On our luxury travel experiences we were delighted to book a flight to Santorini – one of the most beautiful places you can visit in Greece. A beautiful Archipelago set in the Aegean Sea, we were able to visit three key locations, Akritiki, Fira and Oia. I was a little apprehensive never having been to Greece before and not speaking the language.
The flight we took was straight forward and was a direct from London Gatwick to Santorini Airport. As the plane flies in, you are shown quite a dramatic view on entry - you can see the island immersed in the sea on approach. The airport is relatively small and so there was a bit of “standing about” whilst we waited in line to have our passport checked and let through into the arrivals area of the airport. Taxis were easy to find, and we were soon on our way to our first destination – Akritiki.
To begin our stay, we travelled about 20 minutes away from the airport to the lovely rural town of Akritiki. We stayed in a lovely hotel not too far away from the main part of the town (name of hotel) where we met the lovely Mariana. I have to say, Mariana introduced us to the wonderful hospitality that we found the Greek people to have. She made us a fantastic Greek breakfast – one of the best breakfast experiences I’ve ever had.
Renting a car
If you are going to travel about Santorini then to be honest, you need to either have a driver or rent a car. Although Sanotrini is a small island, it’s difficult to travel about from town to town and there is limited public transport available. I had never driven a car abroad before and so I decided to bite the bullet and went ahead and rented.
The rental arrangements were relatively straight forward and it was surprisingly cheap to rent a vehicle (£15 per day). It was in very good condition, modern and clean. It took me a while to get the hang of driving on the right hand side of the road but after about 30 minutes I was more or less okay. What I didn’t quite get the hang of was the rather impatient and risky behaviour of the other drivers... there is significantly less rule following and significantly more risk taking. I remember one terrifying moment when a Bus coming towards us decided to overtake four cars on a blind bend coming towards me on the wrong side of the road casually tooting his horn for me to move. This wasn’t just a one off incidence. I would say that if you are going to be driving on Santorini, you need to consider you safety and your experience of driving in another country. In hindsight, I would have chosen another location to have practiced learning to drive in a foreign country.
Fira is great place to visit in Santorini. It’s beautifully nestled into the Cliffside with fantastic views of the ocean and volcano, with easy access to a whole range of shops, restaurants and cafes. There’s plenty to see and everything is more or less well within walking distance. What we really appreciated as well, is that Fira has a range of different street foods, which helps with saving cash. The street food is cheap – and very very tasty. If you go to Fira, then make sure you sample pork or chicken Gyros.
Another location you simply have to put onto your itinerary is Oia. Oia is in many ways similar to Fira, it has amazing views, fantastic restaurants and bars, but has the very famous blue and white domed buildings and is more spaced out. You can get some truly astonishing pictures here as well as you walk across the paths and alleyways which meander their way across the cliff top. A truly brilliant experience was being able to go to Athenian House – a Michelin style restaurant with fabulous gourmet food and wine. From the restaurant you can watch the sunset drop behind the volcano as you eat your meal.
Santorini is simply one of the most beautiful and enjoyable places I have ever visited. It doesn’t have to be too pricey and it is possible to visit on a budget – if so, consider staying close to Fira if possible. If you do have a bit of cash to spend, there are some truly awesome 5 star restaurants and trips to the volcano and local islands. Definitely should be on your bucket list.