Santorini is one of many Greek islands. Most Chinese travellers (including myself) often give Santorini a beautiful title: “The blue and white blended fairy tale world” (well, in Chinese characters: 蓝白色相间的童话世界).
Santorini is a volcanic island in the southern Aegean Sea, it is located between Ios and Anafi islands. Santorini has so much to offer, it is famous for dramatic views, stunning sunsets, traditional Greek buildings, the strange white aubergine, the active volcano, fantastic black volcanic sand beaches and so on…
Our 4 days Santorini itinerary overview:
- 2 travellers
- 4 days in Santorini: 3 days on the quad bike (ATV) + 1 day tour volcano excursion (including hot spring, Thirassia and sunset from Oia town).
- Stayed 4 nights at Argonaftes Villa (€152 for 4 nights), booked via booking.com. (Quick review for Argonaftes Villa, a family run guesthouse, centrally located in the scenic town of Fira, the room was very clean and comfortable and quad bike rental place just next door!)
- Cost for quad bike: €25 per day excluding petrol.
Our 4 day overall experience on this romantic island was fabulous, however one thing you should definitely be aware of is the big Mediterranean cruise ships arriving/leaving schedules. Most days they arrive around noon time and leave 4pm in the afternoon. Those enormous cruise ship drop thousands of passengers to invade this little island all at the same time so imagine, everything just becomes so unmanageable – restaurants or any public services all of sudden seem to be really short staffed. We walked through this crowd once by accident and we avoided completely them for the rest of our stay.
Things you shouldn’t miss:
- Sunset from Oia town
- Try one of my favourite Greek dishes: Souvlaki (Gyro) + Octopus salad in Greek style,
- Rent a quad bike and have a fun wander around the island – definitely one of the best ways to get around. Just be careful and don’t drink and drive,
- Visit one of the beautiful black volcanic sandy beaches,
- Try wine tasting in one of the vineyards scattered throughout the island,
- Chill on the beach with a cold beer on a sunbed (make sure you don’t get yourself too burned… the sun is very strong in the summer so if you aren’t used to it you should consider to use UV 50+)
Day 1 | Arrival
We took the earliest flight departing from Athens and arrived at Santorini around 6am. We had arranged a minibus pickup via the hotel and had to wait a short while for driver to collect another passenger, and as luck would have it we witnessed the sunrise over the airport. Excellent view.
Taxi pick up from the airport to Fira hotels cost us €10 per person, this can be arranged via your hotel or any tour operators prior to your trip. The ride from airport to Fira town center only takes approximately 10 minutes!
Since the guesthouse Argonaftes Villa is a family run business, their reception hours is not 24 hours therefore when we turned up at the door step of the guesthouse we had to wait almost an hour until we managed to wake the owner up to let us in… (Although I felt very sorry for not notifying her early in advance about our early arrival). You should definitely make your hotel or guesthouse aware of any early or late arrival.
After so many times travelling in the early mornings or overnight on the bus, I realised it is not very energy efficient – although it does maximises your day time for exploring the place. After checking in at the guesthouse we decided to have a quick nap before exploring the beautiful town of Fira.
By the time when we stepped outside at around 10am the sun was very bright so we wandered around the town center of Fira. Before deciding to visiting Santorini I was so inspired by photos from one of my colleagues who had recently been as well as looking up more information online. Regardless of how many photos or videos I have seen I was still very impressed by the spectacular scenery in Fira.
Fira is also called Thera or Thira, it is the main town of Santorini island, located on the top of a cliff of a caldera. With its stunning views, museums, bars, restaurants, shops and it’s central location making it a good base for most travellers like us. There are also very good bus links which will connect you to the rest parts of the island.
After exploring the town briefly and purchasing our Volcano + Hot Spring + Sunset in Oia tour, we took a bus from the central terminal in Fira that took us to Oia. I got really excited to discover the legendary Blue and White Blended Fairy Tale World – Oia, as the result of the excitement I couldn’t wait another day to properly explore Oia so we hopped on a bus. I regret that we wasted 3 hours in the traffic! There are certainly many and good bus links but to get out of Fira town is a bit tricky because the town’s streets are narrow enough that almost all streets in the town center are in a one way system. Just imagine that when the traffic starts to build up you can only sit and wait and try not to bite your nails. That’s why right here I would recommend you hire the quad bike if you have an international driving licence or a licence that is acceptable in the EU.
OK, I have to say although we were stuck in traffic reluctantly by the time we got to Oia, it was definitely worth the wait to visit this beautiful town and it immediately will eliminate any earlier complaints you may have had about the bloody traffic. Here, in this place, it truly can claim the name that was created by most Chinese travellers – The Blue and White Blended Fairy Tale World.
Here you can see how the blue of the sea meets the stunning white houses which are contrasted against the deep blue sky.
In June the weather should be really pleasant however when we arrived I can really feel the smoke over my head. It was around 37 degrees, the owner of the guesthouse where we stayed said it was really unusual to have such a extreme hot weather in June and in fact this was the hottest week they had had all year. Luckily, the hot weather didn’t last too long since we were both coming from England, with the powerful English weather, we brought some cold air to maintain the temperature just below 30 degrees.
Despite the hot weather on our first day, the walk throughout both Fira and Oia was a great practice. As both towns were built on the cliff side you probably can imagine the steps leading you up and down. Many roads seemed to be leading somewhere you will probably end up at the reception of somewhat more fancy luxury hotels. In most part of the town, you can see a outdoor infinity pool.
On day 2 morning, we took our time having breakfast before our tour departure time. There are a few departure times throughout the day for the same tour, but if you wish to see the sunset from Oia town, you will probably take the 11am tour.
To read about the tour: please click here to read: The One day Santorini Volcano + Hot spring + Oia Sunset boat tour.
On day 3, we went to our neighbour and rented a quad bike. The cost was only €25 per day (international driving license is required for renting), we had a little practice before we were on our way to the Red Beach. We planned our southwest- bound route for today, so we went through most major places. We spent few hours on the Red beach, then walked around Megalochori, went pass through Pyrgos, Mesa Gonia, Vothonas and Karterados.
Our last day in Santorini, we wanted to check out all the new places but at same time we would also like to pick a nice beach to chill! So we checked out all beaches on the east coast in Santorini on the bike on the go and eventually we chilled in Perissa Beach.
Santorini’s volcanic black sand beaches in themselves are great attractions of the island since this is a unique phenomenon caused by volcanic nature which you don’t see in other islands. The eruptions shaped the island as well as giving it a unique character which is part of its natural, extraordinary beauty. These distinct beaches are covered in volcanic rocks and sands. Although most beaches are covered by black sand, there is still a diversity of colors and the landscapes just like their name White beach, Red beach. There are also beaches covered with pebbles.
Here are the top 10 beaches in Santorini:
- Red Beach
- Kamari Beach
- Perissa Beach
- Perivolos Beach
- Agios Georgios
- Koloumbos Beach
- Monolithos Beach
- White Beach
There are beaches all along the island which hopefully will please everybody. Most beaches have facilities – bars or restaurants nearby – which offer all one needs for a relaxing or an entertaining day at the beach. My favourite beach in Santorini were Red Beach and Perissa Beach. Depending on what you are after you may find other beaches are better.