I didn't love Greece... I thought it was overpriced, overcrowded and overrated. That being said, I did think Santorini was pretty special, but only in the Caldera (which is the cliffs with the white buildings) and once you'd seen that, there really wasn't much else to do. In Greece's defense we only saw 2 islands (Ios and Santorni) and Athens and im super keen to visit other areas like Zakynthos which is on the Mediterranean side of the country... Plus, millions of people rave about it so maybe there was something we missed, or maybe the people that rave about it are staying in the several thousand dollar a night suites in Oia in which case, yes I'd probably love Greece too...
Ebbs and I were also pretty ratty with each other after spending a week in 42 degrees and a tent at Sziget and we both had the flu... all in all wasn't the best part of our trip.
I still think Greece is worth adding to your itinerary just don't spend too much time here and prioritize other destinations. I wish I had spent more time in Turkey or visited the south of France instead of wasting 2 full weeks here. Id recommend 2-3 days in Santorini (and no days in Athens or Ios) Ebbs and I spent 6 days on each island, expecting that to not be enough but I was ready to leave after day 2.
We flew from Athens to Santorini with Voletiea airlines for $50.
We were there late august which seemed like a pretty good time of year, it was just on the edge of peak season so everything was still top price, but the crowds weren't TOO insane and the weather was amazing other than a bit (or a lot tbh) of wind. After our 6 nights in Santorini we got the ferry across to Ios which cost 40 euros 1 way and then after Ios we came back to Santorini where we stayed the night before our flight to Naples.
We stayed at the Caveland hostel in a 6 person dorm for $30 each a night (which I booked MONTHS in advance). This was one of the most expensive hostels we stayed in on the trip and although it was really nice (and included a basic breakfast) it was pretty far away from everything and at the bottom of a massive hill (which you had to walk up to get anywhere). There was a kitchen so Ebbs and I were able to cook all our own meals, although the supermarkets in Santorini are fairly basic and expensive. We mainly stuck to pasta and salads which we would pack in a plastic container and take with us to watch the sunset from the caldera. The hostel had a pool and a really cool 'cave' inspired decor, plus many dogs which was a massive tick from me.
If you can, try and stay in Fira as it is far easier to get everywhere from there. There are very few hostels in Santorini and the one in Fira was $50 a night in a 6 person dorm which is pretty ridiculous. The second time we came to Santorini (just for one night before our flight) we stayed at the camping hostel just behind Fira… I can't remember what it was called but it was pretty cheap and a better location that Caveland. In hindsight we should have stayed there the whole time instead.
There are also lots of cheaper hostel options at Perissa beach, which is another decent option, only you are a 20-30 minute bus ride away from the caldera (which is in my opinion the only interesting/special place in Santorini) so that’s why we didn’t stay there. If you do stay in Caveland make sure you hire a ATV and ride down (or walk) to the beach below the hostel. It was the nicest beach we went to in Santorini with black sand and no one else around. (Perfect for naked tanning (: (:)
The famous white houses on the caldera are mainly in Oia but good luck staying there… Prices start at $300 a night in most places and that is if you're booking 6 months in advance (hotel Keti is a good option for those of you with $$$). From there the prices only go up.
Santorini isn't a very big island and as such there isn't a whole lot to do (especially if you don't have much money). The beaches are plentiful (albeit not that nice) and there are lots of hikes so if you do find yourself with lots of time in Santorini i'm sure you wont have NOTHING to do. In saying this I was the most bored I was on the whole trip here but I was also sick so idk.
Make sure you hire a quad bike even if its just for 24 hours. It will make getting around so much easier and its really fun. They cost 25 euro for 24 hours and you only need to have a valid drivers license (you need a motorbike licence for a scooter which isn't the case in other European countries and that's what Ebbs and I usually got for transport) If you do have a motorcycle license, scooters are 18 euros for 24 hours. The island is connected by roads, but in between each town/destination there is fair distance and no way to get there other than the bus (which is 1.80 one way) if you are catching the bus a few times a day then it actually ends up being cost effective to hire a quad bike (when you split the cost) as you're only spending a few more euros and have complete freedom. Although, don't go too crazy cause there are petrol costs on top of the hire price. The roads can be a little scary up on the cliffs and someone actual died a week before we were there when they rode their quad bike off the road at night so make sure you've practiced a little on quieter roads and don’t get drunk and drive, its dumb.
Ebbs and I walked as much as we could (usually from Fira- home) which was about a 30-45 minute walk but every time we wanted to go to the beach or Oia we had to pay for the bus. The buses run to every corner of the island and leave roughly every 20 minutes and cost 1.80 one way. They terminate in Fira (which is why this is a good place to stay). They are massive coaches and people come around to check your ticket every time so there is no way of sneaking on ):
There are lots of beaches in Santorini that they have labeled different names in an attempt to make them attractions (they are not). There are the red, white and black beaches, so named because of the colour of their sand (amazing). They are essentially rocky, seaweedy stretches of pebble, covered with expensive hired-out deck chairs. The nicer beaches are the little ones with no names (and no people) like the one below the Caveland hostel. Perrissa and Kamari beach are also very popular, I liked Kamari the best, especially because every half hour or so a plane would come into land (the airport was close by) and it would feel like the plane was going to land on top of you… (im not being sarcastic I actually really enjoyed this).
Sunset is my favorite time of day in any location but in Santorini its something extra special. Every night thousands of people clamber along the edge of the caldera, crowding the white cobble stone streets in an attempt to get the best view. The sun glows a hot pink and sets directly into the horizon and everyone applauds when it finally vanishes from sight! We saw 2 marriage proposals (tacky but at least they tried). Ebbs and I would usually cook pasta and a salad and then find somewhere to sit and eat our dinner among the crowds. This task was always quite difficult because of the hordes of people (and donkeys) everywhere but it was nice none the less. In summer the sun sets at exactly 8pm. For amazing views Imervigili or Firestephani are probably your best bet.
On the 3rd or 4th day after a morning in Oia I decided to do the walk back from Oia to Fira along the cliffs (and then the 40 minute walk home). I walked pretty fast and did the actual walk in about 2 hours but it's recommended to take around 3-4. If you can i'd do the walk from Fira to Oia (not the other way around) because the way I walked was mainly uphill ): It was ridiculously hot so make sure you have at least 2 liters of water and some comfy walking shoes. I ended up in my boots and my bikini which im sure was a good look to all the passers by. The views are next level (albeit a little repetitive) but yeah... for anyone looking for a little exercise this ones for you!!
Food on the island is stupidly overpriced (no surprises here). Coffee in Oia is upwards of 6 euro a cup ($9 au) and frozen yogurt was 8 euros… Ebbs and I didn’t do much restaurant eating here (or anywhere really) and mainly made salads and pasta from the supermarket in the hostel kitchen. Gyros are cheap and yummy (although we had just spent 3 weeks in Turkey and I was sick to death of wraps). They are around 2 euro each depending where you get them and if your not a meat fan you can get falafal one (which is usually what I got).
We also went out for dinner one night (I know, shock horror) to a restaurant called Volcano Blue with my friend Georgie. The restaurant was somewhat affordable (although I could have cooked the food we ordered myself for like an 8th of the price but what can you do) so if you want a cheapISH, romantic meal this place is for you. WHATEVER YOU DO DO NOT EAT THE BREAD!! They charge 4 euro extra per person if you eat even one piece of the 'table' bread so avoid avoid avoid like the plague (its not even nice).
Whilst in Oia make sure you walk down all the million and one steps to Amoudi Bay (or you can ride a donkey but no-one likes that guy...) There are lots of little seafood restaurants down by the bay with octopus drying in the sun and little red fishing boats bobbing in the swell. If you walk along the waters edge you'll find a little swimming alcove and a cliff face that people jump off. The day we went down there was so windy we could barely stand up so there wasn’t any swimming or cliff jumping fun had by us (we did try) ):
As far as activities go, a lot of people do the volcano and hot springs tour that takes you to (you guessed it) the volcano and hot springs!! which are just off the mainland. The tour costs 18 euro per person and we didn’t feel the need to roll around in luke warm mud so we didn’t do it, but a few people in our hostel did and said it was fun so idk, give it a go if you have the $$??
Also in peak season there is an open air cinema at Kamari beach that plays new release movies in English with Greek subtitles for 8 euro a ticket and it doesn't start till 9 30 so you have heaps of time to get there after the sun sets (:
And thats it! Santorini has some average beaches and some above average sunsets. If youre in Europe in summer you kinda have to go here but don’t go for too long cause its expensive and there is just not that much to do. I look forward to returning when i'm old and rich and can actually afford a coffee.