Visiting Santorini is on a lot of travel bucket lists but there are a few things I regret doing in Santorini! Here are a few tips of what NOT to do in Santorini. I wish I knew before I visited so don’t make the same mistakes as me!
1) Visiting Too Many Wineries
We love tasting new wines when we travel (here’s a weekend guide to the Okanagan) but in retrospect, I wish we spent less time visiting wineries on Santorini. In comparison to other wine regions (and especially our most recently trip to Walla Walla), the tasting fee value is extremely poor. Often the rooms charge 10-15 euros for 4 tastings. The pours are so small you barely have enough for two sips!
Secondly, because Santorini is a volcano, the soil for growing grapes is very unique. It results in extremely acidic and mineral tastes in wine. The main variety is Assyrtiko and it’s described by winemakers as, lots of minerality, and very little aromas. It’s not a very pleasant wine to drink and especially not if the bottles costs 20-30 euros!
We visited about 5 different wineries and my favorite experience was at Estate Argyos (least favorite was Hatzidakis: stingy pours and snobby service). I’d recommend this stop if you’d like to learn about the unique Santorini viniculture and enjoy the wine in their tasting room. I’d also HIGHLY recommend enjoying the sunset at either Venetsanos or Santo Wines. I honestly thought these two places were tourist traps but I enjoyed the view tremendously and the wines were just as good (or just as not bad) as the inland wineries.
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2) Hiking the Entire Fira to Oia Trail
If you read any travel guides to Santorini, the Fira to Oia trail will definitely be on the list. While I really enjoyed parts of the walk/hike, I don’t recommend doing the full thing unless you are looking for a work out. Based on how popular this “attraction” is, I figured it must be a pretty easy walk. But it is easily a 3-4 hour HIKE with no facilities along the way! I would recommend doing the trail from Fira to Imerovigli. After that, there is a huge gap between things to see and quite a steep hill to climb up.
We set off on this trail around 8am right after getting off the plane. We had 2 water bottles but I was so thirsty and tired by the time I got to Oia. While the views are beautiful, it’s hard to enjoy when the sun is beating down on you! There are some shades available in the towns. But between the towns, there is nothing to shield you from the elements! The path is also not paved the whole way so you will be walking on dirty, rocks just like a real hiking trail.
3) Not Spending Enough Time in Fira and Oia
On another note, I wish I spent more time in Fira and Oia! Since our hotel was right in the middle of Fira, I figured it would be really easy to stroll through the village at any time. But we totally ran out of time and I regret not being able to see all the small alleyways of Fira! We rented a car and spent lots of time exploring other villages like Emporio, Megalochori, and Akrotiri. In retrospect, I should have left exploring the authentic greek villages for the other islands! If you only have 2-3 days in Santorini, I’d recommend to just tough out the crowds in Fira and Oia and enjoy the unique scenery. There are also a lot of hidden alleyways that won’t have tour groups but we didn’t get a chance to walk through it!
Similarly, we got to Oia after 4 hours of walking the Fira to Oia trail, and the last thing I wanted to do was keep walking in the sun. But it could have been really beautiful if we had time to wander around!
4) Not Researching Where to Take Photos
You have to be lying to yourself a little bit if you don’t want a photo with the blue domes. These photos flood Instagram and I thought there would be blue dome churches everywhere! I didn’t do any planning and figured once I get there, I can easily find them. This is very untrue as most of the blue domes are completely unaccessible. The ones that are available for public have hoards of tourists as early as 9am.
The pretty photos done by travel bloggers of the blue domes in Oia are only available to guests of hotels in that area! So if you are looking for a specific photo, definitely do your research online to find the best photo spots. It’s possible if you go in through smaller alleyways. But we didn’t have time (see point #3 above) and just walked along the main path with all the other tourists.
5) Prioritizing Taste over Views
Lastly, I wish I prioritized the caldera views above everything else when picking restaurants. Santorini was our first stop in Greece and we wanted to have really great food! But in retrospect, I’d go to the other islands for cheap authentic food for example, Naxos.
During the day we mostly ate Gyros for lunch and snacks. For dinner, we went to Cave of Nikolas in Akrotiri, Agaze in Pygros, and Parea Tavern in Fira. They were all very enjoyable but none of them had the caldera views. Each dinner was around 40-60 euros which is way more than what we paid in Folegandros or Naxos.
If you are in Santorini, you might as well pay for the views! In Fira, you can get the best views at Argo, Volcano Blue and Aris. But for a lot of these restaurants, only one row of seats is by the edge, and the rest are in the center of the restaurant. Alternatively, you can get a great view at cocktail bars like Francos, PK, and V lounge.
So these are the 5 things I regret doing in Santorini! It’s an expensive touristy island but definitely with breathtaking views! You won’t find the same views anywhere else in the world so you might as well enjoy it! Let me know if you need help with your Santorini travel planning!