Ah, Santorini. The Greek island most notable for its white buildings, blue dome roofs, crystal waters, and blue skies. It didn’t take long for Shreya and I to quickly book a trip to Greece in October (off season = less crowds!), which included a visit to this picturesque island. While we were only able to spend a few days in Santorini, we felt like we were able to cross a few things off our must-do list!
1. Watch the Sunset in Oia
The sunsets in the famous village of Oia are legendary for a reason. As the sun comes down it casts a beautiful dreamy glow across the island. It’s no wonder that tourists literally rush to find a good vantage point. No matter what time of the year you go, we advise that you stake out a good spot to watch at least 30-45 minutes before the sun is scheduled to set (tip: check Google). While we didn’t do this (we lost track of time!), we followed the crowds and managed to squeeze our way to find a good spot at the last minute. However, careful planning will ensure that you have a fantastic view!
2. Hike from Oia to Fira
When Shreya and I travel we tend to look up hiking trails wherever possible! It’s something we have always enjoyed to do because it allows us to get in some exercise while experiencing views that many tourists don’t often get to see. Santorini was no different and we embarked on the approximately 6 mile hike from Oia to Fira (note: you can also do this hike from Fira to Oia). The hike consists mainly of paved trails, such as the first picture above, and is mostly a flat walk with some variations in incline. However, a word of caution that about halfway through there are steeper inclines (or decline if you are coming from Fira) that are not paved and can be tricky to climb. In total, the hike should take between 2-4 hours depending on how fast you walk and how many stops you take. We were with a small group, made frequent photo stops, and walked at an average pace. In total, it took us about 3 hours to complete the hike (tip: use Google Maps to navigate). There are no shops or restrooms along the hike, so to maximize your comfort we suggest you dress in removable layers (it gets really hot, even in the fall!), pack a light bag with water and snacks, and wear comfortable walking or hiking shoes.
3. Santo Winery
If you’re looking for a serene place to sip wine and marvel at beautiful views of the island, we highly suggest you visit Santo Wines in Fira! We headed to Santo Wines after we hiked from Oia and treated our group to a wine tasting and cheese plate. While there are other wineries in Fira, we chose Santo Wines because it was highly rated for its amazing Greek wines and the spectacular views. It was the perfect end to our Oia to Fira adventure! For those who want a ride back from Fira, there are plenty of cabs waiting outside which we gladly took back to our hotel in Oia 🙂
4. Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay is a charming port town in Oia with sparkling turquoise waters, red cliffs, and stunning views of the caldera. It’s also filled with cute tavernas that serve the freshest seafood and absolutely amazing wines. While there are also several spots to go swimming, we opted out because the water was too chilly for us in October. Even so, the views and the dining experience alone were worth the steep steps to the bay!
5. Oia Sunset Cruise
We were looking for a relaxing evening activity away from the crowds and decided to take our chances with a sunset cruise on a luxury yacht in Oia. We didn’t originally plan to do a cruise, but we stumbled upon an excursion office and decided to sign up. The cruise served water, wine, food, and stopped at several points where Shreya and others in our tour group decided to brave the cold waters for a quick dip. While the cruise was a little pricey, we enjoyed the experience and the unique way to view the sunset away from the other tourists. If you’re interested in a similar activity we recommend looking up different companies because they all vary in price and activities.
6. Find the Famous Three Blue Domes
Finally, at some point during your visit to to Santorini, you must find the three blue domes! These iconic blue domes are in the background of many Santorini photos and make for a stunning backdrop. During our visit we saw many people taking turns taking photos near the domes, so be prepared to find them early or you may have to wait your turn. Just a note of caution, be careful not to trespass across any residential areas or you may be yelled at by the locals!
If you’ve been to Santorini and have some other tips or suggestions, please feel free to let us know in the comments below 🙂
-Tina and Shreya