We will be making our first and probably only trip to Greece this summer either June or July 2019. We are not into huge crowds. Do you think we are crazy to skip seeing Santorini or can we get the same beauty from some of the other islands like, Lesvos, Naxos, Paros and Syros. We have about 10 days including travel days.
I've never been there, but since I think you're asking a philosophical question as much as a practical one, I'll give you an answer.
You are never crazy to skip anything. The only thing that's crazy is to go to somewhere you aren't interested in because everyone tells you you have to, or because it's popular.
Go where your heart leads you. And have a wonderful trip!
No you aren't crazy. When I planned our month-long trip to Greece, I initially didnt have Santorini as part of it. Then I was persuaded to add it bc of its bucket-list status (not my bucket list, but many people's). So we went for 2 ½ days. It was beautiful, but in a performative way, and bc the island basically functions as a tourist idyl, there are hordes of tourists, and rentals and buses and restaurants, but little sense of life being lived. In other words, I guess it felt like a big resort. I do not like resorts. Yes Oia is beautiful (they put the phone lines and electricity underground to maximize the uninterrupted visual splendor), the geography was interesting, but it was our least favorite place we visited and in hindsight, I wish we'd gone somewhere else. Not my cup of tea (middle aged mom and dad with three t/weens, for reference). But it is for many people apparently. We really liked Naxos, by comparison. Especially with only ten days.
We went to Santorini and then Naxos. My young adult sons really wanted to go to Santorini. I too was amazed by the sights, especially hiking between Fira and Oia.
We then went to Naxos. The same two sons came back after half a day exploring the island and announced at dinner that Naxos was even better than Santorini!
Naxos has its own splendor, although it is not as visually stunning as Santorini. I was part of a family group of 7 and it was all of our favorite place. We were there 4 nights and would have loved at least one more. It has a tourist infrastructure but but does not have the Disneyesque quality of Santorini. There are beautiful beaches as well as mountains.
Face it, there are way more wonderful places to see than any of us can see in one trip in Greece. You should choose what makes you the most happy!
WHERE FROM? it really would help us advise, if you'd share this (why so terse? in Witness Protection?). West Coaster have MUCH longer trip, arrive later, & that can subtract a whole day. In any case, you can't count your Take-off day, cannot count your ATH arrival day unless you get there by 10 - 11 am, and cancount home-bound day at all ... so you really have only 7 or 7.5 days.... which means you must edit your wish-list Here are my preliminary thoughts:
RE SANTORINI - If you choose Naxos or Paros, these islands have a joint day-excursion to Santorini -- whereby you can arrive at teh Santorini dock about 10:30 AM, a special bus takes you to the (highly promoted) village of OIA for 2 + hours of time, then re-board bus back to FIRA town for the rest of your time... then 4:30 or so, the bus takes u back to the pier. Back at your island for a serene sunset & dinner. Gives you the "Famous Caldera View" for about €55 without the hassle & cost of a Santorini stay.
• JUNE is way better than July from standpoint of weather, prices, crowds. All of N. Europe invades in July-August.
• DO ATHENS LAST - On landing (allow 2 hrs) ASAP board a domestic flight to your island, then work your way back. Thus you only stay in central athens ONCE, since u have to be there anyway the night before your homebound flight.
• FORGET LESVOS - it's waaay over by Turkey, and IF you choose more than 1 island, needs to be in same island group.
• CHOICE: NAXOS or PAROS - each has its avid fans... do your Own Homework & decide either/or, or both ... one option could be 4 days NAxos, ferry (1 hr) to Paros for a day, and that evening or EARLY a.m. next day, fly back to Athens for final 2 days.
• SYROS - ferry connections not as good & the port Square is main highlight. It's a fave place for Greeks (97% of visitors are Greeks on holiday, they mainly ignore others, not as welcoming a feel for non-related folks, just my experience.)
Thank you - food for thought. We would be flying into Athens from Dallas area.
I have never been to Santorini but I have been to Greece twice. In some hypothetical future I'd like to go, but I don't have specific plans and it's not under consideration for my next few trips to Europe. So, no it is not crazy to skip it.
I can't tell you for sure if it is better than other places because I haven't been there. What I can say is that rushing around to squeeze places in causes stress and less enjoyment. Especially with islands where appreciating natural beauty is important, you miss something important if you are rushing. 10 days isn't a lot of time, go only to the places that most draw you. Sounds like Santorini isn't that for you. So skip it and enjoy where you do go. I didn't go partly for logistics, partly for costs, and partly because it sounds too crowded in the summer. Maybe I would have loved it, but I've had wonderful trips without it.
I spent 3 weeks in Greece and have stayed on 6 islands. I've never been to Santorini and I'm not regretful. It's never crazy to skip a place unless it's somewhere you really want to go and will regret not going. We all make choices with our limited travel time and budgets. You can see just as much beauty on other islands without the crowds and I think you'll love anywhere you go in Greece.
Much as I love Lesvos, I agree that 10 days (including travel days) is not enough time to include it. We spent three weeks once just on Lesvos, traveling around the island, and have been back four times since. I really hope you can find your way to Greece again someday and spend some time on this lovely island.
You are not crazy to skip seeing Santorini, although if you want to see what all the fuss is about, you could take a day trip by ferry from Naxos.
If I were you, I'd spend 5 nights on Naxos (with that day trip to Santorini, and/or possibly a day trip to Mykonos to see the island of Delos). Spend 3 nights in Athens.
See if you can get a flight to Naxos directly upon arriving in Athens (allow at least 2 hours for the connection). Then fly back to Athens from Naxos and spend your remaining time.
Santorini is about bottom of my recommendations for a Greek island as it’s been ruined by over tourism and Greece has plenty more pretty places to visit that are more genuine. Go for it and miss Santorini - you won’t be disappointed with the rest of the country.
If you can, travel in early June - there will be fewer children around and the temperatures will be more bearable.
We visited both Naxos and Paros (4 nights each) in Sept 2018 and had a wonderful time. I think you will find less heat and crowds and maybe better prices in June. You may want to look at the cruise ship schedule for Santorini as well as there are over 150 cruise ships scheduled to visit Santorini in June and July alone.
I've never been to Santorini nor intend to. It's always "the" island people want to go to because of all the hype, glossy travel magazines and over-the-top PR.
There are numerous other islands and parts of the mainland that offer spectacular scenery, villages, beaches, and more traditional atmosphere and a lot less expensive.
If you really want to go to Santorini then pick an island where you can do a day trip there and see if it was crazy or not to skip it.
In the end it's your holiday so do what's right for you.
If you are considering Santorini you should click the below link about Santorini then make your decision:
We visited Santorini and Naxos in 2017. We spent 4 nights in lovely Firostefani (away from the crowds). 3 nights would have been plenty. The highlights were the Caldera view and a day tour to Akritori.
We LOVED Naxos. We stayed 6 nights at a resort. It was walking distance to town & great restaurants. We took public transportation to do a day tour. We did not have time to visit Paros but would have added another couple nights on our way back to Athens. As previously mentioned an option would be a day trip to Santorini.
**Edit: I watched the previous video. Yes, Oia is overrun by tourists when the Cruise Ships dock as well as at sunset. We avoided Oia midday & Sunset. We felt we had the best of both worlds staying in Firostefani-- the same Caldera view & no cruise ship crowd. Our last night we had dinner in Fira & walked back along the rim path--- magical!
We visited Santorini last year. I really wanted to go to the Akrotiri Excavation and was not disappointed (possibly the Atlantis of myths). However, its only 3% excavated, so I may have to return in the future. The excavation hadn't begun the last time I was in Greece in the 60's. The island was what we expected, a Disneyland version of Greece. We decided to leave a day early and have more time on our next island. The caldera is amazing, about the same size as Crater Lake. It gives you great sunsets, because of the elevation above sea level. We get the same here on the Pacific Coast.
We have been to Santorini several times starting in 1996. There is no question that the cruise ship crowds make it uncomfortable and it is very expensive. Having said that your decision to go or not to go depends on what you want to experience. Our experience was the Caldera view is amazing and it makes the whole experiences worthwhile.
You have had a couple of people responding to your post who have given very wise advice. You can manage the cruise ship crowds by skipping Oia and Fira during the day. I recall we were enjoying a morning stroll in Oia and at 9:30, 30 buses arrived. It was time for us to leave. Oia is famous for its sunset so is crowded until its finished but then the mass of tourists leave on their buses and the village is quiet for those people staying there.
The village of Firostephanie is part of Fira but is just far enough away that the cruise ship crowds don't go that far so it is peaceful. It also has the same Caldera views and the sunset is identical to what Oia experiences, just no crowds.
Here are images of Santorini taken over several years.
Perhaps these images will show you if you are crazy or not.
Ive skipped it four times now.. and we are skipping it again this june.. don't miss it. I enjoy seeing photos of it.. and seeing it used in movies.. ( where they never seem to show the smarming masses seething through the streets )
My daughter visited it 2 years ago.. took some lovely photos.. and then left after 2 days.. she actually really enjoyed Corfu ( Ive never been there so no idea why )
We prefer Naxos.. and will be visiting Paros again this year.. its been decades since Ive been there!
Santorini just isnt on our radar.
If I win a lottery and could afford some dream suite high on the cauldra with its own private pool I might relent.. lol.. for now we are not in the 800 euro a night catergory.
When reading all the replies, I think it would be safe to say that you should discard the advice given by people who never went to Santorini.
I have been to Greece five times, and I still don’t consider myself an expert.
Yes, I think you would be crazy to skip Santorini. There is nothing like it in the world. Those views are just incredible. Spend 2 nights if you are afraid of the crowds and then move on.
If you do decide to go: 1) spend the night on the caldera, not in Fira but further up between Fira and Oia. 2) Oia is the most beautiful village of Santorini. If you stay there, you have it to yourself between 6am-9am. And then again after the sunset, it is lively but not crowded. 3) if you can hike, do the Fira to Oia hiking trail, some of the best views of my life. Do it at sunrise. 4) this is an island where you should pay extra so you can wake up and have this extraordinary view while you have breakfast 5) Santorini has an airport, it is very easy to fly in. 6) avoid Fira like the plague
I have been to Santorini 4 times, and sometimes with my children. Go and I don’t think you will be disappointed.
Haven't been there yet, but we're signed up for four nights in late April after the RS Greece tour. Staying in Firastefani, which sounds like a good choice, and aiming to relax more than tour about. The scenery and caldera boat trips are the main draws for us. Off-season prices don't seem exorbitant in comparison to other popular European destinations. We'll make a trip report!
Bill in SoCal
Its been over two weeks since the original poster has made a comment. I wonder if he/she is still interested in the topic.
I think you should better skip Lemnos than Santorini remeber Santorini is one of the greatest Island In greece.
Here is a small Review that i wrote some days before for my blog it might change your mind!
Legend has it that Santorini emerged from the depths of the sea view justified by the timeless activity of the underwater volcano and the island's geological topography. However, evidence from the middle Bronze Age (1900-1600 BC) is more abundant and shows great development. There was a prehistoric settlement with a very important port in the area of Akrotiri (Promontory). In the late Bronze Age (approx. 1600 BC), the large volcanic eruption buried the settlement under 30 meters of ash.
Fira is Santorini 's largest settlement and capital. There is Gialos( the old port) to the west below Fira, where the cruisers make ports and the cable car takes visitors to the capital. Firostefani is almost connected to Fira.
Oia Since 1980, thousands of couples from all over the world have chosen for their wedding or honeymoon trip Oia and other Santorini villages. More than 500 ceremonies are estimated to be held annually. Orthodox marriages usually take place in churches overlooking Caldera, such as Fira Orthodox Cathedral, Aghios Minas, Imerovigli Anastasi Church, Aghios Georgios (St. George) and Panagia Platsani (Virgin Mary) in Oia; Catholics choose Fira Cathedral.
Thousands of people pass from the village annually to visit the famous archeological site with the excavation of the prehistoric settlement of Akrotiri.
According to state files of the Catholic Bishopric of Thira, web- built in the region from the end of the 16th century was available. Imerovigli is a linear settlement that has been built on the edge of the Caldera cliff. It offers a beautiful view of the volcano. Fira and Imerovigli are only 3 km away and either the asphalt road or the cobblestone old path leading from Fira to Firostefani and Imerovigli are within easy reach.
It's one of Cyclades' most famous and cosmopolitan beaches and is always full of foreign visitors. It has dark sand and clear crystal waters. Sunbeds and umbrellas are on the beach. Above it is the imposing Mesa Vouno (Mountain) where ancient Thera is constructed.
It is near Perivolos, in the shadow of the imposing Mesa Vouno, separating it from Kamari. Perissa used to be a holiday destination for the island's residents and had fish taverns from ancient times. It grew after the earthquakes of 1956 when it began to be densely populated.
Perivolos followed the growth of Perissa, a holiday and swimming destination for the locals centuries ago. Today it's a popular and busy beach that even young people prefer. It's essentially a large single beach and its neighboring Perissa. It is extensive, with black sand, crystal clear waters and a number of beach bars and restaurants offering sun lounges and other amenities. Water sports, beach volleyball, taverns and restaurants (specially small taverns serving ouzo and snacks), cafιs, bars and hotels are also available.
Important Links you might need
Greek National Tourist Organization
Hellenic Chamber of Hotels
Hi! I don't think it's really crazy to skip Santorini if you don't like the crowd! Of course, this island is amazing but as many others less expensive around and Santorini is a really expensive one. Personally, I'm living on Paros so I'm not so objective, Syros is really cute also with real greek life because they are not living from the tourism income.
So many islands to visit in the Cyclades !! Why don't try a cruise to avoid the ferry and to see the maximum in 10 days?
I spent a memorable vacation aboard this catamaran (https://www.catamaran-emelia.com) and believe me it was a truly amazing experience!
I'm sure you will enjoy your trip whatever your choices, Greece is such a beautiful country!!
You might want to reconsider the timing if possible. Fulll disclosure, I have not visited Santorini, but did visit Mykonos in October 2011 when the weather was still quite nice but crowds nonexistent. (This was on a cruiae). A local cafe owner who we spoke with at length said that six wees prior it would have been shoulder to shoulder outside her shop. This was in the busier part of town but it was quite empty when we were there.
We were in Santorini last week. I wouldn’t skip it, it’s quite unbelievable. However, with the help of Janet and others on this forum, here’s how we made it great. Don’t bother with high season, it will be mobbed. Fly in, dont ferry or cruise ship. The port was a crowded mess and not designed for the crowds.
We timed our stay from Friday to Sunday when there are no cruise ships. And we stayed in Firostefani, which is much quieter than Oia and Firo. Loved it.
@Andrea, thank you for sharing your eval. So appreciate it when we get feedback. Yes, Janet helped us out 2 years ago and she was spot on! Glad you enjoyed Firostefani! Excellent location as described.
Awwww shucks, guys (blush).
Anyway I follow my own advice .... soon 2 Philadelphia friends & I arrive ATH and zip off to Santorini for a quickie weekend glimpse (they are newbies so it's a Must-see)... and I look forward to seeing the wonderful Fotini Famiy again in Firostephani, in their cute little place Villa Fotini just steps away from the rim path. The daughter Maria runs the place now (a loss to the schoolchildren of Greece because she's a licensed teacher). Such good memories... only 8 units, each one sparkly clean -- super-crisp white linens (hung to sun-dry). And small thoughtful touches, like a chilled-water cooler in the lobby, to refill one's bottle. Why can't big fancy hotels do something this sensible!?! A couple of lovely sunsets (NOT in SuperJam Oia), and we're off to equally-wonderful landlady in Naxos ... the fun goes on!
Janet, have a wonderful journey with your friends!
Thanks Janis, glad you have happy memories...
Don't skip Santorini, it is special. We did the entire island in one day. Yes, there are crowds, but the place is amazing.
We liked Corfu, Mykonos (Delos) Crete as well.
We did the entire island in one day.
Geova - Would you mind sharing the details of the day you did Santorini? I have just started planning a trip to Greece, and like the OP, I'm on the fence about visiting Santorini.
Just go there to see the caldera view and Oia, then leave! We were stuck there for four nights on our first visit.
Why did we return? Because we wanted to visit ancient Akrotiri which was closed during our first visit due to it’s roof having collapsed, killing tourists..Akrotiri is well worth a visit.