Europe, Greece, Travel

Why I Didn’t Love Santorini

January 30, 2017

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

I debated writing this post for a while. I went to Greece in September and almost everything I have to say about it so far as been good. Santorini is the exception to this. I didn’t fall in love with Santorini as so many people, and blog posts promised I would. Let me say this now before everyone tells me I am terrible, it is beautiful and it is romantic. However, it just wasn’t for me, but I am glad that I went.

Crowds

I expected it to be crowded, but this was beyond my expectations! Most of the crowds were in Oia, where I happened to be staying. Since I had never been to Santorini, I want to stay in the heart of it or so I thought. There was a constant stream of people walking past my hotel.

The first night I was there, I headed to watch the sunset like everyone else. It was crowded, but not too much as I had been told to head there early. The captain of my boat advised me to walk further down from the fort where everyone gathers to watch. I trudged down a set of steep donkey crap covered stairs and claimed my spot.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

After watching the sunset, I started the walk back to my car. I think it took 30 minutes when it should have taken 10! At some points along the way, I was stuck at a standstill because it was so crowded. The streets of Oia are just too narrow to handle the crowds.

Traffic and Driving

Santorini is a large island, larger than I expected. I had read up about getting around the island and decided that renting a car was the best way. Best decision in terms of time I could have made. However, the traffic on Santorini is terrible. Getting from the port to the main road was a winding road, and if you got stuck behind any bus or delivery truck, you could be stuck for a while. This was one of the main reasons I left my hotel two hours before my ferry was to depart.

Getting around was made easier by the car, but all the roads are winding! It makes getting around take much longer than expected. As a result, I didn’t get to see all the things I wanted to.

The roads in Oia were so narrow in some places; cars had to go one at a time. Granted, I probably should not have been driving in Oia, but I was suffering from land sickness and walking in the heat was not a good idea. The narrow roads led to the long waiting area, and you had no idea if the traffic was moving or if there had been an accident. Only at night did I see police out directing traffic. It also didn’t help that my hotel was right at the start of the really bad traffic spot.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

Parking in Oia can be done, but you have to find a parking space. The best spot I found was down the hill from the bus station parking lot. I was able to park my car along a wall that offered some shade.

Touristy

I am sure you are thinking, Tiffany it’s one of the most popular places on the planet to go and you didn’t expect it to be touristy!? I expected it to some degree, but some parts of it were over the top touristy. One of those places was Fira. Fira is the capital city of Santorini. I stopped here to buy an SD card for my camera and it was just one souvenir shop after another. It was also quite dirty. That is probably due to the overcrowding of Santorini during the season. It also one the cheaper areas to stay on Santorini, which probably contributes to the crowds.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

Oia had its touristy sections as well. Lots of shops along the walk to the sunset. Many of these shops offering souvenir and over priced designer beach wear. Slightly ironic since all the beaches are located elsewhere on the island.

The Heat

I live in Qatar, and I am from Texas, but the heat on Santorini was something I hadn’t experienced. The combination of the heat the white washed walls created an oven effect. There is no offer of shade because all the trees have been removed out to build hotels! I had on sunscreen and still felt a bit burned after only an hour in the sun. Hats and umbrellas are needed!

Let me say you will be hard pressed to find too many blog posts saying someone didn’t like Santorini. I tried! I managed to find a few. One is Suitcases and Sandcastles, and you can read about how she didn’t think it was worth the hype. The other is from Hannah Rose and how traveling there as a backpacker may not have been the best plan. Christina of Santorini Plus, who is also a Santorini tour guide, tells you want not to do on a visit to Santorini.

Of course, tons of people love Santorini. Here are some of the posts I have found about loving Santorini! Radha and Brook from On Flight Mode think Santorini should be at the top of your bucket list and give some great tips on what to see and do! Angela from the Sunday Chapter gives us 7 reasons to visit Santorini.

Why I Didn't Love Santorini

How to Make Your Experience Better Than Mine

  • Go in the off-season, like October or April. The crowds will be less, and the weather will be cooler. Some hotels and restaurants will be open, but now that Greece is going to limit the amount of tourists that can arrive by cruise ship more places might stay open.
  • Give yourself more time. I was only there for two days. You probably need 3 to 5 days depending on what all you want to see.
  • Stay outside of Fira and Oia. Those places can be visited by car, and you can still have a great view of the caldera. If you really want to have a caldera view, stay in Oia one night for the experience and spend the rest of the time elsewhere.
  • Walk through Oia in the early morning to beat the heat and the crowds.

Maybe one day I will go back, and I will love it, but for now, I will visit the quieter Greek islands.

Have you been to Santorini? What did you think?

 

Suitcases and Sandcastles

You Might Also Like

51 Comments

  • Reply vinneve January 30, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Hi Tiffany, a friend of mine here they went there last December for a holiday and because it is a bit cold it is not that crowded. Good deal she said but actually they stayed somewhere out of Santorini just similar to it but the view was still awesome.

    • Reply Tiffany January 30, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      I think that is the way to go, off-season. Thanks!!

      • Reply Hajj Package 2017 March 8, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        Definitely take Tiffanys advice and visit when it is off-season. Less packed and more time to enjoy the country.

  • Reply Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) January 30, 2017 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for including my post, Tiffany. I really do think Santorini is overhyped. Yes, the views are amazing but the crowds and the tourist tat – ugh. Not my scene at all. There are so many wonderful, more laid-back Greek islands even in the height of summer.

    • Reply Tiffany January 30, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      I agree! I saw 12 islands and some of smallest ones were my favorites. You’re welcome!!

  • Reply Sharon Loper January 30, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    We went in April (Spring) and LOVED it. Stayed in Oia. I think the trick is to find a hotel that doesn’t have the walk past tourist traffic. We walked past lots of places where I thought ‘wow, that must be annoying!’ It was low 20’s temp and PERFECT in every shape and form. I thought the views and atmosphere was good for the soul. We also hired a car and experienced the narrow winding roads but after Qatar, we thought it was relaxed and cute rather than annoying. We travelled right round the island without any bother. We stayed for 5 nights and I would go back in a heart beat (at this time of the year!)

    • Reply Tiffany January 30, 2017 at 4:32 pm

      I think the time of year is the key! Everyone who has read this said they loved it in the off-season. The roads didn’t bother me, I just didn’t realize it would take so long to get from one end of the island to the other. And five days sounds much better! Thanks!!!

  • Reply Christina February 1, 2017 at 11:52 am

    This is all very very true. I am a tour guide in Santorini so I know how crowded it can get and it is really a shame. I get weird looks when I tell people that the sunset in Oia is not worth it, just because it is so crowded! Glad to finally see an honest post about it 🙂
    My advice would be to visit off season to enjoy the views, but also get some quiet and privacy. In my opinion, best town to stay is Imerovigli. It is half way through Oia and Fira (so you can easily drive to both places) and still has all the amazing views , but is far away from the crowds. Also, there are so many lovely places to enjoy the sunset from. It is not just Oia!
    Hope you can come back in the winter and enjoy the island Tiffany, it is truly beautiful 🙂

    • Reply Tiffany February 1, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      I am so glad you agree with me. Nice to know the experts think the same. I think off-season is definitely the way to go. Thanks for the location suggestion too. Now I want to go back.

      • Reply Christina February 1, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        Yes absolutely off season is much much better (and much cheaper as well). Next time you do come back, let me know and I will help you plan the perfect holiday- to make it up for this one!

        • Reply Tiffany February 1, 2017 at 12:42 pm

          I would love that!

  • Reply Lolo February 2, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Very interesting to read! I’ve never been to Greece but Santorini is definitely somewhere I want to go, even knowing between you and Claire that it’s not really worth the hype. Such a shame all the trees are gone and there is no shade. I don’t do well with heat so that will certainly bother me. #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Tiffany February 2, 2017 at 11:50 am

      I would go in the winter then. It will be less crowded and much cooler. Much of Greece saw snow this winter, including some of the islands! It looked gorgeous.

  • Reply Erin Gustafson | Oregon Girl Around the World February 2, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Hej from Copenhagen Tiffany! We’re happy to have your perspective this week for #FarawayFiles! I haven’t been to Santorini in over 20 years, but did love it as a backpacker in my 20’s. I completely understand your frustrations, as it was how I felt when we recently visited Dubrovnik and had to compete with the throngs and masses there too – it can definitely color an experience. Hopefully, Greece’s tourism policies will alleviate some of the crowding and make experiences more satisfying for all. Cheers from Denmark, Erin

    • Reply Tiffany February 2, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Hi, Erin! Yes, I really hope the cities that are having a tourist influx will get some relief. Cruise ships seems to make the issue even worse. It isn’t just about the tourist experiences as well. I worry if the cities can physically hold up to all the foot traffic. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply the Curious Pixie February 2, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    I’ve always wanted to go to Santorini. It’s actually so refreshing to read a review that shows the other side. If I ever plan to go I’ll be bearing your tips in mind. Thanks #FarawayFiles

    • Reply Tiffany February 2, 2017 at 2:36 pm

      I’m glad you think so! You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Christine February 2, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    I’ve been to quite a few parts of Greece, and worked in a popular holiday resort on Kos but I never realised that Santorini had such an over-crowding problem. Good to bear your comments in mind for future travels! #Farawayfiles

    • Reply Tiffany February 2, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      I think it is the cruise ships and the narrow streets. Just something to be aware of. Thanks for stopping by

  • Reply Hilary February 2, 2017 at 7:40 pm

    I must admit I giggled a bit when reading about your experience trying to see the sunset! I feel your pain and I appreciate an honest post like this. However, your photos are lovely! #farawayfiles
    Hilary recently posted…Sainte ChapelleMy Profile

    • Reply Tiffany February 3, 2017 at 11:43 am

      I had to laugh to. Santorini is supposed to be beautiful and I am standing in donkey crap trying to take a picture of a sunset with a thousand other people. Glad you liked it. Thanks!!

  • Reply jo February 2, 2017 at 10:23 pm

    Its really refreshing to read a post where the author gives a warts and all version of the trip rather than saying everything was brilliant. Its twenty years since I went to Santorini and I too didn’t have a great time – lost my passport and all my money and survived on bread. Teenage travel experiences are made of such things! I’m older and wiser now but it seems Santorini has got extremely busy and crowded since then. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing with #faraway files.

    • Reply Tiffany February 3, 2017 at 11:44 am

      It isn’t always beaches and sunsets right? I have had plenty of travel fails. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply Katy Clarke February 3, 2017 at 11:12 am

    I was in Santorini for a week for a wedding and I will never forget when the cruise boats arrived Tiffany. Swarms of people over took the island and it was oppressive to say the least. My favourite moments there, besides my friends’ beautiful wedding, were some quite moments away from Oia. Glad you found some joy on the other Greek islands. We are heading there in September and I cant wait. Thanks for sharing on #farawayfiles

    • Reply Tiffany February 3, 2017 at 11:45 am

      A week would be good though as you might be able to get away from the crowds. Enjoy Greece! I can’t wait to go back.

  • Reply Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) February 3, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    Great to read this again and delighted to have you with us on #FarawayFiles.
    Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles) recently posted…Blue: Colours of My TravelsMy Profile

    • Reply Tiffany February 3, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks! I am enjoying reading everyone’s posts!

  • Reply Corey with fifi + hop February 3, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    I love it when travel writers post honest posts. You’re certainly not alone in not having enjoyed Santorini for all the reasons you mentioned. Grant it I haven’t been since I was 16, but seems it’s notorious for being so crazy crowded and overbearing that way. Bravo to you and Clare for telling it like it is! #farawayfiles

    • Reply Tiffany February 4, 2017 at 7:29 am

      I am glad that you liked it. I try to write honestly all the time, but know it is a tough balance. Thanks!

  • Reply alex muir February 3, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    I’m with Clare (suitcases…) who decided to stay on another quieter island, more rustic and natural, but then take a day trip to Santorini. However, my best friend went in early May this year and stayed a week on either side and she had pro’s and cons to each side but overall she said the place is just so beautiful! Still, I’m not sure its at the top of my bucket list yet. We went to Thassos last year and thats definitely more my idea of proper Greece, over Santorini. You’ve just added to my already negative perceptions of theplace. #farawayflies
    alex muir recently posted…Chester – The Perfect Mini BreakMy Profile

    • Reply Tiffany February 4, 2017 at 7:31 am

      I would go again but in the off season or stay outside of Oia. Definitely think if you are going to Greece you should at least see it. But I don’t want everyone to think they will love it.

  • Reply Chiera February 4, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    I can definitely see your point. I have always dreamed on visiting Oia but wished I had dicovered it before the rest of the world did! ha. I have seen so many pictures of the massive crowds all huddled watching the sunset. Like.. I get it. but I don’t know how well I would cope with that! especially in the Greek heat! Interesting to read this since most posts are singing the praises of how amazing Santorini is. #farawayfiles

    • Reply Tiffany February 4, 2017 at 3:26 pm

      Me too! I don’t like crowds, so I was really irritated. Thankfully, the heat has died down by sunset. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply April Munday February 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

    It certainly looks beautiful, so I can understand why people want to go there.
    April Munday recently posted…King at last, or how Edward III overthrew Roger MortimerMy Profile

    • Reply Tiffany February 5, 2017 at 4:05 pm

      It’s beautiful and I was one of those people too!

  • Reply Emmalene February 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    I love truthful travel blogs, particularly when everyone else raves about a place that you just don’t get. I felt the same way about Copenhagen…why does everyone else love it when I don’t?

    • Reply Tiffany February 5, 2017 at 4:06 pm

      I am so glad! I always try to present the truth. Oh, I haven’t been there yet. Now I am curious!!

  • Reply Em Linthorpe February 5, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Hello! The only part of Greece I’ve visited was Kos (in late October so in the quiet season) and I fell in love with it!
    I’ve seen all the stunning pictures of Santorini and it was definitely on my very long list of places I would like to go to one day. You’ve certainly given a honest and refreshing perspective which is brilliant to read ❤
    Em Linthorpe recently posted…Coping with anxiety – do you recognise these symptoms?My Profile

    • Reply Tiffany February 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Hi! You are the second person to say they went to Kos. I am curious now. What did you like about it? Thanks for stopping by!

      • Reply Em Linthorpe February 6, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        Hmm. Well, we went for a week and I really feel that we got to see so much of the place, it’s a very small island. We hired a car for just one day and managed to see and explore villages, towns, mountains and beaches – we saw the amazing sunset from the end of a track facing west…and we were the only people there! There were opportunities for boat trips and suchlike which were brilliant. Plus Turkey is just a stone’s throw across the sea. And the Greek people I found wonderful and friendly too.
        Now I think a lot of this boiled down to it being out of season, the island was very quiet and some businesses had closed for the winter but I liked that, it made it feel more relaxed and very much like you were privileged to spend time in such a beautiful place. You should go! In October 😉

        • Reply Tiffany February 6, 2017 at 2:32 pm

          I really think going in the off-season is a good idea. Thanks for all the info! Very helpful.

  • Reply Therie February 6, 2017 at 12:03 pm

    Crowds are really tough to deal with and when it gets unbearable people can get really cranky and annoying. I really appreciate honest posts like this one. Thanks for sharing Tiffany!

    • Reply Tiffany February 6, 2017 at 12:08 pm

      Especially when it is hot! Thank you!

      • Reply Therie February 7, 2017 at 2:00 pm

        I couldn’t agree more!

  • Reply Heather Townsend February 21, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Hi Tiffany!

    I’ve been meaning to read this for ages now! Thank you for sharing the ‘real’ side to it! I’m desperate to visit Santorini but now knowing about the crowds etc I’ll definitely make sure it’s off season when we go! Definitely going to refer back to your post when we do get round to booking!

    Heather xx
    http://www.suncreamandsparkles.com

    • Reply Tiffany February 21, 2017 at 9:50 pm

      Hi Heather! You are welcome. I hope it helps. Let me know if I can help once you decide to go!!

  • Reply Tripidee August 9, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks for this honest article. I’ve been seeing so many people posting about Santorini that I decided to create a starter trip on it for Tripidee. I was getting frustrated by the research that didn’t yield much – just pretty spots. I will definitely add a note to our travelers about peak tourist times so they can travel more informed. Good idea on the travel insurance too!

    • Reply Tiffany August 13, 2017 at 6:02 am

      You’re welcome! Yes, going in the off season would be so much better.

  • Reply Sofi leen September 20, 2017 at 2:19 am

    This was really enjoyable to read. Having read this there seem to be some wonderful places to visit.Had a quick look at your blog and love it already. Have subscribed. Looks like you’ve spent time in many of the places listed in this post.
    Sofi leen recently posted…Things to do in Khasab MusandamMy Profile

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge

    %d bloggers like this: