We reached Santorini from Athens by a Ryanair flight. Please see the following link if you need details on how to get to Santorini from Athens or more details on Athens itself: Athens Tips
We had arranged a minivan to pick us up through our hotel by email ahead of time. When we arrived at the airport (Santorini airport is really small) – there was our van driver waiting for us with a sign with our names. He was very cheerful, helped us load up our bags into the van and drove us to the town of Oia. The drive to Oia from the airport is approximately an hour and is just breath taking.
Santorini is not very big, and it consists of four major towns that tourists typically stay at. Oia, Fira , Firostefani, and Imerovigli. We choose to stay at Oia. This town is famous for its sunsets, more luxurious, and has some of the better hotels and restaurants.
I was happy with our choice to stay at Oia. We were at our hotel before 9 am and the town was empty – the first look at this town was just wow. It is hard to describe the feeling. It was everything you have seen in the photos and then some more!! At 9 am the town is not very crowded – the pathways are empty and your first view of the white and blue domes and caldera is just memorizing. We were exhausted – we didn’t sleep at all the night before, nevertheless we were super happy and excited to be walking the pathways of Oia – more like speed walking and pointing out different areas and going wow…
We had also visited Fira during our stay – Fira was beautiful as well. I don’t think there are many places in Santorini that will not take your breath away. Fira was more crowded, had more hotels, restaurants, shopping options and night life. I preferred Oia. Especially during early morning – we woke up around 6 am every day to catch the sunrise, and at late night once the day visiting crowds had left. Oia is not very big, however the pathways are more defined the buildings more beautiful and charming.
We stayed at Residence Suites – This was a 4 star traditional cave house with stunning sea views. We wanted a sea view – this is a must if you stay in Santorini. Save money in other areas but don’t cheap out on the hotel. This hotel has both higher cliff side rooms and lower cliff side rooms – do request a higher floor room, otherwise you will be scaling quite a number of stairs, and your view will not be as good. The hotel doesn’t have a pool but it does have two Jacuzzi that you can use, and a lobby like area with stunning views and many chairs that you can lounge on. Each room also has a sitting area right in front of it. The hotel has wifi but it does not work inside the rooms due to the cave nature of the rooms. The wifi outside of the rooms is very slow!
The breakfast served by the hotel was very good! We had a great assortment of fresh fruit and different items for breakfast for the 3 days we stayed here. The cave rooms were charming. We had two rooms. One very large luxurious room and another that was midsize and very roomy. Each of the rooms had fridges – which was great. We bought water/juices and stored in the fridge. It was very hot in August, and having the fridge helped. They also had kitchen areas – we didn’t use ours but if you needed it was there. The cave houses by nature were cool – however the rooms also had excellent air-conditioning. The rooms were decorated in a charming manner with Knick knacks, books and art work.
The checkin at this hotel was at a common area that serves multiple hotels . The lady at the checkin was very friendly and called the porter to help us carry all our bags down many many stairs to our rooms. Please tip the porters generously! It was hard for us to go up and down the stairs for our own needs. If someone is carrying your bag for you show them some appreciation!
The hotel offered pick up service from the airport and port for 40 Euro one way for five people. If you had booked the rooms using the hotel’s website they will waive this pick up fee for you. I didn’t know this at the time of the booking – I used Expedia. So if you like this hotel for your stay I would recommend checking on the hotel website itself as well as a site like Expedia. Take into consideration the price of transport when booking and book accordingly.
We used the local city bus to get between the different towns as well as to go to the beaches at the other end of Santorini. The buses are air-conditioned coach buses, and cost under 2 Euro per person. The cost depends on where you are going. Some people used ATVs to travel between cities and to get to attractions. I preferred the bus since it had air-condition!
You can use boats to travel between various beaches. We took a bus to get to one of the beaches and then used a 5 Euro boat transfer to go to different beaches from that one beach. Santorini has red, black and white beaches – will write a post specific to things to do in Santorini, and the restaurants.
We left the island using a high speed ferry. We used the hotel’s drop off service to get to the port of departure. We had booked the ferry tickets ahead of time using this site: paleologos.gr . The drive down to the port is beautiful and down a steep cliff . At the port there is a waiting area in which you wait till your ferry number/destination is called ( usually about 5 minutes before your time of departure ) , and then you load onto the ferry.
Overall this island was unique and magical. If you had the option to visit only one island in Greece, than it should be Santorini – I don’t think any other Greek island will compare to Santorini! Also, do take the time to stay on the island to fully experience the island. Staying there will be different than a day trip to the island!
The above photos were taken by me .