A lot of our trip has been moving from place to place at a rapid speed where we sightsee, then head off to the next city. In order to give ourselves a much needed break, we decided that we would spend 3 days relaxing in Santorini. Sure, we would still do a little sightseeing, but our main objective was to have some time to recharge our batteries.
Getting to Santorini
The most logical way to get from Athens to Santorini would be to take the Blue Star Ferry. Ironically it was more expensive and took longer than flying on Ryanair. Since Ryanair charges for everything, we left our large backpacks at our hostel in Athens, taking only our small backpacks with us. I was pretty impressed when our round trip tickets came out to only $49 each.
The most frustrating part of our travels was paying 35E or $40 to have our Airbnb hosts pick us up at the airport. They told us that since the house didn’t have an address, it would be easier for them to pick us up instead of taking a taxi which would cost more. We did not know at the time, but there was a public bus stop at the airport. While we were frustrated, we figured by taking the bus to the airport when we left, we were able to keep our costs down a bit.
Our Cave House
Throughout our trip, Andy and I have been very good about staying on budget or below budget on our accommodations. We both agreed that we should splurge at least once on our trip. After my budget was increased, we were able to find a fabulous cave house with panoramic views of the sea.
When we first arrived at the house, I was expecting that the pictures online may not be the true reality – being taken from a different viewpoint, but they were exactly as pictured. We had beautiful sweeping views of not only the sea, but also the picturesque village of Oia.
One of the benefits of having a house instead of a hotel room was having a full kitchen. I’m sure that most people who stay at the house go out to eat quite a bit but we did not. There were great grocery stores on the island and the food that we cooked was just as good, if not better than the overpriced, touristy restaurants on the island. Plus, as an added benefit, we were able to keep our meal costs down which helped offset our higher than usual lodging costs.
The only part of the house that we didn’t love was the bathroom. Similar to our hostel in Athens, the shower at the house didn’t have a place to clip the handheld showerhead on the wall. This was a little challenging for us since we are used to having both hands free to shampoo as well as having hot water on our bodies the entire time that we are in the shower. Plus, with no shower curtain, we always ended our showers with a wet bathroom floor – one of Andy’s biggest pet peeves.
Santorini in the Off Season
Most people that visit Santorini come during high season – the summer. We were there in early March when the weather was still a bit chilly.
Our Airbnb host told us that there was a ton of construction going on when we were there as the town is not allowed to work on buildings during the high season. Since there are a lot of steps and construction materials are heavy, the workers use donkeys to carry things. Because of this, we had to be extra careful when we took the stairs around town because the workers did not always clean up after the donkeys when they went to the bathroom.
Since there are less tourists around during the off season, there were a number of shops and restaurants that were closed. This did not bother us as we are not big shoppers and ended up dining in more often than we ate out.
While it would have been nice to visit Santorini when it was warmer, I enjoyed visiting during off season. There were not too many people around, the weather was still pretty nice and when the sun shone, it got pretty warm, even though there was a near constant breeze.
Hiking from Oia to Fira
When we heard that we could hike from Oia, the village that we were staying in, to Fira, the main city in Santorini, we decided we should go. We heard that the hike was 3 hours but figured it wouldn’t take as long as we were told since we’re both pretty fit people.
We started in the mid-morning so we could reach Fira in time for lunch. As we left, we realized that a good amount of the hike would be uphill hiking since Fiera was at a higher elevation than Oia – something to take into account if you choose to do this hike. Throughout the hike, we kept stopping to take pictures since the scenery was beautiful. It felt like we had the whole place to ourselves since we only saw a few people during the hike.
I’m not sure how the hike would be in the summer months as there was no shade on the trail. The constant breeze that Santorini gets helped to keep us cool even though the sun got quite warm when we were hiking.
The 3 hour estimate was pretty accurate. We ended up getting into town around 4 hours after we left since we stopped so many times to take pictures. When we arrived in Fira, we got some lunch and saw the city before taking the public bus back to Oia.
Watching the Sunset
If you google Santorini sunset, you will be amazed at just how beautiful the pictures are – even though it’s very obvious that some are heavily photoshopped. Either way, we were looking forward to watching the sunset, but unfortunately it was never quite as beautiful as we envisioned it would be. I’m not sure if we had bad weather or if it is always better in the summer than the rest of the year but it didn’t live up to the hype.
Sunset watching was always made a little more fun by setting up a happy hour on our patio. While there is a better view from the lookout point, we liked the privacy of having our own space.
We had a great time in Santorini. While we didn’t do a lot of activities while we were there, we had plenty of fun walking around Oia and relaxing around the house. Just about every cat that we encountered on the island was friendly which made us happy, but also made us miss our cat Gingerbread who is staying with a friend back home.
Visiting during off season had both pros and cons, but it worked out well for us. We traded warmer weather to have fewer people around, a sacrifice that we were willing to make. While we didn’t get to go into the water or explore the beaches, we figured that we could always return to the Greek Isles later in our lives.