Santorini is probably one of the most beautiful places in the world. But you probably already know that. You’ve see the pictures of the white buildings with the blue roofs along the cliffside, and the gorgeous sunsets over the water.
But like any place in the world Santorini had it’s good and it’s bad. And a lot of times the not so great parts about a place never get mentioned in travel articles. And it’s not that I want to be a downer, or dissuade you from going but, I think it’s always a good idea to have the whole picture when planning a trip.
Santorini had a long history of winemaking and has a ton a wineries. If you are into wine, then you’ll be in heaven! There are several different wine tours you can do. The kind where you get on a bus with a bunch of people and hit a bunch of different wineries in a day (check out these tours). Or you can go it on your own and check out one or two in an afternoon, which is more my style (see my favorite winery in this post!). Just be sure to split tastings and eat some food, someone still has to drive the ATV home. Regardless of which wineries you go to and how you get there, Greek wine is some of the best. And the wine grapes grown on Santorini definitely have a unique and wonderful taste!
A whole island to explore outside of Oia
When you see articles and pictures of Santorini, they seem to mostly be about Oia, that beautifully picturesque town on the cliffside. But Santorini is actually a pretty big island, so there are tons of other towns, beaches and views to explore. The best way to do this is rent an ATV, hit the road, and get a little lost. We had so much fun just cruising around on our ATV checking out everything there was to see.
Amazing fresh seafood
You are on an island, so the seafood is going to be awesome and fresh. I’d recommend any little restaurant that offers a seafood platter so you can get a taste of everything.
The moon rise
Everyone loves a sunset, myself included. But for something a little different and very cool, turn around and watch the moon come up over the caldera in Oia. This will of course will depend on the time of year and phase of the moon. Full moon obviously being the most dramatic, but crescent is always a cool too. For the best view don’t head all the way out to the point with all the sunset spectators, hang back near the beginning of town. My best advise is to grab a seat at one of the cliffside restaurants that is facing into the caldera or east-ish, and while everyone is cramming into see the sunset on the other side, sit back and relax and watch the moon rise over the island.
To be more specific, the crowds in Oia at sunset. Everyone says to go see the sunset there, because it is magnificent (and it is, no argument there). The problem is, you are sharing that beautiful moment crammed in with thousands of other tourists. The streets of Oia are skinny, tiny little foot paths and being jostled and pushed by strangers really wasn’t my idea of a good time. I infact had a small panic attack while trying to navigate through the hoards of people. This is why I like the option of watching the moon rise, further back in town, away from the crowds of people. That said, if you are determined to see the sunset, make sure to get there early, like real early, and if you want to have dinner make reservations in advanced.
The beaches can be quite crowded too, especially the popular ones like the red beach. It was just a lot of people on a small beach which made it feel crowded. What was kind of strange I thought, was the amount of movement. Like people coming down to the beach to take a couple pictures then leaving, so there was this sort of constant flow of people on and off the beach. Not necessarily a bad thing, I just thought it was weird.
The traffic & the tour busses
Similarly getting into Oia in the late afternoon is equally stressful due to the sheer number of other people trying to do the same thing. The skinny little cliffside road that leads into Oia could give the CA 405 a run for its money in the traffic department. The craziest thing to me were the giant tour busses on these tiny ancient roads. All traffic, in all directions has to stop to let the tour busses go through, and there are tons of tour busses.
Fira at night is a shit show
This might be because I’m closer to 30 than 21, but going through Fira at night reminded me of being on spring break in mexico. A lot of drunk kids stumbling around. And while I have no problem with a fun night out and getting a little crazy, when you see an ATV roll away into traffic because it’s owner hadn’t bothered to put the parking brake on, and was nowhere to be found, things seem a little out of hand.
Santorini is a beautiful place, and one definitely worth visiting. Oia is as pretty as the pictures make it out to be, but make sure to explore the rest of the island and well. As for the traffic and the crowds, those are facts of life, and are bound to happen in any popular destination. I just wanted to talk about these cons because I’d never heard of any of these thing mentions in the articles I’d read before going to Santorini, so I felt like they should be talked about.
And while do definitely love doing some of the typical touristy things while I’m traveling, because how can you go to Santorini and not go to Oia? I think it’s nice to have the whole picture of what that experience will actually be like.
What do you think of Santorini? Did you love every moment of it, and not notice the crowds, or do you think one of the other island is a better destination? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for your honest look at the island. I’m heading there next week, good to know what I’m getting in for!
Awesome! It honestly an great place, the good definitely outweigh the bad. Have a great time! and I’d be interested to hear if you encounter the same kinds of things.
Santorini is a place I would love to go, just not sure it’s a place for a solo traveller? It does look so beautiful and it’s been on the list for a while, I will be there one day and I guess mixing with the thousands of tourists to watch sunset!!
Great honest post. Santorini is on my list for a long time and for a reason or other I’ve visited other Greek islands and not this one. When did you go. Wonder if there is a time of the year (not in the winter) that things can be calmer.
I was there in July so the height of summer and peak season, I would guess that spring and fall would be a bit calmer crowd-wise but still have good weather. It’s definitely worth a trip, it so beautiful and there’s so much of the island to explore!