BUT surprise, surprise – the beaches were not all that great! If you want beautiful beaches and whatnot, get your ass to Paros or Naxos.
Santorini does have beaches, don’t get me wrong – I went to the red beach, which was cool and all, but it didn’t have that super soft sand that you may picture. It was more like fiber-y chunks of tree bark.
The black beach and white beach are supposedly cool, too (I didn’t go) – but again, not what you expect. Santorini is a raised island, so it’s up on a platform. Hence the not so great beaches and rockiness.
And I was not in it for the romantic nights or Greek men because I had a boyfriend at the time. But I WAS nervous to go to Santorini solo because I thought it would literally be all couples and I’d feel super lame and left out and alone forever.
Yet nay – it was not like that at all! I met two other solo female travelers in my hostel Fira Backpackers on the first night and we went to see the sunset in Oia together. SO HA, take that silly brain.
The next day Andrew arrived (the friend I’d made several days before in Athens) and I met another solo female that was staying in his room in our hostel! Basically if you’re a solo female and you really wanna go to Santorini you should 100% do it. There will def be couples (quite a few when we went to see the sunset) but I guarantee there’ll be some other single ladies there, too!
OKAY so. You’re probably like, well that sounds chill and all, but like what should I actually DO in Santorini? GIRL (or guy), LET ME TELL YOU.
GETTING TO SANTORINIYou can either fly directly into Santorini or take a ferry. I love ferry rides and boat things and basically anything on the water, so I would 100% take them over and over again, but that’s just me! Ferry rides are also a little cheaper.
Depending on which ferry you take, it’s about a 7.5 hour or 4.5 hour trip from Athens. Read more about the ferries here.
Once you get into Santorini, you’ll need to take a bus to the part of town you’re staying in. It’s pretty easy to figure this out, since there are a TON of buses just waiting at the ferry port once you arrive. The buses list their end destination, but you can also just ask the bus driver if it goes to your part of town.
GETTING AROUND SANTORINI
Santorini is much bigger than you may expect – I’d suggest either renting an ATV or know that you’ll be taking the bus.
The buses in Santorini are pretty reliable so we didn’t have any trouble taking them (EXCEPT for the night when my friend Andrew and I were at the Red Beach and the last bus never came!!).
WHERE TO STAYI stayed in Fira (the city center), which I really liked. Other popular places are Oia (more couple-y but great views), Imerovigli (quieter and further from the city center), or Perissa (near beaches, no views, quieter.)
If you’re a solo female, I’d suggest Fira since it’s in the center, has easy access to transportation, and has a bit more going on than the other parts of town. I stayed at Fira Backpackers and would highly recommend it. You’ll be in the center of town and close to a 24-hour bakery (EEEEEEK). They also offered laundry services for a ridiculously cheap price (I mean, you still have to do your own laundry but it was like €2 for soap) so I took full advantage of that! It was also definitely geared more towards younger travelers/meeting people, which was nice.
I went there right before the tourist season in early June, and it was already starting to get crowded. If you’re going to go, I would HIGHLY discourage you from going in July or August, as it’s been rumored to feel like Disneyland. I think fall and spring are definitely the best seasons to go!
But without further ado – here’s what I enjoyed doing in Santorini!
WANDER AROUND THE CALDERA…It’s free. And you can’t beat free. AND THE VIEWS!!!
I wandered around in Fira, and found that once I passed all the shops and restaurants it was pretty empty – perfect for blue-domed church scouting, relaxed vibes, and getting pics with no people.
Just know that there are a shit ton of stairs – be prepared!
…AND STARE AT ALL THE PRETTY DETAILS
They really know how to decorate on the Greek islands, let me tell ya. Ugh. I couldn’t handle all the beautiful doors and contrasting colors. JUST. SO. BEAUTIFUL.
SEE THE SUNSET SOMEWHERE
I mean, I don’t think the sunset in Oia was the most beautiful freaking sunset I’d ever seen in my entire life (and the crowds of people around didn’t make it any better, lol) but it was still pretty freaking gorgeous. You literally see the sun sink into the water, which is cool, and everyone claps after it’s over.
If you do decide to go to Oia, make sure you get there EARLY to secure a good sunset viewing spot. If you’re planning on taking the bus over, make sure you line up early, as well, as they fill up fast and you may have to wait another 20 minutes for the next one.
THE VOLCANO/HOT SPRINGS TOUR WAS PRETTY COOLIt was only €20, and you take a boat ride (on a cool looking boat!!) over to an island where you hike to a volcano. The volcano itself was kinda anitclimactic (it’s like a small amount of smoke rising from a small hole) but the guides are pretty knowledgable and give you some good info.
Then, they take you to some ‘hot’ springs (spoiler alert: they were definitely more lukewarm than anything) and you put mud all over yourself. Then you ride the boat back. I thought it was pretty cool overall, and totally worth the money.
Whatever you do, PLEASE DO NOT ride the donkeys up or down to the dock. There’s a gondola you can take, or you can walk (but be prepared for it to be smelly!) – the donkeys don’t seem to be treated too well, and have to walk up and down extremely steep and slippery stairs all day.
BUT IF YOU DON’T DO THE TOUR, AT LEAST GET ON A BOAT
Did you even go to the Greek Islands if you don’t take a boat ride somewhere? And yeah, I guess a ferry kinda counts…But if you can, you should definitely do some other sort of boat ride!
When we were in Oia, there were a ton of boats out on the water doing a sunset tour (not sure how expensive that is, though, but it looks super pretty), and the volcano tour is cool and only €20, and there are plenty of other cool boat things to do!
EAT MORE SOUVLAKI AND GO TO MORE BAKERIES
RELAX UNTIL YOU CAN’T ANYMOREGreece is a place for relaxation and chilling the EFFFFF out.
THE RED BEACH IS ACTUALLY RED
Such a pretty place! It really does like more reddish than I expected it to, and the color of the water is beautiful! It is a little rocky and kind of a trek to get to if you’re taking the bus, but it’s totally worth it IMO. I think Chacos or Tevas are great to wear for this excursion.And I know people LOVE to hate on sports sandals, but I personally think the all black Chacos are actually pretty cute.
HAVE DINNER ON THE WATER
Andrew and I stopped for dinner on our walk back from the Red Beach, and watched the sun go down as we ate. It wasn’t the BEST meal I’d ever had, and you could tell it was 100% catered for tourists, but the view was so pretty I didn’t mind.
WHAT I MISSED
- The hiking trail from Fira to Oia
- The cool cliff jumping spot in Amoudi Bay
- The white beach and the black beach
- Maaaaaybe I would’ve rented an ATV. However, since I’d already rented a go-kart in Paros, I didn’t feel the need to rent one again, and they were a little more expensive in Santorini. And I admit that I was a little terrified to drive one – Andrew did most of the driving in Paros, and I’ve heard some horror stories of tourists flipping them etc. The traffic on Santorini can be a little crazy!
However, as much as I enjoyed Santorini, I don’t think I’ll be back (unless I book a place at one of those cliffside infiniti pools!!). Don’t get me wrong – I love Greece, but would choose to go back to Paros or another less touristy island (read: not Mykonos or Ios; lately I’ve been thinking Milos or Zakynthos).