Exploring from Athens Greece to Santorini: Top Travel Tips and Must-See Spots

Greece, renowned for its rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture, boasts the most iconic destinations: Athens and Santorini. Athens, the historical capital of Europe, is teeming with ancient ruins, world-class museums, and a lively urban atmosphere. 

Meanwhile, Santorini, an archipelago in the Aegean Sea, captivates visitors with its breathtaking sunsets, whitewashed buildings, and crystal-clear waters.This blog aims to guide travelers on the best ways to travel from Athens Greece to Santorini, highlighting must-see spots and essential travel tips to ensure an unforgettable experience in both locations.

ferry out to sea

Catching the Ferry to Paradise

Exploring Santorini’s wonders begins with a scenic ferry ride from Athens, promising an adventure filled with mesmerizing views and unparalleled experiences.

Ferry vs. Plane

When planning your trip from Athens to Santorini, you have two primary options: ferry or plane. Each mode of transportation offers distinct advantages:

Ferry

Choosing the ferry from Athens to Santorini offers a picturesque and leisurely journey, allowing travelers to soak in the beauty of the Aegean Sea and its surrounding islands.

  • Pros:
    • Scenic Journey: Enjoy breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea and nearby islands.
    • Budget-Friendly: Typically cheaper than flying, especially during peak tourist season.
  • Cons:
    • Travel Time: Ferries can take anywhere from 5 to 8 hours, depending on the type of ferry (high-speed vs. regular).
    • Weather Dependency: Rough seas can sometimes cause delays or cancellations.

Plane

While ferries offer a scenic route, taking a plane from Athens to Santorini is the fastest way to reach this idyllic destination.

  • Pros:
    • Speed: Flights from Athens to Santorini take approximately 45 minutes.
    • Convenience: Ideal for travelers with tight schedules.
  • Cons:
    • Cost: Generally more expensive than ferry tickets.
    • Less Scenic: Miss out on the picturesque sea journey.

Booking Your Ferry Tickets

To book your ferry tickets, consider using reliable websites and apps such as Ferryhopper or Direct Ferries. When booking, keep in mind the following factors:

  • Travel Time: High-speed ferries are faster but can be more expensive.
  • Amenities: Check for amenities such as Wi-Fi, food services, and seating options.
  • Schedules: Ferries operate on specific schedules, so plan your travel dates accordingly.

Ferry Travel Tips

Whether you’re a first-time traveler or a seasoned adventurer, these ferry travel tips will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey to Santorini.

  • Luggage Storage: Most ferries offer designated areas for luggage storage. Keep valuables in a carry-on bag.
  • Food Options Onboard: Many ferries have cafes or snack bars. However, packing some water and snacks can be convenient, especially for longer journeys.

Seasickness Advice: If prone to seasickness, consider bringing medication or natural remedies like ginger tablets. Opt for a seat in the middle of the vessel, where motion is less felt.

santorini port

Arriving in Santorini

Santorini has two main ports—Athinios and the Old Port. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Athinios Port: The primary port where most ferries dock. It’s about 20 minutes from Fira, the island’s capital.
  • Old Port: Mainly used by cruise ships and smaller ferries, accessible via cable car or donkey ride up to Fira.

Transportation Options

Transportation options on Santorini range from public buses to private rentals, each offering its own unique advantages for exploring the island.

  • Shuttle Services: Many hotels offer shuttle services from the port. Confirm this when booking your accommodation.
  • Taxis: Available at the port but can be limited during peak times. Pre-booking is advisable.
  • Buses: Public buses run from Athinios Port to various island parts, including Fira and Oia.
  • Car Rentals: Renting a car provides flexibility to explore the island at your own pace. Several rental companies operate at the ports.

The Magic of Athens island parts

Athens offers a captivating blend of ancient history and vibrant modern culture, making it a must-visit destination on your Greek adventure.

Must-See Sights in Athens

Athens is a treasure trove of historical and cultural landmarks. Here are the must-see sights:

  • The Acropolis: Dominating the Athenian skyline, this ancient citadel includes the Parthenon, the Erechtheion, and the Temple of Athena Nike.
  • The Parthenon: A symbol of ancient Greece, this majestic temple dedicated to Athena stands at the heart of the Acropolis.
  • The Plaka Neighborhood: Known as the “Neighborhood of the Gods,” this charming area features narrow streets, neoclassical architecture, and traditional tavernas.
  • The National Archaeological Museum: Home to some of the most important artifacts from various archaeological locations around Greece.
  • The Ancient Agora: Once the heart of public life in Athens, it’s now a fascinating archaeological site with ruins and the restored Stoa of Attalos.
sunset at athens

Planning Your Days in Athens

To make the most of your visit to Athens, here are some tips for planning your days efficiently:

History Buffs

For those passionate about history, Athens provides an unparalleled journey through time.

  • Day 1: Visit the Acropolis and the Acropolis Museum. Spend the afternoon exploring the Ancient Agora. 
  • Day 2: Head to the National Archaeological Museum and spend the evening strolling through the Plaka neighborhood.

Foodies

Athens is a paradise for food lovers, offering a delightful array of traditional Greek cuisine and contemporary culinary experiences.

  • Day 1: Take a food tour of Athens, sampling local delicacies like souvlaki, moussaka, and baklava. Visit the Central Market (Varvakios Agora). 
  • Day 2: Explore the vibrant neighborhoods of Monastiraki and Psiri, known for their excellent eateries and street food stalls.

Short Layovers

If you only have a short layover in Athens, you can still experience some of the city’s highlights.

  • Half-Day: Tour the Acropolis and the Parthenon, followed by a quick visit to the Plaka neighborhood. 
  • Full Day: Combine the above with a visit to the Ancient Agora and a leisurely lunch in a traditional taverna.

Hidden Gems of Athens

Discover unique experiences off the beaten path:

  • Anafiotika: A picturesque neighborhood on the slopes of the Acropolis, resembling a Cycladic island village.
  • Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center: A modern architectural marvel offering gardens, a library, and sea views.
  • Benaki Museum: This museum showcases Greek art and culture from prehistoric times to the present. It is often less crowded than others.
  • Mount Lycabettus: For panoramic views of Athens, hike or take a funicular up this hill.

Where to Stay in Athens

Athens offers a variety of neighborhoods catering to different budgets and preferences:

  • Plaka: Ideal for first-time visitors, close to major attractions, and filled with historic charm.
  • Monastiraki: Great for those who enjoy vibrant markets and nightlife.
  • Kolonaki: A chic, upscale neighborhood with luxury boutiques, fine dining, and elegant cafes.
  • Koukaki: Perfect for budget travelers, offering a more local experience while still being near major attractions.
  • Psiri: Known for its bohemian vibe, street art, and lively nightlife.

Selecting the right neighborhood will enhance your stay in Athens. It will provide easy access to the city’s wonders and ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit.

santorini view

Santorini: Where Romance Meets Adventure

Santorini, a gem in the Aegean Sea, seamlessly blends astonishing natural beauty with rich cultural heritage, making it the perfect destination for both romance and adventure.

Exploring Santorini’s Dramatic Landscapes

Santorini is famed for its striking landscapes, with dramatic cliffs, volcanic beaches, and picturesque villages. Here are some things to do in Santorini:

  • Oia: Famous for its stunning sunsets, whitewashed houses, and blue-domed churches perched on the cliffs.
  • Fira: The island’s bustling capital, offering incredible views of the caldera, vibrant nightlife, and numerous shops and restaurants.
  • Black Sand Beaches: Unique to volcanic islands, these beaches, such as Perissa and Kamari, are a must-visit for their distinctive beauty.

Unwinding on Santorini’s Beaches

Santorini’s beaches are as varied as they are beautiful. Here are some popular choices:

  • Red Beach: Known for its striking red volcanic sand and imposing red cliffs. Accessible by foot or boat.
  • White Beach: A secluded spot with dramatic white cliffs, accessible only by boat, offering a more private beach experience.
  • Kamari Beach: A lively black sand beach with plenty of amenities, including sunbeds, umbrellas, water sports, and nearby tavernas.

Sailing the Caldera

One of the best ways to experience Santorini’s natural beauty is from the water:

  • Catamaran Tours: Explore the caldera and nearby islands, with stops for swimming and snorkeling in crystal-clear waters.
  • Sunset Cruises: Witness Santorini’s famous sunset from the deck of a boat, often accompanied by dinner and drinks for a truly magical experience.

Foodie Delights in Santorini

Santorini’s culinary scene combines traditional Greek flavors with fresh, local ingredients:

  • Traditional Greek Cuisine: Enjoy classics like moussaka, fava me kavourma (split pea puree with cured pork), and tomato keftedes (tomato fritters).
  • Fresh Seafood: Savor dishes like grilled octopus, shrimp saganaki, and freshly caught fish at seaside tavernas.
  • Local Wineries: Visit renowned wineries to taste unique Assyrtiko wine made from grapes grown in Santorini’s volcanic soil.

Staying in Style

Santorini offers a range of stunning accommodations that enhance its romantic and adventurous allure:

  • Cave Hotels: Experience the unique charm of cave hotels carved into the cliffs with luxurious amenities and spectacular views. Popular options include Canaves Oia and Katikies Hotel.
  • Luxury Resorts: Opt for high-end resorts like Grace Hotel or Mystique, offering unparalleled service, infinity pools, and breathtaking views.
  • Budget-Friendly Options: For those seeking comfort without breaking the bank, consider mid-range hotels or guesthouses in locations like Fira and Kamari, which still provide easy access to all the island offers.

Whether you’re drawn by the romance of its sunsets or the thrill of its adventures, Santorini promises an unforgettable experience.

Making Memories to Last

Embark on a journey where every moment in Santorini becomes a cherished memory, etched forever in your heart.

Capture Stunning Photos

Both Athens and Santorini offer countless photography opportunities that will help you preserve your memories:

  • Athens:
    • The Acropolis: Capture the Parthenon against the backdrop of the city.
    • Lycabettus Hill: For panoramic views of Athens, especially beautiful at sunset.
    • Plaka Neighborhood: Snap charming streets and neoclassical architecture.
  • Santorini:
    • Oia: Known for its blue-domed churches and iconic sunsets over the caldera.
    • Fira: Capture the vibrant cliffside houses and bustling streets.
    • Red Beach: The unique red sand contrasting with turquoise waters makes for striking photos.

Shopping for Souvenirs

Bring a piece of Greece back with you by hunting for unique souvenirs:

  • Athens:
    • Monastiraki Flea Market: Find antiques, handmade jewelry, and traditional Greek items.
    • Ermou Street: A bustling shopping street with a mix of local boutiques and international brands.
  • Santorini:
    • Oia Art Galleries: Purchase original artwork inspired by the island’s beauty.
    • Local Boutiques: Pick up handcrafted sandals, ceramics, and locally produced wines.

Learning About Local Culture

Immerse yourself in the rich history and culture of Greece:

  • Athens:
    • Acropolis Museum: Learn about the ancient artifacts and history of the Acropolis.
    • National Archaeological Museum: Explore one of the most important collections of Greek antiquities.
    • Cultural Events: The Athens Festival (Epidaurus) features music, theater, and dance performances at historical sites.
  • Santorini:
    • Archaeological Site of Akrotiri: Discover this ancient Minoan city preserved in volcanic ash.
    • Museum of Prehistoric Thera: Gain insights into the island’s ancient history.
    • Local Festivals: Participate in the Ifestia Festival, which reenacts the volcanic eruption with fireworks and events in late summer.
hand holding a calculator

Budgeting for Your Trip

Estimating costs for your adventure from Athens to Santorini will help ensure you stay within your budget:

  • Transportation:
    • Ferry Tickets: Approximately €30-€80 per person, depending on the ferry type and season.
    • Flights: A one-way ticket costs around €50-€150, depending on the carrier and booking time.
  • Accommodation:
    • Athens: Budget options start at €30 per night, mid-range hotels around €70-€120, and luxury stays can exceed €250 per night.
    • Santorini: Budget stays start at €50, mid-range hotels cost around €100-€200, and luxury cave hotels or resorts cost €300-€700 per night.
  • Activities:
    • Athens: Entrance fees to major sights like the Acropolis (~€20), museums (€5-€10), guided tours (€30-€60).
    • Santorini: Catamaran tours (€90-€150), winery visits (€20-€30), beach entries and rentals (~€10-€20).
  • Food:
    • Athens & Santorini: Budget meals (~€10-€15), mid-range restaurants (€20-€40), fine dining (€50+).

Planning and budgeting effectively will help you make the most of your trip and ensure that your Greek adventure is filled with memorable experiences.

Wrapping Up

Exploring the wonders of Athens and Santorini promises an unforgettable journey through Greece’s rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. From the ancient marvels of the Acropolis and the bustling streets of Plaka to the dramatic cliffs and serene beaches of Santorini, countless experiences await every traveler. 

Whether you choose the scenic ferry ride or the convenience of a quick flight, plan your stay with visits to must-see sights, indulge in local culinary delights, and capture beautiful moments with your camera. 

As you immerse yourself in these enchanting destinations, remember that both cities offer unique treasures and hidden gems, ensuring your memories last a lifetime. Embrace the magic of Athens and Santorini, and let the timeless beauty of Greece inspire your wanderlust.

Make Your Trip Easier

I’m all about planning trips on your own and figuring your way around the local scene. But still, I don’t want to leave you like a fish out of water!

Here are some resources I regularly use whenever I travel (on my own or with other people):

xo, Alice


Alice

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