Friday, 27 September 2013

Battling with the crowds in Santorini

Santorini is very touristic. While in early June when I visited Crete was quiet, Santorini was already full of tour groups.  

Santorini cruises
Four cruises at the same time in Santorini
Is it possible to avoid the hordes of tourists getting off the cruise ships for the day? Well, there is nothing to do about Thira, it will always be crowded, and the atmospheric village of Oia at sunset and dinner time is also a nightmare. In spite of that, there are a few things you can do to make your stay less exasperating.

Greek masks, Thira,
Greek masks for sell in Fira

First of all, you can try to find accommodation outside of Fira and Oia in order to discover the quiet corners of the island. My accommodation was in a hostel/B&B called Caveland,  located in the quiet yet charming village of Karterados. Caveland is a former winery dating back to the 18th century, and the rooms and dormitories are the cells where the wine was kept. That is why the rooms look like caves. There is even a volcanic rock that springs out of the bathtub. I loved  that place! For only 17€ per night I got a super nice room (I was the only one in the dormitory!), free breakfast and wi-fi, swimming pool, and a big shaded courtyard to relax or read a book. They also have double rooms with either shared or ensuite bathrooms.

The double room in Caveland, Santorini
The cosy double room with shared bathroom next to my dormitory

Bath tub, Caveland, Santorini
Bath tub, Caveland, Santorini

The swimming pool in Caveland, Santorini
What you can get for 17€ in Santorini

Grounds, Caveland, Santorini
A corner of the courtyard

The only drawback is that Karterados is 20-25 minutes walking from the main town in Santorini, Fira. You can take one of the buses that pass through Karterados  en route to different areas of the island (€1,50-€1,80), although they are not very frequent. In alternative, ask for a taxi, or do as I did: walk! Of course you can also rent a bike, or a moped. There are yoga classes available at Caveland too, which I find pretty cool. Overall, Caveland is a really good deal, and it allows you to see a different part of the island.

The village of Karterados is somehow less touristy, the houses are more spaced out, and life runs quiet. If you are not looking for a luxury room overlooking the caldera this is the place for you. I'm sure there are more of these spots on the island, you just have to find them.

Karterados, Santorini

A church in quiet Karterados
Another thing you can do is to go to Oia in the early afternoon or even in the morning to explore its cobbled streets and its vistas when there aren't many people. Also enjoy the sunset from there of course. I can't lie: the sunset in Oia was the most beautiful I've ever seen, but it wasn't the experience I had expected. Oia gets packed with people, to the point that every cobbled street with a view of the descending arch of the sun, and every bar or restaurant with a sea view was full of people waiting with their camera in hand. This began 2 or even 3 hours before the actual sunset.

people watching sunset, Santorini
Crowded sunset in Oia
Because I was too restless to sit down and wait in the same spot for two hours, when the sunset started I always had someone's head in front of my camera lenses and it was really hard to take nice shots. Do you think that people step aside just for a moment to let you take a good picture? Not at all.

Santorini Sunset 2
Sunset in Santorini

Santorini sunset 3
Finally a good shot!

In summary, if you are in Santorini do enjoy the sunset in Oia, but make sure to go to there at another time of the day too. If you have more days, think about changing the location for your second sunset: I'm sure that there are other beautiful and less crowded spots where you can see it.


  1. I've never heard of Karterados before. Thanks for the travel tip!

  2. That bedroom looks so cool! Also, great tips, thanks for sharing :) Your photos are lovely.

    Happy travels!

    1. It was cool! If I'm going back to Santorini I have no doubts on where to stay...

  3. I would love to go to Santorini, the Caveland hostel seems like a really good deal. Thanks for the tip! The sunset is absolutely gorgeous, indeed a shame of the crowds. haha just like you I do not like crowds especially not when I'm taking photos.

    1. This is only since I bought my new camera. Before that I was normal! ;-)


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