What to do when you get 4.5 days off from work? You can either do your laundry — or, watch a sunset in Santorini.
Having gotten 4 and a half days scheduled off of work after a string of overnight shifts, I casually looked online for flights and stumbled upon (on Skyscanner) a roundtrip fare between New York and Athens for around $600 USD.
For a roundtrip fare that usually would cost over $1200 USD, this $600 price tag was rated “SPECTACULAR” by Hitlist (an app I would recommend to find ridiculous flights such as these for a weekend getaway). So I jumped on it and added on a $50 roundtrip ticket to Santorini.
Right after my overnight shift ended at 8am, I headed home to pick up my bags for the airport, making it to a 1:40pm Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul with a connecting flight to Athens. The challenge was to have the Athens-bound flight land on time at 9am so I could make it to a separate, domestic Aegean Airlines flight to Santorini at 10am.
Sounds doable? Unfortunately, barely. If you’re switching from an international arrival to a domestic departure, you may overlook that you have to stamp out your passport into domestic territories and check back into security. What was more unfortunate is that the Athens-bound Turkish Airlines flight actually landed at 9:30am, which gave me only 30 minutes to stamp my USA passport out into EU/Schengen territories, exit the terminal, switch terminals and run back through check-in, security, and the departure gate.
Yes, by the time I deplaned in Athens I saw that it was already 9:30am and my 10am Aegean Airlines flight to Santorini was already boarding…in a different concourse. So I ran. I ran down escalators, out customs, up escalators to the departure gates, past through ticketing check, and across what seemed like an entire airport to security, and down more escalators to make it to the gate by 9:43am as the last person on the bus to the airplane.
Don’t try this at home, kids. Unless you have no bags to check-in and you already got your tickets online like I did, I don’t recommend this transfer for the faint of heart.
The flight to Santorini from Athens is scheduled to be 45 minutes, but that included 30 minutes of closing doors, taking off and landing. I felt like the plane was already descending into Santorini airport by the time we took off.
Santorini’s airport is tiny that within 10 minutes of when you land you’re already in a cab to your lodging. I picked Evgenia Villas & Suites for their last day of the season.
And today was actually the last day of the season for many of the bars here (signs posting “CLOSING PARTY – NOVEMBER 14th, 2105” for random bars were scattered everywhere).
After freshening up, I headed out into the main, but tiny capital of Fira.
I then headed uphill into the winding paths on the western part of Fira for a view of the caldera. It faces the volcano that gave Santorini its crescent shape in the first place.
From there you can head down along the wide steps (mind the donkey poop) to the bottom to check out the old docks, but it’s gonna be a rough hike back up. A donkey ride for 5 euros can help alleviate the journey if your legs give out.
Other than a handful of small museums, there are few sights in Fira. I did our best with the local Metropolitan Church, which was closed on Saturday:
Once in Santorini though, you have to have the seafood at least once:
Once you’re done with Fira (and that was quick for me since there was nothing much to do in Santorini, probably given that I came during the low season when most things were closed anyway) consider a trip to watch the famous sunsets in northern Oia.
From Fira, head towards the Taxi Station where you can get a private ride for 20 euros, or head a few steps past the station to the bus stop, where 20 minute buses leave every hour from Fira to Oia for 1.80 euros.
Head south towards the caldera from Oia’s bus station:
And remind yourself that you’re no longer looking at a painting or a desktop background. This is real life:
Oia takes about 20 minutes to walk completely east to west to get different views of the caldera, and it can be an interesting challenge to sift among the crowds to compete for the best views of the sunset.
But don’t worry if that’s the only thing you do in Oia as there’s little much else to do here other than eat, shop and appreciate the views.
Along the western part of Oia is a small open-air fort-like structure where you can take in the view of the sun and another part of the town:
But my personal favorite is heading back to the central/eastern part of Oia to get the classic view of the sunset with the 3 blue-domed churches in your photos:
If you feel a little daring, hop over the rope fence and take your photos from the top of a church:
In my opinion, what’s better than the sunset is watching Oia slowly light up at dusk:
…and the rest of Santorini:
One more seafood dinner by the caldera before leaving Oia:
And don’t forget to look up before heading to bed:
– At time of posting in Santorini, Greece, it was 68 °F – Humidity: 78% | Wind Speed: 21km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy