Santorini is a relatively small island, so some of you may wonder if a week is too much time to spend there – I would say, it’s just enough. I was able to see almost everything I had planned and I had plenty of time to relax and enjoy the holiday as well. We travelled there in mid April and the weather was perfect for sightseeing – although it was a bit too cold to jump into the pool.
Here’s how my itinerary looked like for the week:
Day 1 – Arriving in Santorini:
We flew directly from London via Easy Jet and the flight took about 3 and a half hours. The airport in Santorini is small, so during the off season most of the flights only come in from Athens and the UK. We weren’t planning on renting a car right away, so we left the airport to find a taxi. You can also get a bus to Fira (for 2.20euros) and then change if you’re staying somewhere else. Finding a taxi was a little difficult as there were none at the taxi rank. I had read a lot about taxi drivers always trying to take as many passengers as they can, even though you still have to pay full price for your ride, but when we finally got one, luckily no one else was going in our direction. Many hotels offer private transportations or shuttle buses to and from the hotel/resort, which would have been the better choice in hindsight, as the price would amount to the same as by airport taxi. In our case the taxi from the airport to Oia cost 35 EUR, which is actually the same price as an economy car rental available at the airport.
After driving around some of the craziest roads I have been on since my road trip in Italy, we checked into our wonderful hotel, the 270 Oias Views. Unbeknownst to us at the time, the management surprised us by upgrading us to a larger villa with a spectacular view of the sunset over Oia. The upgraded villa was definitely very spacious as for the 3 of us we had 4 bedrooms, 3 day beds and a private pool – we definitely weren’t complaining! As we were a bit exhausted from waking up so early that day, we just walked around Oia a bit and grabbed some lunch near the hotel, and wrapped up the evening with a nice dinner at sunset.
Day2 – Pyrgos
Our host at the hotel informed us about the Easter Celebrations that would be taking place in Pyrgos on Good Friday, so we decided to head out there for the day. At this stage we had no clue how to move around the island and had planned on walking for about 3+ hours to get there. Fortunately, we found a bus stop right outside of the hotel and as luck would have it, the bus arrived just as we got there. It cost just 1.80EUR and it took us to Fira, the capital where, after grabbing a coffee, we jumped onto another bus that took us to the new port. We thought the new port was going to be something more exciting than a few restaurants and people waiting for their ferry, but at least the views from the bottom were well worth the winding roads down the mountain. From there we took a taxi to Pyrgos, our final destination for the day.
Pyrgos is a village that invites you to walk the ruins of the old castle, and see breathtaking views from the top of the cliffs overlooking Santorini. You can easily spend all day there taking amazing photos. It was our first day properly exploring Santorini and I was really impressed by everything from the white houses, blue roofs and wild flowers that stretched out as far as the eyes could see. After we walked around we had dinner and waited for the Easter celebrations to commence
At sunset, a funeral procession of Jesus Christ snaked its way through the streets, and hundreds of steel cans set on roofs around the village were lit to illuminate everything. The views from afar were absolutely incredible, it looked as though the whole city was on fire. It felt like the whole island was there and it was very difficult to leave. We decided to walk to Fira, which took us about an hour, and from there we took a taxi back to the hotel. From Fira the taxi back to Oia cost us 20EUR.
Day 3 – Fira
On the third day we went to Fira, the capital. It’s a small village so you can easily see everything there is to see in a matter of a few hours. You can go down to the old port by walking, riding a donkey or taking the cable car. I decided to walk down which wasn’t as bad as it looked. The Old port was even smaller than the one we saw the day before but it’s definitely worth a visit.
On the way back we took the cable car which gave us a great opportunity to soak in the views. There are also a few bars and nightlife venues here, but the drink prices are very expensive. After we got back to Oia we went to another Easter celebration at the church; at midnight, people lit candles and shot off fireworks from their roof tops.
Day 4 – Oia
We spent Easter wandering around amazing Oia, taking photos, enjoying the nice weather, eating great food and celebrating in real Greek style by having dinner for more than 3 hours in Amoudi Bay, and watching people dance to traditional Greek music.
I missed the sunset that day as it was cloudy but I saw a lot of people waiting for it by the little castle at the end of the island. It’s probably the best spot for a great sunset photo.
Day 5 – hiking from Oia to Fira, Kamari
Most articles I read mentioned the famous hike from Fira to Oia. Seeing as we were staying in Oia, we started from there and quickly found out why everyone recommends going the other way around. Most of the hike was uphill and there were points where we seriously considered giving up. But somehow we made the 10km hike in just over 2 hours and it was amazing. The scenery you will pass along the way is unforgettable.
After the walk and some calculations, we decided to rent a car to save on taxi and bus fares, which worked out a lot cheaper and made it easier to move around Santorini. Rental car companies offer cars starting at 35 euros per day – you won’t be driving a fancy Lamborghini, but it will get you around if you don’t end up in a 1970’s rental like we did. Our car had no gas when we got it and it broke down after driving for just under an hour so we had to wait for a new one. But don’t worry, they’re not all bad! That day we also made it to Kamari, the popular black rock beach.
Day 6 – driving around
It was our last full day so we got up early to see everything we had left on our list. We started off by hiking Skaros Rock in Imerovigli. It was exhausting but wonderful.
Then we drove along the other side of the island to the lighthouse. Unfortunately it was closed but we still walked around and sat on the edge of the cliffs for some truly amazing views
Next, we drove on to Akrotiri but we didn’t realize that the archaeological site was located outside of the city so after a quick walk we went to the famous Red Beach instead. I had read mixed opinions about it online, but from the moment I got there I loved it. The combination of red rocks and blue water made for a perfect contrast and a fantastic point to just relax and take in your surroundings. We also drove along some unpaved roads to do a little beach hopping, but the Red Beach was definitely my favorite. The last stop we made was at the Santorini Brewing Company (also known as Donkey Brewery, probably one of the smallest breweries I have ever seen) where we tasted Red, Yellow and Crazy Donkey beers.
Day 7 – Goodbye Santorini
After we checked out, we left our car at the airport and caught the plane back to London. Just so you know: the airport is very tiny so don’t go there too early as it’s very crowded. It was already very busy when we were there for Easter – I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like during the summer!
It was amazing week and definitely one of the best trips I’ve ever had.. It wasn’t the cheapest place but it’s worth going there, even for few days. There is much more to do: jumping from the cliffs, volcano excursions by boat, or bathing in the hot springs. I would highly recommended renting a car right away as taxis are very expensive. Of course you can take the bus too, but it won’t take you everywhere and you will need to adhere to the schedule. The food was scrumptious as well – we ate a lot so I am going to prepare a separate blog post with restaurants recommendations. Stay tuned!