Santorini has always been on my must-go list. Its fairy-tale like blue-top domes surrounded by crystal blue sea is enough to steal one’s breadth away, and upon arrival, I very soon realized that Santorini is a paradise for nature lovers! Not only does it have beautiful beaches and domes, it also has many picturesque mountains for hiking lovers! It is indeed a gem that combines villages, beaches and mountains all in one, providing city dwellers a romantic getaway. That’s why I can’t wait to share with you the best of Santorini. And trust me, this is the most detailed guide you’ll ever find!
Best of Santorini – The Classical Oia
Let’s start off with Santorini’s glamorous star, Oia, the place where the blue domes and bell towers congregate under the beautiful sunset. Frankly, the setting in Santorini is rather different from what I expected. Finding the perfect photo spot can be challenging, as the blue domes seen on postcards are well hidden in the narrow alleys, and those in a rush can easily miss it. So, here’s how you can catch’em all. From the bus terminal, just walk along Oia’s main street, Nikolaou Nomikou, and pay attention to all the narrow streets on your left, there are a total of 3 narrow streets that lead to these charming blue domes, each providing a completely different view. However, being private churches, access to the blue domes is denied. Even so, they are already picturesque enough charm you! Promised!
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Best of Santorini – Oia Sunset
The Oia sunset is not to be missed! It is recommended to visit Oia in the late afternoon if you intend to catch the sunset, as the villages in Santorini are rather small, just 1,2 hours is sufficient to cover the entire town. One of the ideal spots for sunset viewing is the Oia castle, as you get to see the sun disappearing from the horizon in the backdrop of Oia village over there.
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However, it’s good to be there early to catch a good spot, as it tends to get crowded from 7pm onwards. Sunset in Santorini during Spring and Summer is usually 8pm-8.20pm. Alternatively, you can walk till the end of the village, where you see a few windmills, there are some restaurants there that provide good sunset views.
Do note that the last bus leaving Oia to Fira (Town centre of Santorini) is at 9.50pm, there are also buses at 8.30pm and 9.30pm for those interested in watching sunset, bus fare for a one-way trip to Oia from Fira is 1.80 Euros.
Oh, did I forget to mention about the furry cats and dogs? Oia has lots of them! For animal lovers, you will be elated to see furry cats and dogs taking a stroll outside souvenir shops, and some sleeping in baskets and even on the postcards, just like this cat in the photo!
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Best of Santorini – Fira to Oia — Mavro Vouno
Blue is the iconic colour in Santorini, but be sure to explore the other colours of Santorini as well! For the more adventurous travelers, you can consider the iconic hiking path from Fira to Oia, which is approx. 10 km. Along the way, you would pass by 2 villages- Firostefani and Imerovigli and cross the magnificent Mavro Vouno, which offers lots of picturesque views!
The small blue domes are along the way to welcome you! As you are walking towards Oia, remember to look back and indulged in the beauty of Fira!
After approximately an hour of walking you will find the white church of Stavros, it’s located up on a small hill, climb up and and you will get to enjoy the wonderful views!
As you are nearing the mountain pathway, you will see donkeys around for rent. You must be wondering, why do you need a donkey? Wait till you see the road!
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This is how the mountain pathway looks like… Oh well, if you are as fit as me, save the money and take the walk by yourself!
Remember to take a good shot on the mountain stretch!
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It’s recommended to wear a good pair of track shoes, as some parts of the path are really rugged! After descending the mountain, you should see a sea of white miniature buildings appearing right in front of you, congratulations, you’re reaching your destination! But that still takes about 40mins to an hour walk.
Best of Santorini – Kamari to Perissa — Messavouno mountain
For hiking lovers, the Messavouno mountain separating Kamari village and Perissa village is worth a visit as well! The ascending path from Kamari is a well-paved road that is relatively easy to climb, it takes roughly 1 ½ hrs to reach the top, depending on one’s stamina.
The Ancient Thira lies on the mountain top, exhibiting the antique city inhabited by the Theras from the 9th century BCE till 726 CE. It’s advisable to come here early, as the Ancient Thira closes at approx. 2.30pm everyday.
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The descending path to Perissa takes approx. 1-1 1/2 hrs, and is similarly as rugged as the hiking path to Oia, so watch your steps! Here’s the view of Perissa village from the mountain.
Best of Santorini – Beautiful Beaches
For beach lovers, a visit to the Akrotiri village is not to be missed! Both the iconic Red and White beach can be found in this quiet village and are just next to each other!
Santorini Red beach is arguably one of the most beautiful and rarest beaches you can ever find! The beach consists of a mixture of red and black stones, and one can get to admire the unique landscape of red volcanic rocks from the headland. However, being a popular tourist attraction, it can get overly crowded.
For those who prefer to chill on a quieter beach, the Exo Gialos black beach is worth the visit. During summer, one can even bring snorkeling mask and admire the beautiful fishes in the sea! Despite being a quiet beach, there is also a restaurant here with wifi that works on the beach as well! So for those who intend to surf the internet or stream youtube videos on the beach, your wish is granted!
Best of Santorini – Transportation Tips
The public transportation system in Santorini is tourist-friendly and efficient, there are buses to all villages from the Fira bus interchange at a ½ hr to an hour interval. The cost for a one-way transport is approx. 1.80-2.20 Euros. For those who prefer to drive, be mentally prepared that the roads in Santorini are rather narrow, especially in Oia, where 3 vehicles could squeeze on a one-way road and causing terrible jams!
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Best of Santorini – Where to Stay
For accommodation, most would choose the town centre Fira as their base due to its strategic location. Some would also choose to stay in different villages. Personally, I stayed in Exo Gialos throughout my one week in Santorini, as its quietness is perfect for a staycation.
I chose Porto Castello, as not only it’s affordable (it only cost SGD$261 for my one week stay), the rooms are spacious and comes with a balcony as well. Best of all, the hotel also offers free transportation to and back from Fira! And being surrounded by the mountainous area, it is a perfect spot for star gazing at night. It is just located 50 m away from the Exo Gialos beach and the sunrise can be viewed from the balcony, definitely a good choice for nature lovers.
About the Traveler
Hi there! I am Jeannie, a value investor and journalist that loves roaming around the world! I started doing solo backpacking during my university days (which just ended), and have travelled to 17 countries alone so far. The world is so big and travelling is my way of life.
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