Experience The Best Of Santorini In 72 Hours
Whether you have two days or two weeks to travel, our Santorini island guide covers the must see sites, local food recommendations, where to stay, how much the island will cost, an example itinerary, and how to get around - including how to get to and from the airport or seaport.
Thira - or Santorini as it's popularly called - is apart of the Cyclades island chain in the southern Aegean Sea. Santorini was named by the Latin Empire in the thirteenth century, and is a reference to Saint Irene. The name Santorini is a contraction of the name Santa Irini. The depth of the caldera is 400m deep, making it impossible for any but the largest ships to anchor anywhere in the protected bay. The island is the site of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in recorded history and many believe that this may have led indirectly to the collapse of the Minoan civilization. Santorini's primary industry is tourism and has been ranked the world's top island for many magazines and travel sites, including Travel+Leisure Magazine, BBC, and US News. An estimated 2 million tourists visit annually. Santorini is considered to be the most sought after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, since there are not many places in the world where you can enjoy exquisitely clear waters while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of the sea! The island has a growing reputation as a “wedding destination” for couples not only from Greece but from all over the world - even we got married here! Regardless of the reason you come to Santorini, we can guarantee that you will leave here with a bigger desire to visit than you had before you arrived. From the incredibly nice locals, the mouthwatering Greek food, beautifully unique views, gorgeous architecture, enchanting history, or the many adventure's this island offers, Santorini is - to this day - one of the best places we have ever been!
Getting To & From The Airport
Santorini has one international airport. Santorini is one of the few Cyclades Islands with a major airport and it serves both as a military and as a civilian airport.
There are 2 ways to get into the city from Santorini International Airport:
1. Taxi (This is the fastest option). Aside from renting a car, this is the best option to get you directly to your hotel. The distance to the airport is far too long to walk, and the bus will only take you to the city center of whichever city you need to get to.
Cost: Around $10 for a one way ticket to Fira Town (center).
2. Airport Bus Shuttle (This is the cheapest option). There are buses (and mini-bus') at the airport. They have stands in the lobby of the airport arrivals hall. These buses can take you to any bus terminal on the island, however from the bus terminal you will have to find a way to your hotel via foot or taxi. However, the mini-buses (for more $) can take you directly to your hotel/
Cost: No more than $5 for a one way ticket to Fira Town (center).
Getting To & From The Seaport
Though Santorini has four sea ports, there is only one you need to know about. Athinios is the main port of Santorini. A plethora of ferry boats arrive and depart from Athinios daily and it provides connection to multiple ports of Greece, such as Athens and other Cycladic islands.
The second port is only for cruise ships and the last two ports are for fisherman's boats only.
There are 2 ways to get into the city from Athinios Seaport:
1. Taxi (This is the fastest option). There are plenty taxis waiting at the port that will take you to any part of the island. In addition, you can find various car rental services if you wish to explore Santorini in a more convenient way.
Cost: Around $10 for a one way ticket to Fira Town (center).
2. Bus (This is the cheapest option). There are regular buses that leave every time a ferry arrives at the port. These buses can take you to any part of the island, however from the bus terminal you will have to find a way to your hotel via foot or taxi.
Cost: No more than $5 for a one way ticket to Fira Town (center).
First Things First - What To Eat?
Greece has an ancient culinary tradition dating back several millennia, and over the centuries, Greek cuisine has evolved and absorbed numerous influences and influenced many cuisines itself. Its flavors change with the season and its geography. Ancient Greek cuisine was characterized and founded on the "Mediterranean triad": wheat, olive oil, and wine, with meat being rarely eaten and fish being more common. Dining out is common in Greece, and has been for quite some time. Recently, fast food has become more widespread, with local chains such as Goody's springing up. Locals still largely eat Greek cuisine, therefore some traditional Greek foods, especially souvlaki, gyros, pita, or spanakopita (cheese and spinach pie) are often served in fast food style.
Must-See's Of Santorini
Santorini is a thriving and well traveled destination. With the right plan, the island can be explored and mastered in 72 hours - though you will definitely want more time! Here are the must see sights of Santorini that you can explore and conquer in 72 hours. There are 8 must see sights on the island that have come to define its worldwide popularity. From the iconic white and blue architecture, the deep and massive caldera and hot springs, the breathtaking views of the sea and nearby islands, to the red, white and black sand beaches, the boat tours around the island, the gorgeous windmills, or the ancient archaeological sites from hundreds of years ago- it's all broken down below.
Santorini is a well connected island. When sightseeing, we recommend using any of the options below to reach your desired destination. All options are reasonably affordable and can take you anywhere on the island.
Rent an ATV - By far the most popular thing to do on the island. Almost every person on the island seems to have a an ATV or moped. For about $8/day you can rent an ATV and explore anywhere on the island you desire. All you need is a legal driving license from your respected country of origin (or an International License is ok too). The local driving laws are the same on the island as in any western country. Driving is on the right side of the road and it is illegal to drink and drive. With that being said, the driving on the island seems very safe (we have been twice and rented ATV's each time) but there are many cliffs, so be careful, wear a helmet, and remember to use your headlights at night.
The beaches in Santorini are themselves among the top attractions of the island since each one of them is a unique sight you won’t see on other islands. The reason why you won't see these beaches on other islands, is the volcanic nature of Santorini. The past volcanic eruptions not only shaped the island but also gave it its unique character and part of its natural, extraordinary beauty. As a result, the beaches are distinct as they are covered in volcanic rocks and sand. There is a diversity of colors and the landscapes they create; white, red and mostly black sand and pebbles adorn the beaches in Santorini.
Where We Stay
There are tons of accommodation options in Santorini, from hostels, Airbnb, bed & breakfasts, or many five-star hotels.
We have stayed in a villa, hotel and an Airbnb. There are literally hundreds of options which makes giving a recommendation difficult. Our advice is to go onto Hostelworld, Airbnb, or whichever accommodation website you prefer, and spend hours drooling over all the amazing places to stay. Eventually you will find a place that suits your needs and wants.
However, during our first trip to the island, back in 2014, we stayed in Galatia Villas. "Set in a quiet location, just a 10 minute walk from the center of Fira Town, the Greek-style Galatia Villas offers a welcoming lounge, and spacious, air-conditioned rooms. The well-appointed guest rooms and studios feature a balcony or offer access to the courtyard. Each is equipped with fridge and TV. Couples particularly like the location — they rated it 8.0 for a two-person trip (Booking.com). This property is also rated for the best value in Fira! Guests are getting more for their money when compared to other properties in this city."
(Cost varies depending on the time of year you travel. Current prices are around $100/night during peak tourist season).
Travel Tips & Helpful Hints
Do I need a visa? In general, if you are from North America, Australia, Croatia, Japan, or New Zealand and you are vacationing in a European Union (EU) country for less than three months, a travel visa is not required. All you need is a valid passport that remains valid for at least six months after the date of your return from Europe. Residents of EU member countries only need an EU passport or ID card to travel between countries.
What is the power voltage? The voltage in most European countries is 240v whereas the US is 110V - so your devices may get a little warm while charging.
What about smoking weed or drinking in the streets? As far as weed goes, good luck finding it. I am sure there is a presence of it on the island, but this place is literally so gorgeous, why get high? If you do find it, keep it to yourself. Remember, this is a major vacation hub for many travelers AND families. Be respectful of their space and kids if bringing it to the beach. Yes, you can drink on the streets. Luckily you are on an island, so you can't really wander off that far.
Where should we stay on the island? Fira, Oia, or Akrotiri? Personally we prefer to stay in Fira (the center) as we can reach any point on the island in a short amount of time. Additionally, this is where a good majority of the famous views are, and we find the prices to be cheaper in Fira than in Oia. With that being said, Oia is like the Bel Air of the island. It is breathtaking and is famous for having the best sunset in all of Greece. There are more fine dining and exquisite hotels and windmills on this side of the island. Akrotiri is really fun. It is located right by some of the famous beaches of the island and also has the archeological sites located nearby. The prices on this side of the island are even cheaper than in Fira, however it can take a while to travel to other parts of the island from here.
What is the currency and its value? The currency used in Greece is the Euro. The current value (June 2018) is: $1.20 USD = 1 EURO.
72 hours in Santorini Example Itinerary:
This is a great day for the Walk to Oia. Grab some breakfast, stretch and start the walk from Fira Town. Bring snacks, water and sunscreen!
On your way to Oia, stop by and explore Skaros rock.
Grab a nice lunch overlooking the Caldera in Oia.
Explore the streets, colors, and architecture and spend time perusing Atlantis Book selection while you wait for sunset.
Short hike to the island's old fort for an unobstructed view of Greece's most amazing sunset. After the sunset, either grab a bite to eat in Oia or head back into Fira via the local bus that runs every half hour.
Start your first morning by getting breakfast from a local bakery.
The first day is a great day to explore the island, so you know where everything is and how to get there.
Explore! Find the different beaches and enjoy a day in the sun at some of the prettiest beaches you may ever see. Make sure you stop and explore Emporio and the archeological sites in Akrotiri on your journey.
For dinner head into Fira Town and walk through the little streets until you find a menu and restaurant that you like and is in your price-range. Make sure to try the desserts wherever you go. Wherever you restaurant is, make sure you can get a view of the sea to watch the sunset.
You may be a bit sore from your hike yesterday; book yourself a volcano and hot springs boat tour for the day.
Grab some breakfast and head to you tour.
Spend the afternoon swimming in the hot springs and exploring the lava made islands in the middle of the caldera.
Head back to your hotel, freshen up, and set out to a local winery for an evening of flavor and relaxation. You can tour the vineyards, most are in Akotiri, but for a more refined end to the day, visit one of the wineries located along the Caldera for great sunset views and delicious local wine.
So What's It Going To Cost?
Here is how much we spent, and what we spent it on, in 72 hours.
Food: Breakfast: We spent an average of $3 USD each/each morning at local bakeries.
Lunch: We spent an average of $4 USD each. We usually stopped for a Gyro or Souvlaki.
Dinner: We spent an average of $15 USD each, every evening, usually going to a nice dinner.
Total for Food = $22 USD each/per day.
Beer: Between the beer we bought from convenient stores while exploring, the Yellow Donkey Brewery, and from restaurants, we spent anywhere from $2 -$4 per beer.
Total for Beer = $15 USD each/per day.
Accommodation: This will severely differ depending on where you decide to stay. For us...we splurged a little bit :) Treat yourself!
For 2 people to stay 3 nights, we spent $300 (total).
Transportation (Including getting to and from the airport): We took the bus from the airport to Fira town and took a taxi back to the airport a few days later as we were leaving. The bus is around $4/per person and the cab ride was around $12 in total. Once we were checked into our hotel we rented ATV's for 3 days. We spent $10 per ATV/per day.
Total for Transportation = $40 USD each.
Activities: If you rent an ATV, you can get to and do a lot of the sights and activities for free. The boat tour to the hot springs and island was $100 per person and the cable car ride was $5 each way. Besides that, we hiked the path to Oia and Skaros rock, explored the beaches, Emporio, and Akrotiri, enjoyed a sunset in Oia all for free.
Total for Activities = $110 USD each.
So, What Did We Spend In 72 Hours?
$822 USD for 2 people. That's about $137 USD per person, per day.
*You can absolutely do it cheaper than this if you don't do all the activities (we got married here, so we splurged a bit).