I’ve always been a little traveller at heart. I love going to new places and seeing new things and I really love the sun! I’ve also always wanted to backpack across different cities/countries but without the actual backpack itself. I can’t see myself carrying a massive rucksack – I’d much rather take a smaller suitcase. With that in mind I planned to go Santorini this summer and thought why not visit some of the islands. A couple of my friends had done island hopping and suggested that I look at the ferry schedule and see the route it takes and plan my destinations accordingly. Blue Ferry’s has a typical schedule – Santorini, Ios, Naxos, Paros, Mykonos, Athens.
I had 10 days to spare and I knew it was impossible to stay in all of those islands so I spent hours researching. Santorini was booked for 4 days and we stayed in Fira in a brand new apartment called Altea Apartments. Originally we were very sceptical to book this apartment as there were no reviews online however it is a brand new place but it’s in a perfect location with easy access everywhere. Fira is the city centre with an immense amount of bars/cafes/restaurants and you can get a bus to the other parts of town such as Oia and imerovigilii every 15/30mins. Iimerovigili is an extended part of Fira, it features the same beautiful white architecture with a gorgeous sea backdrop. Definitely a must see part of town.
Oia is known for its beautiful sunset and buzzing night light but its just SO busy during the evenings and I don’t seem to do well with huge amounts of people in small alleyways.
In Santorini we booked a day boat trip which takes you to all the volcanic mountain and the thermal waterfall which is a muddy brown colour – this is definitely a must do, you get to see so many parts of the island and you spend a whole day on the boat which helps speed up a tan.
There’s a white beach, red beach and black beach – my favourite was the red beach. Which is basically surrounded by red sand and rocks, more like pebbles. You have to get a bus from Fira bus station which then takes you to a water taxi which then takes you to a beach. It’s a lot of effort to get to beach with no real sand. So I wasn’t too impressed but still glad that I went to see it. To get to the white beach you have to swim for 400m which I can’t really do – which was a shame because I would have loved to visit.
I feel like 3 nights in Santorini was enough, we took in the magic it had to offer and it wasn’t too many days where we ran out of things to do.
Whilst researching and picking islands – I looked at a lot of images on google and reviews. Ios looked super pretty – with the nicest white sand beaches and clear blue water but the island seemed small so we thought 2 days would be sufficient enough. We hired a quad bike for 30euros and managed to get around to most parts of the island. You could pretty much hire out a quad bike in any islands but I preferred to walk in Santorini and take in all the sites. Ios however is completely different to Santorini in that it’s really quiet and a shift from the hustle and bustle of Santorini. Ios came across as a little hidden gem. It had the nicest beach with the most clearest water. There’s not much to do in Ios, the village is quite small, the beaches are probably the best perks but its well worth the visit. Our hotel was a few minutes away from the port and the beach so we really got to maximise our time within the island.
Next stop was Naxos, which is bigger than Ios – has a couple beautiful beaches and a really quaint old town. Two days here were sufficient enough, we spent days at the beach and the evening exploring the old town – which was probably one of my favourite things to do. It was either between Naxos or Paros and most people seemed to recommend Naxos due to the old town and I’m really glad we picked to go there. The apartment we booked was a 15min drive but next to the beach. By this time I was all beached out and really wanted to explore more of the old town so I’m not entirely sure if I really enjoyed the benefits of being on one of the most popular beaches around. Our apartment was run by a really cute family and they offered a free transfer to and from the port on the day of our arrival and departure. It’s definitely worth checking with your accommodation if they offer this service.
I do wish we had more time to go and explore Mykonos but that’s probably one for another trip.
In regards to booking accommodation and ferries, because we were planning to go during peak season I assumed most decent hotels would get booked up early. So I planned my route around the islands before hand and booked accommodation accordingly so I knew what hotels I’d be staying in and the dates. When we got to Santorini we booked our ferry tickets which ranged from 15€to 57€ going to Ios and Naxos was considerably cheaper then going to Athens. The speed boats also cost far more. I think if you’re not worried about accommodation, if you’re quite happy to stay in a b&b and you can be flexible with dates then plan when you’re there as online ferry times are very different to when you’re there.
The trip to Athens from Naxos was around 5 hours and was probably the most painful journey of my life. I constantly felt like I was going to be sick. Sea turbulence is far worse than air turbulence. Athens we used the metro to get around which is super simple – there’s only three lines and the station is quite close to the port – our hotel was called White Lotus which was 4* and pretty much within the city centre. We were skeptical of going into Athens due to the crisis but we felt completely safe. We flew out from Athens using Swiss airlines which were awesome – they give you chocolate!
Food was bloody amazing – the only part of the world (apart from Pakistan) where I’ve gone and not felt deprived. There was only one restaurant out of the 10days where the food was quite bad. Other than that there was a huge selection of vegetable salads, a variety of sea food and I’ve discovered a new found love for feta cheese. Also I found no hallumi anywhere, I always thought that was a Greek speciality?
I feel like we did a really good job of budgeting our trip – even though travelling is an investment for the soul, we do like to do it so that we get the best value for money and the total for the trip was £850pp which includes everything!
Okay this is a lengthy post so if you do have any questions then please do shoot them across!