Been to Santorini this summer? Let others have your views on resorts, beaches, apartments, tavernas or any other aspect of your holidays that fellow travellers to the island of Santorini may find useful. We welcome all opinions on holidays and trips to Santorini.
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Good: Santorini is one of the wonders of the world, a breathtakingly spectacular fragment of gigantic volcanic crater.. Santorini has busy beach resorts with the usual range of nightlife and watersports of a very popular Mediterranean holiday spot.
Bad: It is not the most obvious place for a cheerful, relaxing holiday, even if you are not put off by the inevitable consequences of fame (swarms of tourists and high prices)...Whether because of the thoughts provoked by sulphur in the air, Santorini is not a place for sound sleep and sweet dreams.
Good: Once outside Fira, the rest of Santorini comes as a nice surprise, although development is beginning to encroach. The volcanic soil is highly fertile, with every available space terraced and cultivated: wheat, tomatoes, pistachios and grapes are the main crops, all still harvested and planted by hand
Bad: Gaunt, sheer cliffs loom hundreds of feet above, nothing grows or grazes to soften the view, and the only colours are the reddish-brown, black and grey pumice striations layering the cliff face.
Good: As many people's favourite Greek island, the pressure is on Santorini to come up with the goods. And it does. The awesome mixture of sinister multi-coloured volcanic precipices, dappled with the most brilliant white, trendiest bars and restaurants in the country, gives the island a splendid kind of schizophrenia.
Bad: Usually bathed in glorious sunshine, but occasionally lashed by high winds and rain, everything seems more intense here, especially daily life. Some call it Devil's Island, and find a stay here both exhilarating and disturbing.
I can thoroughly recommend Santorini, which must have the most beautiful, romantic sunset anywhere in the world. I would suggest you stay on the caldera but away from Thera which is too busy, too commercialised and consequently more expensive than Imerovigli or Firostafani, for example. Or alternatively, there is Kamari on the other side of the island. If you want you can visit Thera for the sunset and then get a local bus back.
Santorini is beautiful but very small. We had a car for five days, and covered the whole island in about two! All roads seem to lead to Thira and, having got lost a couple of times, once we ended up in Thira we knew where we were so no worries there.
We stayed in Perissa which, with hindsight, may not have been the most suitable place for us (a family of three, my daughter being eight at the time). It is more geared to backpackers and very young people with a large campsite almost in the middle of the town. You take your life in your hands walking along the main beach road and through the centre of town with motorbikes, scooters and cars all fighting for a bit of road.
Kamari is more of a family type resort with a much greater choice of tavernas, bars and shops. The two resorts are separated by a huge rock that forms part of the mountain called Mesa Vouno which you simply must make the effort to climb, either by foot or car, just for the spectacular view of the entire island. You can watch the planes fly in beneath you as they land!! There is a monastery at the top which I believe has restricted access at certain times and a military base. If you go by car the road is- typical of Greek mountain roads. Watch out for the coaches on the bends.
Oia at the top of the island is also a must for the sheer prettiness of it. Again the road there is a bit hairy as at one section you look down on sea both to the left and right. It's best to go in the morning and leave before about 2pm. After this you meet a fleet of coaches on that road coming in the opposite direction and believe me that is scary.
Thira is just like Oia but much bigger and more picturesque. It is famous for it's sunset and it really is the stuff that romantic proposals are made for. The oldest part of the town descends partway down the cliff face and, although we didn't see it, it must be quite a sight from the sea looking up.
My advice is to take the walk down to the harbour, which is long and arduous but worth it, and not to do it on the poor pitiful donkeys that are made to do it all day long. We witnessed them bringing up a mass of 'large' Americans from a cruise and neither the donkeys nor the Americans seem to be enjoying the experience. There is a cheap and easy option to get back up by way of a cable car - much better and you avoid large piles of donkey doo!!!
My only other memories are that it gets very, very windy on the beaches and on one or two nights the tavernas battened down the hatches to avoid losing chairs and tables laid out on the beach road (this was August).
Lastly the caldera itself. The actual volcano dominates the island of course and I have to say, after advice from fellow travellers, we declined to actually climb it. It isn't for the faint hearted or eight year olds apparently. It is difficult to climb the soft ash and the heat of the day makes it a real feat. I was told that if you were lucky you might be rewarded by witnessing a puff of volcanic smoke - well I'm sorry but that didn't seem like a fair deal me. We just admired it from afar and took photos.
Taverna prices vary enormously, but are usually displayed outside the taverna. Santorini is expensive compared to other Greek islands but you can eat at reasonable prices (and better meals too) away from the tourist honeypots. If you have a view of the caldera you will to pay for it. A bottle of Santorini wine in the supermarket cost four times as much in a taverna. The main club in Kamari is Dom and there is a good one at Hotel Matina.
You can usually get a taxi to Fira though they may be in short supply when tourist planes come in as they all seem to head for the airport. There are regular bus services to Fira and boat taxis to Perissa. Most banks are set around Fira's main square, but there is a branch of the National Bank in Kamari and a branch of the Alpha Bank in Oia. Banks opening times are Monday to Thursday - 8am - 2.30pm with 2pm closing on Friday. ATMS are all over the place and most credit cards are accepted in tavernas and shops.
I went to Santorini and at first I thought how barren it looked compared to lush Corfu where I went last year, but over the days it grew on me. The people are so friendly, it wasn't too busy in June, the weather was in the 80s and the sea was crystal clear. Everywhere we ate was brilliant, especially Volcano, Meteora, Mermaid and our favourite Atlas where we had many a late night. The owner, Dave, was a great host and everybody felt like they knew each other. Great fun and hangovers to go with it! We went on the volcano trip. The hot springs were'nt as special as I thought they would be and on top the volcano was great views, but not much else.
We went to Thira to see the sunset. Unfortunately for us it was the one cloudy evening of the two weeks we were there. Thira is a interesting place but we found it too busy and too expensive. Robertos Studios was disappointing because nothing happened at the pool bar at all, but we were only 10 minutes walk from the beach which had plenty of sun beds and umbrellas, unlike Kamari which had hardly any umbrellas. Really the one downside was the noisy main street of Perissa which had bars and tavernas each side of it with noisy motorbikes roaring through. Having said that, I would definitely go back again, especially to have a few good evenings in Atlas.
I went to Santorini and loved it. I would also like to get married there but am still waiting for my boyfriend to pop the question! We thought it was nice and clean and the beaches were nice, although not really suitable for young children as the sea gets deep quickly and the sand/pebbles get really hot.
We stayed in Perissa and didn't find it anymore expensive then other places we have stayed in Greece although Thira and Oia (especially Thira!) were quite expensive. You could always get married in Thira but stay in Kamari/Perissa as its only a short journey away.
We visited Fira and found the locals to be only interested in milking and bilking the tourists for as much money as they could get. A bottle of mineral water was two times the price in London. The famous donkey ride is not only a complete rip-off, the animals smell and defecate up and down the steep path and slip on the excrement of their fellow donkeys. Trying to walk the path is practically impossible other than at first dawn before it gets covered with smeared donkey excrement. An awful place to visit.
The best time to visit Thira is late afternoon or evening when the cruise ships have left and the town goes quite. You must however visit Thira at least once on a morning an try a coffee with a piece of cake from the patisserie just behind the main Caldera street . . . Hmmm. Wish we were going back to Santorini now.
I visited Santorini during August. I found it to be very enjoyable. I was there for about one and a half weeks. I read some of the comments and I disagree with a lot of it. I found it to be paradise. I stayed in Fira for my whole stay at the Fira hotel and I travelled around the island and at at many of the restaurants there. It was so relaxing. The meals might have taken a while but I did not mind, it felt good. It was good not eating the food quickly. The wines were really superb in their taste. Every night I would go to a different club if not one then four or five. The night life was great and I was able to stay up until seven in the morning and watch the sun rise. It was even better when I had seen the sun set the night before and was able to see both in a 24 hour period.
The people were all nice and friendly, I made a couple of friends there. I did not think souvenirs were unreasonably priced. I thought they were fine. I did not find anything over priced. I ate at the the best restaurants around the island. I was able to get authentic food and a lot of seafood. I thought everything was close to each other. I had no worries about anything, except for how my tan was coming along. It was great going to black sand and red sand beaches and just tanning there. The water was warm and the women were hot. The most beautiful women that I could find were here on the island. The only negative thing I had was that it was a little dry for my liking but none the least it was what I consider paradise.
Firostephani is a lovely village with breathtaking views. As to boat trips I would recommend the Volcano trip as the best place to view the caldera is from the sea below to appreciate the distruction caused by the eruption. Also there is a 'sunset cruise' which takes you out in to the Caldera in the late afternoon and drifts as the sun sets. Food and drink are included in the price. To go further afield there are trips to neighbouring islands such as Ios or cruise boats that go as far as Egypt.
We stayed in the Krokos Villas in Imerovigli which are built in to the cliff face and consequently have spectacular views overlooking the caldera and back over the island toward Thera and Akrotiri. There are tavernas in Imerovigli but only a small few, most of which are recommendable.
Far be it from me to put ideas into your head but . . . while we were in Imerovigli last year a young couple were getting married and it was beautiful. The service takes place in the evening against a backdrop of the sunset. The bride and groom are lead through the village streets first of all, winding around the caldera in a procession to the church and from there, again in procession, on to the reception . . . how romantic can it get? If you are interested I know there are several sites specifically dedicated to weddings on Santorini.
There are two nice restaurants in Imerovigli on the caldera from where you can watch the sunset but not pay Thera prices and the food in both was lovely. A local bus leaves Thera about every half hour and is only a 10-15 minute journey. Oia is beautiful too but again tends to get crowded during the day time with cruiseship tourists so once again if you intend to visit leave it until late pm or early evening. Much better to make the journey yourself than take one of the local 'trips'. Among the other villages to visit the only other musts would be the and village of Pyrgos. You can also get a water taxi round the headland from Kamari to Perrissa - though I think you will wonder why you bothered as Kamari is much nicer. Kamari also has a nice bakers which is again nearthe main bus terminus and sells great custard 'pies' and cheese 'pies'.
We have stayed twice in Kamari - the first time when it was a tiny little village with one row of tavernas along the waters edge. Now it is much bigger. My favourite restaurant is Alexanders just 50 metres or so from the main bus terminal. The seating in particular was nothing like the usual Greek Restaurant as some tables have chaise lounges but you need to reserve a table in advance. The food was by far the best in Kamari and the prices were reasonable, though if you have been to other Greek Islands you will probably find Santorini generally more expensive. If you eat in Thera then it is worth bearing in mind that all retaurants overlooking the caldera charge extortionate amounts - you pay for the view - but what a view.
We really liked Kamari. There's loads of tavernas and bars and they're not as pricey as everyone seems to make out. Our favourite was the Sirtaki where we had free wine but its not the only good one. The Marias was another we frequented. Though Kamari is reasonably big it's still laid back and the sort of place where you just like watching the world go by. The beach isn't the best on the island, to be honest its rubbish - sharp shingle and frequented by packs of dogs. The only decent patch was near Hook bar. The sea gets very deep very quickly too so its not much use for paddling. Then there's the planes what approach right over the resort, not really noisy as they are coming into land and you get used to them. Island buses are good if you don't fancy hiring a car. The island is not very big so a car hardly seems worth the money. You can get most places on the bus. The best thing I remember are the happy faces - everyone seemed very at ease, unpressured and at one with everything even for Greeks in general.
We stayed at Kamari and took a full-day boat tour of the caldera, including the sunset. Tickets were from Kamari Tours on the beach front. It was a great day out but if you go, take your own food or pay through the nose like we had to. We visited the volcano, hot springs and Thirassia. The boat was the King Thiras and, though very nice, it was also pretty crowded as they packed as many on as the could. Other holidaymakers told us to go with smaller firms as you get a better deal and it's more personal. We did tours with Hellenistic Island Cruises. The barbecue in White island was very good and another sunset cruise and buffet OK too - we are a sucker for Santorini sunsets. We preferred the smaller boats. We booked these through Olympic.
We visited Kamari. This is a lovely resort with lots of tavernas and bars and great for watching the world go by, sipping your cocktail. The island itself is fabulous with lots to see. If you intend going on the volcano take a decent pair of walking shoes. We loved this island and intend to return someday.
We were at the Hotel Armonia in Kamari last year. Highly recommend the place which is in a great spot very near the beach. There are about 30 rooms all kept nice and clean and owners friendly (compared to here anyway). Rooms had aircon and NO HIDDEN CHARGES also satellite TV, telephone and radio plus balcony. Only complaint was the shower which was tiny and water flooded the floor but it does that most places in Greece I suppose. Some of the kit was a bit old - fridge sounded like a lawnmower and plastic toilet seat had seen a lot of bums on it. But its not a luxury hotel so you get what you pay for. Shops and supermarket are about 100 yds away. We had a great time in Kamari. Lots of tavernas and bars to choose from and we didn't have a bad meal in two weeks and we must have eaten somewhere different every night. Wish we were there now.
Kamari Beach is a bog standard Greek hotel - which isn't putting it down just that its bog standard with aircon, TV, telephone etc. The rooms are good and nice balconies. The children will like the hotel better than the beach I expect. The beach is black sharp sand, sore on the feet so they'll need flip flops or sandals. The shoreline is very steep as well and the water gets deep suddenly so it's not ideal for youngsters. The are rocks under the water too.
The hotel though has a good swimming pool and a children's playground. Shops and restaurants are near the hotel so its fine to take them out at night. If they are keen on the internet there's free access at the Airion. Eating out is good - loads of restaurants all reasonably priced but for something extra try the Atmosphere above the Kamari Tours offices - expensive but very good. If I were you I'd enjoy the hotel and head for some of the other beaches on the island during the day. Bus transport seemed OK although we hired a car.
Just want to tell you we were in Santorini and there is nothing that even remotely resembles a beach below Oia at either Ammoudi or Armeni Beach. Just a lot of people with beach towels scratching their heads. And what an awful lot of steps to go down to find this out! It must be a big joke among the locals because there are numerous web sites that say that there are two small but beautiful beaches at the base of Oia. It was a bit of a red herring for us and several other people who took the time to make the trip. Went looking for pictures on the internet for these two beaches and could only find shots of boats in a harbour (which is exactly what we saw when were there).
Did find one shot in Ammoudi of a couple of people with beach towels spread out on a concrete slab about the size of a small driveway. Not anything, anyone in their right mind would consider a beach though. It was more like a boat dock. If you get different information or we missed anything I'd love to see real pictures of these beaches. My husband and I thought it was maybe the locals who owned the taverns way to attract people to a very out of the way spot.
Gina and Steve Isaacs
Oia is perhaps only good for a couple of days. More lively places are Thera, Perissa, Kamari. Most of what can been seen on Santorini can be seen in two days max, even using the Greek bus service. The beaches are rubbish. But Santorini is an excellent starting point to visit the western or eastern Cyclades islands.
We have visited Perrissa for five years and loved every minute. People expect to much from rural Greece - they expect five-star treatment. Our advice, mix with the locals get to know them and relax. We stayed at the Villa Limnes. It was wonderful, clean and friendly. We also frequented the Atlas Bar - also great. We are in our sixties and would go back tommorow if we could.
The beach at Perissa isn' t the best. However, what it does have is plenty of space and you don't have to step over bodies to get a spot. We recommend the beach in front of Yazz taverna, which has Aaron waiting on all your bar requirements. The use of the shaded sun loungers is free if you get drinks and food from Yazz and we didn' t have to get there ridiculously early to bag a sun lounger. The sea is warm and calm, ideal for a spot of snorkeling in between sunbathing, once you' ve negotiated the rocky shoreline. The beach vendors are not too pushy but flip flops are a must! The food in Yazz is also pretty good quality and value for what seems to be mostly authentic Santorini/Greek cuisine. The Atlantis Island restaurant, and Veggera Hotel restaurant, both also on the sea front, are decent enough quality and value, with friendly, helpful, unobtrusive staff.
Perissa isn't overly developed; I believe there is a local restriction limiting buildings to two storeys and to a particular style, mostly painted with the picturesque white with blue doors and shutters. It's not a 'bouncing ' resort, so there aren' t large groups of youths (male or female) drinking heavily and causing the associated problems. What would you make of a Greek restaurant that managed to mess up a Greek salad? The Charlina (also on Perissa seafront) managed this. After repeatedly getting the starters wrong they then followed by delivering our main courses with the wrong accompaniment. When we sent our plates back they were returned 15 minutes later but by now the fish was rubbery, burnt, cold and inedible. A surly manager told us to pay up or he'd get the police. A mutually agreeable bill was negotiated and we left to get take-away gyros to satisfy our hunger. Food, service, attitude and manners all very poor on this occasion. There is also the perennial European problem of other diners smoking. Even when dining al-fresco, this is awful.
Our accommodation for the week – The Spyridoula Apartments – has an excellent location a mere 10 minutes walk from the sea front which makes it pleasantly quiet. They are kept clean and tidy with friendly staff (although no English spoken). However, the rooms are too small for two adults, have very basic furnishings with a small, uncomfortable bed, a bathroom with fittings that fell apart and a toilet that blocked more than once. If it wasn't for the air conditioning it would have been intolerable. There is also little privacy as the balcony area is shared and room doors directly opposite. I suppose this is a chance you take with a late booking.
The main road through the town is very busy, with the usual scooters, motorbikes, quad bikes, cars and buses all trying to negotiate the narrow road. This makes the roadside restaurants and bars too noisy and petrol /diesel fume tainted to be completely enjoyable.
Overall - Perissa is pretty good for a week's worth of sunbathing and lazing around; though any future visits would be independent of a package tour operator. Any more than a week and you 'd have to hire a car or book a trip or two and make sure your accommodation was big enough . A good, relaxing holiday if all you are looking for is sun and sea in a cheerful resort with a pleasant Greek feel.
Keith and Bev Lockhart
We went last year with our daughter Sally 10 and she had a great time. The beach is pretty poor - sharp stones on the beach (you will need flipflops) and as Stephan says slimy smooth rocks underwater - ideal for slipping over on. We gave the beach a couple of tries then stuck to the pool which is small but clean and enjoyable. There were other children around too so they entertained each other though this isn't really a child place - more young couples. Its family run and everyone is very friendly. We went with Kosmar - dont know if you are - and found the reps very helpful.
Perissa's beach is black sand with slimy rocks in the water. There is some shelter from the northerly meltemi wind due to being in the lea of a mountain. As a place it's standard greek island small resort scruff, in recent years being built up from backpacker roots as direct charter flights to north europe made an appearance. There are marginally better beaches elsewhere on the island but they are exposed to the meltemi wind.
We have stayed at the Villa Roula in Perissa and we are in our fifties. Our room was clean and everything was lovely. Perissa looks a bit rough when you first see it but it grows on you. Plenty of places to eat. We took the water taxi to Kamari beach which is also lovely.