We arrived to the island of Santorini late at night by ferry, and the first thing you get to see is the enormous cliff that rises in front of you which you have to go up to get out of the harbour. Just one glance, and you realize that a scooter is NOT an option with this 30% slope :) On the other hand, for 10 Euro you can get a ride to your hotel if you don’t want to rent a car, so that's not really a problem.
We stayed in a very nice and cheap hotel in Perissa called Athanasia (you can find more infor on the "Place to be" page), they offered a studio with a simple kitchen for about 20 Euro a night, and we rented a scooter to discover the whole island. From one side of the island to another, there is maximum one hour of driving by scooter, so it is not so important in which village you stay, but more important to take a nice hotel. Looking back at it, I would rather recommend staying in Fira, where there is some nightlife, but if you're looking for a calm and cosy appartement, Athanasia in Perissa is the place to be. And, renting a scooter for 15 Euro a day makes the whole island only a ride away, day and night.
Santorini is a very hyped island, so you can find about all the information possible on the internet. It is very popular for weddings, honeymoons and of course just 'normal' tourists. There are a lot of Americans, but in the end you can find about every possible nationality here. The trademark of Santorini are the white houses with the roofs painted blue, but actually almost all Cycladic islands have these, as well as e.g. Lanzarote in the Canary islands. The main attraction of the island is definitely the volcano and the sunset. The island doesn't have a huge mythological nor archaeological past, but has still some historically interesting things to discover.
So, to start with, to get to Santorini you can take a plane directly to the island, since there is a small airport, or also take a ferry from Athens or about any other island in the neighbourhood. The prices in general are higher than on the neighbor islands because of the "hype", but if you want you can always rent a cheap studio with a kitchen and cook instead of going out for dinner every night.
Fira is the capital of the city, and also the most tourist village. It houses thousands of shops in the small, snaky streets, and probably equal amount of bars and restaurants. Here you can find everything, from a gyros for 2.50 Euro 'till a Michelin star restaurant (one of the only three in whole Greece!) Saltsa. And the same for shops, from typical authentic souvenir shops 'till jewelry of Cartier. It's like a center where all people of Santorini can come together, and feel at ease. It has many wonderful views due to the clifflevel where it is located, and many cosy streets where you want to get lost and discover small churches and hidden corners.
Nea Kameni Volcano
To begin with something about the touristic attractions and the must-do’s in Santorini, I am obliged to say that you CANNOT visit Santorini and not take a trip to the Volcano. The Volcano is the small island in the middle of the halfmoon that is Santorini, and is called Neo Kameni, where you get an excursion with explanations about when and how the volcano was formed. It is very interesting, and the view on Santorini is amazing! I learned that Santorini has one of the biggest caldera's in the world (caldera is something like a volcanic cauldron, it can be above or under water), and is still an active volcano. Also, there is a big chance your excursion will take you for a short trip to the hot springs just opposite the volcano, on a small island of the Santorini archipelage. It's nice, though you might not want to wear any clear colour of bikini since the water is FULL of sulfur, quite smelly and the colour of... well... not going into details, but something orangy brown :) Still, it's quite nice to swim all the way to the spring, and feel it's hot water caressing your body. Seems to be very good for your skin too, apparently.
Thirassia donkey ride
Most of the trips to the Volcano also include a visit to its neighbor island Thirassia, with its one and only village Manolas. It's a very small village with only about 200 people living there, and even that sounds way more than I could imagine there. The nicest way to get there is on the back of a donkey, though you can easily walk up the stairs by foot too. This was actually the place I liked the most in Santorini, and not only for the delicious food and the donkey ride, but also for one of the most amazing views I ever saw in my life. NO KIDDING. So, arriving in Thirassia you can take a "donkey taxi’ for 5 Euro up the mountain to the real village – I really recommend that rather than staying down in the more touristic part. Up the hill, there are breathtaking views, traditional houses in small streets, and lots of cats. Also, there is only one and very nice restaurant, that makes fish souvlaki (souvlaki is “skewer” in Greek) made from fresh fished fished. Damn!
Donkey taxi in Thirassia
Santorini is not particularly famous for it's beaches, also due to the fact that half of the coast is at cliffheight, so doesn't even has beaches. Though, it has a nice region in the south that houses the Red, White and Black beach. To be honest, they are quite small, and as of beach quality they're not so wonderful. Though, the view, especially of the Red Beach, is quite extraordinary. The cliff of this beach consists of hystorical volcano material rich in Fe, which gives it that special red colour. From the Red beach, you can reach the Black and White Beaches by a boat taxi, 5 Euro pp and you can tour around all day, with boats every 30 minutes. This is definetely recommended, since these are going to be about the best beaches you can find in Santorini.
Red Beach, Santorini
Black Beach, Santorini
White Beach, Santorini
And then, I can't finish this post without metioning Oia (prounounce it as Ia), the small village at the outer north point of the half moon called Santorini, famous all over the world for its wonderfully amazingly beautiful and breathtaking sunsets. Some people say the sunset is different every evening in Oia... Well, I got to see only 2 of them, but I can agree that it's definetely one of the best places on the island, or maybe even Greece or the world, to watch the sunset. You see this bloody orange sinking deeper and deeper, 'till you witness that moment when it touches the horizon with a flash... and while it continues sinking in the endless line of water, it gives the most incredible coloured spectacles you never could imagine you could see in Europe. Wow... Anyway, this is definetely a NOT TO MISS experience in Santorini, if not the main purpose to come here! I could describe it with the most exquisite words in my vocabulary, but you can only judge its endless beauty by watching it with your own eyes.
Sunset in Oia, Santorini
Sunset in Oia, Santorini
Sunset in Oia, Santorini
I hope to have given you a few reasons to visit Santorini, I think it's definetely a must to have been here at least once in your life! It's one of these places that has this special atmosphere hanging around there...