Photo Credit: DeAnna Taylor
15 Things To Keep In Mind Before Heading To Santorini And The Greek Islands
The Greek Islands are a place that when you see the photos in Santorini, you instantly want to be there. And while Santorini is only one of many islands, it’s usually high on Black travelers’ lists— and travelers in general.
But, before you head to the Greek Islands, there are some things you should know to make your trip as seamless as possible. We’ve rounded up this list of things— some lessons— that we learned after traveling around the country.
This is not to say that each lesson or item will apply to you, but there is sure to be something on here that will prove helpful as you plan your adventure. Oh, and don’t forget to tag us in your amazing photos, too!
1. The toilet paper situation
Depending on your accommodation, or where on the island you are located, you will see signs asking you not to flush toilet paper in the toilet. Instead, you place your used tissue in the tiny bins next to the toilet.
Most modern hotels are equipped for flushing. But, in the town centers of Fira, Oia, and even on Mykonos— public toilets are not.
2. Flats or sneakers are encouraged
We know, we know, you want to get your ‘fits off’ while in Santorini. But, let us be the first (or maybe not the first) to warn you that the sidewalks and alleyways in Santorini are not to be played with.
Most of the villages on the island are built into the cliffside, which means tons of hills and uneven paths. Most walkways are also cobblestone and the rocks actually stick out from the concrete, so it’s very easy to trip if you aren’t careful.
3. All of Santorini doesn't have the blue domes
I think a common misconception is that no matter where you are in Santorini, you’re going to see the blue domed buildings.
Sorry to say, but that’s not true.
The photos that you see from other travelers with the blue capped buildings, is from the town of Oia (pronounced Ee-ah). It’s on the northern part of the island of Santorini, and there are less than 10 of the blue domes in the town total. So don’t expect every building to have them.
4. Fira is where most people stay in Santorini
There are villas, hotels, guesthouses, Airbnbs, and even single rooms to rent all over Santorini.
However, to get the most “bang for your buck” many travelers choose to stay in the town of Fira. It’s a little larger than Oia, and is where most bars, clubs, shops, and restaurants are. Unfortunately, you won’t find any blue domed buildings here, but the views are just as stunning. Trust us!
5. You'll want to stay on the caldera side
You’re probably like, what is a caldera. Well, it’s a set of tiny islands— including a live volcano— that sit out from the western shores of Santorini.
It’s an island, so it’s technically surrounded by water, but the side with the caldera brings some of the most breathtaking views you will ever see. This applies whether you stay in Oia, Fira, or any other village on Santorini.
6. There's a local bus to get between towns
Don’t make the mistake like we did, and ask how far is the walk from Fira to Oia. Your hotel will look at you and likely smirk.
It’s a 2-hour walk between the two. But, it’s only about a 30-minute bus ride, too.
There is a local bus station in most of the main towns/villages of Santorini. From Fira to Oia (blue domes) it will cost you 1.60 euros. Try to have as close to the exact amount as you can.
The schedule is posted on the wall of the makeshift outdoor terminals, and the booth operator will tell you to look up your route times yourself. (No lie)
Also, you pay for the bus once you are actually on the bus, so again, don’t disturb the booth operator!
7. Flying dress photos
One of the main things women want to do when in Santorini, is the flying dress photo experience. And yes, it’s a fun thing to do.
There are several photographers that offer photoshoot services (not just for the dresses), and it is easiest to book them via Airbnb experiences. The actual flying dress rental is a separate fee from the general shoot.
The dresses come in several colors and sizes, and your photographer will bring it to the shoot. The average price for the dress rental is 100 euros. This includes an assistant to help “fly” your dress in the pictures.
Also, the photos usually take a few days to come to you via email, so don’t expect them same day.
8. You can take a speed ferry between most major islands
We’ve spent a lot of time on Santorini (since it’s most popular), but there are other islands to visit.
Of course, you can fly into most of them— although often a little more expensive, and some requiring private charters— from any other city around the country.
The more economical option is the speed ferry. You can book the ferry and find schedules and prices on Ferry Hopper.
The ferry is huge, and has the option for upgraded fare classes.
9. Taxis around the islands will add up on you
When and where you can, try to take the local bus. The word local bus sounds like a nightmare, but they are actually charter buses versus the buses seen in most parts of the United States.
As mentioned above, buses are under 2 euros. Now compare that to the no less than 20 euros, one-way, that you will spend on a taxi.
Yes, a taxi is private and can pick you up at your door. But, we just wanted to save you a few dollars because after going from Oia to Fira or from one of the beach resorts in Mykonos to the town center a few times, your cash stash will get low really quick.
10. The souvenir shops literally sell the exact same thing
Like most heavy tourist areas, you will find tons of souvenir shops in Mykonos, Fira, and Oia. And yes, they all sell the same thing.
T-shirts, jewelry, bags, magnets, shot glasses— all the typical things you will find anywhere else around the world. The only difference, they say Greece.
11. Each city and island is known for different food
If you like to get adventurous with the cuisine when you travel, there is plenty to try all across Greece.
Although not an island, Athens is known for Moussaka— a dish that is similar to lasagna but with some differenences.
Santorni is known for it’s grilled octopus and lamb.
Mykonos has tons of seafood, and surprisingly lots of pasta dishes.
12. Mykonos is known for its club scene and for being LGBTQ friendly
There are several clubs around Mykonos that are known for bass-pumping music in the wee hours of the night (or morning).
We also learned that Elia Beach is frequented by members of the LGBTQ community, and it is where they feel safest.
13. Don't forget your charger converters
If you are an avid traveler, you can skip this one. But, even the most frequent flyer slips sometimes.
Be sure to bring the correct converter for European ports, and make sure you bring more than one.
You can luck up and find them sometimes at some shops in the islands’ town centers, but don’t bank on that.
14. Get your COVID test at a pharmacy
Many hotels— especially on Mykonos— will offer to have a private doctor come to your room to do your test needed to return home. This will run you 70 euros for a rapid test and 100 euros for PCR.
But, there are usually a few pharmacies around that will do it for as little as 10 euros.
Also, starting November 8, vaccinated Americans will no longer need a negative test to re-enter the US.
15. Bring extra Euros
If you have a travel credit card, you can also skip this one. But, you’ll want to be sure you take extra Euros on your trip.
Some US banks will allow you to order through your mobile app and have it delivered to your home in a day or two— at no extra charge.
Places do accept Visa around the islands, but other credit cards can be tricky— especially American Express. And almost no businesses accept US dollars.