I’ve been going through my photos of Santorini, remembering how happy I was to be somewhere I’d seen so much about before. To be honest, I’d never actually read much about Santorini, still haven’t, but it’s the views and the photos that sell the place.
I went in June this year with Travel Talk Tours on their 3 Greece Island Explorer trip. It was the perfect way to visit Santorini, Mykonos, Athens and Ios on one trip, as they organised all the accommodation and boat transfers so all I had to do was admire.
Little bit about Santorini
Along with Mykonos, Santorini is one of the most popular and most expensive islands in Greece. But you only need to look at these photos to see why that’s justified, or at least, allowed.
It’s the sunset in Oia in Santorini that brings the island it’s credibility and yearning tourists. As the sun goes down it swathes the houses in a beautiful light, which is exactly the photo everyone there is trying to capture. Unfortunately that means it can be difficult to get that perfect shot, person free.
The first night we arrived in Santorini on the Travel Talk Tour we were given an orientation and went to look at the most popular part of the island, where the restaurants were crazy prices and the bars looked out over the Aegean Sea, infinity pools and all.
Santorini is crescent shaped thanks to a huge volcano that exploded thousands of years ago. If you want to visit you should go soon because it’s predicted that the volcano, still bubbling undersea, will pile up and fill in, sometime in the next few thousand years.
One of the best things to do in Santorini was the quad biking. We rented bikes from the centre of the town and took them up to the highest point. Riding up was pretty nerve wracking, especially when there was a vehicle coming the other way.
The quad biking was awesome. Well, my quad bike was rubbish and I flagged behind everyone getting up the hill, just like in Mykonos (is it me?), but I guess at least I got to admire the view a little more.
When we finally got up there, the view was amazing, you could see for miles around. I’d definitely recommend you do this. The bike was €35 between the two of us.
Wine tasting in Santorini
The coolest thing we did in Santorini, even better than watching the sun set, was going wine tasting. Sampling the wine here, with my new found friends and overlooking the bay, was one of those moments where I congratulated myself for my life choices that had bought me to this moment.
Blue and white, everywhere!
Think of Santorini and you think of blue and white buildings, right? Well that’s for good reason because they’re everywhere. So pretty, they’re the perfect backdrop for a photo or three.
Coffee on the beach
After we’d climbed the peaks of Santorini on the quad bikes, and been to the wine tasting, it was time for a break at the beach. I went for the fish and chips – my usual go to out for lunch choice – and it was yum. I noticed that the restaurants in Greece really knew what to do with a potato, which made me very happy. Also, you can’t go wrong with an iced coffee on a beach, yum.
– It was pretty windy!
Santorini is every bit as beautiful as you’d imagine, but everyone knows that so it’s super busy too. I was there for a few hours in the evening, at peak time, not good for the photos. If you want the best pictures with no one to ruin your shots, think about going early instead. The light might not be right, but at least you’ll have a chance. Having said that, I’ve managed it with the photo above, but I was at the front meaning that I’m in the Santorini photos of all the people behind me. Teehee.
We’d been quad biking all day, which was awesome, and unfortunately didn’t have time to get changed before we went out. So no glamorous photos of Santorini with me against the sunset, just the windswept beach look above. I’ll just have to go back.
The book shop
If you go to Santorini you have to go and check out this bookshop. It’s independent and there’s a special glass cupboard that features First Editions they’ve managed to procure from somewhere. When I was in there someone was buying one for €1500, yikes.
If you can, make sure you support the shop, rumour was when I went in June 2016 that it was shutting down because everyone just takes photos and doesn’t actually buy anything. Buy yourself a little map, go on.
And finally, the sunset
As most people who go to Santorini do, we watched the sun as it set over Santorini. Unfortunately it was so busy in the main viewing part, we decided to watch it from the side of the island. It was still stunning though.
And it meant we could escape the crowds trying to leave at the end so we could quad bike home along the mountain roads as the sun finally set.
I loved my two days in Santorini, and I know I’ll be back for those Oia sunset shots soon.
– I was in Santorini on the 3-Island Explorer with Travel Talk Tours, who gave me a place on their trip in return for a review. All views, photos of Santorini and words my own.
Monday 24th of July 2017
I've been a couple of times. First time, 10 years ago, second time, June 2017. The increase in visitors over ten years was very noticeable. In 2007 I had no problem setting up a tripod at the popular photo locations (including the Castle sunset viewpoint) - this year, that wasn't really an option.
You can watch the sunset from many points on the island. Everyone flocks to Oia because you have the view of the pretty white houses and the blue and white churches, and the sun sets over the sea (well, behind the distant islands of Ios and Sikinos, but it's much the same). From the southern end of the Santorini you can watch cliffs light up and the houses are like snow on the cliff top. Magical, and shared with only a handful of people. Meanwhile Oia is packed with hundreds of daytrippers.
We found some lovely little restaurants just off the main street in Oia where the prices came down a bit but the atmosphere stayed up. Having said that, it is worth the splurge to enjoy a caldera view meal at least once. The view is absolutely out of this world.
As well as all the stuff Vicky did, I'd also add the following to the list: Lunch or dinner in Ammoudi (below Oia) Swimming in the stereotypically crystal clear water Walking the cliffs from Fira to Oia Megalochori and Pyrgos (old villages) Boat trip out to the active volcanic peak in the caldera Akrotiri (ancient town, buried by the volcano when it exploded. So far, about 5% rediscovered. You can walk some of the streets) The landscape between Vlichada and Akrotiri on the south coast (no one ever mentions this area but it is stunning. We rode horses from Megalochori, through vineyards and rock gorges to the beach. Try Santorini Horse Riding. Ancient Thira - top of the mountain in the south east. Frankly terrifying drive up (there must be another way!) to the ruins of an ancient town.
Sunday 30th of July 2017
Wow, thank you Chadwick! There's some great advice there. You should start up a blog – sounds like you have lots of help and advice to give people. Or just use your knowledge and comment on my blog – I love it, thank you!
Monday 24th of October 2016
Vicky - your pictures are LUSH! I've always wanted to visit Santorini (Chris was selling it to me in CR too!), think I need to get it on my travel bucket list next year!!
Hayley xo www.frockmeimfamous.com
Wednesday 2nd of November 2016
Ooo yeah, you’ll love Santorini. Very romantic too! Let me know if you need any advice or help. I’d definitely recommend going slightly out of season, just so it’s not quite as busy. Especially for the photos!
Friday 14th of October 2016
Your photos look gorgeous! It seems like such a beautiful Island! I have always loved to travel and really want to do it more in the future. Working for an events promotion company in London, I am exposed to exiting travels and trips every day and I am continually getting overwhelmed about which destination to pick next! You definitely made up my mind!
Thursday 29th of September 2016
So gorgeous- it's one island I still haven't seen but would love to. Those views! Will have to plan and out of season trip and see if I can avoid the crowds.
Sunday 2nd of October 2016
Definitely. I think now that the seasons are changing a bit, you can afford to go at a time that's traditionally thought of as 'out of season' and save a bit of money, and get better pics :)
Wednesday 28th of September 2016
Santorini is beautiful. I visited in October last year – it was still warm and sunny, and as Oct is considered out-of-season getting a sunset spot on the main stretch was easy-peasy!
Sunday 2nd of October 2016
Oh that's good to know! I'd definitely like to go back again so think I might aim for this time next year :)