The iconic city of Santorini is a classic Greek experience. Many people recognize the beautiful white buildings and blue roofs, but you won’t find this view anywhere else in Greece except Santorini. The dramatic caldera cliffs have been featured in many movies, and the view here is stunning and unforgettable.
To travel to Santorini, you really only have two options: a flight, or a ferry. Since there are so many islands in Greece, ferries are very common and a highly recommended experience. We chose the “Blue Star Ferry,” and we loved our experience.
The boat to Santorini was similar to a miniature cruise ship. Rather than your typical ferry’s uncomfortable, cramped seating, the “Blue Star Ferry” had open dining style seating. You simply selected a table and chair that you found comfortable and then settle in for your journey. The total travel time did require 8 hours, but Santorini is worth it! Food is available for purchase on the Ferry.
“Oia” is absolutely beautiful, and you can spend hours walking these glistening white streets. This is the part of the island with the classic view, and it is on the north side of the island. Needless to say, this is also the expensive part of the island, so if you’re on a budget like us, this is a great place to visit, but you probably will want to stay elsewhere.
It is easy to arrive here using the island bus system. You pay cash once you are on the bus, and all of the busses on the island connect to the central “Fira” bus station. These simple routes make it easy to navigate the island.
Getting that Postcard Shot
In Oia, it is important to remember that these narrow tiny streets are residential, and there are many signs posted warning visitors to stay out. Please be mindful to respect these restrictions and the residents here. The lady below was particularly protective of her residence, but she also didn’t mind taking photos with friendly tourists that she allowed into her porch one at a time (when we declined her invitation, she also shouted “Stupido” because we were missing her perfect photo).
This classic postcard shot is only available down one particular street. Follow the main road “Nik. Nomikou” until you reach the fancy jewelry store “BVLGARI ALEXANDROS” (pictured above). Just before this sign, turn left and continue toward the ocean. When you are able to, turn right and follow the path until you reach this viewpoint.
The other classic shot is of the glowing city along the cliffs during what is called “blue hour.” This is the hours immediately after sunset (similar to “golden hour” prior to sunset.” For this view, it’s best to journey down to the Oia castle.
Perissa Black Sand Beach
Along the beach, there are many coffee shops where you can grab a complimentary chair and umbrella on the beach and relax while eating lunch. We enjoyed strolling from one place to another trying to find the comfiest chair and the best coffee. Everywhere you go there is a beautiful view of the Mediterranean ocean and you can hear the relaxing sound of the waves beating against the shoreline.
The Perissa Black Sand Beach is the largest beach with black sand in the island of Santorini. Don’t worry: the sand won’t blacken your skin, but it is warmer than normal sand. There is a bus stop nearby, and there are plenty of restaurants along the beach.
The island bus system is basic but easy to use. Fortunately, we traveled at the end of the season, but we have been told that these buses are typically quite full and difficult to get on with many people required to stand for the duration of the ride.
All of the busses on the island connected to the central “Fira” bus station (which makes it very easy to navigate). There is no need to purchase tickets in advance. Instead, you simply board the bus and pay your fare during the drive.
Where to stay
Since we were staying only a few days and were making late reservations, we booked a discount rate at Smaragdi hotel near Perissa Black Sand Beach. Remember, the most popular part of the island is “Oia,” and you will want to be mindful of the bus travel time required when choosing where to book your stay.
If you have time to book in advance, there are a lot of beautiful AirBnbs on Santorini. AirBnb is a fantastic way to travel. If you’d like to learn more about how AirBnbs can save you a ton of money on your next trip, read our tips here.
To read more about our trip to Greece, click here.