3 Days in Santorini: Where to Stay & What to Do (Plus my Travel Tips for the Greek Island)
Santorini was an absolute dream, and I often envision myself back on that small Greek island in the middle of the Aegean Sea. The island was everything I expected it to be and it was exactly how I imagined it: blue roofs, beautiful beaches, delicious food, perfect weather, charming stone streets, scenic views, etc. We caught an early plane into Santorini after our stay in Athens and spent three days and three nights there. We did a fairly equal amount of exploring and relaxing over the course of our time on the island, and it was so incredibly difficult to leave! Keep reading to see where we stayed (on a budget), what we did, and some of my tips for anyone traveling to the beautiful Greek island of Santorini!
Where we stayed:
Since this was only one of our stops during our three week European Adventure, and we were traveling on a bit of a budget, we stayed in Kamari - as opposed to the more expensive cities: Oia or Thira. The hotel our travel agent found for us was perfect though! Castro Hotel, a family-run inn, was equipped with a delicious *free* breakfast, a gorgeous outdoor pool with a bar, and it was only a five minute walk from the famous Kamari Beach.
What we did:
Since our hotel was only about 500 meters from Kamari Beach, much of our “relaxation time” was spent on the black-rock shore. Much like many of the touristy cities in Greece, the streets along the beach were filled with shops and restaurants serving delicious seafood and other Greek cuisine. We wandered the main street that ran parallel to the beach, stopping and spending a few hours at different restaurants to eat and buy drinks to sip on while we sat on lounge chairs on the shore. I also think I became pretty good friends with the local cats that roam the beach by giving them water and leftovers from meals.
When we weren’t relaxing by our hotel pool or on the shore of Kamari Beach, we were exploring the other well known cities of Santorini - one of them being Thira (or “Fira” - depending on how you want to spell it). On our first full day on the island, we got up, ate a big breakfast at our hotel, and then boarded the bus to explore the island. There are really only two ways to get around Santorini: by bus or by renting a moped/atv. Since the bus was super cheap and probably the safer option, that’s what we chose to do. (If we would have been staying in Santorini longer, perhaps I would have gone with renting one of the alternative modes of transportation.) The first stop we got off of the bus at was Thira, the capital of Santorini. Once we got to Thira, we wasted no time before strolling through the winding streets, stopping in various book stores, souvenir shops, and cafes.
Venture to Oia for an unforgettable Sunset:
The other city on our “must-see” list for Santorini was Oia, and we actually went there the same day we went to Thira. Since we knew we wanted to be in Oia for sunset, we departed for the city in the afternoon. After strolling through the streets a bit and stopping to eat some delicious seafood, we staked out our spot to watch the sunset. The view definitely did not disappoint! If you’re ever on Santorini, you can’t skip out on a trip to Oia. It’s the city that’s famous for the blue roofs, and I was so excited to see those in person. The sunset was an added bonus that you just HAVE to see for yourself in person!
Foods (and Drinks) to Try on the Island:
Calamari (or any seafood dish!)
Tzatziki and Pita
Frozen Greek Yogurt
Wine & Sangria
My Santorini Travel Tips:
1. Take the bus! As I mentioned briefly above, if you want to hop around from city to city on the island, you have two methods of transportation to get around: rent your own moped/atv, or catch the public (air conditioned!) city coach bus. The bus is super cheap and you can get anywhere - including the airport - on it.
2. Be prepared to negotiate with cab drivers. Beside renting your own mode of transportation or riding the bus, there are cabs you can flag down around the island. We ended up catching a cab from the airport to our hotel after we first landed, but we definitely got scammed on it. Practice your negotiation skills, and try to set the cab fair that you think is appropriate for the distance your driver is taking you.
3. Stay outside of Oia or Fira. Before getting to Santorini, I was a little worried I would be disappointed that we weren’t staying the Oia. I can confidently say that if I was to do this trip all over again, I’d definitely do what we did: stay in one of the smaller cities. It was nice to be a little more secluded, but still be close to a beach with beautiful views.
4. Carry euros on you. I mentioned this is my post about my stay in Athens, and it’s also true for Santorini. I rarely swiped my card while I was on the island. Cash was super convenient to use, and some places - including the public transportation - required it. If you don’t have cash when you arrive on the island, hit up the atm in the airport like I did (I’d take out at least 100-200 euros.)
5. Stake out a spot for the Oia sunset early. One of my favorite and longest-lasting memories from our European Adventure was watching the sunset in Oia, Santorini. We had the most perfect view of it (we were in the spot where all the famous picture of it are taken from), but we had to but in the time to get that spot. We had looked up the time of sunset earlier in the day, and we ended up staking out our spot for it bout two hours early. The entire lookout area gets PACKED, so I suggest doing what we did and arrive for it plenty early! If you can, I’d even try to reserve a table at one of the restaurants with a view so you can enjoy “dinner and a show.”
6. Get to the airport SUPER early. I am 100% not exaggerating when I say that the airport on Santorini is the smallest I’ve ever seen. My travel partner and I opted to fly from Athens instead of taking the ferry like a lot of people do (both were fairly the same price, but flying was faster and we were afraid of getting seasick). But our flights into Santorini and out of Santorini were both delayed because of how small their airport is and how long check-in and security takes to get through. We waited in line for over an hour to check into our flight - just plan ahead and give yourself plenty of time!
7. Eat all your food or have leftovers boxed up for you to take with you. I learned from one of the local restaurant servers (after getting a very disappointed look from her when she saw my leftover moussaka) that Greeks find it almost rude or offensive when you don’t eat all of the food you are given. Now I can honestly say that I didn’t try anything in Greece that I didn’t like, but the servings of food they give you are huge! And with the amount of eating I was doing there, I had a couple meals that I just couldn’t finish. If you find that you can’t finish your meal, ask the server to box it up for you so you don’t offend the restaurant owner. (Even if you end up throwing it away later. But I would suggest feeding it to the stray cats and dogs like we did… shhhh! Don’t tell!)
As you probably gathered, Santorini was incredible, and I would go back in a heartbeat! I think next time I'll be doing a little "island hopping" to Mykonos, Crete, and Paros as well!
As always, thanks for reading!