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1 week Santorini itinerary feedback and suggestions please

We have been planning to go to Santorini for probably a couple of weeks or so, as we have never been there and given borders has just been reopened etc

Originally, we were intending to go in middle of November this year to celebrate our wedding anniversary but I learnt that Nov is dead quiet and it would be ideal to go JUST before the season finish before end of Oct where the shops, restaurants will be mostly closed so decided to go in a fixed date between 20th to 28th Oct though ticket has not been purchased yet, so I would like to pan out the itinerary and see what you guys think of

(Fly Oct 20, arrive Greece on 21 Oct)
Day 1 - Departs at night and arrive Athens 21st Oct @ 1:30pm. First domestic flight from Athens to Santorini @ 2pm, obviously is not enough time, next flight is 4:30pm, so I will be opting to take this time catching Sky Express and should be enough time for 3 hours, no? Intend to stay overnight in Fira budget hotel x 2 nights. Walk at night Fira and enjoy sunset if enough time
Day 2 - Fira walk around the town, take photos, have meals, head to Imerovigli.... and possibly hike to Skaros Rock (if have time) OR hike from Fira to Oia and then take the bus back to Fira?
Day 3 - Check out (leave baggage). Take cable car and explore in Fira again (if not yet done the previous day). Then take bus to Oia around 3pm to check in at reasonable budget hotel x 2 nights. Enjoy sunset and dinner nearby
Day 4 - Explore full day in day in Oia, enjoy sunset and dinner nearby.
Day 5 - Check out. Then check in 2 x luxury hotel @ Oia. (I assume that the 1 full day exploring Oia in the previous day will be sufficient because most likely we will enjoy the pool, spa, caldera view etc and not go out!)
Day 6 - Relax in hotel, and possibly take away dinner at the luxury hotel in Oia
Day 7 - Check out at 11am. Rent a car and explore. If Fira was not enough on day 2/3, go back again. Or otherwise drive to Akoritiri Lighthouse, Redbeach, Pyrgos (to be honest, these few places are NOT a must but can't think of what to do). Otherwise, perhaps we will NOT rent a car and go for a day tour for a full day volcano/hot spring excursions? Then stay overnight in Santorini airport nearby
Day 8 (28th Oct) - Drop the car off in morning (if we intend to rent) @ airport as we have an international flight from Athens at 3pm, so will either take 8:30am (there are 2 x 8:30am flights in Aegean or Sky express ) and 10:30am (Volotea) flight to Athens. I assume 10:30am will be sufficient so that by the time we arrive Athens, will be 11:30am and given our international flight is 3pm, still have like 4 1/2 hours, no?

At the same time, I'd like to ask several questions if you do not mind please
1) Is that true that there won't be so many tourist in Oia and Fira given its near the end of the season as we are going end of Oct so it gives us a very big advantage?
2) Is the weather good in Oct?
3) Do you think Oct is a good time to go for off season? Or better if we go like in March or something?
4) Is that true that international driver permit is not needed anymore for Australians?
5) Is the Athens and Santorini airport big so I can navigate easily when departing/arriving?
6) I never drove a car steering wheel on the left hand side as I am used to driving the right hand side in Australia, I am not sure if it is good to drive first time like that especially I heard Santorini roads are very narrow, aggressive etc. Kinda worried in a way though I am a very experienced driver

Your feedback will be very much appreciated for whether the itinerary above is all good or anything that can be added or minus etc

Thank you very much in advance!!!

Posted by
2933 posts

I'm not one for moving around so much when I reach my destination. I'd rather stay in one spot and rent a car and visit each location as a daytrip. The island is small.

October should still be sunny but it won't be all that warm, especially at night. The best times to go are mid-May and Mid-September. September weather is great and the sea will still be warm from all the summer sun. March will be cold and wet. Aussies no longer need the IDP. The Athens airport is easy to navigate and the Santorini airport is small, and after some renovations, very efficient. Because of your inexperience driving on the other side of the road I suggest you reserve a car with an automatic transmission so you don't have to juggle clutch and shifter at the same time you're trying to remember what else to do.

Posted by
984 posts

I am with Lee on this. You are bouncing around way too much. Every time you change hotels you are going to send a good amount of time just waiting around between your present hotel check out time and the time for check in at your next hotel. Santorini is not large. Just find one hotel and do your exploring from there.
The last time we were in Santorini was late September. It was still active and busy. Our hotel owner told us that the season is ending at the end of October. That of course was pre Covid so who knows. It certainly will be cooling down in the evenings in October. Is there any chance you can push back your dates to early to mid October.

Bus and taxi transportation may remove the stress of driving on Santorini. The drivers are quite agressive.

Posted by
280 posts

When we were in Santorini we did not rent a car. We arranged for a taxi through our hotel in Oia to get from the airport to our hotel. Then we just used the local buses to get around. One day we took the bus from Oia towards Fira and asked the driver to let us off at Imerovigli and then walked from there to Firostephani and to Fira. The hike from Oia to Fira goes downhill, so that is why we chose that direction. The views are amazing. Then we took the bus back from Fira to Oia. Another day we took the bus from Oia to Fira and then from Fira to Akrotiri to see the archeological ruins which were fascinating. We were in Santorini in May and absolutely loved the weather then. We arranged for a taxi to take us from our hotel to the small Santorini airport on our last day. Wishing you a wonderful trip!

Posted by
81 posts

Hi Lee, Stanbr, organiser8

Thank you very much for your input as I appreciate that

  • Its great to hear that Aussie no longer need the IDP. But I have decided not to rent the car based on "organiser8"'s suggestion and plus I saw the video that is very windy and narrow so I dun think I would be comfortable with it

  • "stanbr" - In regards to changing hotel, I understand what you mean but we have switched to a few for a few reasons. One is to stay in a low/budget hotel so we can focus on going out most of the day in Fira while in Oia, the same reason just said, and then the last one would be just purely relaxing inside while we book a very expensive stay. And the 2 Oia stay is just within a few min walk of each other so we are fine with it

So based on the itinerary I have stated, does it look good apart from changing a few hotels and renting a car? Or 7 days is too much? I have heard some say 4 days is a bit long and 7 days is too much or just right etc. Whats your thoughts and experience?

Do you know if Athens and Santorini airport is very big?

Posted by
429 posts

We spent four nights in Santorini and found it to be just the right amount of time. A week would have been too much for us. The first night was basically check in; unpack and have dinner. Day two was a private tour that included a wine tasting; day three was a catamaran cruise; on day four we relaxed at the hotel and then took the bus to Oia for dinner and some exploring. We were there in late September/early October and Oia was still a madhouse, so I can't speak to how it is in late October. Everyone's idea of budget and or expensive pricing for hotels is different, so I'm not sure what price point you want to stay with. I too think you are doing too many hotel changes, so with that said, what about what about a compromise and just do one hotel? We stayed at Lithies Traditional Homes in Firostefani and loved every second there. Maria is phenomenal and will provide you with memories to last a lifetime. I looked at their booking calendar and their "Iris" home is available for $267 per night. That may or may not fit your budget, but for our money it was more than reasonable for location, service, beautiful accommodations, caldera views etc. They provide complimentary transportation to and from the airport. The airport in Santorini is very small; there is no need to find a hotel near the airport for your return flight. The airport in Athens is large, but very manageable. If I were you, I would consider fewer nights on Santorini and I would add another island. After our stay on Santorini we took the ferry to Naxos for a few days and loved that island as well. Many people think it is more of an authentic Greek experience. On that island we stayed at Hotel Grotta which is a wonderful family owned hotel. They too provide true Greek hospitality and the most amazing breakfast thanks to Mama and her crew. They also provide complimentary transportation to and from the port/airport. We also took a private tour on Naxos and it was terrific. The airport in Naxos is very tiny and we had a short flight from there back to Athens for the trip home. Both islands are fabulous and you will love your trip!

Posted by
81 posts

Hi TravelBug79,

Thanks for the input and feedback as it helps!
But yeah, we dun mind changing few hotels as we usually go out most of the times while the other is purely for relaxing which justify in terms of the purpose and the price. For example, the decent stay in Fira for 2 nights is around AU$170 (including free airport transfer) , then the other 2 night decent stay in Oia is AU$500 (with a hot tub), then the other 2 nights for Oia luxury hotel is AU$2000 (private pool, hot tub, caldera view), so I guess you can see why we split it up into spending the last 2 nights just inside the resort/hotel, or otherwise there is no way I would pay this much if we were to go out for activity which would be a waste!

So basically, it would be around 3 1/2 or 3 3/4 full days exploring in Oia while the other 2 nights/2 days just purely relaxing in the luxury Oia hotel so I guess like you said, its just about right for 4 nights stay, huh?

On other other hand, now we have skipped the last day staying overnight in Santorini airport as you suggested......and instead we opt to fly out to Athens pretty much right after check out so we can spend kind of a day there so I changed to a new itinerary and this is pretty much final version and see what you think

  • Day 1
  • Arrive Athens at 1:30pm. Planning to take 4:30pm flight to Santorini. Check in. Walk Fira @ night. Overnight in Fira x 2 nights budget hotel;
  • Day 2
  • Walk around in Fira + Imerovigli for whole day and maybe Skaros Rock if have time?
  • Day 3
  • Check out (leave baggage at hotel). Take cable car and explore in Fira again (if previous day is not done). Go back to hotel, and then take bus to Oia to check in the budget hotel. Dinner nearby sunset in Oia. Overnight 2 nights in Will be staying within a few stairways of Amoudi Bay.
  • Day 4
  • Explore full day in day in Oia in town, alleyway, shops, restaurants, take photos, coffee etc.
  • Day 5
  • Check out (leave baggage at hotel), explore downstairs of Amoudi Bay. Then check in 2 x nights in luxury Oia hotel nearby. I assume that the 1 full day exploring Oia will be sufficient from the previous day so most likely we will just enjoy the pool, spa, caldera view etc in the following 2 days
  • Day 6
  • Relax in luxury hotel, possibly go out for dinner or take away
  • Day 7
  • Check out hotel at 11am. There are 2 flights we are considering to take to Athens, either 2:15pm or 3pm (arriving 3:05pm & 3:55pm respectively). Take taxi to airport for flight. Take X95 bus to Syntagma Square and check in hotel. Drop baggage. Walk the alleyways and Plaka for the day/night
  • Day 8
  • 7:30am Start heading walking to Acropolis as it opens at 8am and walk around till 10:30am. Go back to hotel and take X95 to airport @ 11am (1 hour bus travel) to catch the 3pm international flight back home

Thanks

Posted by
779 posts

Wow, you really do plan your relaxation, don't you. For me, the reason to go to a place like Santorini is to throw out the schedule and just do what you feel like that day. But, if you want a detailed plan, yours is as good as any.

To answer your questions:
1) I went in May, which I assume is about as "off-season" as October, and Santorini was lousy with tourists and cruise ships.
2) No personal experience, but my research and comments I heard there tell me that weather is better in fall than spring.
3) If I were going back again (I won't), October would be my choice.
4) I don't know the "rules", but I can tell you I had an IDP and it never saw the light of day.
5) Santorini airport is very small (but crowded). Athens is, I would say, mid-sized, and easy to get around. Much smaller than Gatwick or Sydney (I see you're from Australia).
6) Even with a lifetime of driving on the right, driving around Santorini was a terror I never want to repeat. Extremely narrow, extremely aggressive, and made worse by thousands of drunk teenagers on ATV's and scooters. On the other hand, a car was for us better than relying on the crowded transit system to get us to the quieter parts of the island. We rented a Smart car and glad we did not have anything bigger.

Posted by
2291 posts

I've only been to Santorini for one day off of a cruise so my experience is limited. I do suggest you take a look at the cruise ship schedule for the days you are spending the day in Oia or Fira to see how many people you may be sharing the area with. https://www.cruisemapper.com/ports/santorini-island-port-69?tab=schedule&month=2022-10#schedule There are some days there are 4 ships in port, while others there will be only one.

  • Weather was amazing in mid-October in that region with highs in the low to mid 20's.
  • I didn't drive in Santorini but I have driven on the other side of the road through narrow roads in England. best advice I got was from the guy at the rental car place when I expressed my nervousness. he said if you're a good driver at home, you'll be a good driver here. I found it extremely handy to have my wife as a navigator and a reminder that left and right hand turns are different than what I was used to.
Posted by
429 posts

Unless your main goal is to spend two nights holed up in a "luxury" hotel, after you do some tourist things, then in my opinion you are still spending too much time in Santorini. You have a lot of "walking around" time in an area that's not all that large. If you love to shop, then perhaps that makes sense. As far as your plans for Athens, you will not have "kind of a day there". By the time you land in Athens after 3:00 p.m., grab your luggage, find the bus, travel to Syntagma, and check into a hotel, your day is pretty much gone. Traffic in Athens was a nightmare when we visited, and traveling from the airport took much longer than we planned. Again, just my opinion, but I do not think you have allotted nearly enough time to visit the Acropolis that next morning. It's not a quick site to visit and even at that time of day there may be crowds. You will be rushing around with perhaps enough time to snap an Instagram photo, then you will need to get back to the hotel, check out and get to the airport. (again, think traffic delays) And if by chance, there is a strike that day then you will really be in a world of hurt. I would urge you to rethink your plans.

Posted by
81 posts

"darrenblois", Thank you for the reply! Yes, I have travelled a lot and I realised that I like planning. I tried a few times to do what you feel like on that day but prefer to know what to do on that day

"Allan", it is great to hear that mid Oct is great weather as it is this time that we will be going! I checked that cruisemapper, it is about 1 cruise per day, is it that bad though?

"TravelBug79", thank you for your input. Yes my wife likes to shop and also explore the district thoroughly in Fira and Oia so there will be def. a moment that she wanna get lost in the alleyway. In regards to Athens, like I said before, originally we were going to leave at midnight out of Santorini and then sleep in hotel near the airport before waiting the flight for 3pm. But it seems to be a waste in a way, hence why decided to go to Athens early. Even when we arrive at Athens say....6pm by the time we check in, at least we can still go for a walk at night. And as for Acropolis, if it is too rush in the morning, it is not big deal too since it is NOT a must, we can simply walk around the town in the morning before we head to the airport and then come back another time, but yeah, we will see as this is still all prelim

Posted by
2291 posts

"Allan", it is great to hear that mid Oct is great weather as it is
this time that we will be going! I checked that cruisemapper, it is
about 1 cruise per day, is it that bad though?

Since I was only there for one day and I can't compare how many cruise ships are too many. There were 3 in port while we were there and the main walkway through Oia was ridiculous. However, we got took a right off the main walkway toward the ocean and the tourist traffic dropped by 90%. Getting a bus back to Fira at about 4 in the afternoon was a bit ridiculous as there was no systemized line for people to get on a bus and so it was a free-for-all of tourists pushing their way to the front. Once we got back to Fira though, ours was the only ship left and we had the place to ourselves. Even the majority of people from our ship seemed to have left in time to eat for free on the boat. I'd say it makes sense if you can avoid Fira and Oia between 10 and 3.

Posted by
81 posts

"Allan"

Interesting, thanks for the tip
I had a look at the cruisemapper
I am grateful because the one on 26th Oct has 4 cruise ships and i expect that it wil be very full but during those 2 days period will likely be the day we will stay in the resort to chill and relax and not go out!

Let's say for other days, if the cruise leaves at 9pm, what time do you think they will be back to the pier? 1 hour before? 2 hours before? That way we know that the district like in Oia or Fira will be empty

Posted by
81 posts

Does anyone know where this spot is approx in Fira

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/8237391601/in/album-72157632154800782/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/22947116996/in/album-72157632154800782/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/37621886164/in/album-72157632154800782/

Or basically, I do not need to worry as when we walk along, we will see this lovely side position anyways?

as well as this view looking to the top view of Fira: (I guess this is the short boat cruise where you can see upwards?)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/22554807227/in/album-72157632154800782/