I recently took a holiday to Crete and whilst there the opportunity arose to take a trip to Santorini. Prior to going, everything I knew about Santorini was from Instagram. I’m sure you have all seen the pictures, with the white buildings overlooking the sea. What’s not to love? Surely it’s every bloggers dream to take a trip to Santorini and get those pictures for the gram?
Santorini-What they don’t tell you!
1- Santorini is not just white houses
We arrived by boat, and the first thing that we saw was a steep cliff that seemed to go on forever. Looking at the cliff, you could just make out tour coaches, slowly winding their way up the cliff to the top.
I had no idea that soon, I too would also be on one of those coaches going up a cliff! Needless to say, this was not what I had hoped my introduction to the island would be. I can honestly say I have never been so frightened. The roads on the cliff are extremely narrow, and so it doesn’t make for the comfiest or safest of rides.
The only thing that kept me going is that once we reached the top, I would get the views I had been waiting for, that sea of white houses. Wrong!
Having been on the coach trip from hell, (for what felt like forever) the top of the cliff just revealed land, with a scarce house or two, which was not white.
To be honest, I am grateful we were on a coach, as I understand (depending on where you arrive in Santorini), the mode of transport to the top can often be a donkey! After about 30 minutes on the coach we eventually arrived in Oia which is one of the towns in Santorini.
2- There are a lot of tourists (and I mean lots)
Oia and Thira (which is the capital), are the main places that people visit, as these are the places which have the white washed houses and restaurants overlooking the sea. (There may be more, however these are the only places we went to). Although we were prepared to encounter tourists, the actual scale of tourism was quite surprising. Why you may ask?
In all the pictures I have ever seen of Santorini, I have yet to see one that shows packed walk ways, or hundreds of people with their camera’s taking pictures; however this is what we encountered (and it was only the start of the season).
In order to take a picture, it felt like a military operation, as every 2 seconds someone was walking past. If you are from London, and know about Oxford Circus at Christmas time, then you will have a good idea of what I mean.
3- Be prepared to walk (lots)
If you are not a fan of walking, then Santorini is not the place for you. In order to actually get to Oia or Thira and be in the midst of the white washed buildings you have to walk up steep steps, and then more steps and then more…hope you get the picture.
Once in the towns, if you want to take a picture amongst the buildings or (as bloggers like to do, in front of doors), you then have to walk down cobbled stairs, to likely go up again before you go down.
It may not sound so bad, but in the heat with people pushing past you, it then becomes a different story.
4- Beware of heights
If you suffer from vertigo, then Santorini will test you. Especially whist strolling through the town’s. Santorini is a place full of slopes, meaning to get anywhere particularly in Oia and Theria you are walking up. For me it wasn’t a problem. However it did make me think about those who are not fond of heights, as to get those views you have to go high!
5- There is no need to stay more than a day or two
I have always wanted to book a trip to Santorini and stay for a week to 10 days. Having now visited, I know that this amount of time is not necessary. Trust me when I say, you can see all there is in a day, but if you want to take in things at a slower pace then two days is sufficient.
Oia and Theria have lots of quaint shops and lots of lovely restaurants and hotels. Aside from this however, there is nothing really to do. There is a beach with black volcanic sand, however that is about 15-20 minutes away from the town. If you want a holiday taking pictures, where you do the same thing everyday, a few days stay is sufficient.
I know it may seem that I am not painting Santorini in a positive light. However I think it’s important that my review is honest.
There is no doubt that Oia and Theria are beautiful. When you eventually find a space to take in the views, it is absolutely stunning. However I do feel that the Instagram image of Santorini does not paint a true picture.
Would I go back, I think so but at least next time I know what to expect.
Until next time xoxo