Santorini, Greece is one of the most picturesque travel destinations in the world. This beautiful Greek island surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea and populated with beautiful architecture and people… and did I mention the sunrises and sunsets? It is truly spectacular.
Access from Athens, Greece: By Ferry: 50-80 Euros | By plane: 90-150 Euros + Luggage fees
We came to Santorini by a SuperJet ferry from Piraeus port in Athens, Greece. It was about 5.5 hours of relatively smooth sailing over the Mediterranean. We arrived at 9:30pm, checked in to our hotel, and headed to the recommended restaurant for a late dinner.
The next morning we woke up and had the best breakfast of the trip.
We rented an ATV for transport around the island. Santorini is just big enough to warrant a faster form of travelling but has a sweet spot where it is not necessary to rent a car.
Our regular USA driver licences allowed us to rent this 125cc ATV (top speed ~45mph) but we could not get mopeds/scooters/motorcycles without a motorcycle license.
I would strongly recommend an ATV for around the island as it was really easy to drive and a fun way to experience the island breeze and views. From what I read on other online guides and blogs, the public buses are OK for getting around but aren’t always on time. Since we only had 36 hours in Santorini we had to make the most of every minute!
Lunch in Fira
We stayed in Karterados so it only took 7-8 minutes on the ATV to reach the famous city of Fira. It is well known for its nightlife on the island and beauty on the western coast of Santorini.
Oia: The Pearl of Santorini
Both pictures below are from the Oia sunset castle view. If you keep walking west towards the coast you cannot miss it! It offered a spectacular view of Oia from one side and Fira from the other.
The sunset brought out everyone (including us) to view from the Castle View. We were eating nearby at a restaurant to get this picture.
So there are several iconic symbols of Santorini I’ve mentioned so far: The windmills in Oia, the white walls and blue roofs of architecture, the sunsets, and the sunrises.
My favorite symbol is the donkey.
The donkey represents the hard-working donkeys that make their living taking people up and down the steep walkways and cliffs of Santorini down to the beautiful beaches. I find their quiet work ethic incredibly motivating… and I really like donkeys too!
Sunrise on Exo Gialis Beach
The next morning we woke up early and took the ATV two kilometers down to Exo Gialis beach.
If you have several minutes, here is a video I recorded of the beautiful sunrise.
A few of my favorite things.
Review and Recommendations
Like our Athens trip, this was unfortunately too short to provide an ultimate guide to Santorini. We missed the entire Southern coast, which hosts world famous beaches and island history.
However, we did get a little bit of time in Fira and Oia, the two most popular cities on Santorini.
For Fira: it is a fun city and has a great hub for nightlife. Also, it is less expensive than Oia which is awesome! There is a great mix of natural beauty (beach), architecture from traditional buildings and churches, as well as endless shopping.
For Oia: it is a “can’t miss” in my opinion but you will pay tourist-premiums by visiting. This section of the island was more in line with typical USA prices and about twice as expensive as the rest of Greece (at least Athens and parts of Santorini). Your vacation dollar simply does not go as far but it is worth it to see the sunset.
We had an absolute blast on the island and wished we had planned an extra day. If there is one thing I’ve learned from travelling near and far, its that compromises are made on every trip. Especially with a day job!
I think 2 days on Santorini would be enough for people who want to run from dawn to dusk everywhere. If you are looking for a relaxing get-away, I would look for four days on the island. You’ll probably be ready to leave after that if you are like me and always need to be doing something.