Santorini is undoubtedly Greece’s most scenic and most often photographed island. Offering picturesque views of iconic white houses overlooking the ocean, stunning sunsets and endless elegant hotels and spa resorts, it makes for a unique destination ideal for couples and honeymooners in search of some luxury and romance.
I’ve personally taken a slightly different take on it. My first ever trip to Santorini wasn’t a romantic getaway, but rather, an exciting trip with my best friend of nine years. Although we were more than down for a sunset or two, we were not there for romance and luxury. Not that our student budgets could even afford any luxury had we wanted it. Instead we opted for beach days, exploration, fun nights out and lots of singing along to the Mamma Mia soundtrack. So, here is a guide to the more adventurous and student-budget-friendly side of Santorini.
Drinks at Tropical Bar, Fira
Tropical bar is one of the go to spots for younger travelers to go. Not a day passed that I wasn’t sat out on the balcony, drinking a cold, Greek beer, getting to know some fellow travelers.
Most tourists will flock to Oia’s crowded restaurant patios and bars to view Santorini’s famous sunsets but, in my opinion, you’re better off at this bar. Overlooking the rest of the town, the ocean and surrounding islands, the view from the balcony here is just as stunning as anything you’ll find in Oia (Proof of that in the picture below #nofilter). Here you can simply sit back and enjoy happy hour (3.5euro Alpha beers!) and then head out to explore some more of the surrounding bars and clubs, instead of having to deal with Oia’s crowds and overpriced establishments.
Another great way to see the sunset is by going on a day cruise. My recommendation is the one organized by “Dakoutros Bros J.V.”, as its super easy to book (either at their office in the old port or at your hotel reception desk) and is great value for your money. For only 35 euro you get a whole day of activities. Departing from Fira’s Old Port you’ll first sail to “Nea Kameni”, the volcano in the center of all the islands, where you can choose to wander around by yourself or hike to the top with your group for the perfect view and photo opportunity! Then you’re off to the hot springs, the Island of Thirassia for dinner, finally ending your day with a complementary glass of wine (although if I’m honest it was more like a shot… but still) and spectacular view of the sun setting over the ocean. If you have the energy, it’s definitely worth walking down from Fira to get to the old port. But, if the Santorini sun is too much for you, you could opt for the cable cars instead.
Ammoudi bay is the perfect day trip. It’s easy to get to from Oia either by foot or by bus. It’s main attraction is not just the restaurants with views of the ocean and fresh fish, but rather, it’s ideal swimming and cliff-jumping spots. To find these spots just follow a path at the far side of the bay, round the cliffs and over a few rocks. Keep walking and you’ll eventually start seeing different places to swim. Where I ended up was not so much cliff-jumping as it was jumping off a man-made ledge on some cliffs. But, at six meters, it still gave you that free-fall feeling. Ammoudi bay is yet another spot to admire the sunset (whilst swimming!), but beware of the crowds and lines you’ll have to deal with once you’re back in Oia.
If you’re on that student-budget you’re best off staying in a hotel just outside of one of the main towns. We stayed at “Villa Pelekanos”, which was ridiculously cheap. At first, we were honestly confused why our taxi driver had stopped, the place seemed way nicer than what we had paid for. With only ten suites in the whole villa we ended up having the pool to ourselves almost every day! Our room had a kitchenette which saved us so much as it meant we could cook up some pasta from the mini-market, instead of spending tons in a restaurant (Ideal for those tipsy, lazy, late-night cravings too…)
So those are my top-tips for Santorini. I hope it’ll inspire some of you to start your own Santorini adventures. If you’d like to read some more about what I got up to in Greece you can check up my Photo-Story on “Shut Up and Go” here.
Love, Sophie den Hartog
Do you plan to visit Greece? Have you already? Share some of your favourite moments in the comments below!