Greece, Travel

Things to Do in Sifnos Solo

January 8, 2024
A view of the Church of the Seven Martyrs on Sifnos with the Aegean Sea surrounding it

Going solo to a Greek island is one of my favorite things to do in Greece. I tend to go for more extended periods of time and travel slower as a solo traveler. However, deciding what to do when making all the decisions as a solo traveler can be daunting.

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Sifnos island is a great Greek island to go solo on. Sifnos is located in the Cycladic island chain in Greece and is about a two-and-a-half-hour fast ferry ride from the port of Piraeus near Athens. Making it an ideal destination for a solo trip that is easy to reach from Athens. Several nearby islands, such as Serifos and Milos, would make for excellent next stops on a Greek island-hopping adventure.

The island of Sifnos is known for its hiking trails, gastronomy, stunning villages, many churches, and beautiful beaches. You will never run out of things to do in Sifnos. Here are all the things I recommend to do in Sifnos as a solo traveler.

Solo Things to Do in Sifnos

Visit the Capital Village of Apollonia

Apollonia is the stunning capital village of Sifnos and the largest village on the island. It is located in the island’s center and is easily reached by bus or car. The village is ideal for taking striking photos of Cycladic architecture and many classic Greek Orthodox churches.

White Greek Orthodox Church with blue dome with small Greek flags penants strung around the courtyard

Besides taking photos in Apollonia, Sifnos, there are several other things to do there. Walk the “Steno” (narrow in Greek) that runs the length of the village. On this walk you can shop, have a bite to eat and admire the beauty. Make sure to walk the steno in the evening as that is when it comes alive with locals and tourists alike. After dinner, you can sit at a rooftop bar to see all the action from above.

Make sure to stop at Maria’s shop for the cutest handmade backpacks. Kyria Maria has been handmaking bags in this tiny shop upstairs for 27 years. The quality is excellent, and they make a great gift for someone back home. You will see it on the right when heading up from the bus stop on the Steno.

Swim at Kamares Beach

As you arrive on the ferry to Sifnos, you will see a long beach in the port. This is Kamares Beach, the largest beach on Sifnos. While this beach isn’t as beautiful as some on the island, I enjoyed swimming here. It is also a great place to people-watch and relax.

Sifnos beaches are not as organized as some islands in the Cyclades, so be sure to bring your own beach towels and find a shade tree at Kamares. Some sunbeds exist, but I loved sitting on the sand under the trees.

Drone shot of Kamares Beach and Kamares on Sifnos Island with white houses and beach umbrellas

Visit Chrysopigi Monastery

Chrysopigi Monastery is in a picturesque location on the southeast part of Sifnos. You will see that there is a split in the rocks. Legend has it that when nuns lived at the Monastery in the Middle Ages, they would hide when pirates invaded. One nun didn’t leave in time and prayed for the Virgin Mary’s help. The island split, making the pirates fall into the sea.

Looking at Chrysopigi Monastery with the stairs leading up to the entrance

The church is tiny but is beautiful. Make sure to look up to see the chandeliers make of tiny ships. Keep in mind that at Greek churches, you need to be modestly dressed so wear a shirt with sleeves and maybe some longer shorts.

Relax at Apokofto Beach

Right next to Chyrsopigi Monastery, is a small tree-lined beach that is great for swimming. You can walk from the monastery if you want or drive down the road. Keep in mind that the parking area is not paved but is well-packed sand.

There are some rocks on the beach and in the water, but once you get past them, the water gets deep enough to swim quickly. It is a refreshing place to cool off. Chrysopigi Taverna, at the end of the beach, also serves a nice lunch. Can’t beat a seaside taverna, in my opinion.

Visit the Kastro

This once walled village offers panoramic sea views and narrow alleyways to explore. A village has been at the hilltop Kastro location since prehistoric times. While the biggest thing to do in the village is to admire its beauty and charm, there are a few things to check out here.

Small alleyway with light blue doors and pink bouganvilla in Kastro, Sifnos

In the summer, there is a small gallery that hosts local artists. It is located in a government building with blue shutters. It is right next to where the bus drops you off. Then you can walk around and see a few of the small shops in the village.

For a small village, there are plenty of churches to explore. Depending on the time of day, they may or may not be open, so you may have just to be happy with seeing the outside. If you come in the evening, be sure to stop at the Kaovos Sunrise bar for a €5 drink and a spectacular view of the sunset, or if you stay long enough, sunrise!

Hike to the Church of the Seven Martyrs

Walking through Kastro, you may have caught a glimpse of the Church of the Seven Martyrs. This small church sits on an islet right on the edge of Sifnos.

At one of the hotels I stayed at in Kamares, the receptionist told me there weren’t always stairs to the church, and you had to scramble down the rocks if you wanted to visit! Now, there are stairs that are pretty easy to hike, even if it looks a bit scary.

Church of the Seven Marytrys viewed from Kastro with dried grasses in front and the sea behind

Be sure to take photos of the church from Kastro as well. Visiting during the golden hour before sunset is good as it is cooler and the light is fantastic.

Get Lost in Artemonas

This quiet but equally beautiful village is worth a stroll for its scenery. Every corner reveals another pretty house or charming door. If you walk all the way to the top of this only slightly hilly village, you will be rewarded with views of the Aegean and a classic Greek windmill!

Large bouganvilla over a house with a blue door in Sifnos, Greece

Artemonas has several great places to eat and serves as the home to the Gastronomy Festival, which happens in September every year. The festival dates change yearly, so check the dates before you book your tickets. But it is not to be missed as Sifnos has some amazing local specialties.

Try Mastelo

As I mentioned above, Sifnos has many wonderful foods to try. One food to try is Mastelo. It is slow-cooked lamb, usually cooked in a clay pot. Because it is slow-cooked, it falls off the bone and is extremely tender. Not every restaurant will offer it, though, because it takes so long, but try to find one that does.

Swim at Faros Beach

Here is another one of Sifnos’ amazing beaches. Faros is a small village near Chrysopigi and offers two small beaches separated only by a spit of land. Each of them makes up Faros Beach. There are some trees to offer shade and a few tavernas for your lunch.

Green blue waters on a golden beach and a small mountain behind it at Faros Beach in Sifnos

If you haven’t rented a car, Faros Beach is accessible by bus, but the timings may be limited. Be sure to check before you go, or you will have to hitchhike back, as I discovered when two French people asked me for a ride.

Look for Ancient Towers

Ancient towers dot the island of Sifnos from north to south and east to west. Only a few are discernable as towers at first glance, and some are just a pile of ancient stones.

These 77 towers were built for communication, and now, each year, 50 days after Orthodox Easter, residents trek to them to light signal fires in the early evening. Each tower was round and has been mentioned in several books as early as 1718.

Ancient Tower with wall in front on Sifnos, Greece

Many of the towers are located on hiking paths that are all over the island. However, I don’t recommend hiking solo, so look for the ones near the roads. Many are marked with archaeological brown signs in Greek and English.

Watch the Sunset at Kamares Beach

Kamares Beach is the best spot on the island to watch the sunset. The sunset is right between the two points, and the colors are amazing. Make sure to watch for some time after the sun goes down. I recommend staying about 30 minutes after to get the best results.

There are several bars and restaurants along the beach so that you can have a glass of wine or beer with your sunset. See below for my restaurant recommendations.

Admire All the Churches

Blue and white churches abound on the island. And unlike on some islands, they are easy to get to in Sifnos. They won’t all be open, though. It is worth going by the ones you find interesting to see if they are though. When I was in Apollonia last, one was open as they were doing some work that isn’t normally open. I found out that it was actually a private church. Private churches in Greece are common, and most are pretty small.

Enjoy Platis Gialos Beach

This long beach is a great place to spend the day. The Platis Gialos beach has soft golden sand, and the water is nice and deep enough to swim. There are plenty of tavernas serving food, so you can have lunch there as well. Many of them will have sunbeds for rent. Make sure to ask the price before you sit, though. Some are expensive, so it’s best to check first.

Walk to the Other Side of Kamares Beach

At the other end of Kamares Beach is Agia Marina. While it isn’t a true village, it offers some great views of Kamares, especially if you walk to the end of the road near the exit of the bay. It also is a great place to watch the sunset.

Sunset over the Aegean Sea between two points at Kamares Beach in Sifnos

You can walk up the stairs to a small church for another view. It is a nice area to take photos of some of the traditional houses and there are a few hotels on this side if you want a really quiet vacation.

Take a Day Sail

Sifnos has so many small islands surrounding it that it is worth taking a day sail. One of the most popular places to go is Poliegos. This uninhabited island is stunningly beautiful and has crystal-clear water to swim in. Other options include Milos, Kimolos, and hard-to-reach beaches on Sifnos.

It is important to note that many of the day sails leave from Platis Gialos not Kamares. If it is for an all-day sail, they leave in the morning and return in the evening. Make sure to plan how you will get there. If you haven’t rented a car, check the bus schedule or arrange a taxi through your hotel.

Shop for Pottery

Sifnos has a long history of pottery production. There are shops in all the villages. A piece of pottery makes a great Sifnos souvenir or gift for loved ones back home. And if you find a piece you can’t fit in your suitcase, most shops will ship it to you.

Where to Eat in Sifnos

Given Sifnos’ reputation for gastronomy, there are so many great restaurants to eat at. I have been to Sifnos three times now, so I have had a chance to eat at many of these restaurants.

Kamares

Isalos

This small beachfront restaurant at the Agia Marina end of Kamares beach has a gourmet twist on classic Greek food. The food was outstanding, and the sunset view was the best on the island.

Dakos served at Isalos at Kamares, Sifnos

Kafenes

Much of Kafenes’ menu is from local sources and is classic Greek food. This place was highly recommended by several locals and visitors when I was there. The food was great, with excellent wine. It also offers a great view of the sunset.

Kafenes is located inside Hotel Boulis. I highly recommend reservations here, which can be made by dropping by the day before.

Apollonia

Kafeneio Drakakis

One can’t help but be stopped by the charm of this kafeneio right in the heart of Apollonia. Everything I ate here was excellent. While they had many traditional Greek dishes, they also had a local spin on things. Definitely try one of the outstanding salads! Go early if you don’t want to wait for a table or food.

Salad on Sifnos Island

Botzi 93

I had a fabulous salad at this restaurant. It also offers great views of Apollonia and Artemonas. Botzi 93 also has great cocktails and would be a great place to have an after dinner drink!

Artemonas

To Chryso

This family-run taverna grows much of what they prepare in the garden right next to the seating area. They serve traditional Greek dishes and specialize in Sifnos dishes. The restaurant is located deep in the village, and walking there feels like you are walking to a friend’s house for dinner. Even the atmosphere felt like someone’s home, with the neighbor’s goats bleating as the sun goes down.

Mosaico Cafe

Moasico Cafe is a meze place, so it is best with others. However, I found a few small dishes to order to create an amazing meal on my own. Everything looked amazing, and I loved sitting and watching people walk by the restaurants with their families and friends.

Meze at Cafe Mosaico on Sifnos

Where to Stay in Sifnos

Luxury Stay

Sigma Residences

These luxury residences are located near the village of Exambela. Each residence has a kitchen, one of them has a private pool, and one has a jacuzzi. The property offers stunning views of the village of Kastro.

View of Kastro village from Sifnos Residences with the Aegean Sea behind Kastro

The residences each have a private entrance as well as a semi-private patio. Sigma Residences has a pool that overlooks the valley with an infinity edge, so you get the amazing view. There is also an outdoor gym if you want to get a workout with a view.

The service at Sigma is top-notch as well. They can bring you a breakfast basket upon request and stock the kitchen (for a fee) before your arrival. And, of course, they can arrange transportation around the island for you. You will not want for anything while at Sigma Residences.

Sigma Residences outdoor areas including patios and the pool

Budget Stay

Hotel Kamari

This family run hotel is ideal if you are on a budget. It is located right next to Kamares beach, the bus stop and many restaurants. This means you could spend much of your time in Kamares relaxing and also with easy access to the public bus.

The hotel is a bit older but very clean and with extremely friendly staff. It is great for a longer stay as they have kitchens in the rooms and the rooms are good sized.

Book Hotel Kamari here!

How to Get to Sifnos

Sailboats at sunset at Kamares port

Sifnos has no airport, so the only way to get there is by ferry. From Athens, there is both the slow and fast ferry to Sifnos. The slow ferry is very long, so I recommend the fast ferry if you are short on time. It only takes about 2 and a half hours from Piraeus.

Book your ticket to Sifnos on Ferry Hopper.

How to Get Around Sifnos

Sifnos has a public bus system, but the schedule can be limiting. Your best bet is to rent a car. This way, you can explore where and when you want. When I went, I rented a car for only some of the days and took the bus for the others. I used the car on days I wanted to explore places the bus either didn’t go or didn’t go to frequently enough.

How Many Days Do You Need in Sifnos

Some say three days is enough in Sifnos, but I think you need five days to explore Sifnos fully. This also ensures that you have time to relax. I am not into rushing while I am on holiday, and Sifnos is definitely a place you want to relax and unwind on.

No matter how long you choose to spend on Sifnos, you won’t regret it. Sifnos is still yet undiscovered and maintains its lovely Greek charm with an amazing food scene. Spending you solo Greek vacation on Sifnos will be something you never forget!

Greece, Travel

What to Pack for Greece

December 27, 2023
What to pack for Greece

Visiting Greece is on many people’s lists, but what to pack for Greece is one of the most frequent questions that I receive. For the most part, packing for Greece is pretty easy. However, there are things you should keep in mind when packing for a trip to Greece. This is a list of what to pack for 10 days in Greece. You can also probably pack the same amount of things for a two-week trip to Greece.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

Most people will visit Greece in summer, so this Greek packing list is aimed at a summer trip to Greece.

What to Wear in Athens

Almost everyone that visits Greece will spend at least one day in Athens. Athens is an old city, and many of the sidewalks need some help. They are also often made of marble, which is slippery even on a dry day!

Stick with flat shoes and sneakers for lots of walking. Many of the ancient sites are within walking distance, and it isn’t worth getting on the metro or taking a taxi to reach them.

People dress up in Athens but not so much as in New York City. Dinner out can be formal or casual, depending on where you want to go. I would also say that darker colors are favored amongst the Athenian crowd, so dress similarly if you want to blend in with the locals. Shorts are acceptable in summer, but you might want a dress or pants for a night out.

Make sure to keep valuables near your person in Athens because, like in many big cities, pickpocketing can be an issue at tourist sites and the metro.

What to Wear on the Greek Islands

Dressing on a Greek island is less formal than in Athens. You will see everything as well. Shorts during the day are common and even at night on most islands. I like to wear a casual dress on the islands for dinner, though. However, no one will care if you wear your nice shorts to a restaurant though.

Even in the summer months, it can get cool at night on the islands, so you may want a light jacket or cardigan for the evenings. Also a pair of pants. Take an umbrella or a rain jacket in case it rains.

The pants are also good for taking the ferry where the air conditioning can be intense!

Light colors are best for the islands since the heat and the white of the buildings can make it seem hotter than it is. Choose cotton or linen clothing that is breathable and dries fast.

Packing List for Greece

Three Dresses –  One nice dress for a nice dinner out. The others can be a casual dress for walking around in the day or used as a swimsuit cover-up.

3 Shorts  – It gets hot in Athens in the summer. Bring ones that are cotton and easily washable. I love linen shorts for all my hot weather travels such as these.

Pants – One should be fine unless you are in Greece in September. Then you might want it for the evening. I don’t recommend brining jeans in the summer as it can be too humid for them to be comfortable. Only bring jeans if you are coming early or very late in the season.

5 Shirts – Make sure the colors match all your bottom pieces. These should be cotton or lightweight material. You will feel cooler this way.

One pair of walking sandals – Athen is very hilly and as mentioned the sidewalks are made of marble. I have fallen in Toms walking in Athens. You will need something with a good grip on the sole. I love these closed toed ones from Keen. You might be more comfortable in sneakers for the traction.

Dressy sandals – You will want something nicer for dinners out, but make sure they also have a good grip.

Flip flops  – Flip flops are essential for visiting a Greek beach. The sand can be hot, and you won’t want to use your nicer sandals since the sand will come back to the hotel with you.

Light cardigan – Nights can be chilly here even in summer since it is close to the sea. You may want a light layer to take with you at night. This cardigan is similar to the one I have.

Beach Towel – You must bring your own beach towel as you can’t rent them on the beach, and the hotels usually don’t let you take theirs to the beach.

Beach bag – A bag to take your towel, sunscreen and book is necessary since you will not want to take a nice handbag to the beach. I like to bring a reusable tote bag that can double as a grocery bag or laundry bag. Like many countries in Europe, Greek grocery stores charge for using plastic bags.

2 Swimsuits –  You will want two swimsuits even for a short trip since it can be really humid in Greece in the summer. Drying out might take a day, and no one likes putting on a wet suit.

Rain Jacket – While it may not be cold while you are on a Greek island in the summer, it might rain especially in the shoulder season months. Taking a rain jacket is a better alternative than an umbrella, so you can still use your hands. Make sure to get one with a hood.

Sunglasses – The Greek sun is intense and even more so when it is being reflected off the white buildings of the Cycladic islands. Pack at least one pair and bring backup in case you lose yours in the sea.

Pajamas – Obviously, you will want something to sleep in. This can be tricky in Greece as many hotels will only offer a sheet on the bed. I think this is because Greeks don’t sleep with the air conditioning on so that you won’t want a heavy blanket. However, you may want the air conditioning on, so bring the PJs you will be comfortable in.

Camera – You will want a camera for all the beautiful scenery you will be seeing in Greece. I used a Sony A7rii camera, which I love. However, it may be more than you want. Here is a good Sony camera alternative to it if you are looking for a good camera that is easy to use.

Travel Adapter – The plugs in Greece are likely different from those in your home country. You will need a travel adapter for dual-voltage items, such as cell phones or computers. A great travel adapter is the Epicka line of travel adapters. Not only will you have a travel adapter that is good for many countries, but many of them have USB-C plugs and fast charging capabilities. They come with extra fuses, so no worrying about a fuse dying and being unable to find a replacement. 

Epicka travel adapter attaching to computer while plugged in

Remember, they are not converters, so you will need a converter if your electronics are not dual voltage. Items such as hair dryers and hair straighteners are not usually dual voltage. For these items, I recommend buying them dual voltage.

Laptop or Tablet – Most of you won’t need a laptop on vacation, but you may want it for entertainment on the plane or in the hotel in the evening. I have been in Greek hotels a few times without any English channels. A tablet is also a good option and may offer you a way to read some books on your beach vacation.

Packing cubes – Want to pack a bit more without having to bring a bigger suitcase? Consider using packing cubes to compress your clothes.  I use them on every trip and prefer the Eagle Creek brand packing cubes.

Water bottle  – Water on the islands is not drinkable, but you can refill a water bottle at some city water fountains on the Greek islands. They look like fancy places to wash your hands or feet, but they are actually potable water. It is a good place to fill up rather than having to buy plastic water bottles all the time, plus it is better for the environment.

Toiletries  – Bring the minimum you will need to survive a night or two. After that, you can purchase larger toiletries in the pharmacy in Athens or the islands. Some of my favorite Greek cosmetic brands are found in the pharmacies and not in the grocery stores. Don’t forget your sunscreen!

This will save you weight and space in your toiletry bag plus you get a useable souvenir if you don’t use them all.

Backpack or Suitcase

Personally, I think this is a matter of preference, but many people will want to know what kind of suitcase to bring to Greece. If you aren’t island hopping, then a rolling suitcase is fine in Athens since you will most likely check into one hotel and not move around.

If you are going to an island after visiting Athens you might want a backpack as it will make walking to the ferry or your island hotel much easier since the sidewalks can be uneven on the islands as well as in Athens.

I personally take a rolling suitcase on almost all longer trips. It makes getting on the Greek ferry easier for me and saves my back. I also arrange transport on the islands with the hotel or take a taxi for arrival.

Greece

Greek Gift Guide

November 27, 2023

Are you missing Greece or know someone who is? They might enjoy getting something from my Greek Gift Guide! Every artist or brand on this list has something I have bought something from or use on regular basis in my daily Greek life.

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

The Round Button

I discovered The Round Button on Instagram and have been hooked on her products ever since. Alexandra’s inspiration is the island of Tinos. From her Tinos and Athens’ studios, she creates original artworks and then also create prints from them. All the designs are clean and simple but no less stunning.

My personal favorites are the items she has created based on the Tinos’ dovecotes. The circle design and what it represents speak to me and really remind me of a Greek island. Greek islands are simple, beautiful places with stunning landscapes, wonderful people, and ancient history.

You can purchase original art pieces and prints directly from her website. If you happen to be in Athens or Tinos, you can find some pieces in local stores that she has listed on her website, but she also ships internationally.

Ena Karo

The Round Button actually introduced me, via Instagram, to Ena Karo, a natural soap producer, also from Tinos. Ena Karo makes handmade soaps and toiletries on the island of Tinos. I bought two soaps in Athens so I could try them out, and the smell is divine! They have also just released a Christmas collection of soaps that include scents such as Holy Night and 3 Magi.

All the soaps contain natural oils and herbs. This is definitely a product you want to give as a Greek gift and a gift to yourself! My favorite scent is the Poppy Seed. I am dying to try more scents as well. If you want to watch some excellent soap-making, I recommend you watch their stories on Instagram!

In Athens, you can find Ena Karo at Flaneur. Flaneur sells unique souvenirs in Plaka and is worth a visit when you are here.

Aggeliki Stavrianou

Aggeliki Stavrianou is actually a friend of mine from when I lived in Naxos. She and I met while helping the local animal welfare. Her paintings of the Greek Islands will transport you! She still lives in Naxos and paints daily. Her art depicts island scenery in a realistic vivid way, and you are likely to find a painting of your favorite Greek Island. This is the small painting I purchased from her a few years ago.

Aggeliki doesn’t have an online shop, but you can get in touch with her to order either through her Instagram or her website. Act fast though, as most paintings are one of a kind. She will ship anywhere in the world.

Olive Era

Olive Era is a Greek brand I discovered while staying at a hotel in Athens. The products have an amazing smell and will transport you to Greece just by using them. All products use Cretean olive oil! At the time of my discovery, they didn’t have an online shop. They now do and will ship internationally. If you are in Athens, they now also have a physical store to visit at Perikleous 28.

Olive Era

They have a variety of products, such as skincare, hair care and candles. I love the simple packaging of everything and the fact that it uses Greece sourced ingredients.

Apivita

While Apivita is a more well-known international brand, it is no less Greek! This was one of the finds in the pharmacy that I still use today. My favorite products are the hair care products. I love that they are silicone-free and smell like Greece in a bottle. The hair products I am currently using are the Oily Roots/Dry Ends Shampoo, the Intense Repair Conditioner, and the Moisturizing Hair Mask.

Some Apivita products are available at Amazon if you can’t get them to ship directly to you from Greece. In Greece, you can get Apivita products at most pharmacies. There is also the Apivita Experience Store in Kolonaki, which carries the full range of their products.

Korres

Korres was one of the first Greek beauty products I tried. They have excellent body washes and lotions. The scents are also some of the best I have ever tried. They also make skin care, hair care and face care products. Some Korres skin care products can be found at Sephora and on Amazon.

Most of their products are ethically sourced here in Greece. Some of the most popular products are the ones made with Greek Yogurt, including their sunscreen and after sun line. Korres can be found in most Greek pharmacies if you are visiting Greece.

I hope this helps you give or receive a little bit of Greece this year for your holidays. Since most of these companies are small, you will be helping a Greek business. Other than the Amazon links, all the links are direct to the artist or brand and are not affiliate links. I want to support my local Greek artists and brands this year! Happy Holidays!

Greece, Travel

All the Things You Need to Know About Santorini Before You Go

April 3, 2023
Santorini blue domed churches

Santorini is many people’s dream destination, and it is the most famous island to visit in Greece. Here are all the things you need to know before you see the famous Santorini sunset!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you.

When Should You Visit Santorini

Since it is the most popular island in Greece, you will want to avoid July and August if possible. The best time to visit most Greek islands is September, but for Santorini, I would say later in September is best as it will be less crowded and not as hot. If you can’t go then, I suggest May, as it is just starting to wake from its winter slumber.

Remember that not everything will be open if you decide to come in the off-season, such as in March or November. Making hotel arrangements need to be done in advance and confirmed. You will also want to do the same with flights or ferries. The ferries do run in the winter but less often, and cancellations due to weather do happen, so keep that in mind.

Where to Stay in Santorini

There are many villages to stay in while in Santorini, Greece. The two most popular are Oia and Fira. Oia is where most people gather to watch the sunset. Fira is the capital. Of those two, I would choose Fira. It has a bit more space so it won’t feel as crowded and the main bus stop is there making it great for taking public transport. It also offers way more parking than Oia.

Click here to book a hotel in Oia or Fira.

View from Demeter Cave House in Pyrgos, Santorini of a blue domed church with sea in the distance.

Personally, I would pick another village entirely, such as Imvorgeili or Pyrgos. With Imovrgili, you still get a caldera view and aren’t far from Oia and Fira. Villages like Pyrgos are great if you are going to rent a car and want a less touristy feel.

Looking for a traditional Santorini Cave House? Stay at Demeter Cave House in Pyrgos.

How to Get to Santorini

Santorini is far from Athens, so keep that in mind when scheduling your travel to Greece. You have two options from Athens. You can fly or take the ferry. Flying from Athens is about 45 minutes. The flights run all year round.

The other option is to take the ferry. Ferries to Santorini island run from Piraeus, and during the high season also run from Rafina. The fast ferry to Santorini is about 5 hours, and the slow one is 8 hours. The fast ferries are okay but not for you if you get seasick easily. 

Book your ferry ticket to Santorini here.

I like to fly to Santorini as I don’t like the fast ferry. Also, there are only a few islands you can fly to Santorini from, such as Crete and Rhodes, so do your research if you need to make a quick connection.

What is the Weather Like in Santorini

Not only are July and August the busiest time of year in Santorini, but also the hottest. And it will feel even hotter again, the white houses that are reflecting the sun onto you. The volcanic beach sand will burn, so wear beach shoes!

Two blue chairs and blue table on Santorini with view of sea.

Again, September is not as hot. But October and May are the best if you want warmth but not scorching. You might even have some cool nights then, which will be most welcome. Remember that you may have some days of rain in October, but it usually doesn’t last long.

How to Get Around Santorini

Santorini is best seen by renting a car. There are public buses, but all go to Fira first before heading to their next destination, meaning you will need to switch. In the high season, they are very crowded and may be standing room only. There aren’t many taxis on the island despite its popularity. 

If you can’t rent a car, book your taxi in advance to pick you up from the airport or ferry terminal. Your hotel may be able to do this for you. If not, I recommend using a taxi service called Welcome Pickups. You book them in advance, and they have an English-speaking driver for waiting for you with a sign.

If you decide to use the bus, here is the current Santorini bus schedule. Remember that not all stops are listed, so if it doesn’t list each stop, ask at the ticket office or the bus driver. The complete schedule will be posted at the Fira bus station.

Where Should I Watch the Sunset in Santorini

As I mentioned earlier, most people go to Oia to watch the sunset. Most specifically, Oia Castle. If you have several nights in Santorini, this is worth doing at least once. It will be crowded, so my tip is to walk part of the way down the old donkey trail under the castle. You will have fewer people and an unobstructed view, albeit a bit smelly. Totally worth it to have more space and the perfect sunset shot.

Santorini sunset from the village of Pyrgos.

After that night, go to almost any west-facing village, and you will have a great sunset view. Pyrgos village is the highest point, so it is one of the best places to catch it from. Plus, on a clear day, you can see all the way to Crete from Pyrgos.

Book Restaurants in Advance

Given Santorini’s popularity, many of the more famous restaurants in Santorini will be booked well in advance. This is especially true if they have a sunset view. Once you have locked in travel days and hotels, booking restaurants is your next step. 

Two restaurants you should definitely make reservations for if you plan on going are Ammoudi Fish Tavern and Metaxi Mas.

Santorini Isn’t Just For Couples

Yes, it is a romantic destination, but there is plenty to do for the solo traveler and the group of friends. So if this is your dream and you aren’t a couple, go! Both times I have gone, I have been solo. Greece is safe and welcoming to all travelers, and then you can do what you want when you want. Meaning you can take a nap at 2 in the heat of the day or get up early to hike the Fira to Oia hike if you want!

YouTube video

A Few Practical Tips to Keep in Mind

What I have mentioned so far and the most important things to know before you book, but here are a few practical things you should also know before you arrive.

You can’t drink the water on the Greek islands. It won’t make you really sick if you do, but it might give you an upset tummy. You can use it to make hot drinks such as tea or coffee and wash fruits off but don’t drink it. Grab some bottles of water. Your hotel will likely have a few for you to get started with.

You can’t flush toilet paper in most places in Greece, including Santorini. The pipes are old and small. There will be a covered trash can with a liner next to the toilet. Don’t worry about this; the Greeks are totally used to it, and it will not smell!! I promise.

There are tons of stairs in Santorini. If you have mobility issues, this may not be the island for you. Some are steep, and some are not. Some are even marble. Go slow and hang onto the walls if needed.

A view of Oia, Santorini that shows the steep stairs down to hotels.

Santorini is expensive, especially in the high season. Your biggest expense will be your hotel. Book early and plan ahead. If you can’t afford a caldera view every night, book it for one night and move to a less expensive hotel. If you can, go in May or October, as prices will be lower for hotels and some transportation. 

Most of the beaches are not sandy and are volcanic rocks or sand. You need to remember that Santorini, Greece is an active volcano, and what you see is the top of the volcano. This means the beaches aren’t sandy and don’t slope into the sea. There is one sandy beach, but the red beach and black beach are rock and volcanic sand. You need to wear shoes on the beach to not burn them!

Most of all, enjoy it! 

If you need ideas of what to do on your Santorini vacation, I have an ebook for sale that include 1, 3 and 5-day itineraries.