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Santorini Oia/Fira

We are going to Santorini for 4 nights, do we stay in Oia or Fira or is it better to stay off the beaten path? Is a rental car necessary? We are traveling with 6 adults and a 15mo. We would love to check out other islands/take a couple day trips but we have heard that things aren't up in running at the end of May, is this true?

Thanks!!

Posted by
1024 posts

In my experience, Oia is more picturesque through intention, meaning that they buried power lines so that the view is not obstructed, the look of everything is amplified for beauty bc thats what they are selling. And it is beautiful. And it is very touristy. It will be less crowded for you in May, though, but when I was there mid-summer, by mid-day the walkways were so crowded you were literally shuffling in a mob through the passageways (we got there first thing in the morning and it was not crowded then). We stayed near Fira - a 15 minute walk away, which was perfectly fine, especially for the money saved, but I did wonder if, once you decide to go to Santorini, you shouldn't just go all in (meaning, I started coveting places built into the cliff that I know cost hundreds per night, but in the end, Im glad we stayed true to our values). Without a car I would definitely stay in one of these. On the other hand, I would rent a car to see more of the island. We visited Akrotiri which was really interesting, and the lighthouse.
If you hope to do a day trip to another island, I would suggest splitting your time between Santorini and the other island. It takes at least 20-30 minutes just to get to the dock in Santorini. Rather than spend so much time in transit, just spend 2 nights in each.

Posted by
98 posts

We traveled to Greece last October. Santorini CROWDED! I doubt that May will be better but both times way better than summer. Stayed near Fira a few blocks from the main bus depot (costamarina.gr). Quiet, nice rooms, great staff. Took bus tour of Akrotiri excavation, Perissa beach, mountain overlook, Megalochori picturesque town & ended in Oia for sunset. All okay except Oia. We walked a couple of days around both Fira and Oia. Lovely to look at but packed with tourists (us too) during the day. If you don't like looking at mud brick excavations, just visit the museum in Fira - it has a bunch of the findings from the dig. (More are in Athens museums). Agree that island day trips are a poor time use. If you are stuck on Santorini for 4 nights, become a foodie, shopper & people watcher. Talk with locals - they often have interesting stories. There are plenty of picturesque places if the group wants to split up to explore. If flexible, think about 2 days on Naxos or Paros by ferry. Naxos airport closer to town. Both islands have fewer tourists.

Posted by
21 posts

We aren't married to Santorini, we called a Rick Steves' consultant and he was all about Santorini and Hydra. We haven't booked anythng on Santorini yet. We are spending 2.5 days and Athens and then have 4 days to play with on island/islands before heading back to Athens for a day before heading back to the states. We have a ton of information about Santorini and Hydra from the consult call, but the more I'm reading these forums I'm having doubts!

Posted by
21 posts

I lied, we have 7 days to play with on islands. Got confused with my itinerary:/

Posted by
2568 posts

R Steves always re commends Hydra because it's part of many of his trips, or else is an easy add-on for a day-trip from Pireaus. If you are traveling with that size of group, on an island that bans cars, you would be limited to the waterfront area pretty much. They also push Santorini... RS recently did a video based on a cruise trip that stops at Santorini, Rhodes & 2 other places... that also may account for the strong promotion of Santorini. If you go to Santorini, you can get by using the busses, but the hotel costs are so high, that is a consideration (BTW, for best advice, you absolutely need to give key facts, such as the budget limit you have for hotel per night for 6 + baby -- otherwise we'd waste time & effort providing suggestions based on guesswork).

A group of 6 + toddler would require a rental of TWO cars, so you'd want to think hard about island choices ... perhaps it would be good to look at islands that don't require a car as much. Are the 6 adults all the same age, or are there 2 couples who are youngish ( 30s - 40s) plus a retirement-age couple (which may be footing the bill)?? Differences in ages, & interests, may affect where you want to go & what area of an island you want to stay in?

Have you considered the cost/time required to go to islands? A ferry trip to Santorini takes 8-9 hours (fare about €55-60), a ferry trip to Naxos takes 5+ hours (Fare about €38-40)... are you prepared to pay for a domestic flight for 6 at least 1 way?? (this will vary from €60 - €100+ for Naxos -- and €70 - 250 for Santorin) -- flight for Naxos is 45, flight for Santorini is 50.

The "vets" on this forum can give some very concrete & specific suggestions for enjoyable & do-able choices IF you'll provide the above info ... ASAP, because the best values for late May already are being booked, in planes & lodgings.

Posted by
21 posts

Janet,

Thanks for the tips - Here is the information you requested:)
1 couple + baby (30's) brother and sister (mid 20's) and parents (mid 50's) - price is not a big concern, however will look for the deal over comfort, the younger attendees will most likely be sleeping on a couch instead of another room/bed:) Everyone is in good shape, meaning walking a fair distance is doable even with the toddler, she loves the carrier and stroller. We all have similar interests, wine, hiking, views (some history/museums, but doesn't need to be a highlight)..more relaxed vacationers (santorini seems very crowded). We would prefer flying to Santorini or Naxos over ferry trips.

Hope that helps, let me know if I can provide more details.

Posted by
98 posts

Thanks for additional info. Maybe given the group travel costs as Janet points out, you might consider renting a van at the Athens airport. Staying on the highway/toll road, head for the Peloponese, especially Nafplio. Except in Athens, driving was easy with good signage and courteous drivers. If in Nafplio, definitely stay at Pension Marianna (hotelmarianna.gr), but do not delay. Place is recommended by everybody. There is lots of walking on Santorini - precious little real hiking. It is a desert island & hot! We did a lot of walking on Naxos & Paros but there are some hikes listed. We stayed in Nafplio with day trips by car to nearby sites. Did some long walks/hikes in Nafplio but few were scenic. Friends have visited other parts of Peloponese and found hiking. Friends that took RS Greek tour liked Hydra but others who have also been to other islands were not enchanted. Santorini is a classic Greek Island and as such pretty much a must, but having been there, we do not expect to go back. Naxos, Paros & Nafplio are definite returns.