It’s the most romantic of all the Greek islands…and it’s the most heavily touristed. Santorini’s incomparable beauty draws visitors from all over the world. Whether you’re heading to the Old Port on a major cruise line or putting together your own island hopping itinerary, here are a few tips to better prepare you for your Santorini holiday.
Go in shoulder season
All across Europe, and particularly on the southern coast, July and August form the peak season, when the cruise ship crowds are as unrelenting as the hot rays of the Mediterranean sun. Try scheduling your trip for late September or October instead. You’ll be rewarded with mild temperatures in the 60s and 70s, and fewer crowds. There’s typically only one cruise ship docked each day, as opposed to several in July and August.
Take the ferry
Santorini does have an airport on the island, but you’ll probably have to connect in Athens anyway. Why not give yourself a more stylish, comfortable means of arrival? After landing in Athens, make your way to the port of Piraeus and board a ferry to Santorini. You’ll have more comfortable seating, the freedom to move around as you please, bars and restaurants on board, and access to WiFi. These ferries are so large, you won’t feel any movement except when arriving at or departing from a port. And if you’re not sold yet, just think of the views! The route to Santorini passes many other picturesque isles, including Paros and Ios.
Watch your step
Ferries will dock at the island’s new port, but the od port sits beneath the cliffside town of Fira. Filled with cafes, souvenir shops, and gorgeous views of the caldera and Nea Kamini volcano, the old port is an enjoyable afternoon attraction. A cable car connects the port to the center of Fira, but a round-trip ticket will cost you 10 euro, which is pretty steep for such a short ride. The other way to get to port is by a steep, winding road with a whopping 587 steps. The hike down isn’t difficult and takes only half an hour to complete. But it is frequented by donkeys and who can guess what donkeys do on the trail? Between the rocky surface of the steps and the donkey droppings, you’ll need to look where you’re going very carefully. Save the view for when you reach the bottom safely.
Leave your water bottle at home
This isn’t a piece of advice you’ll often hear us espouse. Staying hydrated is so important, and packing your own water bottle to refill periodically saves you money and is better for the environment. On Santorini, however, the tap water isn’t safe to drink. Bottled water is available everywhere on the island, from hotels to restaurants to newsstands. If you’re on a strict budget, pick up a case of water from a supermarket to get you through the duration of your stay. While on the subject of plumbing, you should also note that you may not be allowed to put toilet paper in the toilet. There will be a wastebin provided in the bathroom for you to dispose of paper.
Always carry a sweater
Even on warm and sunny days, the wind on Santorini can be fierce. Pack light layers and make sure you have one versatile piece that goes with everything. A black cardigan or a pashmina for ladies will do the trick. Whether you’re hiking the trail from Fira to Oia or admiring the sunset over the caldera from a terrace restaurant, you won’t be sorry. If the weather suddenly turns on you, you’ll have something ready to throw on your arms.