The reservations have been made and the plane tickets have been purchased and now I am planning for our adventures in Greece, just a mom and her 13 yr old son. I have already booked tours for the Acropolis in Athens and for a 1 day trip to Delphi, but I haven't planned much for Santorini, except wondering around the towns and maybe some fun at the beach, parasailing, jet skis maybe (is it too cold to swim in early June??? I wouldn't think so but...??) Any advice for either place? Things that we should not miss out on? Places to be avoided? I am excited, but a bit nervous, as we will be on our own for most of this trip. Particularly curious about driving around Santorini, parking, how easy or difficult it is to get lost!! I will happily accept any advice, suggestions, and would love to read about any of your experiences good or bad in either place. Thanks!
In my experience, it is pretty impossible to get lost on Santorini; however, driving will take bravery and force of will; you can't be tentative. There are signs all over that say, "I Love Life. I Drive Safely." Although the car was fun to have to get to the beaches that were further out (your son will probably enjoy Kamari), we really liked taking the public bus on little excursions (those drivers have skills). In terms of parking, it depends where your base is. Have fun!
We walked and walked when on Santorini and it was wonderful - a car would have prevented us from seeing most of what we saw - you get the wonderful vistas when you walk, and the buses are regular, reliable and totally OK to ride. I would save the money you will spend on a car. Put it into sitting in some of the wonderful cafes right on the 'edge' of the cliff faces just absorbing the views, and eating of course!
Christine is right. You can't realy get lost on Santorini, and if you should manage to do so, you'll just have an unexpected area to explore. So enjoy it.
Both Athens and Santorini are excellent areas for photographers. If you haven't already done so, get one of the small digital cameras (Canons are very good and very reasonable), buy some memory cards, and see if your son might have an interest in photos.
June will be OK for swimming. Use lots of sunblock.
Santorini: We rented a car for the four days we were here. Originally thought we would use this island to "hop" to others but neither my husband or 2 teens (ages 13 and 15) wanted to leave. We loved every minute and this was one of our cherished memories from this vacation. Check out Volcanos Villas (google for link) for a FANTASTIC place to stay in Oia if you decide to stay here. Honestly..I would highly recommend it! Don't stay in Fira or the beach hotels on black beach when you could stay in Oia for just a bit more. PS: No problem driving in Santorini. We traveled in mid June. Also spent 3 1/2 days in Athens. Way too long! You only need 2 days max there. Things to do: Black beach for swimming and sun. Red beach - highly recommend if you can hike a bit. Spectacular viewpoint. Ruins day trip.Monastery visit. Oia village for food/sunset/views/shopping. Fira for much of the same. Volcano visit. Yes, do the watersports for sure. Water was fine for swimming in mid June 07. Lots to do!
Wow, i can't believe that no one has mentioned going out to the volcanic island, which is what's left of the volcano that made the caldera. Granted I was there a long time ago, but not in geologic time. It was a fun trip--boat ride followed by a hike. Also, wouldn't you want to see the ruins of the civilization that the volcanic eruption destroyed? We rented moped when were there, but with a 13-year old you might want to invesitgate bikes. While on the way to the ruins we found a wonderful cafe on the beach by just following a cafe sign that pointed down. Cafe sitting in Thira's town is marvelous. We spent a whole day in one cafe. We go there early, met people, talked and watched the locals set up for the cruise ships. We were right at the top of the donkey path. The last thing out was the soft ice cream machine. Ah, well that is likely no longer the only soft ice cream machine.