brings us to the next option, which is driving. Driving is probably the 3rd best option for exploring the island that we will talk about here. Although its quick, it can get quite expensive in Santorini unless you’re traveling in a group and can split the cost. A rental car can cost upwards of 50% more than the other options we’ll mention, and that is not including the potential petrol costs of driving a car. On top of this, it’s not as fun as the other options.
Your next options are public transport and hiring a taxi. Public transport is rather inexistent on Santorini so we suggest avoiding this option. Sometimes hotels offer free shuttles into town, but the times are limited and put unnecessary time constraints on your travels. Taxis are a good last resort if you are stuck somewhere or happen to have a late night in town after a few drinks. The problem with taxis is two-fold. Firstly, they can get quite costly and secondly you need a mobile phone to reach one, which is sometimes not possible when traveling in a foreign country.
This brings us to our second favorite option of getting around and exploring the island. Traveling by boat is a must when in Santorini. It is the best way to really get a unique and breath-taking perspective of the beautiful island. It is an amazing experience when you can stare up 1,850 feet and see the picturesque white villages that dot the tops of the volcanic carved cliff sides of the island. Chartering a boat is also the only way to see and visit certain parts of the island. We used the fine folks at Spiridakos Sailing Cruises and had a great experience.
We saved the best for last. This is hands down the best way to experience and explore the island. ATVing or quad biking around the island is a fast, exhilarating, freeing, and economical way to really see the island and all it has to offer. Imagine having uninterrupted views from the seat of your awesome ATV as the fresh ocean air brushes across your face. Catch a view you just have to capture with your camera? See an inviting local restaurant that’s perfect for a lunch break? Passing by a beach that looks too perfect not to stop? Not a problem. Having your ATV gives you so much freedom to come and go as you please and is one of the many perks of exploring the island this way. It’s also perfect as you have much more options when parking as the ATV takes up very little space. Most ATVs have nifty little carrier boxes to store your camera equipment, beach towels, and lunches. ATVing can sometimes get a bad rap for being unsafe, but as long as you are not reckless, you wear your helmet and some sensible clothing you’ll be perfectly fine. We hired our wicked ATV from our friends at Motor Inn.
Now that you’ve got the timing and transportation sorted its time to think about what spots to visit. Undoubtedly, you’re going to want to visit the typical hotspots of Santorini like Oia and Fira, and you definitely should, but you should also aim to avoid the tourists. Venture to the less crowded, but stunningly beautiful parts of the island.
Here’s a little day itinerary we put together for you.
If your hotel doesn’t provide breakfast or you have to pay extra for it, we suggest saving some money by heading to the best bakery on the island! Thessalonikios Bakery is centered on the west coast of the island and is conveniently open 24 hours. The bakery’s address is:
Fira – Perissa Street
84700, Santorini, Greece.
But, all you have to do is follow your nose. The aromas of the fresh bread and pastries that originate from the bakery will have your mouth watering instantly.
Once you’ve finished with breakfast, head to the southwestern point of the island and enjoy some less crowded and uninterrupted views at the Akrotiri Lighthouse.
Afterward, do a little beach hop and stop by at the Black beach and Red beach. We don’t recommend planning to stay the day at either of these as they are quite small and are rather crowded. They are definitely worth a visit if you’ve got time to spare, as they are very picturesque. We recommend spending the day at the amazing Vlychada beach. This beach is far less crowded than most of the other beaches in Santorini. It is covered with soft black sand and is surrounded by uniquely beautiful volcanic carved cliffs, which look like they were shaped by a sculptor.
Once you’ve got your swim and tan on, ride back to your hotel and clean up for a classy wine experience at Venetsanos Winery. Here you’ll sip on some of the best wine in Greece and indulge in some wonderful local cheese. You’ll also be treated to a jaw-dropping view of an unforgettable sunset over the Aegean Sea.
Finish the night off with a late dinner in Fira at one of the many awesome restaurants the great town has to offer.
Suggested next reading: The Best Croatian Islands You Need To Visit In 2018