Hands down, Santorini is one of my favourite Greek destinations and probably one of the most ‘well-known’ out of the hundreds of tiny little islands that blanket the Aegean Sea. The island itself has some of the best scenery and pretty little towns that perch onto the high cliff edges of the volcanic caldera, it’s a truly remarkable place!
Is Santorini really Atlantis?
Well, that’s for you to decide but my history teacher (and Plato) did think so! I can’t say that Greek mythology or legends were ever my strong point in school but the story of Atlantis was something that I would read about again and again, with Santorini being one of the ‘top’ theories as the origin of this island.
To set a little context, around 3,600 years ago, Santorini was a much larger island but due to one of the world’s largest volcanic eruptions, the volcanic island collapsed, creating a massive tsunami that it is thought to have wiped out the Minoan civilisation on the neighbouring island of Crete. You can even see some of the remains of the old villages from this volcanic eruption in the town of Akrotiri (on Santorini) – which is very similar to that of Pompeii in Italy.
Can Santorini be an ‘affordable luxury’ destination?
After many years of re-pinning every image of Santorini I could find on Pinterest, I finally saved enough money to book my own tickets and visit this amazing island. If you’ve started planning your trip to Santorini, you will have noticed that it is quite a bit more expensive than the rest of the Greek islands, especially for accommodation. In comparison to when I visited Samos (Greek Island 3 miles off the coast of Turkey), Santorini seemed a lot pricier… but there are ways you can keep costs lower and still have an affordable luxury holiday on this fantastic island.
Where to stay
You can still have the ‘full’ Santorini experience without making your bank manager cry! One way I tried to keep costs lower was to stay on the south of the island – the accommodation you can get here is markedly cheaper than that in the towns of Oia or Fira – which although stunning, can be much higher in price. I was still able to book my own beautiful (and historic) greek apartment that was perched on the cliff edge – with it’s own private pool. Swanky, right?!? 🙂
By staying further south I saved almost fifty percent on accommodation costs which then helped in hiring a car.
How to eat
Food doesn’t have to be overtly expensive on Santorini, even the cliff top restaurants can be reasonably priced. What I did was to ask our host where locals would eat (which were usually slightly off a visitor tracks). Without sounding too corny, these restaurants felt so authentically Greek, serving fresh sea-food of the day that was out of this world!
For breakfast I would pop to the local bakery and buy lots of freshly baked pastries ( I could literally smell them in bed as they baked down the street). We would all enjoy these sat around the pool, munching on our delicious breakfast. Sometimes there is nothing nicer than having your friends around you, sipping coffee, feet in the pool and watching the sun rise in this majestic island.
Travelling on Santorini
Santorini is a relatively small island, that can be driven (end to end) in about 30 minutes, or less – making it nearly impossible to get lost in or at least, not for too long. While on the island we spent a few days just driving around and stopping wherever we wanted. It was a great way to see parts of the island that are definitely off the beaten track and a perfect way to explore some authentic and local Greek restaurants.
Driving directions can be hard to follow – but don’t fret, everyone and I mean EVERYONE in Santorini is friendly and helpful, which is great when you’re as terrible a navigator as Yaya – although I’m pretty sure he will blame me being the driver! 🙂
How about taking a boat?
There are also a range of amazing excursions to experience while on the island. We decided to take a breathtaking sailing trip around the island. This was a great way to experience the hot springs, climb to the top of Nea Kameni Island (the middle of the volcano) and explore the dramatic caldera that makes Santorini so beautiful. The tours last around half a day, with all the fresh olives, fresh seafood and Greek cuisine that you can ever imagine. Yaya piled his plate so full, you can even see the shocked look of the lady behind him! 🙂
If you prefer not to drive, consider taking a private excursion – off the beaten track so to speak. We did this for one day to give me a little break from driving across the island. One great thing about these private excursions is that you can choose where you want to go – with suggestions from a guide that will take you to places that many visitors to Santorini miss. And you can drink ALL the wine!
Make time to relax
It’s so easy to say and I guess slight cliche but honestly, Santorini is the perfect place to unwind and really let yourself relax. Each evening we would spend an hour or so just sitting on the cliff faces around Oia. Around sunset, the towns and island becomes washed with the most amazing colours and warm hues that everyone seems to love. It’s easy to see why so many people want to visit Santorini – I say it’s because of this cute little scamp as well as the island’s picturesque charm.