How To Spend 3 Days In Santorini, Greece
Santorini, Greece, has been on my travel bucket list since I was quite a little girl. Anybody in their early/mid twenties will probably remember the film "The Sisterhood Of The Travelling Pants." Might seem like an odd reference for me to make, but until I saw that film, I'd never heard of Santorini before! It was that film that sparked a lifelong dream.
Last week, that dream became a reality, as Tom and I, along with most of his family, flew to Santorini for a short holiday, as well as the wedding of his cousin. To say I was excited would be a little bit of an understatement! I packed 6 rolls of film, and knew full well I'd shoot them all. I spent a good few hours on TripAdvisor, and reading blog posts in the week before the trip, figuring out exactly where I wanted to go, and what I wanted to see.
I did end up shooting all 6 rolls of film (obviously!), and am thrilled to say we had a wonderful time, packing in everything we could into the three days we had on the island. Without further ado, here is how I'd recommend spending 3 days in Santorini!
Where To Stay
We were all staying on the South East of the island, in a village called Kamari, which is very close to the airport (However, the island is so tiny that everything is quite close to the airport!). Kamari is actually where I'd recommend staying if you plan to visit Santorini, because the popular villages of Fira and Oia are both beautiful, but can quickly become very expensive. If you're also someone who hates crowds, both Fira and Oia can become tiring quickly once you've been there for a while, because they're where everyone wants to stay!
We stayed in a beautiful hotel called Cavo Bianco, just a few minutes walk from the seafront of Kamari, and I can only rave about them. The staff were wonderful, super helpful, and very accommodating to my rather particular diet.
What To Do
Watch The Sunset in Fira
Fira is the capital city of Santorini, and is where all the buses go to on the island. We were very impressed by the public bus system the island had, with frequent and inexpensive (€1.80 one way, I think!) buses to pretty much everywhere in the island! I knew upon arriving on the island that I wanted to do two things, watch the sunset in Fira and watch the sunset in Oia, and now that I've done it, I highly recommend you do the same!
Fira is a very touristy spot, and although it was May, it was already pretty busy. If you can avoid the island in July/August, I really would. We've been told that it gets extremely hot, and busy, and seeing how busy it already was when we were there, I can't imagine what it would be like then!
We arrived in Fira, wondered around, and I got to fulfil a lifelong dream of photographing the houses on the cliff. Tom and I walked all the way up to the top of the village, where the cable car is, and this was definitely where we go the best view. If you can grab a spot up there for sunset and watch the houses change colour, and the sun melt away, I'd recommend doing that!
We had reserved a table with a sunset view in Argo. If you want to sit and eat while watching the sun go down you MUST book a table early on, especially in high season. Do some research and scope out the best restaurants with the best views. I spent a lot of time on Instagram, looking at photos people had taken and reading reviews about the restaurants we had in mind. Be prepared to spend a bit more money than you might normally spend... Santorini isn't a cheap island!
Overall though, this was possibly one of the most beautiful evenings of my life. Tom and I actually got up from our seat at the restaurant and walked up to the view of the houses and the sunset while the sun went down, as we didn't have a view of the town from our seats. It was total magic.
One word of warning though: if you do visit before June, be prepared for the evenings to be cold! When the sun goes down, the winds become bitter, so have something that you can wrap up in.
Watch The Sunset in Oia
After spending an evening in Fira, I expected Oia to be much the same, only with a different angle of the sunset, but I was completely wrong. Oia is much more upmarket, and extremely beautiful. You walk down marble streets, and the whiteness of the town is almost blinding, so wear sunglasses! The shops are beautiful, and it was hard to resist the temptation to go into each and every one of them.
Oia was even more busy than Fira, but I can see why, because it certainly has even more beauty to it. Every way we went, I couldn't help but snap photos.
We wondered around for about an hour before heading to Pelekanos, where we had once again booked a table with a sunset view. The staff here were really lovely, and thew view was far superior to the one we'd had in Argo the night before. Although the sunset we had in Oia wasn't "technically" as beautiful as the one in Fira (clouds were on the horizon) it didn't bother me one bit, and I loved every minute of it.
Visit Ancient Thira
Ancient Thira was once the capital of Santorini, and it sits atop the mountain just above Kamari. There is a very long, windy road that you can walk up, but I'd recommend doing that early in the day, to avoid the heat! We opted out of the hike, and instead rented a car for a day to explore the whole island with ease. Our first stop with our car was Ancient Thira, and this archaeological site is certainly not one to miss. Not only are the ruins amazing, but the views you get of the island from the top of the hill are breathtaking!
Be sure to cover up or wear a lot of suncream though, or you'll end up like me with a really burnt and painful back. The winds blow quite fast up there, but the sun is just as strong... but you won't be able to tell until its too late! Learn from my mistake.
Megalochori wasn't actually a village I'd heard of or researched until Tom's dad spotted it on the map and said it sounded nice. As we had the car for the day, we decided it would be a good idea to stop in Megalochori, which was described as a traditional village, on our way to Oia. I'm SO glad that we did, because this little village may have been where I got some of my most favourite images.
Megalochori is definitely far more traditional, much more quiant and far less touristy than Oia or Fira. It's tiny, and slopes down a hill, with little alley ways running along it. I was in heaven the whole time we were there. If you're a photographer, or you have a love for traditional looking villages, you MUST make a stop in Megalochori.
Drive To Akrotiri Lighthouse and Admire the view of the Caldera
Driving to the lighthouse on the southern tip of the island was a spur of the moment idea that Tom had, and I'm so glad we did it. Santorini itself used to be a much bigger island, but a couple of hundred years ago was blown up into many pieces by the volcano in it's centre. Now, all thats left is the main island, the smaller ones on its outskirts, and the huge "caldera" in the centre, which has filled with sea water. The view from the Akrotiri lighthouse was certainly the best view we got of the caldera, and you can see Fira and Oia on the opposite ends, which look like snow on top of a mountain - it was stunning.
Our third day was spent at the wedding, which was one of the most glamorous and beautiful wedding settings I've ever seen. Bex and David had both their ceremony and reception at Cavo Tagoo, one of the most luxurious hotels I've ever seen! Not only was the view stunning, but I have to thank them for their incredible service with me, and accommodating my dietary requirements - I'm not the easiest person to feed!
So there you go, three days in Santorini! It was brief, but beautiful, and in all honesty, I don't believe you need more than 3 days on the island to truly experience it and see it all. If you have any other questions about our trip, or are looking for more advice about anything, let me know and I'll help out where I can!