7 Tips for Traveling to Athens and Santorini
Happy October, everyone! How is the year almost over?
I got back from Greece a few weeks ago on vacation and had the best time! I wanted to write this blog post for you all to share my favorite moments, pictures, and tips (see the bottom of this post). So how did I decided on Greece? My boyfriend and I had a short list of places we wanted to visit starting with Bali. However, we didn’t feel like the flight to Bali so Greece was next on the list. We wanted something both fun and relaxing which is how we decided on Athens and Santorini. Athens was amazing because we got to see the capital of Greece with landmarks like the Acropolis and experience Grecian city life.
While we were there we had “Dinner in the Sky”, which is an amazing dining experience from 150 feet in the air. This was a five course meal with great food, people, and even better views. We arrived right before sunset so we got to experience the incredible day to night views.
We also toured the city and found a huge outdoor market called Monastiraki Square, hiked up to the Acropolis, and shopped. If you’re considering a trip to Greece, Athens in a city you must visit!
On Day three we boarded a plane to Santorini where our luggage was lost for several hours but the breath taking views made us forget all about that. Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands and probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. For some context, it takes about an hour to ride around the entire island and it consists of two main towns, Fira and Oia. We spent most of our time in Fira where most of the shopping, bars, and restaurants were. We got around by ATV’s and taxis, but of course the ATV’s were a highlight of the trip. There’s not a cloud in site nor a rainy day in Greece which makes for perfect ATV riding.
We enjoyed our time at the black beach, relaxing and watching people jump off cliffs. We had a day cruising around the island on a boat enjoying three of the beaches and amazing views of the whitewashed cubiform houses throughout the towns.
What I enjoyed most about Santorini was how the island forced us to slow down. The difference between The United States and Europe is that everyone is in a hurry here. We’re always trying to get from point A to point B as quickly as we can and most of the time don’t even realize that we can afford to take our time. While shopping in Santorini on our last night the plan was to shop for souvenirs and head back to the hotel to pack. While on this mission we stopped to use the restroom at a restaurant nearby. We struck up a conversation with the owner and ended up staying to enjoy a drink and the view. It was amazing how as much as we were in a hurry, the island just slowed us down.
Overall one of the best parts about the trip was the people we met along the way. There were many nights of unexpected friendships and conversations that I’ll never forget. For me this is one of the reasons I love to travel. I do my best to try to not be attached to my phone and social media and take in what’s in front of me. So if there’s somewhere you’ve been wanting to visit, put actions towards making it happen.
With that, I've compiled my list of top seven tips if you're thinking about traveling to Athens or Santorini. Have you been to either or other parts of Greece? Let me know you're experience below!
- Avoid peak season
Our time in Greece was great in September as there was a good amount of people but not too many to where we couldn't enjoy ourselves.. We only waited to eat at one restaurant (one of the more popular ones on the island) the entire time we were there, and had no issues booking excursions. A waiter told us that if we had come a month prior there would have been longer restaurant waits and overall more people. After asking a few locals about the best time to travel, they suggested April/May and September/October.
- Move around various islands
There’s so much to do and see in Greece so make sure your trip includes you visiting different islands, not just one. We stayed in Athens for two days and Santorini for five. If we had a few more days we would have included Mykonos as well.
- Try not to be in a rush
Much of European culture is very laid back and very different from culture here in the states. Airport attendants in Greece did not even care that we were in a hurry to make our next flight and making sure we were on it. So as hard as it might be, try to live in the laid back lifestyle of the Greeks while you’re there… It’s a nice break.
- Don’t count on getting directions
Greeks give directions like your cousins from down south. “Go up to the hill and make a left at the sign, then walk down til you see four trees in the middle of the road.” What? If you can, make sure your cell phones will work in Greece because Google Maps is a life saver.
- Take advantage of the hotel staff and tours
With there being so much to do and see, rely on your hotel staff for excursion recommendations, foods you might be interested in trying and even things like how much an average cab ride should cost. Sidenote: the cab fare advice is real and they will try to get you so make sure you have a ballpark range of how much it should cost to get around the islands.
- Various transportation methods
In Athens we relied on our tour bus and cabs for transportation which worked out pretty well. There’s also a bus and train system as an option too. In Santorini we rented ATV’s for the day and took cabs. A cab ride from our hotel into the main town of Fira was about 10 euros. ATV’s were 40 euros per day.
- Come prepared with your own instant noodles and snacks
I’m not gonna lie and say I thoroughly enjoyed the food in Greece because I did not! There were too many meals with no seasoning and meals that just did not fill me up. Salads consist of tomato, cucumber, onion and olive oil as dressing. Chicken, lamb and pork are very popular in Greece, however the meals I had just did not do it for me.
With that, I would no be doing a service to you all if I did not suggest that you bring perishable items like chips, cookies, easy mac, oodles and noodles, etc. if thats your thing.