We’ve all seen those beautiful, glossy pictures of cerulean seas and cloudless skies as a backdrop to the pristine white washed buildings of Santorini. These images help make Santorini the dream destination on many people’s bucket lists and is it any wonder? Who doesn’t want to just sit in a cafe, sip on a glass of wine or cup of coffee, and enjoy a little paradise for a change? I know I do and I did during my Santorini vacation!
But it’s easy to lose ourselves in these beautiful airbrushed, enhanced images and forget that often times reality is much different then the almost otherworldly portrayal of certain places. Don’t get me wrong…the island is beautiful and you will not regret a Santorini vacation. But if you’re to believe all the Instagram pictures you see of the place today, you might think it is flawless. My job is to let you know the reality of places I’ve visited and Santorini is no different.
If you’re still trying to figure out how to get from Athens to Sanotrini, how about a ferry. Check out this article for all the information you’ll need!
Some Things To Know For Your Santorini Vacation
A Santorini vacation certainly will not disappoint despite the purpose of this article. In a way I am a bit hesitant about even writing this article because, for some, it might ruin the fantasy and allure of Santorini. Nevertheless, that’s my job and I certainly want to make sure that if you’re planning your dream Greece holiday, you know what you’re getting yourself into. You can totally enjoy a Santorini vacation but you’ll need to drop all your preconceived notions of what it should be like.
Now, for a few Santorini facts…
Santorini is located about 372 miles (approximately 600 kilometers) off the coast of mainland Greece so you’ll have to fly or take a ferry. It sits right in the middle of the Aegean sea and is known for it’s year round warm temperatures. The island use to be round but part of the island sank beneath the sea as a result of a violent volcanic eruption. From above, it’s ancient past is quite obvious. The volcanic eruption is thought to have ended the Minoan society on Crete and some also believe the city of Atlantis is located under the waters near Santorini.
Santorini Vacation: Expectation Verses Reality
Like I’ve said above, beautiful pictures can really put certain expectations in our minds and then when we are met with reality, we might feel pretty disappointed. If a Santorini vacation is high on your list of things to do in life, then by all means go for it! But make sure you are aware of reality before you get there!
Color Color Color
Expectation: If there is one thing every photo of Santorini has in common, it is striking blues and lovely white buildings on a background of the sea and the sky. These photos make our hearts leap and we long to spend some time in such a seemingly perfect place.
Reality: In reality, Santorini is not really filled with these striking blues and most the buildings are varying shades of white. Those beautiful photos you see all over Instagram are basically the same few places shot from different angles. Those are some of the most beautiful places on the island so it’s no wonder everyone takes the photo (I did too). But don’t expect to be dazzled by the color.
Expectation: Most the pictures you’ll see of Santorini show a scene with nearly no one around. It’s isolated. It’s romantic. It’s perfect. You’ll sit there and enjoy the incredible views all on your own and reflect on your travel adventure thus far.
Reality: Unfortunately, this idealized version of Santorini couldn’t be any further from the truth. As far as I could tell, it is always crowded no matter the time of the year you go. So you might get a few photos without people in thumbnut expect the crowds to be large to massive. You’ll have to share the romantic moment with the hundreds to thousands of others doing exactly what you are doing.
Expectation: One of the main reasons to visit Santorini is because it is known for it’s incredible sunsets. You head out to the edge of the caldera and look out over the ocean to watch as the sun sets setting the sky on fire. Your skin is washed in beautiful golden light and you introspect just a bit because of this incredible moment.
Reality: In reality, sunsets in Santorini are pretty incredible. I’m not going to deny that. In fact, one sunset sort of brought me to tears. But just like everything else during your Santorini vacation, you’ll have to share it with massive crowds. Not only that but sunset is probably the most crowded time because everyone wants to see it. So you will likely have loads of people in your photos. If you want to watch the sunset from a restaurant where you might have a more unobstructed view, you’ll definitely pay a premium for it.
Expectation: Rainy days are few and far between during the high season on Santorini. There will be plenty of sun and the temperature will be perfect.
Reality: You won’t experience very many rainy days on Santorini if at all. So that part is definitely true. There will definitely be plenty of sun which is great if your laying by a pool or on a beach. But if you are walking around one of the towns on Santorini such as Fira or Oia, you will quickly realize the temperature is scorching. Get ready for a sweaty, albeit fun, adventure.
Expectation: You discover a long forgotten beach that no one seems to know about. It’ll be covered in red sand and you will have it all to yourself. The beach will be gorgeous and a memory you will never ever forget.
Reality: Unfortunately, the beaches in Santorini really aren’t that beautiful. I’ve definitely experienced better beaches which is why the beach wasn’t really a goal for me while I was there. The islands are volcanic so you won’t really find sandy beaches. Instead, you can expect beautiful volcanic landscapes and shale beaches. The worst part is that there is lots of trash on the beaches. So don’t throw your trash down and maybe pick some up while you are there.
Santorini Vacation…Worth It?
If a Santorini vacation is on your bucket list and you definitely want to visit then don’t let any of these things deter you. Just be prepared for a reality slightly different then what you might have built up in your head. No tour of Greece would be complete without a visit to Santorini.
My Santorini vacation was pretty awesome. I explored the island as much as I could, hung out at the beach, had an incredible accommodation, and just relaxed a bit. Despite the crowds, I loved the sunset and at night the island comes even more to life. The island has an atmosphere that I wouldn’t consider relaxing but a bit different to say the least. It felt so amazing walking around Oia and Fira and just exploring all the nooks and crannies.
So, despite all the realities, is a Santorini vacation worth it? ABSOLUTELY! Although you might not need to spend a lot of time on the island, you can’t miss a stop here.
Santorini Vacation Pointers…
- It’s not cheap. Expect to dish out far more money for common things than you would on some of the other Greek Islands.
- To save money, go for a souvlaki. It’s delicious and far less expensive than eating at a restaurant.
- Use Booking.com to book your hotel. I managed to find a place for about 60 Euros a night last minute. It was beautiful and definitely worth it.
- Take the public bus from port to town. I paid far more to take a semi-private bus into town and it cost me far, far more than it needed to cost.
- Don’t buy souvenirs in Santorini. You can find the exact same stuff on other islands and you will pay 2-4 times less for it.
- There is a wine museum on the island that I didn’t get to visit. Go visit it. I mean, what’s not to love about a wine museum.
- If you visit during the off season, you’ll save big. Off season is November to March.
- Try to book a time when there are fewer cruises in port and you’ll have smaller crowds.
Heading to Mykonos, you’ll definitely want check out these 5 Cheap Eats to save a buck!
Is Santorini on your bucket list?
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