Let me start off this post with a disclaimer: Santorini is bloody amazing. It is so beautiful, and lovely, and sunny, and cheap, and lovely. I cannot sing it praises enough, although I think I already have, and I will continue to do so for the rest of this post. So here is a little overview for what I got up to for a weeks holiday in Santorini.
As always with cheap holidays, I went through all the usual steps for finding the best deal. Because both my boyfriend and I are employed full time and we’re not teachers or parents, we can go on holiday in off peak times to get the best of the quiet seasons and value deals. This is always my best tip – go on holiday in March/April/May or September/October as holidays practically halve in price and it’s significantly less busy and also a lot quieter, because lets face it, kids are noisy.
I have wanted to visit Santorini since forever. It looks absolutely gorgeous, I guarantee if you type dream holiday into Google it’s going to be at the top of the pics. Just look at it.
So once I’d found our cheap flights, I found our hotel on booking.com at Anemomilos Suites which was an absolutely bargain at £168 for the room, for the week, so that’s £89 each. The owners were lovely, picking us up and dropping us off at the airport, and also helping us to book excursions like the volcano tour – more on that later. It had a pool, which to be honest we didn’t use much because y’know, the whole place is surrounded by the actual sea. Our hotel was in Fira, which is the port city on the island, it was a bit set back from the main town but this wasn’t a problem for us as we definitely appreciated the quiet nights. It is a popular destination for cruises so be prepared for it to be busy during the days as cruise ships dock into the port and it fills up with plenty of tourists, but they all tend to leave in the early evening, so these were more peaceful for us to sit back with a drink, and watch this infamous Santorini sunset.
If you look up Santorini you are guaranteed to get pictures of Oia, and the prices for Kamari. Oia is a town at the top of the Santorini, and the place with the beautiful white buildings, sunset views and ridiculous prices to match. Kamari is at the bottom of the island and is a lot cheaper beach side option with the Santorini black volcanic sand. We settled in the middle, which was Fira, which as the main town, and the hill top restaurants with the great views, and an equal distance between top and bottom to get to both for a cheap price. For this, the buses in Santorini were really great, you can find the bus timetables here, but they were pretty much every twenty minutes and always 1.80 euro each way, which is basically like travelling around on a London bus, right?
I’ll start off by talking about the bottom of the island, mainly the beach towns of Kamari and Perissa. The beaches here are great, they look quite surreal with the volcanic black sand, but this also means all along the beach you have sunbeds and parasols attached to each restaurant and beach bar, with most of them letting you use them for free if you ate at the place in the evening. This worked absolutely fine with us, and as I usually wouldn’t fork out to pay for sunbeds so it certainly felt good, and also a great way to order in drinks from the bar which were also really cheap (I live in London so 3 euros for a large glass of wine is a miracle). Most of the restaurants we came across here weren’t really authentic Greek places, they were more like tourists traps with a standard menu, but they also had great deals, and we were happy with that. Having a pile of calamari and Greek salad (with a side of chips) and a bottle of wine for 25 euros for two was a particular highlight and certainly a good trade off for enjoying the beach on the sunbeds all day.
Everywhere around Santorini you’ll find offers for excursions around other smaller islands or to the volcano. Most of these come in different package deals, but with the help of our hotel, we chose a three hour excursion to the volcano which included a dip in the hot springs. The trip was really great, and was something a bit out of my usual comfort zone, but I actually found myself really enjoying walking up and across the massive volcano, and the view from the top was really great. The surface of the volcano is crazy, and looks something out of The Martian, the Volcano is dormant now but you could see the massive craters of where they used to be.
Once you’re back on the boat after an hour on the volcano, they take you round the back of the volcano to a spot of hot springs. If you fancy having a swim you can jump in from the boat and swim into the springs (the yellowy/brown area in the pic above, to the left of the white house). I didn’t do it myself as I’m not a very confident swimmer, but my boyfriend enjoyed it. But be warned, the sulphur of the hot springs can stain your bikini/trunks a brown colour unless you wash it off as soon as – just be warned!
Every evening on our trip we would spend on the edge of Fira, looking over at the sunset. This view is famous for Santorini, and it made for perfect evenings kicking back with a few drinks and enjoying the view.
One of my trip highlights was our walk/mini hike from Fira to Oia. The internet told us it would take 2 hours but more realistically for non-hikers with sandals on who like to stop for drinks, it took around 3 and a half, but it didn’t feel long, in fact I really enjoyed it. We packed 3 litres of water which we drained throughout the walk as it was boiling, but one of the perks of walking along a cliff face is there’s a bit of a breeze, so you’ve got the best of both. Anyway, the walk is a great way to get some really incredible views. We passed through small villages and little churches like above that looked absolutely beautiful, and by the time we made it to Oia we felt like we really deserved our drinks, ice cream and once again, a massive plate of calamari.
I looked up some of the price tags of the places we passed, like above, and they’re crazy expensive, but a girl can dream right?
Talking of massive plates of calamari I really need to mention the incredible food and drink we had whilst on our trip. Of course, the seafood was incredible and whilst I tried to explore each menu, I just couldn’t help coming back to my old fav, Calamari. I also have to give a shout out to the kebabs, I mean, I’m not a fan of your usual doner, but the kebabs in Greece are insane. Not only that, but you can pick up a standard chicken gyros for around 2.50 euros, which made our lunch budget a lot cheaper than expected. Oh and they were really bloody good.
So overall, Santorini is amazing. It’s just as good as it looks in the pics, if not better. It’s also really good for a cheap trip, and everyone we met was so welcoming during our time there. I’ve visited Greece twice now and I can confirm that I absolutely love it. The people, the food, the drink, the views, the sunsets, the beaches. It’s all amazing and my boyfriend and I have basically agreed to visit Greece for every beach holiday from now on, because if it ain’t broke and all that…