There are not many places in the world which will take your breath away the moment you arrive at your destination, but Santorini is certainly one of them. You will look at awe at the multi-coloured cliffs which are adroitly situated for tourists to take in the astonishing Caldera views. It’s a huge enticement for millions of travellers to arrive every year, whether it’s for your romantic honeymoon, or just a week away with friends or family in the soaring sun. However, no place in the world is perfect, and before visiting Santorini, it may be best to be warned about their major drawbacks too, which may frighten some people off. Here are the 5 best things and 5 worst things about Santorini.
5 Best Things of Santorini
1. Beautiful Views
It goes without saying, that the views that you will see are quite breath-taking at most points on the Island. If you stay in places such as Oia, Imerovigli, Fira or Firostefani, you will only have to turn your head to one side, and you gaze over the Caldera views. There isn’t just a few spots to witness a spectacular view, they are at every point of your trip. Just walking through these villages will be the highlight of your trip, and that is even before you consider catching the sunset at Oia, or doing the hike to Oia or Skaros Rock. Obviously, those three things are certainly worth doing, as you’ll find yourself taking picture, after picture, after picture. Not just walking, but if you have enough funds, you can stay in a hotel which has these views from your bedroom, balcony or hotel swimming pool – and this is what people think about when coming to Santorini. When it comes to the beautiful views, it really has an infamous reputation worldwide, and rightly so.
2. Exquisite Hotels and Restaurants
This sort of comes into play with the beautiful views mentioned previously, but many of the hotels and restaurants are on the cliff-edge and it makes your holiday the stuff of dreams. For the restaurants the service, quality of food, views are all impeccable. Lots of variation on type of food to eat, whether it’s Greek food or international. Also, whether you are an avid lover of seafood, meat or even a vegetarian – Santorini has you covered. As for the hotels, what strikes me the most as a guest at a hotel, is that you feel as if whatever hotel room you stay in, you are secluded with a unreal view. Contrary to the time you spend outside your hotel room, but it’s just you and the view. No obstructions. You won’t tend to see many other people, and the over-crowdedness of the Island doesn’t feel that way when in your hotel, as they are usually accommodating to fewer people. Let’s not forget that you also have the luxury of the swimming pool throughout your stay – it’s never usually occupied.
Whilst many people love staying in their hotel and soaking in the pool all day, for most people, me included, it can get boring after a few days. If you want to explore and do excursions, then there are many things to do in the little Island. As mentioned previously, if you like hiking, then hikes to Skaros Rock (in Imerovigli) or the long hike from Imerovigli to Oia are totally worth it. Please note, that the hike is about 2.5 hours long, and it’s best to avoid doing this during peak sunlight hours or you will just become exhausted – speaking from experience. Other day trips include a boat trip to the volcano close by, and the chance to swim in hot springs. There are many winery’s’ on the island too, so wine tasting is a nice break from all the wine… I mean cocktails that you will drink whilst eating out on the island. There are many sights to see across the island including Ammoudi Bay and Castle at Oia, Prophet Elias Monastery, and Akrotiri Greek ruins in the south of the island. Plenty to do, and everything is within close proximity.
Blue skies and sunshine are almost part of furniture in Santorini. It’s night an island which has a hot climate throughout the entire year, and can be fairly cold throughout the winter months of December and January. However, the rest of the year, it is just perfect weather for tourists. Clouds are almost non-existent throughout the summer months and rain is un-heard of too. It never usually gets too hot (33+ as an example) when you are there, as it is the perfect temperature to swim in your pool in the daytime, and go for walks in the evening time.
Whilst there are many car rental places, it’s not everyone’s perfect holidays when they have to worry about driving on the wrong side of the road in short winding roads with other impatient Greek drivers – so thankfully the buses are terrific on the island. The main bus station is in Fira, and it literally can take you everywhere on the island. Buses between the four hot sports, the airport, the sea port come on a regular basis and easy to work out. Also, a nice touch, which isn’t just Santorini, is that there are two staff on the bus, one to drive you and the other to take your money. No hassle when going on or off the bus, and it’s relatively straight forward. Also, due to the island being so small, you won’t expect to be in a bus longer than 45 minutes wherever you want to travel. Nice and easy hassle-free travelling on the island without having to worry about renting a car. Having said that, transport is not essential for all places, as its ideal for walking from between the towns and village depending on where you are staying.
Okay, you’re convinced. Want to book that trip to Santorini? Then check out Santorini hotels here.
But, before you do that, please do consider to continue on reading and check out what I really disliked about Santorini and you may or may not agree with some of the points, but I am sure some of you will relate and be thrown off altogether.
Top 5 Worst Things of Santorini
There is an ugly side of being too pretty, and the island is a victim of that. As I mentioned in the pro’s, Santorini’s beauty has the reputation that can only be contested by a few other places on this planet, but this brings tourists from all over the globe, and given the size of the island – it gets overcrowded quickly! Year on year, it appears to be getting worse, and there is just too many people there for the size of the island. The airport (I’ll come back to that later), the view hotspots, the sunset in Oia, the tours, the busses, the bars, the castle. Just everything. Too many people, and its over-crowdedness can be claustrophobic. Everyone would love a secluded romantic getaway, and apart from time in your hotel room, you will not get that experience here. Oia, which has arguably the best views with Ammoudi Bay, the Castle and the sunset, its always overcrowded and the small cute streets with shops on are just a nightmare to walk through, and taking a picture in any part of this Oia will be interrupted by several people.
Well, you can’t expect to go to one of the hot spots in the world and not expect to pay a bit of dollar, but Santorini is just too expensive. You’ll get a better bang for your buck in other islands on Greece such as Paros, Naxos or even Mykonos. It’s why I think it’s an ideal place for celebrities such as footballers, and models to go on their travels, but for us regular folk, it’s a lot of money! Staying at hotels with any type of decent view will cost you an arm and a leg, and even hotels that don’t have a view will leave a heavy dent on your bank balance. The point of staying on the Island is to stay in one of the four town/village hot spots but good luck finding any type of hotel for less than £100 per night for a room for even the most basic hotel or villa without the view. Same for restaurants, and don’t get me started on alcoholic drinks. Cocktails for £12-£20 a pop!? Nope, not for me. I get it, it’s a beautiful view on the island, but there is a line and you just crossed it. If you want to find cheap food, and cheap bars, they basically don’t exist, except a few fast food places in Fira square.
3. Lack of good beaches
I’m not saying I visited Santorini expecting there to be beaches that are represented on many of the other islands in Greece, like the beaches in Mexico, or Thailand. However, the island does not have any good beaches and that is a fact. For many people, beaches are a huge lure for people visiting the destination, and in particular an island. Santorini has the ‘Red Beach’, which isn’t enjoyable but also dangerous for visitors. Visually it looks fine once you are there, which is a challenge itself, but if you don’t want to slip down the rocks, you can swim in water which is far from clear, and uncomfortable throughout. Having said that, it won’t stop people turning up, and it’s still overcrowded! Aside from this beach, there is literally nothing else Santorini has to offer in terms of beaches, so if that’s your thing, you may want to re-consider.
The worst airport in the world. Okay, maybe an exaggeration, but in research for this article, it comes to me as no surprise the amount of articles it is mentioned in ‘the worst airports in the world’ and individual reviews talking about their time at Santorini Airport. Okay, you may only be there a few hours on your exit it, or if you are lucky enough you won’t see it at all. However, your time there will be the most uncomfortable couple hours of your life. You are packed like sardines once you pass through security, after waiting an hour to check your bags. There is no room to sit, move, walk, and even breathe. It was a horrible experience and it was not a one-off. Thankfully, if you get through all the people, there is an upstairs which has some seats and you may be lucky enough to find one whilst waiting for your flight.
5. Donkey’s at the Old Port
Just a personal peeve of mine, but I hate when animals are exploited their entire lives for lazy rich tourists. There are 300 steps to go up and down to visit the likes of the Old Port and Ammoudi Bay, and whilst the normal person will have to hike down and gather a sweat, some people feel that its necessary to sit on a Donkey’s back and pay 5 euros for that privilege. The horses are visually unhappy, and you can imagine, walking up and down 300 steps all day, no time to relax, no shade to save yourself. Day after day after day. People may question this inclusion in the worst things about Santorini, but for me it has to get a mention. This type of attraction is outdated, and hope people don’t pay for this!