Going to spend around 5-6 days between Athens and Santorini with my husband in early July. Any suggestions on must-do things while we're there?
If you're interested in Ancient Greece, in Athens go to the Parthenon, the National Archaeological Museum and the New Acropolis Museum. On Santorini visit the archaeological sites of Akrotiri and Ancient Thera.
Go down below the village of Oia on Santorini for a meal on the water in Amoudi Bay at Katina's Fish Taverna. The best swimming on the island is at the end of the seawall that begins right next to the wharf in Amoudi Bay. A couple of years ago there was a rockslide down there that blocked the path at about the halfway point but you can just climb over the rubble to reach THIS.
Another great idea for Athens. Go to the roof top lounge of the Plaka Hotel in Athens. There is a wonderful view of much of the city and the Parthenon, it is illuminated at night and is beautiful.
You can enjoy a beverage from the bar counter at the top of the roof ..... we enjoyed it so much, we went back a second night to enjoy it again.
In Santorini I loved Oia and I also took a local bus to Red Beach from Fera; another day walked down the path to the Caldera edge and then rode a donkey back up to the top.
Awesome, thanks so much for the tips. Is it worth it to take the ferry to Santorini?? Or just fly?
The conventional ferry takes 8 hours. If there's an overnighter you won't waste any daylight hours ashore. Taking the faster 5-hour catamaran is risky then because the Meltemi winds are strongest in July and the seas get too rough for the smaller cats. The ferry stops at 3 islands on the way for about 20 minutes and there's not much to see otherwise.
I always fly. It takes 30 minutes.
I second that suggestion of flying..... I also flew to Mykonos from Athens on another trip.
The boats are nice, but as mentioned it does eat into your vacation time.
I presume you are flying into and out of Athens. If that's true, I would recommend flying to Santorini immediately upon arrival into Athens (allow a couple of hours between your incoming flight and the flight to Santorini). Spend 3 or 4 days on Santorini, and then fly or ferry back to Athens.
If you have 6 nights, you could spend 3 nights on Santorini, then take the ferry back toward Athens, stopping off at Naxos or Paros for a night along the way, for a taste of another island. Then continue by ferry back to Athens, for your last 2 nights.
Planes are much faster, but this would give you a little experience with the ferries as well.
Santorini is great. My family of 5 was there for a day on a cruise ship. Once we took the cable car up the side of the cliff we were greeted by multiple taxi drivers. We negotiated for the taxi to drive us around the island for the day. We went to Oia, a wine factory, climbed a cliff to some old buildings, went the the red sand beach and the black sand beach. It was a wonderful day. The taxi also let us stay that the black sand beach for an hour before taking us back to the cable car so we could return to the ship. this was all for the same price that the cruise ship charged for just going to Oia with a bus load of people. It was great to meet someone who took great pride in his home town. He even pointed out his house as we drove by it on the way to the beach.
I would recommend something similar but broken up over a few days. You could arrange with the taxi driver to drop you off at the beach and pick you up later in the day. By pre-arranging a few events would help secure a loyal taxi driver that would look out for you.
Here are a few more details of what I remember:
Oia - Beautiful town over looking the water. I would stay this is where the majority of the pictures of Greece are taken from. All the buildings are white with a few blue and red painted roofs. We were sailing out when the sun was setting but I am told the best sunsets are seen from Oia. Nice cafes overlooking the water
Thyra - This is the main town and where most of the shopping was.
Red Sand beach - Santorini actually has two different types of lava formations. Red and Black. Over time the waves have broken this down into sand. We drove to this beach but did not go to the beach. To get the the water, you have to climb down the side of the mountain. We didn't want to take the whole day for this so we just took pictures from top of the cliff. If I had the day, I would definitely go back to this beach. Also, this was near the archeological site but it was closed when we were there because of the had some issues. Not sure if it is back open
Black Sand beach - Nice beach on the other side of the island. This was easier to access. Restaurants and gift shops were along the beach. Be careful, the black sand is extremely hot. Just walking a few steps would start to burn my feet. Water was ice cold.
There was a wine factory that we went to that had incredible views.
Hope this helps.
Also, one last thing is that I think there are ruins on a near by island that you can take a boat ride to fairly easy.
You will have a great time. This is definitely one place I will return again someday to stay more than just one day.
There are no ruins near Santorini that you can reach on a daytrip excursion. It will require that you spend at least one night on another island. The Ruins are on Delos and the islands are Naxos, Paros and Mykonos.
That said, Santorini has its own archaeological sites that deserve a visit, Akrotiri and Ancient Thera.
You can join a half day Athens Sightseeing tour and explore Plaka in the afternoon.
The Must Do’s in Santorini Go up the Caldera on a mule ride, Dive into the sunset, Visit a winery, Go to Ammoudi for swimming and eating. You can either enjoy beaches during your stay or join; Volcano Tour, Villages & Wine Tasting, Villages & Sunset in OIA
Ferries depart almost everyday from Athens to Santorini and it takes approx 6 to 8 hours.