One of the most Picturesque places to go in the world has got to be the island of Santorini in Greece. We recently had the chance to visit Santorini during their winter, and here is our Top things to do in Santorini.
We flew to Greece via Scoot for SGD$550 (USD 405). This was a promotional rate where returns are free (there is an admin fee involved), and it proved to be the most affordable way to get to Athens.
Upon reaching Athens, we made a decision to fly directly to Santorini immediately. This was because, our research told us that going to the city and coming back to the airport again was just a bit too troublesome. (Which was true!). Purchasing another budget air (Sky Express), we flew to Santorini one way for (63 Euros). This 45 min flight from Athens is the most efficient way to get to Santorini and we arrived in the morning, with plenty of the day left.
Santorini Airport is small and the island’s main stream of income is tourism. There are buses that come regularly that take you to the main city of Fira in Summer, but in Winter, buses are rare. Thus, we took a cab to our hotel in Firostefani, which is walking distance to Fira. Do note that the taxi fares are quite fixed. Regardless of distance, you are looking at 25-30 Euros.
We spent a total of 3D2N on our budget trip in Santorini and here is our list of top things to do in Santorini.
Top 7 Things to do In Santorini
1.Catch the beautiful Sunsets
You have all seen the beautiful pictures of Santorini and this is the No.1 reason why you are here. The best thing about going in Winter, is that there is no one jostling with you for the perfect shot. The only downside is that many hotels and buildings go thru renovation or upgrading during this period and not all the cafes are open. (Ever wondered why the buildings are so squeaky white? Most of them are being repainted during winter).
The good news is that the sunsets are still beautiful and there are lots of places that await you for the perfect shot. Most beautiful shots which you see on the Internet are from Oia. Every sunset is different and the adventure is not just finding the perfect location for a shot, but awaiting for the best lighting as well.
Tourist Tip: Stay at the hotels facing the Caldera (Volcano Crater). The city is an active Volcano, so when we you stay facing the Crater you will see the breathtaking views. Our Hotel’s views made us feel like we were on the movie set of Wonder Women. The Scenic view is the most important thing about Santorini, so spending more here,as compared to Athens does make sense. For the price watcher, the Hotels in Oia are the most expensive.
2.Hike from Fira to Oia
Cheapest thing to do while in Santorini is to do this hike from Fira to Oia. It takes about 3-4 hours and great to see the picturesque town. It is not a very difficult hike but to be honest, we did not finish it. We turned back after half an hour, as we wanted to explore more of the towns. However, if you are a nature lover, do go for it, as we did like what we saw!
Expect to see many steps and views like this whenever you walk on the paths. The towns are pretty well connected and they moved from paved pathways to gravel paths. However, the many steps do take its toil on ones knees and good walking shoes are essential for any traveler.
3. Rent a Car in Santorini
We read many reviews about Santorini and we thought that we can get by just by walking. However, most of the main sights are quite a distance from each other (unlike Athens) and taking a taxi is too costly an option. (This town is not known for Uber or Grab, so you can forget about that as well).
Petrol is affordable and the small Fiat that we rented proved quite economical. I only pumped 30 Euros and I was down to my last notch when I returned the car.
At the end of the day, we rented a car from our hotel contact. Not the cheapest option but they proved reliable and we could drop the car off at the Port. If you are driving to the port, do bear in mind that the roads really bend and you will feel like you are driving around those bends which you see in a James Bond movie.
4. Visit Akrotiri Archaeological Site
Located at the opposite end of the island from Oia, the Akrotiri Archaeological Site is a national treasure. Akrotiri was buried during a massive Volcanic eruption, which explains why it is so well preserved. One can expect to see pottery, furniture, advanced drainage systems and three-story buildings have been discovered at the site. More has yet to be discovered due to a lack of funding. The site is so well preserved that it is often called the Pompeii of the Aegean.
If you love history and archaeology, you will love this place. My wife spent at least 2 hours here and I had to drag her away.
Pyrgos is the former capital of Santorini and the best preserved medieval settlement on the island. Located just 7.5 km south of Fira, Pyrgos is an easy destination for any driver and this is where real Greek life starts. Forget about the nice balconies overlooking the caldera, as this is something off the main tourist belt.
Check out Pyrgos to relax with the villagers and to enjoy the slower pace of life. Look for the main square, with its tall pine trees and quaint little coffee shops, is the focal point for socializing and entertainment.
6. Visit Red Beach
Located near the Akrotiri archaeological site, the red beach is popular for its color. Coming from Singapore, we have never seen beaches of this color and this beach is definitely worth a visit. Located 12 km south of Fira, one will need to get here by car.
We were here in Winter and although the beach was largely deserted, we still saw many enthusiastic tourists sunbathing and swimming along the beach. Needless to say, we stayed dry and left our swimsuits back home! 😉 Do be careful when visiting the beach, as there are frequent warnings of rockfall.
7. Visit Megalochori Village
Another Village off the main tourist belt is Megalochori. For people who just want to soak in the simple street life of Santorini, these cultural villages are worth a visit.
Is Santorini Kids Friendly?
Yes and No. Kids can enjoy the same scenery as the adults but I think our kids under 12 will be bored after a day. There are no kiddy rides or anything of that sort and Santorini is more of a honeymoon location. The good thing is that we travelled to Greece as a couple and we had great couple time. Frankly, I think my kids would have enjoyed another Hong Kong, Taiwan or Australia more.
However, lots of restaurants and hotels are closed (even McDonalds was closed). It just means fewer places to chill, but there are still places that are open.
Overall, we think that the island is great for honeymooners! With scenic breathtaking views, Santorini is a stand-out for new couples. If you are thinking of bringing kids to Santorini, we have a sneaky feeling that they may be bored and hoping to go to Disneyland instead.