Last updated on October 16th, 2019 at 07:16 pm
Santorini is the most famous destination in Greece, and rightly so! It’s a really unique, beautiful island. Due to its popularity though, there are certain things to avoid in Santorini.
Things to avoid in Santorini
From a sleepy, dry fishermen’s island in the 80s, Santorini has become one of the must-see destinations in the world. The hike from Fira to Oia, and the view to Santorini’s volcano, are simply stunning.
We totally get what attracts people to Santorini, and we will definitely visit again at some point. We also think that you will have a better time if you avoid a few things.
Don’t go to Santorini in summer
Do you like venturing out in nature on your own? Do you like quiet, unspoilt beaches? Are crowds a major deal breaker for you? If you have answered “yes” to any of these questions, then don’t go to Santorini in summer. Instead, consider visiting Santorini in winter.
Sure, winter is probably not the best time to enjoy the beaches on the Greek islands. However, it is the best time to enjoy Santorini without the crowds. In our opinion, Santorini’s beaches aren’t that special anyway – but Vanessa is very spoilt as she has probably been to over 40 of the Greek islands.
Some of the tours in Santorini might not be running in winter, but there will still be plenty of activities. Those who are planning to visit the volcano will be very pleased to go during the off-season, as temperatures in summer can climb to over 50C / 122F!
Don’t ride the donkeys in Santorini
Until 50-60 years ago, horses, donkeys and other animals were the most common means of transportation in Greece. These days it’s really very hard to imagine Greece without cars, but it’s very true. Donkeys are occasionally still being used all around the country, as they can reach places where vehicles can’t.
Many of the boat tours in Santorini depart from the small Fira port, known as “the old port”. Numerous volcano boat tours depart on a daily basis, several times during the day. And while most passenger ferries dock at the newer Athinios port, some cruise boats may still dock in the old port.
What’s the catch? There is no road from Fira port to any of the towns in Santorini, and there are only three ways to go up to Fira town. You can take the cable car, walk up the stairs, or ride one of the donkeys on offer.
We trust that you were not considering to ride the donkeys, but if you were, please change your mind. Yes, it might have been the only means of transportation 60 years ago, but it was out of necessity and things have changed a lot since then. Some of these animals are seriously overworked, and there is no reason to ride them when there are alternatives.
If walking up the stairs is too strenuous for you, which is absolutely understandable, the best way to get to Fira is the cable car. Expect some queues, especially if it’s summer and there are more cruise boats arriving around the same time.
Don’t take photos in people’s homes
Santorini is really, really picturesque. The blue-and-white houses are famous all over the world. The iconic blue-domed church overlooking the sea immediately brings up images of Greece.
It is very easy to forget where you are, and keep taking photos. You might realize, all of a sudden, that you are standing in a private balcony, or on the roof of a church.
Unless you are in your own private balcony with a view to the caldera, please be mindful of your surroundings. We can assure you that locals have had enough of disrespectful experiences!
Don’t leave rubbish behind
This should really be taken for granted anywhere you travel to, but we can’t fail to mention it. Please do not leave rubbish behind. Although the beach bars and other establishments generally take care of the beaches, and all of us should do our bit to help.
If you want to take it a step further, consider buying a travel water filter and avoid buying all these plastic bottles. The environment, along with Santorini’s mayor, will definitely thank you.
Don’t leave your transportation in Santorini to chance
Are you travelling to Santorini during peak season? Unless you are planning to take a bus from your point of arrival, we suggest that you book your hotel transfer or rental car in advance.
In fact, even if you are travelling to Santorini in the off-season, it’s best to have some of your transportation booked to avoid wasting time. We’re still strong minded about the donkeys though!
Apart from arranging a taxi through your hotel, you can check out Welcome taxis, a company offering private transfers in Santorini and many more places in Greece and abroad.
Finally, if you have booked a rental car that you are picking up from the airport, get a daytime flight to Santorini if you can. It will be a lot easier to orientate yourselves, and get used to driving in Greece.
Don’t book every single activity in advance
We get it – you are visiting from far, far away and you don’t want to waste a single moment. This is fine, but do take a minute to appreciate what has made Greece so popular all over the world.
We are not referring to the ancient sites – speaking of which, you shouldn’t leave the Ancient Akrotiri out of your itinerary. We are referring to our siga siga culture – slowly slowly.
Even people who work in tourism will find some time to enjoy a cold frappe and to enjoy their day. As a visitor, take some time to appreciate the moment, maybe sipping a glass of wine with a view to the caldera.
Don’t book all your Santorini restaurants in advance
This is very similar to our previous suggestion, but we thought we’d keep it separate. Sure, if you have read about Metaxi Mas restaurant in Exo Gonia (or any other) that you definitely want to visit, by all means go ahead and book it. Surely, all these people can’t be wrong!
However, consider leaving some flexibility in your schedule. What if you see a lovely taverna in a small village and you want to try it, but have booked to have a meal somewhere else in a couple of hours? Only book some of your meals if you must, and leave some space for spontaneity – this is where your best memories are likely to be made.
Don’t put the paper in the toilet
Many people who haven’t been to Greece before are shocked with this one. In most areas in Greece, flushing the toilet paper is a big no-no. It has to do with the size of the pipes, and the worst that can happen is what you have just imagined – a clogged toilet.
So, to keep things nice and clean, just put the paper in the bin right next to the toilet. You will quickly get used to it. And no, it’s not too smelly as the bag is changed on a daily basis. And while we’re at it, here are a few more things you should know about Greece.
Don’t just stick to Oia and Fira
Oia is world-famous, and for good reason, but it’s not like the rest of the island doesn’t have great sunsets. Any spot looking towards the west will have a lovely sunset. Our favourite was a random spot between Fira and Firostefani.
If you are in Santorini during peak season, don’t bother with Oia at sunset as all you are likely to see are a bunch of mobile phone cameras. Visit the town during the day if you want, and find a quieter spot to appreciate the sunset. If you are staying in a hotel with a caldera view, you don’t need to look much further!
If you are happy to drive, rent a car and get out for the day. Visit the mountain villages, and you will experience an entirely different side of Santorini, with fewer crowds and friendly locals. Emporio, Megalochori, Vothonas, Mesaria and many other villages only see a fraction of the visitors. So get out of Fira and Oia, and you won’t regret it!
Don’t have high expectations about swimming in Santorini
This is our very unpopular opinion, and we’ll stick to it. Compared to most other islands in Greece, Santorini’s beaches are rather mediocre. They can look exotic and pretty on the photos, but we found them rather disappointing. But we are lucky and spoilt, as we live in Greece!
If you are keen on swimming in Santorini, it’s best to take a sailing tour around the island, which gives you time to swim off the island’s coast. You can then find some less busy coves, and perhaps even do some snorkelling off the boat.
People staying at hotels with a pool have found that the water was a bit too cold. The strong northern Meltemi winds that appear in summer bring the temperature down. It can’t be too bad though, especially if you have your own private view of the volcano!
If swimming is important for you, you could combine Santorini with another nearby island with great beaches, such as Naxos or Milos. You will then discover your own best beaches in Greece!
Don’t walk barefoot on Perissa beach
If you have no time for another island, head to the famous black-pebbled Perissa beach. And here’s one of the things to avoid in Santorini – don’t walk barefoot on Perissa beach, as the volcanic pebbles get really hot!
Don’t book your ferry to Athens on the same day with your flight back home
We cannot stress this enough. While strikes in Greece are rather rare, they do happen from time to time. The last thing you want is to be stuck on Santorini because of a ferry strike, or because of bad weather. To be fair though, we can think of many places that it’s much worse to get stuck on!
If you are taking a ferry back to Athens, allow for at least a full day in the capital. And by all means don’t plan any journeys on May the 1st, as most transportation in Greece is on strike.
Things to avoid in Santorini
We hope our article on things to avoid in Santorini has been useful. Have you been to our more famous island? Are there any things you thought it’s best to avoid? Please let us know in the comments.
You might also be interested in reading: How long to spend in Santorini