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The Tall Girl’s Essential Guide to Santorini, Greece

If you’re headed to the dreamy Greek island of Santorini or contemplating a journey there, this is my tried and true guide on how to do it well. And on a college graduate’s budget!

CONQUERING SANTORINI

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  • Getting there: Take the fast ferry. The slow ferry won’t be that much cheaper (if it is at all), and it’s 4 1/2 hours versus 10 hours on a boat. That should be enough said.

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    You won’t regret the fast ferry! You still get the gorgeous pictures over the water of passing islands.
  • Book your ferry ticket a couple weeks before your trip. Katelynn (my friend who I traveled with this leg of my journey) and I bought our tickets the day before. It probably cost us twice the amount it would have if we’d booked it sooner.
  • You can’t drink the tap water on Santorini because it’s salt water. So either bring a water bottle with the water purifier lid, or plan to buy the 6-pack of 1.5 liter water bottles for only 2 euro’s at a supermarket.
  • Be careful when doing the donkey ride in Fira or Oia! They pretend to not speak good English. At the top of the cliff path they’ll keep repeating, “5 euro! 5 euro!” to which we asked, “5 euro down and up??”. They only responded “5 euro! 5 euro! Pay now!” We wanted to experience the infamous Santorini donkey ride, so we forked over 5 euro’s to the precious little Greek man who kept repeating “Very nice”. Little did we know he would ask for 5 more euro’s at the bottom of that winding, steep cliff path. Cheap students that we are, we got off those donkeys and sweated as much as we weigh climbing back up that hill.
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But at least we got cool pictures out of it.

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  • Katelynn and I arrived Wednesday at noon and left Sunday at noon. This was more than enough time to see everything the island has to offer. You can base the length you spend there on how many relaxing beach days you want, but active days to see and do all the main things is 3 or 4 tops.
  • For one of the active days, do the volcano tour. It takes all day but is well worth the money.
  • For another one, you MUST rent an ATV or moped/motorcycle to really see the island! The public bus will only go from one main city to the next. With the independence of an ATV for only 20 euro’s per day (and Katelynn and I shared one, so it was only 10 each), you can get off the beaten track, walk less by going right where you want to be, and breathe in the pure sea wind as you fly through the gorgeous landscape.

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  • Take the ATV or moped up to the monastery in the center of the island for a great panoramic view of the entire island.
  • Beaches of Santorini:
    • Perissa Beach is on the southeast corner of the island, and where we ended up staying all 4 nights in a great hostel there. Keep in mind these aren’t sand beaches, but it’s actually nice because once you’re dry, the pebbles don’t stick to you and on everything like sand does.
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      • Kamari Beach is on the east side of the island, and we had a blast cliff jumping there. The small rocks get really hot to walk on during the day so be prepared with flip flops/water shoes, etc.
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        • Red Beach is on the south side of the island, and it’s clear from pictures where it gets its name. I thought the red rock cliff walls and tiny red rocks on the beach were breath-taking, but unfortunately, the beach area itself is very tiny and gets cramped with tourists, so don’t plan a full day excursion there.
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        • White Beach – we never got to the White Beach, so I can’t give a personal recommendation, but it’s just around the corner from the Red Beach, and we heard it was beautiful as well.
  • Fira is the capital of Santorini, and it definitely holds a little more bustle compared to the stillness of the island and other towns. This is your best bet for nightlife in Santorini, if that’s what you’re looking for.
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  • My highest recommendation goes to the Town Club in Fira.

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    Note our friends in the back who work at Town Club and photobombed the picture. 😛
  • Oia (pronounced Ee-ah and Oy-ah; even the Greeks say both, which confused us even more) met all my expectations with its white terracotta, close-set buildings with bright blue doors, windows, and gates. It was a fairytale town. I was able to spend my birthday afternoon and evening there for a drink and amazing sunset view.

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  • Liogerma Café boasts a pool in the center of the outdoor restaurant, where you can sip a cocktail, gaze at the sunset, all while wading in the water. It was definitely a special birthday evening in Oia!
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    When you see the windmill, you’re headed in the right direction!
  • Katelynn and I realized very quickly that Santorini is more of a romantic getaway island than anything else. I’d recommend it for a honeymoon or a couple’s holiday. We made it fun for ourselves by meeting cool people in our hostel, going out at night with them a couple times, cliff jumping, and of course ATV-ing around.

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    Katelynn and I at Kamari Beach!

I suppose my final word on this is that anyone can enjoy themselves on Santorini island! It’s paradise, but know what you’re looking for in a Greek island getaway first. I know my next Greek island stops would be Mykonos, Crete, and Corfu!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

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