There are not many places in the world that leave you speechless as soon as you reach your destination, but Santorini is certainly one of them. You will be amazed by the multi-colored cliffs, cleverly positioned to allow tourists to admire the breathtaking view of Caldera. It attracts millions of travelers every year, whether it’s for a romantic honeymoon or a week with friends and family in the glorious sunshine. However, no place in the world is perfect and before visiting Santorini, it is worth being aware of its main drawbacks, which might scare some people away. Here are the 5 best and 5 worst things about Santorini.
The 5 best things about Santorini
1. Breathtaking views
Needless to say, the views you will see are truly breathtaking in most places on the island. If you’re staying in places like Oia, Imerovigli, Fira or Firostefani, all you have to do is turn your head to the side to admire the view of the Caldera. There are not only a few places where you can enjoy spectacular views, they are present at every point of the trip. A simple walk through these villages will be the highlight of your trip, even before you think of admiring the sunset in Oia or the cliffs of Skaros. Obviously, these three things are worth doing, because you will find yourself taking one picture after another. Not just on foot, but if you have enough money, you can check into a hotel that offers these views from your room, balcony or hotel pool – and this is what people think of when they come to Santorini. When it comes to offering great views, it really does have an infamous reputation around the world, and rightly so.
2. Quality hotels and restaurants
This is related to the aforementioned beautiful views, but there are many hotels and restaurants located on the cliffside that will make your vacation a dream. As far as restaurants go, the service, food quality and views are all impeccable. There is a wide variety of choices in terms of the type of food to eat, whether it is Greek or international. Moreover, whether you are a seafood lover, meat lover or even vegetarian, Santorini will satisfy you. As far as hotels go, what strikes me most as a guest is that you get the feeling that no matter which room you stay in, you are isolated with an unreal view. Unlike the time you spend outside your hotel room, but it’s just you and the view. No obstructions. You won’t see many other people, and the crowds on the island won’t seem to be a problem if you’re in hotels, which usually have fewer spaces. Let’s not forget that you will also have the luxury of enjoying the pool for the duration of your stay, which is usually never occupied.
While many people like to stay in a hotel and laze around in the pool all day, for most people, including me, this can get boring after a few days. If you want to explore and hike, there is plenty to do on the small island. As I mentioned earlier, if you like hiking, it’s worth it to hike to Skaros Rock (in Imerovigli) or the long walk from Imerovigli to Oia. Keep in mind that this hike takes about 2.5 hours and it is best to avoid doing it during the hours of maximum sunlight or you will be exhausted – I speak from experience. Other day trips include a boat trip to the nearby volcano and a dip in the hot springs. The island also has many wine cellars. So wine tasting is a nice break…that is, the cocktails you drink while eating on the island. There are many sites to see on the island, including Ammoudi Bay and Oia Castle, the Monastery of Prophet Elias and the Greek ruins of Akrotiri in the south of the island. There is plenty to do and everything is within easy reach.
Blue skies and sunshine are almost part of the landscape of Santorini. The climate of the island is warm all year round and can be quite cold during the winter months of December and January. However, during the rest of the year, the climate is perfect for tourists. Clouds are almost non-existent during the summer months and even the rainfall is not felt. It’s usually never too hot (33+, for example) when you’re there, and it’s the perfect temperature for swimming in the pool during the day and going for walks in the evening.
Although there are many car rental sites, it is not ideal for everyone to have to worry about driving on the wrong side of the road on short, winding roads with other impatient Greek drivers. The main bus station is in Fira and can take you literally anywhere on the island. Buses between the four hot sports, the airport, and the port are regular and easy to find. Also, a nice touch, not unique to Santorini, is that there are two employees on the bus, one to accompany you and one to take your money. Getting on and off the bus is not a problem and is relatively easy. Also, because the island is so small, you will not expect to be on a bus for more than 45 minutes wherever you want to go. So you can get around the island without worrying about renting a car. That said, transportation is not essential for all places; ideally, you should walk between towns and villages depending on where you are staying.
So, you are convinced. Do you want to book a trip to Santorini? Then take a look at Santorini hotels here.
But before you do, read on and find out what I really hated about Santorini. You may or may not agree with some of the points, but I’m sure some of you will empathize and be completely baffled.
The 5 worst things about Santorini
There is a downside to being too beautiful, and the island falls victim to it. As I mentioned in the benefits, Santorini’s beauty has a reputation that can be contended with by only a few other places on the planet, but this draws tourists from all over the world, and given the size of the island, it quickly becomes overcrowded! From year to year the situation seems to get worse and there are simply too many people for the size of the island. The airport (more on that later), the views, the sunset in Oia, the tours, the buses, the bars, the castle. Just everything. Too many people and the overcrowding can be claustrophobic. Everyone would like a secluded romantic getaway, and apart from time spent in your hotel room, you will not have that experience here. Oia, from which there is probably the best view of Ammoudi Bay, the castle, and the sunset, is always overcrowded, and the pretty little streets with stores are a nightmare to navigate, and taking a photo anywhere in this Oia will be interrupted by several people.
Well, you can’t expect to go to one of the hottest places in the world and not expect to pay a few dollars, but Santorini is simply too expensive. You can get more for your money on other islands in Greece, such as Paros, Naxos or even Mykonos. That’s why I think it’s a great place for celebrities like soccer players and models, but for us ordinary people it’s a lot of money! Staying in a hotel with a decent view will cost you an arm and a leg, and even hotels that do not have a view will leave a nice mark on your budget. The point of staying on the island is to stay in one of the four towns, but it is hard to find any kind of hotel for less than £100 a night for a room, even for the simplest hotel or villa without a view. The same goes for restaurants, and let’s not even talk about alcoholic beverages. Cocktails at £12-20 per person? No, not for me. I get it, it’s a great view of the island, but there is a limit and you just crossed it. If you want to find cheap food and bars, they don’t exist, except for some fast food in the square in Fira.
3. Lack of good beaches
I am not saying that I visited Santorini expecting there to be the beaches that are represented on many other Greek islands, such as the beaches of Mexico or Thailand. However, the island does not have good beaches, and that is a fact. For many, beaches are a huge attraction for those visiting a destination, especially an island. Santorini has the “red beach,” which is not only pleasant but also dangerous for visitors. Visually it looks good once you arrive, which is a challenge in itself, but if you don’t want to slip on the rocks, you can swim in water that is anything but clear and uncomfortable from start to finish. That said, it does not stop people from coming, and it is still overcrowded! Aside from this beach, there is literally nothing else Santorini has to offer in terms of beaches, so if this is your thing, you might want to reconsider.
The worst airport in the world. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but when I was researching for this article, I wasn’t surprised by how many articles talked about “the world’s worst airport” and individual reviews talked about their time spent at Santorini airport. OK, maybe you’re only there for a few hours or, if you’re lucky, you won’t see it at all. However, the time you spend there will be the most unpleasant couple of hours of your life. By the time you’ve made it through security and waited an hour for your bags to be checked, you’ll be crammed in like a sardine. There’s no room to sit, move, walk or even breathe. It was a horrible experience and not an isolated incident. Luckily, if you can get past all the people, there are some seats upstairs, and you might be lucky enough to find one while you wait for your flight.
5. Donkey in the Old Port
This is just a personal affection of mine, but I hate it when animals are exploited throughout their lives for the sake of rich, lazy tourists. The Old Port and Ammoudi Bay have 300 steps to climb up and down, and while ordinary people have to climb down and sweat, some feel the need to sit on a donkey and pay 5 euros for it. The horses are visually miserable, and you can imagine walking up and down 300 steps all day with no time to relax and no shade to save you. Day after day after day. People might dispute this inclusion in the worst things about Santorini, but for me it has to be mentioned. This kind of attraction is outdated, and I hope people don’t pay for it!
Still want to book Santorini? Well, I don’t blame you. Everyone has their own preferences and I can’t deny anyone from visiting this beautiful island, but every beautiful island has its ugly side.