We left Athens for Santorini in the morning. Our booking agent from ATP Holiday set us up with a hotel transfer to Pireaus Port. Once at the port, we boarded a high-speed ferry to Santorini, which took about 5 hours.
PRO TIP: You have a few ferry options to Santorini. Blue Star ferries are said to be the most comfortable and smooth (could be a good option if you suffer from seasickness), but your ride will be close to 8 hours. However, it will be the cheaper option – about $44 one way. Seajets run high speed boats, with one way fares of about $87. The trip will take about 5 hours, however they tend to be a bumpier ride. Side-note: I get horrible seasickness, but felt fine on the high-speed boat with the assistance of Dramamine.
Santorini is a beautiful crescent-shaped island located in the southern Aegean Sea. One of history’s largest volcanic eruptions took place here during the Minoan civilization. When you dock in Santorini, notice the surrounding cliffs that form the volcanic caldera.
When you arrive on the island, you can rent a car, moped, or a scooter. If you take your vehicle on the ferry, be careful driving and navigating the somewhat terrifying road up the side of the caldera and cliffs. We were thankful that our agent set up for our hotel to pick us up at the port. The ride up the caldera is a little scary, but gorgeous nonetheless!
We arrived at our next hotel, Margarita Hotel. It is truly a beautiful (budget) accommodation! We had stunning views of the sunrise from our balcony and enjoyed the serene pool in the center of the hotel.
After getting settled at our hotel, we decided to spend the day exploring the island on our own. We stopped at Taverna Romantica for some food before embarking on our hike from Fira to Oia!
As you explore the island take note of all the beauty that surrounds you. Santorini is known for its blue-domed buildings and its smooth, white-washed houses. And of course, it has spectacular views of the Aegean sea.
We then set out to hike the popular Caldera Trail from Fira to Oia. It takes about 4-5 hours to complete (including stops for pictures), but you’ll see breathtaking views over the volcano while walking on the rim of the caldera. Along the way you will follow an old mule trail and pass through the villages of Fira, Firostefani, Imerovigli, and end in Oia. Be on the lookout for signs to Oia/Ia- it’s easy to get lost!
PRO TIP: If tackling this hike on your own sounds too overwhelming, check out this guided hike which includes a picnic and sunset view!
The trail will take you through beautiful villages with the iconic white-washed houses and beautiful churches. At one point, I got super scared on the trail as we were really high up and the trail got very narrow, so we made our way down the rim to the street level and finished our way to Oia. Once we arrived, we rewarded ourselves with some Greek baklava! And, we stayed long enough to admire the most gorgeous sunset!
To return back to Fira, we either took a bus or taxi, I can’t quite remember. But, have no fear, you don’t have to hike back in the dark.
Santorini by ATV, Black Sand Beach, Red Beach (and Caroline arrives!)
Caroline finally arrived after dealing with airport delays and cancellations! We rented ATVs for the day to get around the island. This is a GREAT option for traveling on the islands. You will see locals and tourists alike out on the roads.
PRO TIP: There are plenty of companies that rent ATVs. Just ask you hotel concierge or locals for nearby recommendations!
From here, we made our way to one of two black sand beaches: Perissa Beach located on the southeast coastline of Santorini. Perivolos Beach is the other black sand beach and the two together make one long beach famous for its black volcanic sand!
PRO TIP: Red Beach can get really, really hot as it is naturally sheltered from the wind. Definitely be prepared with sunscreen, water, and expect to spend most of your time in the water cooling off!
After the beach, we headed to a nearby restaurant for refreshing beverages! And, might I add, we had the best view too!
We stayed for the sunset in Oia, which is the most spectacular view ever! Find a cliff to hang at, bring a bottle of wine, and just be prepared for some stunning views. Also, be prepared for crowds! This was when we were super glad we rented ATVs because getting a taxi back to Fira would have been nearly impossible. But, there are always extra buses waiting for crowds after the sunset, so often times you don’t have to wait to get back home.
Another day Santorini
Today we decided to explore more of Santorini on foot. Caroline missed our first day here, so we tried to recreate it the best we could! We did a little “window” shopping and got some souvenirs along the way!
We walked toward the cable car station and passed by the Catholic Monastery of Dominican Nuns (in Thira). It’s open to the public so you can explore this beautiful church any time you want. We decided to go in because, well, why not, it’s gorgeous!
As you explore Santorini, don’t forget to turn around once in awhile and admire the colorful houses perched on the edge of the cliff!
We decided to take the cable car from the capital, Fira, down to the Old Port. It’s a cheap ride and only takes about 3 minutes, so many people just take it for the views. Check out this website for the most recent timetable and pricing for the cable car. We explored the Old Port area once we got off the cable car.
We took the cable car back up to Fira and found a fish spa! This is definitely a bizarre, but fun experience. After you get seated, you dunk your feet into a foot bath filled with Garra Rufa fish. Don’t worry they don’t have teeth, but they gently suck the dead cells off your skin and provide a mini-massage to your food to increase blood circulation (honestly, I thought it was much more soothing than going for a pedicure where they try to “shave” off your dead skin). The experience is slightly ticklish at first, but as your skin becomes softer and smoother it tickles less.
We headed back to our hotel from here and enjoyed some relaxation at our hotel’s pool. After getting refreshed, we went back out for our last night in Santorini! We enjoyed a delicious dinner with a sunset!