Santorini is quite possibly one of the most appreciated Greek islands in history as the number of tourists flocking there greatly outnumbers that of the ones visiting other places within the bounds of Greece. Harbouring no more than 15,000 people, it may appear desolate and bleak, but the truth is that it is far more alive than its statistics suggest. So, without further dithering about, let us see what this Mediterranean wonder has to offer us – here are the top 6 things that you need to know before travelling to the Island of Santorini!
It is no secret that the Island of Santorini (known officially as “Thira” – classically called “Thera”) emerged as the remnant of an ancient volcanic caldera. You can imagine a caldera as being the rim of a volcano that is filled with water. Today, the island encircles a beautiful lagoon and its sights have thus become awe-inspiring. This will also mean that most of its beaches will either be rocky or riddled with black sand. White sand, thus, is quite unlikely and you have to get used to this unique feature in no time. Oh, and did you know that the Santorini volcano is technically still active? Yet before you fall prey to the cold clutch of terror, know that it is currently dormant (poetic wink)!
Even though the Island of Santorini is one of the most popular travel-destinations in the world, its inhabitants do not practice tipping on a cultural basis. What this means is that it is not currently 100% compulsory but still technically polite. What’s generally practiced, however, is to leave 1-2 Euros as extra per meal in restaurants. If you are an outsider, know that your “10%-rules” are perfectly viable on the island as waiters will not deny your generosity. Hell, if you want to leave some more extra (like 15-20%), nobody is going to shout after you that you’ve forgotten some banknotes on your table (wink)!
As we have already mentioned above, Santorini is one of the most popular places that tourists visit around the world. What this directly translates into is that it will be overly crowded during seasons. You are never going to be able to take those artistic photos that you have been planning of those typical white houses as there will be countless tourists in Hawaii shirts “photobombing” your masterpieces. Hotels, restaurants, and beaches are all going to be swimming neck-deep in visitors and you either learn to love them or wish that you’d never visited the place in the first place. So, the bottom line is that if you’re planning a getaway trip, mostly away from crowds, then you are out of luck, unfortunately.
When considering a trip to Greece in general, you must understand that it adheres to First World standards in all ways possible. Additionally, Santorini benefits from being swarmed, so its prices have automatically risen. Thus, this fine caldera-island has become one of the most expensive places that you can visit within the bounds of Greece. This goes for hotels, restaurants, and scheduled trips as well. What we can recommend is that you try and look for off-season trips – less crowds, smaller prices. The best trips to Santorini, thus, are in October or in May (though in May, the sea temperature will still be cold, making swimming nigh-impossible).
5. Language barriers:
If you think that any language barriers are going to thwart your activities on Santorini, then you are more than wrong. Everyone will speak English to some degree and some people are even going to engage in high-level conversations with you. Though, if you know the basics of the Greek language, be sure to address the locals in it, for that will make you a far rarer encounter in their lives. Make yourself special in their eyes and you will become more than just a tourist: a friend.
We are happy to tell you that Santorini is one of the safest places in Greece and that it is completely family-friendly. There is no need to be afraid of criminals and most of the mischief that actually happens usually comes from fellow tourists. This special caldera, thus, is a place where you can let your guard down and enjoy your vacation.
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Santorini and how have they shaped your overall feel of the place? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and be sure to leave nothing out! Safe travels!