I am heading back to the US after being in beautiful Greece for two weeks. Greece has been a trending destination over the past few years and I have some tips that I want to share so you can start planning your perfect Greece trip!
DISCLAIMER: I am no writing expert or travel agent but figured any information when traveling out of the country can be useful!
Lets talk flights. Since Athens was not on my list to visit for this trip, I googled flights from STL to Santorini and did not find any direct flights. The quickest flight there was about 17 hours total travel time so I booked it. I was delayed in Chicago, heading to London so I missed my flight from London to Santorini. American Airlines rerouted us and we had a 10 hour delay in London and then flew into Athens, then to Santorini. So, my 17 hour flight turned to 30 hours and I missed the first night in Santorini. All the other flight options were around 20-30 hours. The time difference is +8 hours in Greece compared to central time zone.
Booking your stay in Santorini
I stayed in Fira at the Lava Suites and Lounge. It was a very small hotel (felt more like an air BNB) but was very quiet, had cave like rooms, and the most beautiful view. Most places in this area have tiny pools like the one you see pictured that our hotel had! This hotel was a couple minutes to everything- food, drinks, cable cars, shopping, and donkeys! Breakfast was included and made fresh every morning and was delicious.
If you love views, romance, sunsets, nice eats, and wine, then Santorini is for you.
No wedges or heels here! I am the queen of heels since I am only 4'10" but this ground is rough and rocky with many hills on the cliff. One day I had 16,000 steps exploring Fira. Everyone wears flowy clothes or light weight outfits because it is so hot!
Must do's in Santorini on the Caldera Side! (we were on this side of the island for 4 nights)
-Santos winery (Sunset dinner)- make a reservation ahead of time! Enjoy the beautiful view and great food/wine pairing while watching the sunset. Bring your sunglasses and a light jacket for when the sun goes down! A lot of the restaurants have blankets for their guest because being on the cliff it can get quite chilly and windy in the evening.
-rent an ATV/Scooters to travel around the island -at your own risk. Cost between 40 - 90 Euro a day depending on if you get a basic ATV or a buggy, and was quite fun and a little terrifying. There are, practically speaking, NO driving rules or lanes in Santorini or Mykonos. I did not want to mess up my hair with a helmet but you must wear a helmet! One of our drivers told us that Santorini has a hospital, but sometimes does not have a doctor! Also wear your sunscreen and bring a bottle of water!
-Day trip in OIA- head there around 1pm. Have lunch, walk around-tons of shops, and beautiful views. Best sunset in Santorini so find a place for dinner. We ate at The Catch.
Staying in Oia can be quite expensive. The views along the Caldera side are all beautiful so doesnt matter where you choose to stay!
-Day trip to Fira/Thera- Here we walked around to several shops. They have many restaurants on the cliff overlooking the caldera, great for lunch views and a sunset dinner. I bought this adorable handmade wooden circle purses at one of the boutiques (called Yanni) along the way. We took the 500 steps down to sea level for lunch (view picture) and the cable cars back up. For lunch along the sea we ate a Longerhinis which had wonderful traditional Greek food. If you are wanting to ride a donkey, this is where you will find them. Donkeys are available to ride down the 500 steps to sea level and back up if you wish to pay for this.
-Another restaurant recommendation in Thera is Volkan on The Rocks- best food and drinks, along with caldera views.
Next we went to Mykonos for four nights. The best way to travel to the Greece islands is by boat! We took the Sea Jet which took two hours and was pretty comfortable. There is food and drink on board for $$. Pretty chaotic getting onto the boat- there is no order boarding the ship! Tip: Buy your tickets ahead of time and pick your seats! That way when you arrive to the port you just have to pick up your tickets. Make sure you have a couple Euros with you. I think it cost 1E to print tickets at the gate.
Mykonos is the "party island." If you love beach parties during the day, napping, and then rallying until 5 am in Mykonos town with 1 million people, then Mykonos is for you. I was in bed by 10pm every night and could have stayed for three nights instead of four. I stayed at the Horizon Hotel which had a beautiful sunset view with a pool, but not walking distance to much. I had to take a taxi everywhere. Mykonos beaches are very rocky fyi. I wouldn't plan swimming at the Mykonos beaches, maybe just a quick dip in to cool off.
It is very windy year long here. Bring your flowy clothes, a light jacket, and lots of hair accessories to pin your hair back. You will spend more time keeping you hair intact than enjoying the atmosphere if you do not.
The roads are very narrow here- and traffic is the worst. Very dangerous- so rent ATVs at your own risk.
The local population in Mykonos consist of 10,000 people but with tourist in the months May-September the island has 2 million people on it. Mykonos Town can get very crowded at night. Party hours 12am-5am.
We loved Hippie Fish (close to our hotel-on beach) for the vibes and the food/cocktails.
Most popular places in Mykonos are pretty expensive. Cocktails rage from 16-35 euros.
Mykonos Must Dos's:
-Mykonos Town -Little Venice - shopping, food, cocktails (wear flats/comfy shoes). Its like a maze here but a great spot to see.
-Breeze cocktail bar in little Venice
-Scorpios -get the guacamole! We went around 6pm and enjoyed the atmosphere and cocktails. if planning to eat Dinner here, they prefer a reservation!
-Nammos $$$$$ (paid $14 for a bottle of water). There is high end shopping in the area called Nammos Village as you can see in my pics below.
After four nights in Mykonos we headed back to Santorini via Sea Jet.
This time around we stayed on the other side of the Santorini in a place called Perissa.
In Perissa, we stayed at the Anastasia Princess Resort. We spent our first day just relaxing at the pool and ordering food and cocktails from the hotel.
Perissa is very causal and affordable compared to the other side of the island. Just a nice place to relax and wind down.
Things to do in Perissa:
-Black Sand Beach - here you will find a beautiful, but very hot, black sand beach. You can come for a day and dip in the sea and there are several restaurants/bars across the street which will serve you on the beach.
- Most restaurants/hotels will put out beach chairs to rent, or if you buy food/drinks you can use them for free. Just ask, or sit down on one of them and someone will come let you know.
-At night we would walk the strip by the beach and pick out restaurants to eat/drink at. Some had live music.
The last day we booked a Catamaran with Get your guide. It was the highlight of the trip and a must do while in Santorini. It was a small group tour (12 people), that started in OIA and led to the red beach. We stopped to swim in the hot springs and by the white beach. The tour was 5 hours. This booking includes lunch, and alcoholic beverages of wine or beer. The company helps you arrange transfer from your hotel, to and from the boat with their shuttle. They also provide towels and floaties/snorkel gear for those who get in. I would recommend and do it again with this company. It was very nice and luxurious.
Overall Santorini and Mykonos travel tips:
-5 nights in Santorini is enough (Oia, Fira, Catamaran, Santos Winery)
-3 nights in Mykonos (Mykonos Town- Little Venice, Beach bar)
-If you really love to party and spend money then maybe 4 nights in Mykonos!
-Rent an ATV/scooter at your own risk!
-bring flats (comfy shoes)- I only wore wedges twice!
-SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN, SUNSCREEN - it can be cool but you still can burn from UVA/UVB rays!
-sunglasses- its so bright its hard to see without. If you wear contacts bring extra!
-eye drops- its dusty when wind blows
-Zyrtec and other antihistamines ( I had some allergies going on)
-pack light- Lots of transfers with a heavy bag. a couple swim suits, a couple cover ups, 3 pairs of shoes (sandals, tennis shoes, maybe wedges or a nice comfy dressy shoes), a couple nice dresses, jean shorts, skirt, top, etc.
-Bring an evening jacket
-Hotels have beach towels so no need to pack that.
-Always drink bottled water. Can be purchased at the local market or at hotel.
-I did not use my hair straightener or curling iron at all. hair was pinned back or up on top of my head most the trip. Very windy especially in Mykonos.
-Hotels have hair Dryers and small amenities
-Book all transfers ahead of time (boat, and airport to hotel). Hotels can arrange transports and taxi to explore once there.
-Most places have free WIFI so you can connect when you are at dinner or out of your hotel. Just ask the server for the password.
-Know the exchange rate and have Euros on hand. (some places would only take Euros) some take credit card (check with your bank to see if you have a foreign transaction fee because that can add up quick). HAVE EUROS ON HAND (need for transfers, and to use public bathroom)
-Lastly, make sure you have one of these! I will link this one to where I purchased on amazon! Its an international travel adapter so you can charge and use your electronics overseas!
Thank you for reading my Greece travel insight and please feel free to share with others!
I hope this post helps you plan the perfect Greece trip!
I have to say thank you to the lovely people who helped me plan my trip -(you know who you are!!!)
"we don't live to work, we work to live"
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