I’m a total rebel without a cause. You say left and I say right, you say flight and I say fight. So why oh why did I decide to go with the flow this summer and visit Santorini, one of Greece’s most tourist-infested islands?
Santorini is often touted as a “must-visit destination” because, much like Venice or Socotra, there simply is no other place even remotely like in the entire universe. Unless you’re into the whole parallel universe theory or believe extraterrestrial life exists, which I’m not ruling out… but that’s so not relevant to this article. I’m sorry, I ate a chocolate bar three minutes ago, made some thoroughly unnecessary but extremely gratifying online purchases and now I can’t stop rambling.
Right – Santorini. It’s great and you should totally visit. Here are my top ten reasons why…
Church of Holy Cross in Perissa
I put off visiting Santorini for a long time, because I was certain it’d be out of my student price range. Have you seen the place? It looks like a million bucks and I hardly have a million Indonesian rupees in my bank account. I can only assume that many others are put off by an unfounded fear of high prices.
Surprisingly, living on a budget in Santorini is not as challenging as one might think. The island’s home to some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, but it also has plenty of hostels with beds from €10. As for food, I could live off the delicious street food – especially gyros or souvlaki (€1-3) – for weeks!
Let me follow up with the thing Santorini is truly famous for – its beautiful sunsets! Whether you’re a die-hard romantic or the type of person who watches zombie movies without flinching (or both, I suppose), you’re going to enjoy the beautiful sunsets on the island. I’ve already written an article about the best spots for evening sun-gazing, so have a look at it for more gorgeous orange skies.
The romantic island has beaches galore and they range from wild plains filled with scorching black sand to organised strips where you can get cold drinks delivered straight to your sunbed. Before you turn up your nose at the latter, give it a chance – I usually hate crowded beaches, but I loved the beach in Kamari! On days when I wanted a break from work, I got a free sunbed in front of a taverna and only got up at lunch time to devour a Greek salad and some house wine… and although the adventurer in me wept, I rejoiced.
I’ve already discussed food in the previous two points, which should give you some idea of how much I enjoyed wining and dining in Santorini. The place is an island – no shit, Captain Obvious! – so it’s got a steady supply of fresh fish and seafood. Surprisingly enough, its volcanic soil also offers up much deliciousness – from sweet grapes to the local fava beans, there’s no shortage of fresh local produce. If you’re interested in the food aspect, look out for an upcoming post on the topic!
I’m a huge antiquity geek. If I could, I’d be in the Athenian agora right now, chatting up Plato or laughing at Aristotle’s jokes. Alas, I cannot, so my best bet are history books and – even better – unearthed ancient sites. The tiny island of Santorini has an incredible array of well-preserved remnants of the old days. From the city of Akrotiri which was buried underneath volcanic ashes during the explosion of 17th BC to the magnificent site of the Ancient Thera, there is enough history to keep you occupied for days on end.
When staring at ruins starts getting a little old – ah, what a pun! – how about a little shopping? “I think I have raised the National Domestic Product a bit while visiting the shops on Santorini,” Catherine Zeta-Jones is often quoted as saying after her visit of the island.
Sure – there are expensive shops selling ornamental jewellery and lava-stone statues aplenty. But there are also loads of shops I, a mere mortal, actually can shop at. If you’re a bibliophile like me, you’re gonna love Atlantis Books in Oia – Candice wrote a fabulous article about it, if you’re interested.
The people of Santorini are as friendly as they come. You could be cynical and attribute that to the fact that tourism is pretty much their only source of income, but for the most part their nicety felt heartfelt and sincere. Combine that with the fact that pretty much everyone on the island speaks English really well and you’ve got yourself the perfect solo travel destination!
Much like the humans on the island, the animals are super friendly and sometimes even cuter than their two-legged counterparts! Not cuter than Konstantinos Argiros, mind you, but very very very cute – so cute that I dedicated an entire article to them and called it “Cute Animals of Santorini”. All that cuteness has got to convince someone, right?
Santorini is the place to be for any budding photographer, because it’ll help you convince anyone you’re an absolute pro. The entire island is pretty much a living and breathing postcard. Half a year ago I couldn’t find the shutter on my brand new DSLR, but looking at my photos from Santorini you’d never guess! Also, I don’t mean to be a #basicbitch about this, but think of the Facebook profile pictures you can take here… #sorrynotsorry
Cyclades map via Richard Sheppard
If you find yourself bored of Santorini’s splendour, you could easily island hop your way back to happiness. The infamous party haven of Mykonos is just 150km away, but there are other amazing places scattered around. Why not try Ios, Milos or Naxos for something a little different?
Have you ever been to Santorini? If so, would you visit again and why (not)? And if you’ve never been, would you like to visit based on my ingenious insights? Please, don’t say no…