I’m excited to share my Santorini Travel Guide! After visiting the Meteora Monasteries we headed back to Athens to catch a ferry to Santorini. When you see pictures of Greece I feel like it’s usually a photo of the white cliffs and blue domes of Santorini. So I didn’t think twice about wanting to visit Santorini on our Greece trip.
(Make sure to check out Visiting the Meteora Monasteries: My Greece Travel Diary Pt. 1)
Santorini Travel Guide
How to get to Santorini from Athens
The only ways to get to the islands from Athens are by plane or by ferry. I believe the plane ride is shorter but we didn’t really feel like going back to the airport so we decided to take a ferry from the Piraeus Port. Overall, it was a pretty easy experience – but it does take up a big chunk of the day. Our ferry was scheduled at 7am and they suggest getting there an hour early. It took a 40min taxi ride to the port as well so we ended up having to get up pretty early! Then it’s about a 5 hour ferry ride to Santorini. Then a 30 min taxi to our hotel. So by the time we made it to our hotel in Santorini we were pretty tired!
Tip: Take the first ferry of the day to avoid delays. Our afternoon ferries were always late so we ended up sitting at the ports for awhile.
Island hopping on a ferry sounds pretty quick and easy in theory but it does take a big chunk of the day so make sure you take that into account when planning your trip.
Santorini Travel Guide: Where to Stay on Santorini
There are a few popular villages on Santorini that you might want to look into. Oia is probably the most popular village – located at the northwest point on the island – and where you’ll see the majority of the famous blue domed churches (see photo above). Imerovigli is at the highest and most central part of the Caldera cliffs so it has amazing views of the rest of the island and the sunset. Fira is the capital of Santorini and where the port is located. It also has whitewashed cliff villages and a more active nightlife (from what I’ve heard).
We chose to stay in Imerovigli (see photo above and below) because it seemed a little more central to some of the things we wanted to do. It also looked beautiful! If you are looking for a slightly less touristy village then I definitely would recommend Imerovigli as opposed to Oia. We took a taxi to Oia just to check out the town and it was A LOT busier. There were also a lot more touristy stores. We much preferred staying in Imerovigli. I can’t speak about Fira but I’ve heard it’s more active than Imerovigli as well.
After looking into a bunch of hotels in Imerovigli we decided to go with Santorini’s Balcony Art Houses – and I’m so glad we did!
Santorini’s Balcony Art Houses
I’m SO happy that we picked this hotel because I felt like it was the best location with the best views. Santorini is famous for it’s whitewashed cave houses so I originally thought I might like to stay in one of the cave houses nestled in the cliffs. But after walking through the villages I realized that those houses on the cliffs don’t really have much privacy. You are literally on top of other rooms/houses. Of course, the hotels are luxurious with private pools and amazing views – but you’d be sitting on your balcony with a full view of your neighbors and people walking through the tiny streets. I also think these rooms are more expensive. That being said – it is a really interesting, unique experience to be in a hotel like that – so that’s something to consider.
Santorini’s Balcony is located right outside of the main town of Imerovigli so you get more privacy here. However, it’s still a quick and easy walk into central Imerovigli with all the restaurants and cliffside hotels. This hotel also had amazing views of the sunset. I’m talking – AMAZING. The views are stunning from the hotel pool. But I also highly suggest booking one of the rooms on the top floor with a private pool because you get an even better view.
Santorini’s Balcony is also a family run hotel. We saw the same 4-5 staff members there everyday and they were all very nice and very accommodating. The hotel is run by Anthony and he was very helpful in scheduling rides and transportation. He texted us while we were on the ferry over to Santorini and asked if we needed a car from the port to the hotel (which we did) and he arranged that for us.
After walking by some of the other hotels we felt like we were staying at the hotel with the best views and most privacy. I 100% would recommend staying here if you are visiting Santorini.
Santorini Travel Guide: What to do in Santorini
We were only staying in Santorini for 4 full days so we couldn’t do EVERYTHING but I felt like had the perfect mix of fun and relaxation while we were there.
Petra Kouzina Cooking Class
If you visit Santorini you MUST take this cooking class. It was one of my favorite things I did in Greece overall. It’s run by a husband and wife team – George and Paula. George is the chef and he ran the class with his assistant. Paula runs everything behind the scenes.
Paula can arrange a pickup from your hotel to the location so a van picked us up right outside our hotel. The class takes place in their beautiful, traditional Greek house. You are greeted with wine and appetizers. Then you get down to business! We helped put together 4 Greek dishes during the class and learned lots of cooking tips along the way. George is a great host and we loved hearing about his story and how he met his wife and started the class. After you are done cooking you get to enjoy everything you made for lunch! IT WAS DELICIOUS!
Our class had had two other couples and a family of 4 so it didn’t feel too crowded. It was fun to meet other people and eat a meal together as well. You also get to take home a recipe book with all the dishes you made.
We booked a Santorini Sailing excursion the next day and it was really fun. We took a Horizon Day Tour and our tour picked us up right down the street from our hotel and drove us to the sailing port. We hopped on the catamaran with another couple and a family of 5 plus the Captain and our Tour Guide and we were on our way!
The tour takes you around the island so you can see a different view of the cliffs. Our tour guide/First Mate Giorgos, told us all about the island and cooked us a DELICIOUS meal. You guys – it was sooo good. I wasn’t expecting such a feast on a boat but OMG.
The boat stops at a few places so you can jump off an take a quick swim! There’s also plenty of time to just sunbathe on the deck. Overall, it was a really fun experience and a great way to see the island from the outside. We took a late morning tour but sunset tours are also available.
Other Things to Check out on Santorini
We didn’t really have time to book other excursions because I did just want some time to chill at our hotel pool without any plans. But if we were staying longer I would have like to do these things:
Santo Wines: Visit Santo Wines for a wine tour, wine tasting, food, and amazing views! I only discovered this place after we left but I will definitely book a tour there next time.
Visit Beaches: We didn’t visit any beaches because they are a little out of the way. You can’t just walk to the beaches from the hotels on the cliffs. Also, Santorini is a volcanic island so the beaches are rocky and not your typical white sand beach. However, the Red Sand Beach and the Black Sand Beach look kind of interesting! We actually sailed past these on our sailing tour.
Hiking: There is a walking path along the coast (which we could access right outside our hotel) that you can hike from Fira to Oia. There’s other places to hike as well – like out to Skaros Rock
Ammoudi Bay: Ammoudi Bay is located down the cliffs off Oia. It looks like a cute spot to check out the beach, dine, and even cliff dive!
I hope you found this mini Santorini Travel Guide helpful! I LOVED this island and would definitely go back.
Not sure how to pack for an overseas trip? Then check out my post: What to Pack on an International Trip for all my tips on how I fit everything into a carryon suitcase!