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How To Spend A Week In Santorini

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Even when we arrived at Manchester airport, we pinched each other to make sure we were really there. We booked this trip way back in 2019 and had it cancelled and re-arranged in 2020. But here we are, and we have lots to share with you. We have had plenty of time to prepare for this trip, let’s face it. It feels so good to be traveling again. So, just how did we spend a week in Santorini? Read on.

Preparing For Travel

Greece has been on the amber travel list for sometime now. And when we got the go ahead that we could finally go, we then had to prepare everything. First up, ordering our Covid tests. Because we booked this as a package with TUI, we already knew where to buy our tests.

They recommended us a company called Chronomics, in which we received a small discount by ordering through them. The package cost £50 each and this included two lateral flow tests to do before our departure back into England, two PCR tests for our day two arrival, and two PCR tests for our day eight arrival back in England.

Filling In Important Forms

Before travel we also made sure we booked insurance that included ‘Covid cover‘. This would cover us from Covid-19 related disruptions and any overseas medical costs, travel and accommodation expenses. We also had to fill in some forms. To travel to Greece, you must fill in the Greek PLF (Passenger Locator Form). You must also have proof of two Covid vaccines. You must have had your second vaccine at least 14 days before travel to Greece. They would also accept proof of a negative PCR test at least 72 hours before arriving in Greece.*

At the airport, you must present your Covid vaccine certificates and all forms when you check-in. You can print them or shown on a mobile device. You must then do this again when you return to England. All Covid vaccine certificates must be available to show too. You must fill in your UK Government PLF at least 72 hours before your return, and this time you must also present proof of a negative Covid test.*

* this was our experience of testing / quarantine rules at the time we travelled (September 2021), please always check current Government guidelines.

Santorini, Here We Come

After our four-hour journey, we landed in Santorini. You must wear face coverings inside all buildings, and on all public transport options when in the country.

Getting through check-in ok, we were finally on our way to our hotel. The Greek authorities at the airport were great, quick and efficient with all our documents and security checks.

We noticed that when we were going through passport control, the Greek authorities only pulled out one person from our flight to do a random Covid-19 test on.

Arriving at Casa Florina in Imerovigli, our host greeted us with big a big smile. It was around 9pm and we were starving. After a brief tour of our accommodation and our room, we headed out for food. Once again, we knew exactly where we would go and what we would eat.

Lets Eat‘ is a small takeout/restaurant that serves incredible souvlaki and gyros. Tummies full, we had a little nosey around the centre of town, ready to explore fully the next day.

Skaros Rock

We woke the next morning eager to explore Santorini and to see the view out over the caldera, in daylight, for the first time. Wow. You see everyone else’s photographs online and you know how beautiful it is, but seeing it firsthand is something else.

Skaros Rock was a short walk from our hotel. We basically overlook it. Backpacks packed, cameras ready, we headed out. Once you reach the outer edge of the rock, the first thing you see is a sign warning you not to trespass and telling you how dangerous it is to climb. Although the walk is hilly and very rocky, there is a defined path to walk on. At some points, you wait for people to pass and vice versa.

The Castle

The rock used to be home to Skaros Castle, an old Venetian fortress, and you can still see some evidence of this. Because of volcanic activity and several large earthquakes, its residents soon moved, and the castle fell into ruin.

Below the rock formation, there is a small chapel, again easily accessible via a small trek. The Mother of Lord Theoskepasti Holy Orthodox Church sits proudly overlooking the caldera.

Saint John the Beheaded or Katiforis Holy Orthodox Chapel sits at the top of the rock before you head off on your trek and is also great for a few photographs.

The Historic Capital of Fira

Today was Jason’s birthday, and what a great way to spend it, here, in Santorini, we had a busy day planned.

Fira is the capital of Santorini. After we had explored Skaros, we set off on a walk to Fira. Approximately 30 to 40 minutes from Imerovigli. There are two ways you can walk to and from Fira. The road way, which takes you round the back or the caldera walk itself.

On this occasion, being our first time in Fira, we chose the usual walk along the caldera’s edge for amazing views out over the Aegean Sea and walks through its famous whitewashed buildings, comprising many shops and fancy boutique hotels.

The weather during our trip was great, and we had temperatures of over 30F daily, not bad for the end of September. During the height of Summer, Fira is bustling with tourists as this is also where the many cruise ships dock at the Old Port. However, during our stay, the island was fairly quiet.

Beautiful Views Across The Aegean Sea

To get to the Old Port, use the cable cars. Please don’t ride the donkeys. There are many areas in Santorini where the option of riding a donkey up and down the cliff side is available. We aren’t fans of this. Santorini can be hard work, be prepared for slopes, hundreds of steps, strenuous climbs and very steep pathways. We will talk more about the donkeys below.

Winding through the backstreets of Fira, we ended up visiting one or two churches, a handful of giftshops and found ourself down in the more toursity part of town. Here, you will find dozens of bars, restaurants and many takeaway places. This is where we would eat yet another souvlaki. We knew we wanted to visit the famous ‘Lucky’s Souvlakis’ but it was extremely busy and we were so hungry after all the walking, so instead we settled for somewhere else. It did not disappoint.

After food, we took a slow walk back to our hotel to freshen up and get ready for the night ahead.

Our First Santorini Sunset

Before we went out to celebrate Jason’s birthday, of course, we had to see our first Santorini sunset. We didn’t have to go far either. With a glass of wine and some nibbles, we made our way to the hotel’s sun terrace. No crowds, no noise, just our own private viewing area. Perfect.

We have all seen the photos. We all know how unbelievably beautiful this sunset view is. Being here, seeing it firsthand, we can confirm it is true. It is incredible.

As the sun made its way lower in the Greek sky, the island of Thirassia became a silhouette in the distance. A cruise ship appeared from the left-hand side, sailing from the old port to its next destination. I had an idea in mind for a photograph, and just waited for the ship to sail further into view. What do you think?

After viewing the sunset, we made our way into Imerovigli to enjoy a lovely meal at Four Seasons restaurant. We really enjoyed our first day, and we couldn’t wait to start day two.

Spend a week in Santorini and watch sunsets like this.
Sailing off into the sunset from Santorini.

Our Five Mile Trek Into Oia

We knew that when we visited Santorini; we were going to visit Oia. A town famously busy with its sunset views, shopping and more boutique hotels. The morning we were planning our visit, we were all set on walking into the town of Fira and then taking the bus. However, during breakfast, we discovered you could walk it via a coastal route that started seconds away from our hotel.

So, here starts our five-mile trek into the town of Oia. We made sure we had plenty of sun cream and water for this walk, as the weather was still hot for the end of September. Also, make sure you wear comfy trainers if you attempt this walk. The views were very impressive. Scattered along the way were several small churches again, in the traditional blue and white style.

Many parts of this walk were easy. Some straightforward paths to navigate. There were a handful of sections that required a little extra work.

Beautiful Scenic Views

Further along the walk, we passed a string of donkeys available to hire to take you the rest of the way into Oia. Again, please do not use them. If you don’t feel you can trek these five-miles, get the bus. It is still a cheap option.

As we said earlier, it was a hot day. There was a pleasant breeze blowing, which kept us nice and cool. We were so glad we chose this option rather than getting the bus. Consider it if you get the chance.

At the end of our walk, we also found a beautiful little cemetery. The smell of paraffin lamps filled the air, as just about every marble tomb had a small lamp or candle lit at the foot.

We always seem to end up in cemeteries when we travel, either on purpose or accidentally. We always try to hunt one down if possible. Do you like to visit cemeteries when you travel?

Reaching Oia

Once we reached Oia, we did a little shopping and grabbed a bite to eat before exploring further. If you get the chance, try the traditional tomato fritters when in Santorini. Delicious. While we are discussing food, you absolutely must visit Fourni bakery, just on the corner near the coach stop. Possibly the best baklava and honey cakes on the island.

While in Oia, we visited the old windmills that are over on the North side of town and the remains of the Castle of Agios Nikolaos. A Venetian castle dating back to the 15th century. Used to defend the island from pirates. Several earthquakes soon put pay to the castle, and a large earthquake in 1956 soon destroyed much of what was left.

The castle is an incredibly popular spot to watch the sunset from. We didn’t stay for the sunset here like most people do. We had our own perfect, quiet place to view it.

You can also enjoy full day private island tours that include Oia. These come with an experienced guide if you are looking for a more focused and educational trip.

Amoudi Bay

There are 278 steps down to Amoudi Bay. It is a small fishing village and port known famously for its seafood restaurants. It’s a pleasant walk down to the bay, but be careful where you stand. The steps are strewn with donkey poo, both old and new. It can be quite breezy too, so the dried poo can blow everywhere. Nice.

Once again though, if you have read the rest of the blog, 278 steps down means the same back up, and this is another one of those times when you are going to be presented with a donkey to help you on your way. These donkeys are out in the sun all day, with little water. I understand people need to earn a living offering these brief trips, but for us, it’s cruel. There is a back road down to the bay, so maybe look at the possibility of going that way instead. It may still be steep, but the lack of steps might be a better option.

The Perfect Little Fishing Village

Once you are down at the bottom, you will be hit with the smell of delicious seafood being cooked and prepared. That mixed with the smell of the salty air and the sound of the waves lapping the shore makes it worth the hike down. You will see octopus and other sea creatures being hung out to dry in the warm sun, ready to be served up in the traditional style.

After our five-mile trek into Oia, all the walking round we did, then the 556 steps to visit Amoudi Bay, we got the bus back down into Fira. This only cost €1.80 each.

Nea Kameni Volcano & Thirassia

We booked this trip over to the volcano and the island of Thirassia when booking our Santorini trip. It was a great day full of wonderful things to see. The tour company picked us up from our pre-arranged location, the primary bus stop in Imerovigli, around 7.30am. They took us to Athinios Port where we would board our boat that would be our transportation for the day.

Our first stop of the day would be the Nea Kameni volcano. The one thing we will say before we get to the key details is to bring some appropriate footwear. You will climb a very rocky, steep volcano. We literally saw people in flip-flops and even heels struggling to do this trek. Also, bring plenty of water. This, much like our trek into Oia, is just as difficult.

The Islands

Nea Kameni (New burnt island) is an active volcano inside the caldera of Santorini. The last eruption was in 1950 and it has laid dormant ever since. Over centuries, many volcanic eruptions have taken place. You can also see the small volcanic islet of Palaia Kameni (Old burnt island) from here.

Our guide took us up to the crater where you could see the active vents and steam. Surrounded by several volcanic springs, one which we got the chance to swim in. The island is covered in differently coloured volcanic rocks and formations. This was a great excursion and one we highly recommend to you. Our guide explained to us why the island of Santorini looks the way it does today and how it got its name.

After our volcanic hike, we hopped back onto the boat, where we would sail for a few minutes around the island. Here we would have a dip in one of the volcanic springs. The water wasn’t as hot as what I thought it would be, but it was still very refreshing.

Thirassia

The island of Thirassia is a small island just off the coast of Santorini, one which you can clearly see across from the Nea Kameni volcano. Of course, before the eruption that happened around 1500BC, this small outcrop was once part of Santorini.

Its capital, Manolas village lies just to the South as you reach the top of the whitewashed steps. Once again, this is a climb you will have to think about. The steps up are incredibly steep and hard work. Please avoid using the donkeys again.

The tiny town has a handful of places to eat and drink and there is a pleasant walk to the Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin. There are many more places to eat down by the shore, all selling incredible looking seafood.

The Island Of Ios

When we visited Santorini, we were looking for what trips and excursions we could do whilst there. We found out we could travel across to the island of Ios. How could we pass up on such an opportunity? Our two-day trip only took 40 minutes by ferry and this was all pre-booked before. We used Ferryhopper to book our tickets.

I booked our hotel via booking.com and we stayed on Mylopotas beach overnight. We wrote about this mini-adventure in a separate post, and you can read all about it here, Island Hopping From Santorini To Ios.

Akrotiri & Red Beach

We were looking forward to visiting the southern part of the island. We did Akrotiri and the red beach at the end of our stay. Taking the bus from Imerovigli down to Fira, which cost €1.80, we then changed onto the bus down to Akrotiri, which was a further €2 each. Tickets had to be bought on the bus for both journeys. There was no return option.

The transfer down took around half an hour, and because we wanted some beach time, we took off to visit the pre-historic site of Akrotiri first. Tickets in to this site cost €12.

You can of course go on an organised trip. Both options are worth considering.

Akrotiri was home to the Minoan civilisation at least 4000 years before the city of Pompeii was founded. Although preserved similarly, Pompeii is much younger.

Somewhere around 1530BC the huge volcano of Thera erupted and blew the island to pieces. It was one of the largest volcanic eruptions ever recorded. This is why the island of Santorini looks the way it does today, with its huge water-filled crater. The Minoans were wiped out, and it covered the village in volcanic ash and lava hundreds of feet deep.

The historical site of Akrotiri.

Red Beach

Once again, the walk to get to the famous red beach of Akrotiri (Kokkini Beach) was rocky and steep. The beach is a popular location for locals and tourists alike.

You can access the other beaches around this area by boat. White beach (Lefki Ammos) is the next cove along and black beach (Mesa Pigadia) further still. We were happy to stay on the red beach though.

The red beach can be dangerous, however, and suffers from frequent rockslides. Bring supplies like food, water etc as there are no facilities down there if you plan on spending the day here.

We enjoyed it here, but the one thing we did notice was how incredibly dirty the beach was. There seemed to be a lot of plastic and what looked like shredded paper strewn all over.

The beach itself is pebbly, so take care when walking around. Also, as you enter the sea, there are some quite large boulders, which can be very slippy. I almost broke my toe on one as I entered the water. Be careful.

Sunsets Of Santorini

We all know just how beautiful the sunsets here are. So, there is little need to write about them. Here is a few more of our favourite photos. I hope you enjoy them as much as we enjoyed watching it.

Justbottle – The Only Water Bottle You’ll Ever Need

We couldn’t have explored Santorini without the help of our Justbottle. We reached out to the company before our trip, and they hooked us up with two of their fantastic bottles. One glacier white and one flint colour.

Get £5 off + Free express delivery when you join the Just community

We took them everywhere with us. They really came in handy for all our excursions and hikes around Santorini. I think we were also the first people to take one on to a volcano! A big thank you to the team at Justbottle. These will accompany us on many more adventures, so expect to see them popping up again on our social sites.

The Details

  • Lifetime manufacturers warranty 
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  • Cotton Bottle Bag Included
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  • Compatible with Cup Holders
  • Ethically manufactured.

Plus, 5% of profits go straight to Just One Ocean. A charity committed to preserving the oceans for future generations.

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What Else Could You Do During A Week In Santorini?

Go wine tasting. This is something we wanted to do during our trip but we just couldn’t fit in.

Hire a quad-bike or moped. Looking to explore the island further? These are extremely popular with tourists.

Enjoy a catamaran trip. There are several trips you can do that involve a catamaran. Some are during the day and involve food, drink and trips over to the hot springs. Other are during the evening and can involve a more romantic experience with fine dining and sunset views.

Sunset cruise. Why not experience the beautiful sunset floating on the Aegean Sea.

Sea kayaking and snorkelling experience. Take to the open sea, enjoy Santorini on and below the waves.

Floating dress photo shoot. You can walk around Imerovigli, Oia or Fira without seeing one of these photoshoots taking place. Very popular with influencers.

The Cats of Santorini

If, like us, you are cat lovers, you will notice the huge number of strays on the island. Most are so unbelievably friendly.

Unfortunately, thousands of these cats die hungry, abused, poisoned and from sickness every year.

We reached out to Sterila Santorini Cats to see if we could help promote the incredible work that they do to trap, neuter and release to control numbers. They also help with adoptions and set up feeding stations across the island. They happily obliged.

Visit www.santorini-cats.com where you can learn more and donate to help with their wonderful work.

When we arrived back in England, we had just over €60 left in cash, so we transferred the equivalent amount over to them as a donation. We hope it helped in some small way.

Stay At The Casa Florina

If you are looking for a great place to stay, then we recommend Casa Florina in Imerovigli. No fancy infinity pool, but a spotless, friendly, small family hotel with a big welcome and great if you are on a budget. You can read our review of this hotel here – Our Review Of Casa Florina, Santorini.

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