Santorini: Is it worth the hype?

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Santorini in on the travel bucket list for many people and an easy day trip from Crete.

Ah, the blues of Santorini! Talk to any avid traveller and they will say this small Greek Island in the Agean sea is on their bucket list to visit.

It certainly was on mine! I first visited when I was just out of Uni and on a summer Interrail trip across Europe. I spent two weeks on Santorini and absolutely loved it (even though I got in a moped accident and had to visit the hospital). I travelled with my good friend Dana – the one I still visit each year in Austin – and we stayed in the southern part of the Island near the black pebbled beaches.

This year I had another opportunity to visit Santorini as a day trip from Crete. Santorini is only a 2-hour journey via the high-speed ferry from Heraklion. It’s a highly publicised excursion option (ours was organised through and paid for by Olympic Holidays). So my oldest daughter and I packed our cameras ready for the adventure!

 

 

Santorini is only 2 hours via high speed ferry from Heraklion, Crete.

 

Watch our video!

 

 

The day started very early, leaving our hotel Filion Suites at 7.45 am to transfer via mini van to the port of Heraklion. There we met our tour organiser to pick up our tickets and we boarded the Hellenic Seaways Highspeed 7 ferry to Santorini. We hadn’t realised that there was assigned seating – so we just grabbed a seat – to be soon realise we were sitting in someone else’s seat! Not to worry though as our tickets were for the VIP seating area upstairs, which was very nice.

We ordered coffee and warm croissants for breakfast and enjoyed the short ride. Our seats had powerpoints for charging which was very useful. I was a bit worried about getting seasick – the forecast was for gusty winds – but we were high up and felt fine. There was plenty of time to look out the window and enjoy the Agean Sea!

 

My 15-year-old daughter and I ordered coffee and warm croissants for breakfast and enjoyed the short ride to Santorini.

 

Camera at the ready: There was plenty of time to look out the window and enjoy the Agean Sea!

 

At the port in Santorini.

 

My 15-year-old’s perspective

I went on a day trip to Santorini with my mum and it was very exciting and fun! We had an early start followed by a 2-hour ferry trip to the island. On the way we got to see Crete from a different view – from the sea. Once we arrived at Santorini we got onto a tour bus, which took us to Oia. It is a town made up of endless white houses that overlook the blue sea – just like you see in all the magazines. There were lots of people there taking photos (including us!) and it was very crowded and everything was very expensive. We then went to the capitol Thira which was good for shopping at affordable prices (I bought my friends some bracelets). Our final stop was a black sand beach, where we could swim. Overall the trip was a great experience and I really enjoyed visiting the beautiful island.

 

Watching our ship leave Santorini to it’s next destination. After getting off the ferry, we were picked up by a tour bus for English and German speakers.

 

First stop: The gorgeous city of Oia!

 

After getting off the ferry with lots and lots of people, we found our tour bus which was a combination of English and German speakers. It took a little while to find our bus because there were so many there waiting to pick up the day trippers!

Safely ensconced in our air-conditioned bus, we set off to explore Santorini. The itinerary’s first stop was Oia, the postcard-perfect small town high on the cliffs. The bus stopped at the carpark with about 30 other tour busses and our guide led us to a high point in the village and gave us 1 hour 15 minutes to explore.  We walked down the little lanes and took photos. My 15-year-old was amazed at how many people were there – it was the height of summer and it was very crowded (much more than I remember it being 20 years ago). There were lots of young girls, dressed up, with selfie sticks. Still, Oia did not disappoint and we got our photos! 

 

There are numerous spots in Oia to take gorgeous photos.

 

Oia: Smile for the camera!

 

Oia: It’s challenging to get photographs without the crowds in them!

 

Oia is as gorgeous as I remembered it 20 years ago … just slightly more crowded.

 

There are so many places to take photos in Oia!

 

The teen photographer: Smile for mum!

 

Everything in Oia is blue and white!

 

Little alleys ways and stair cases lead to hidden viewing points, shops, restaurants and cafes.

 

Shopping: Lots of gorgeous things to buy, though it was pricey! (I bought the blue ceramic necklace on the bottom right).

 

We only had 1 hour and 15 minutes in Oia, and our goal was to take as many photos as possible. So instead of relaxing in a cafe, we bought and ice cream and ate it as we walked along.

 

Our next stop was the capitol Fira. Again, we were dropped off in a coach car park and walked into the centre of the town. This is where I had major deja vu! The meeting spot was the old Health Care Centre (old as in it was closed and abandoned). It was the same hospital I visited after my moped accident 20 years ago. So I peeked in the window and it looked the same.

Fira was all about shopping, as it was more affordable than Oia. We stopped at a kebab shop and got a chicken souvlaki that was very yummy (and only 2 Euros). That was more like the Greece I remember. We also picked up several souvenirs for family and friends. Having only 90 minutes, it does feel a bit rushed, but we made it in time to meet by the “old” health care centre and go back to the bus.

 

The old Health Care Centre in Fira (old as in it was closed and abandoned). It was the same hospital I visited after my moped accident 20 years ago. I peeked in the window and it looked the same!

 

My daughter bought this bracelet in Fira, it was 1.50 Euros!

 

We stopped at a kebab shop and got a chicken souvlaki that was very yummy (and only 2 Euros).

 

Our last stop: The black pebbled Kamari beach. We stopped here for 90 minutes at an outdoor cafe, used the beach chairs and umbrellas, and could swim, having a relaxing lunch or walk around. I’m fairly certain this was the ton where I stayed 20 years ago.

 

Our last stop: The black pebbled Kamari beach

 

We stopped here for 90 minutes at an outdoor cafe, used the beach chairs and umbrellas, and could swim, having a relaxing lunch or walk around

 

So is Santorini with all the hype? It depends. If you have never been there before you really do have to see it. My suggestions? Visit out of season and I’m sure it will surpass your expectations!

 

The teen photographer!

 

 

 

IF YOU GO:

Olympic Holidays For bookings call 0208 492 6868 or visit www.olympicholidays.com.

 

 

Disclosure: My trip to Crete was provided by Olympic Holidays for the basis of this review. All opinions are my own.

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15 Comments

  1. 16/01/2018 / 02:14

    Instagram Capital! LoL! Couldn’t agree more! Even a bad camera takes good pictures! We went there with my folks last year in the month of May and boy it was jam-packed! So you guys are some of the tourists that came from those cruise ships?! LoL. Santorini is a bit pricey but if you stay away from the “sunset” restaurants, you can actually find not cheap but reasonably priced restaurants. The beach looks lovely with its black sands! I envy you guys! Great blog!

  2. 11/01/2018 / 10:48

    Santorini looks amazing. I can’t get over how blue the sea and sky look contrasted with the white buildings.
    Emma recently posted…Science Sparks BookMy Profile

  3. 09/01/2018 / 16:25

    So glad I just found this review. I have been dreaming about Santorini! I was wondering if you know if you can fly direct?

  4. 09/01/2018 / 10:33

    Have been wondering this myself! How strange to return, especially after an accident. But lovely to do so with your daughter – love the video you made together!

  5. 09/01/2018 / 09:27

    this is very high up on my list of places to do and it looks faublous – thse blue skies! Very envious/

  6. 09/01/2018 / 08:30

    We loved santorini the trick is finding a spot away from the crowds to get all those lovely photos which you are right is a challenge

  7. 08/01/2018 / 22:14

    Oh this is great to read Susanna. It’s definitely on my bucket list, and your pictures make it look just as beautiful as I’d imagined. Would it be best to spend more time there if possible and stay for an entire holiday? I’m not the best day tripper when I’m trying to relax I have to say!

  8. 08/01/2018 / 22:02

    I’ve never been to Santorini but have heard the experience is very different to what you see in the magazines. I’d still like to go! Good tip about the shops being cheaper in Fira. I love the jewellery you both picked up.
    Claire at Tin Box Traveller recently posted…Monday Escapes 08/01/18My Profile

  9. 08/01/2018 / 20:50

    I love this! I really would like to take my daughter with me to places I have visited when she is older. I think an out of high season visit would be the way to go for a Santorini visit as there are only so many selfie sticks one person can take!

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