GreeceVisiting Santorini for the First Time: 5 Things to Know
first timers guide to Santorini

Visiting Santorini for the First Time: 5 Things to Know

Santorini, the picture-perfect island that graces many a postcard and desktop screensaver, isn’t just an ordinary beach getaway. With its rugged landscape of volcanic cliffs, stunning sunsets, and deep-blue Aegean waters, ‘Thira,’ as locals call it, is as mystical as it looks. For the unsuspecting traveler, a Santorini experience can be as delightful as stumbling upon a hidden trove of gold…with a twist.

No frills, just thrills. Ready? Set? Santorini!

Transportation in Santorini: Plot your ride

The traffic here isn’t just gridlock on a street; it’s a dance of donkeys, sprinting along the idyllic coastline as scooters zip by carrying the local charm. If you want to truly explore this island and escape the mobs, you need wheels. Car rentals come with a ‘freedom to roam’ package that is worth every cent, less well-trodden paths, more unexpected beauty. A day’s rent won’t break the bank, and the highways are all yours to chase the Grecian sun. If driving ain’t your thing, consider a private tour—a little pricier, perhaps, but these drivers are artists of the road, guiding you not just physically but through the heart and soul of Santorini.

Timing is Everything—Avoid the Peak Season

Timing can turn Santorini from a paradise to purgatory. In the warmer months, the island sizzles, not just from the sun but from the sheer human heat. Crowded streets and tourist bottlenecks are a reality you might not find on the postcards. Picture this: you, standing in as much space as a falafel, squinting to see an Instagram-infamous blue dome, sharing the view with someone’s selfie stick. Timing can make all the difference. February’s chill comes with a superpower—it wards off those not enchanted under the spell of off-season charm. The smart traveler avoids the broil of summer and instead opts for the whisper of autumn’s winds, where the island is left to the truly enchanted.

The Room With That View – Making the Aegis Yours

Ah, to gaze upon the caldera fire from your balcony with a glass of wine, there’s no feeling quite like it. Hotels here vary from quaint nooks to grand villas, but don’t be swayed by just the stars; it’s all about that view. Plan in advance, put in those calls, send those emails, secure that spot where the sunset paints your room in hues you can’t name, but you feel in your soul. It’s a Santorini subculture, this view, and once you’ve woken up to it, you’ll crave it always.

Beach Please! Dipping and Diving in Santorini’s Best-kept Secrets

Contrary to its rocky reputation, Santorini harbors beaches that could rival any in the world. While the Red Beach may be a favorite among tourists, it’s spots like Vlychada Beach, with its lunar landscape, that capture the truly otherworldly essence of the island. Pack your swimsuit, and maybe a camera, for these sandy sojourns.

The island of wine—don’t miss out.

Santorini boasts a unique wine scene with vines woven into baskets to protect them from the wind. These volcanic grape yields produce delectable wines unmatched elsewhere. Do a tasting tour; it’s not about binge-drinking, it’s about savoring the local flavors—assyrtiko, nykteri, and vinsanto, to name a few. The charm of a Santorini winery is much more than wine. It’s about the rural tradition, the passion of the winemakers, and of course, more views!

Other things to know before traveling to Santorini:

Ethical Exploring: Mind the Donkeys!

One of the blots on Santorini’s sun-kissed horizon is the donkey riding business. A once synonymous experience with visiting the island, it’s now a polarizing practice accompanied by ethical and humane concerns. Spare the donkeys and pick a more modern mode of transport. Your conscience and the island’s donkeys will thank you.

The Do’s and (Especially) Don’ts

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. In Santorini, it’s more about what the locals don’t do. Don’t ride the donkeys; it’s not the tradition anyone should cherish anymore. Do immerse yourself in the food; every bite is a piece of culture, history, and downright fisherman’s fortune. Don’t miss out on the local events; they’re like oxygen to the island’s heartbeat. Do take the time to engage; it’s a conversation that lasts the voyage you’ll undertake with yourself.

I believe that you can travel the world without quitting your job. I believe that you can experience all the magic, the foodies and the cultures of the world while having a normal life. And, perhaps, two dogs. This is exactly what I’ve been doing for 15 years. This is exactly what my blog is about. Love, Lilia

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