What We Loved And Hated About Santorini


Even though we’d seen so many pictures of Santorini and Greece all over the place, it was never really on top of our list of Greek islands to visit, mainly because we are typically not the biggest fans of the most popular spots. But when the opportunity to visit this summer presented itself, we decided to do it and if we had to sum it up: it lives up to the hype.

A Little Bit About Santorini

Santorini today is essentially what remained after a huge volcanic eruption destroyed most of the island along with its inhabitants a few thousand years ago. Only the tip of the volcanic crater remained and it filled up with water after the mouth of the volcano collapsed. This is what we call the Santorini caldera. Oia, Thira and Imerovigli are the major towns on the island. Oia is the most famous (and most expensive one), followed by Imerovigli and the capital, Thira. Read our guide on where to stay in Santorini here.

So let’s start with the positive.

The Views

Those famous Santorini views! The towns on the western side of the island all face the caldera and boast unbelievable views in every direction. The pristine white Cycladic-style houses contrast with the dark volcanic rocks and the blissfully calm deep blue waters of the Aegean sea. It truly feels like walking into a postcard that came to life. I cannot exaggerate how beautiful it is and, even if you don’t like anything else about Santorini, the views alone are worth the trip.

For a list of our favorite photographable spots and tips on taking photos in Santorini click here. We also have an interactive map with exact locations of our photos marked!!


The Food

This one goes without saying but Greek food is delicious and Santorini does not disappoint in that department. From the fresh greek salads and seafood to the tomato keftedes, fava beans and white eggplant. We also recommend you try the local wine, which has a very specific taste derived from the mineral content of the volcanic soil.

The Famous Santorini Sunsets

On our first evening walking around Oia, something strange happened. Around 6pm it felt like every single person in town started walking in the same direction, trying to get to the same place. We had no idea what was going on so we started following the crowds until we reached the Westernmost part of Oia. An incredible view to the sea opened up in front of us! We watched herds of people take position along the hill swarming in front of cafes, along the town stairs and pathways and basically anywhere there was any space for people to sit down or stand and watch the sunset.

Maybe it’s because of the way the sunlight reflects in the sea, or the way it paints the white houses in rich orange-pink hues… Or maybe there’s just something in the air here. We guess the reason is not really important but every single sunset we watched in Santorini was a spectacle.


The Atmosphere

Let’s be honest – there are a lot of places that look amazing in pictures but are not actually fun to hang out in once you get there. Some feel a little too snobby, others don’t have a lot of good restaurants or bars. And some places are just plain boring and don’t have a lot happening. That’s not the case with Santorini. We only recently realized this but our favorite type of places always have the same thing in common – an old town with a modern spin. We love places with a lot of history, an authentic old-time character, but also a lot of new restaurants, fun cafes and a trendy young crowd. You can find all of that in Santorini and that’s the main reason why we’ll probably be back multiple times.

But we also have to admit there were a few things about Santorini we didn’t love…

Privacy Is A Luxury

This is an issue mainly if you are staying in Oia. Most hotels here are traditional cave houses stacked on top of each other with tiny pathways spiraling up and down between them. Space is very limited and so is your privacy. Your suite’s balcony is often at the same level as the street or right on top of someone else’s roof. Make sure you know exactly how much privacy you’ll get when booking your hotel, if that’s important to you. Thira and Imerovigli are a lot better in that regard, which is why we recommend you don’t stay in Oia (and also the more competitive prices, of course).


Driving Is A Pain

Make sure you prepare yourself for the driving situation here. It’s definitely not as bad as, say, the Amalfi coast but it’s not the easiest either. The nice thing about Santorini is that it’s not really as cramped as you would imagine. Outside of the small coastal towns there is actually a lot of parking space and a lot of the roads are quite new. There are public parking spaces and they are all free. But they are also in high demand as you can imagine, especially in Oia in the evenings. Some of the roads are also very narrow and often half-blocked by some very creative parkers. Trying to leave Oia right after sunset on wheels is a nightmare!

Oh, and did we also mention that Google maps and other navigation systems here are not up to date at all? We spent a lot of our driving time in Santorini trying to figure out which street we need to take. Reality often did not correspond to what the maps said.

It’s Expensive

This one is understandable – Santorini is one of the most photographed tourist destinations on the planet, so yes, it can get pricy. We’d say be prepared to pay NYC prices here but we’re sure you already knew that 🙂

All About The Photos

One of the reasons why we love going to places with an old-time atmosphere is that we enjoy getting immersed into the culture and feeling like we traveled back in time for a little bit. Nothing else ruins that vibe like crowds of people lining up in a queue to take a photo. We don’t mind people at tourist destinations in general. We are tourists too after all and that’s the whole point of being there. But Santorini doesn’t just feel crowded. At times it feels like there is a photoshoot happening at every corner of every street. You will also see people jumping on rooftops and climbing where they shouldn’t just to get the right shot. It is definitely an interesting sight, to say the least. And might not be exactly what you need on your relaxing vacation.

Be Ready For Some Disappointments

We have to warn you – the photos you see of Santorini on social media are not exactly representative of the experience you’ll have here. All the shots of blue church domes against the sea/caldera view are really hard to get because those areas are private and usually fenced off. You might be able to get shots like that if you ask and are allowed to enter those private areas or if you wait in line for a while at one of the popular spots near Anastasis church. But again, if you think you’ll just walk around and stumble across a blue church to take photos with, you might be disappointed. Oia is a bit of a maze so it’s pretty hard to actually find the places you saw in pictures on Instagram or Pinterest. Just saying 🙂

Read our guide of the best photo spots in Oia along with a detailed map of exact locations here.



In our opinion, when it comes to Santorini the good overweighs the bad. But you still need to know what to expect and what kind of vacation you want to have before deciding to visit. If you are looking for the most unique views and most stunning sunsets in Greece, Santorini is perfect for you. If you can afford the beautiful luxury hotels with sea view and a private hot tub on your terrace, this is the perfect place for a romantic getaway.

But if you want to have a relaxing time away from crowds and stay in a secluded paradise, this is probably not the best choice. We recommend you go see Santorini at least once in your life. But we have to admit, although we would come back to Santorini again, it is not our favorite place in Greece. We actually love Paros a lot more 🙂

In any case, just know what to expect and you’ll have an unforgettable time!

Book your accommodation in Santorini:




  1. June 6, 2019 / 6:17 am

    Santorini is my dream destination, I will go there very soon.

    Thanks for your awesome travel guide.
    Photos are really mind-blowing.

    • Katerina
      June 8, 2019 / 7:55 am

      we hope you visit soon too 🙂 It’s a beautiful place

    • August 11, 2019 / 3:06 pm

      Let us know how your stay was! I’m not sold on this place…at least not to stay.

  2. Sandra
    June 14, 2019 / 1:40 pm

    Hi, guys,

    I’m considering Santorini for my honeymoon, and your post was super helpful! It looks so gorgeous, but I’m not sure about the lack of privacy on a honeymoon. Or how expensive it is since the wedding is so expensive, too.

    I was wondering if off the top of your head you might know of a place ideal for a relaxing, low-key honeymoon. My fiancé and I are also considering Aruba.

    My fiancé and I have never taken a beach vacation, so we’re really looking forward to that, and relaxing after the hectic pace of wedding planning.

    Thanks so much for always sharing your experience and traveling expertise!

    • Katerina
      June 15, 2019 / 8:47 am

      Hi Sandra, first we have to note that Santorini is not exactly a beach destination. There are no beaches in Oia or Imerovigli, you have to drive to the other side of the island for beaches so it’s not really that convenient. Most people just relax by the pool in their hotel if they have one. But accommodation can be very expensive. And if you are looking for a relaxing stay, Oia is not the best for that, it’s really crowded!
      If you are set on a Greek location, we love Paros island! Naoussa has amazing vibes at night and it’s way more relaxed. You also get to walk to the beach.
      Other than that I think Bali is a great place for honeymooning, especially Ubud. It’s so beautiful and relaxing there! And not that expensive. The whole place is just so romantic and set up for honeymooning. The locals really know how to do hospitality well there. You should check it out 🙂

  3. Teresa
    June 20, 2019 / 11:11 pm

    We visited Santorini last month and was sorely disappointed. It was extremely crowded and bombarded by cruise ship tourist. Everything is expensive. The shops are hokey. But I was most disappointed at how few blue topped buildings there are. I know that sounds wierd but all the photos you see in travel magazines are of the same 2 buildings. The views are beautiful but if I had it to do over again I would go to Mykonos instead.

    • Katerina
      June 21, 2019 / 3:53 pm

      Wow that’s a great insight actually, not weird at all! It’s true, you always see photos of blue church domes but when you go to Oia you can barely find those spots and they are mostly in private fenced off areas. I will add this to the article too, it’s a good point.

      We’ve never been to Mykonos but we prefer Paros to Santorini to be honest 🙂

    • Gaby
      July 19, 2019 / 12:56 pm

      I was disappointed too. I felt I was lied to for what you see online. I should have gone to MX instead!

  4. Jennifer
    July 2, 2019 / 9:53 pm

    The pic right above the Overall section (the umbrella at 9 oclock) is of our airbnb. I laugh to think how many peoples photos were bombed by our group of friends and the stray cats we collected. I’m sure there is at least one tourist’s photo with my dad bod husband in a towel. It was a beautiful location in the middle of it all but we sometimes had to battle selfie taking tourists to get down private stairs. Even had groups open gates and walk on to our patio area to take pics. I would go to Santorini again but would stay in Megalochori.

    • Katerina
      July 4, 2019 / 8:41 am

      Hahahah omg! We totally get it, that’s exactly why we wouldn’t stay in Oia, it’s just too much. Hope you still had a great time 🙂

  5. Gaby
    July 19, 2019 / 12:53 pm

    We recently traveled to Greece, we went to Santorini, Naxos and Mykonos. We were very disappointed. There are better beaches in FL, cheaper and closer.

  6. Christina
    September 30, 2019 / 9:50 am

    Santorini is beautiful and in Greek the island is called Thira. That’s not the main town. The main town is actually called Fira (it’s different)
    I also don’t recommend to stay in Oia there is so many other beautiful and better spots in the island.
    You can have a beach holiday there is plenty of affordable hotels and restaurants in Kamari & if you drive it’s only about 15min to Oia or there is a bus. There’s lots private villas on the island and lots of blue dome churches there is actually around 400 churches on the island you just need about 1-2 weeks to explore and enjoy. The traditional villages such as Prygos are beautiful and quiet compared to Oia so hopefully if you visit Santorini again you will explore the rest of the island not just Oia. X

  7. RoamingwithLuck
    October 5, 2019 / 6:03 am

    I think Mykonos is overrated. I love Paros more. Now on a ferry heading to Santorini. Hopefully it won’t disappoint. 😊 Love you blog, thank you for sharing.

    • Katerina
      October 23, 2019 / 2:28 am

      Paros is our favorite place in Greece 🙂 Hope you enjoyed Santorini

  8. Cheryl
    January 26, 2020 / 10:21 pm

    We loved Santorini but did not stay there – we were on a cruise after we got married, and saw so many beautiful places. Santorini – Oia was my favorite and we walked all over it. Fantastic was our experience. We also loved Mykonos, the people and beauty were wonderful.

    • Cheryl
      January 26, 2020 / 10:22 pm

      Definitely want to make a return trip to Greece and see more of it!!!!

  9. Ivory Howard
    October 7, 2021 / 11:59 am

    I didn’t have any expectations concerning that title, but the more I was astonished. The author did a great job. I spent a few minutes reading and checking the facts. Everything is very clear and understandable. I like posts that fill in your knowledge gaps. This one is of the sort.

  10. February 23, 2022 / 2:03 am

    My dream travelled destination in greece is Santorini . Here too many bollywood film was shoot .

    I just thrilled to visit santorini , hopefully next vacation I will be there

    And thank u for your tourist guide……picture are mind-blowing

  11. Isra Ali
    April 23, 2022 / 6:49 pm

    Hi I am visiting santorini soon and was looking for the link to the spots for the photos? In imergivoli, fira or Oia but the link you have is saying They cannot locate the blog? I would really love to see the spots for the photos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend

Looking for Something?