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Santorini, Greece: Pros and Cons

“Happy is the man, I thought, who before dying, has the good fortune to sail the Aegean Sea.”
~ Nikos Kazantzakis

During our trip to Greece, Santorini was very high on our list for a visit. The photos we had seen with the stunning blue waters, colorful sunsets and the cliffside living made this a must-see for us.  It was a bit of a stretch on our budget, but we took the plunge and scheduled our trip!

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In all honesty we left there feeling both awed at the beauty but also questioning if it was worth the hefty price tag.  We decided to share our pros and cons to maybe help you decide.

Pros

Caldera Views – They truly are as stunning in real life as the pictures portray; although the key is to find a clear day.

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View from Absolute Bliss Imerovigli Suites

Sunsets – We enjoyed having a glass of wine on our balcony and watching the sunset. We stayed in Imerovigli and loved the views!  Oia is often named as having some of the best sunsets on the island however we were not disappointed in Imerovigli and as a bonus, it was far less crowded.

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Sunset view at Above Blue Suites

Cave-like hotels – Walking several stairways down to your hotel is pretty awesome, as long as you are not afraid of heights!  Once you step inside, the rooms are narrow tunnels built into the side of the hill.  So cool!  Bonus if you can snag a property with a pool!  The cliffside pools are awesome as well!

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Golden Echo Suite at Above Blue Suites
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Pool at Absolute Bliss Suites

The Water – The water is a brilliant shade of blue.  We took a boat cruise one day and we would highly recommend, Blue Lagoon Cruises.  The staff was fantastic, the drinks were flowing, the lunch was awesome and we got to spend a couple hours admiring Santorini from the water!

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Always taking an opportunity for an action shot!
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The staff was so helpful in capturing a few shots
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Seeing the rocks up-close provide a different vantage point than from above!

Picturesque Towns – Every corner you turn, there are areas that are postcard perfect!

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The fact that the town is built on the side of a cliff is pretty awesome!

Greek Cuisine – We loved the meat, fresh veggies and cheese that were part of the cuisine here!  We especially loved the Saganaki cheese which we ate as a starter for nearly every meal we had!  We especially loved our dinner at the Above & Beyond Restaurant which was located in the the Above Blue Suites.  It combined the incredible cuisine with a lovely sunset.

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Above & Beyond Sunset Dining at the Above Blue Suites

Breakfast with a View – No words needed, just take a look below!

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Breakfast at Aliko Suites
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Breakfast view at Above Blue Suites
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Breakfast at Absolute Bliss Suites

Cons

Expensive – While it is beautiful and generally the staff works hard here, we found the rooms and activities to be very expensive.  We were extremely disappointed when our first night we found there were overgrown weeds blocking our view.  We paid good money for that view and it was poorly maintained (also the reason there are so many properties mentioned in the post, the hotel moved us to sister properties but we had to move around since there were only random days available).

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Hot Tubs – For an additional splurge you can get a “hot” tub on your balcony.  Why is the hot in quotes?  Well they are luke warm at best due to the fact they are not covered and there is a maximum temperature setting that is simply not that warm.  Additionally, since the rooms are so close together, the jets stopped working in the early evening so it didn’t bother other neighboring guests.

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Hazy Views – While we know you can’t control the weather, we learned that more often than not, the views here are hazy.  It’s rare to have a fully clear view.

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“Cooking” Class – When you take a 3-course cooking class and one of the courses is Greek Salad!? Now I know it’s a popular menu item, however, Amanda can’t even cook but at least she knows how to chop a few vegetables.

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Sad looking donkeys – We are far from animal activists however the donkeys on the island are just sad.  They seem tourtured and sick as they carry tourists up and down the steep side of the mountain. We considered it before going however after seeing the donkeys in person, we could not support it.

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Greek Wine – Ok, I will say it… Greek Wine is terrible!  We took a wine tour which included some local Greek wine tastings.  We looked at each other wondering, what is that strange flavor we are noticing? Finally on wine number three, I had to ask what the hell we were tasting!  The guide told us that all of the wines were aged in stainless steel barrels which provided no transfer of flavor, only grapes.  Well I hate to burst your bubble, but stainless steel was the flavor we tasted.
If you know of a Greek wine that tastes good, please let us know.  We currently avoid Greek wine’s on menus because of our stainless steel experience.

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Have you been to Santorini? Would you return or was it was one-time stop for you?  Any other pros or cons to add to our list?

-Brian & Amanda

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Pros & Cons of Santorini, Greece

 

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27 Comments

  1. Hubby and I were in Santorini earlier this year… I really really loved the place. Like it was out of a postcard! Loved your post and the pictures. Totally agree with everything on the list especially the donkeys! They’re giant… and scary looking! I couldn’t get myself to get on one… walked it all.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! We walked it all as well, I admire the staff who walks up and down the steep stairs each day and sometimes carrying heavy loads! I’m sure they all have strong legs 🙂

      1. Haha! Yes… I’m sure they do. Those steps are slippery! Poor hubby slipped and broke his watch :(… They really need to do something about that.

  2. Wow! You take amazing pictures. I think you have captured the spirit of the trip perfectly. I , too, love a good food shot – and with those views behind– wow!! Hubby and I plan our trips a few years in advance and we are thinking Greece in 2018. I’ve pinned your post to keep in mind. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for the compliments! Wow, good for you on planning in advance! I would recommend going to a couple islands to have contrasting experiences to a more popular destination such as Santorini and one of the more secluded islands as well.

  3. Great photos guys! I’m not an animal activist either, but looking at that donkey made me remember of my trip to Indonesia – I went to an island where cars and motorbikes are prohibited and guess what they use to carry the tourists and heavy stuff – horses – better said ponies – poor creatures – some people call themselves travelers, but don’t even know what it means…

    I invite you to check out my VIDEO REPORT from my short visit in TOKYO

    http://www.travelekspert.com/2015/09/tokyo-experience-movie.html

    1. Thank you! I wouldn’t have ridden the ponies either.

  4. Well Santorini is super expensive especially if you are looking for a room with a view. There are more budget friendly hotels in the inland or in the east part of the city. As for the wines I cannot help you because I’m no expert, but Santorini has some of the best wines in Greece, especially Nychteri and Vinsanto. Also there are many different wineries in Santorini. Boutaris, Sigalas and Santo Wines being the best ones.

    1. I am sure there are budget friendly properties however we wanted to splurge to experience the views, sunsets and breakfasts from our room.

  5. We have been to a couple of Greek Islands but never Santorini. David hates crowds and can’t bear the thought of somewhere so popular with tourists, but your photos do make it look very tempting. I applaud you for taking up the issue of weeds blocking your view with your hotel. It is so often just easier to put up with poor accommodation and just determine never to go back.

    1. If he doesn’t like crowds, Santorini would not be enjoyable in July (that’s when we were there)….not sure if off-months are better. Thanks for your compliments, we felt a bit silly to complain about weeds but an unobstructed view should have been included with the hefty price tag. Luckily the hotel was accommodating and offered stays at their sister properties.

  6. You had me at Saganaki! One of my favourite Greek dishes…

    Thanks for a balanced review of Santorini. I’m glad to hear that the views “truly are as stunning in real life as the pictures portray”…as it’s the views that attract me. But it’s good to know all the pros and cons.

    1. We were introduced to Saganaki during our time there and now we cannot visit a Greek restaurant without ordering it! Although it doesn’t taste quite as good as it did in the country!

  7. We knew Santorini was expensive but went to see it. It is stunningly beautiful but of all the islands we visited we found it the most touristy, the most crowded, and the most expensive. We loved Naxos. It was soooo relaxing, inexpensive and friendly. And the food was just unbelievable. Sitting by a little taverna by the seas eating just caught fish and drinking wine. Everywhere we went you given something extra for free- an appetiser to try, an extra glass of wine, dessert an after dinner digestive. Something to say thanks for coming and introduce you to something else about their island.

    1. Naxos sounds incredible! We went to Milos during our time in Greece and preferred it to Santorini for many of the same reasons you mentioned – less touristy, cheaper, more friendly and authentic food! We will check it out next time, thanks for the tip!

  8. My husband and me visited Santorini too, a few years ago and felt exactly the same. We also spent a week in Naxos, which is yes, far less pretty, but also far more authentic, cheaper and more fun in general. Honestly, I felt quite bored on Santorini.
    Have a great Sunday, found you guys through #WeekendWanderlust

    1. Glad to hear we weren’t the only ones to have this view of Santorini! We also spent a few days in Milos and we preferred it to Santorini because of many of the same views you have of Naxos – more authentic, cheaper and the staff was much more friendly! We will have to check out Naxos next time 🙂

  9. We went to Santorini on our honeymoon – thought it was beautiful. We didn’t take any cooking class but I agree Greek salad is really lame as a course. Especially considering how much great Greek food there is and the variety of their dishes. I’d tourist hordes to your list of cons — wow! that sunset in Oia is packed every night.

    1. What a wonderful location for a honeymoon! Yes, we preferred enjoying the sunset from our balcony. We would recommend that type of room for at least 1 or 2 nights for anyone who goes there.

  10. Okay, well I AM an animal activist and I feel terrible for those donkeys! We shouldn’t force animals to do things like this, how awful. I’m glad that you were completely honest in this blog post about what you liked and didn’t like. I’m glad you were able to see so many good things though and had a nice time! Those views certainly are gorgeous. Thanks for linking up with #WeekendWanderlust!

    1. Glad you appreciated the honesty of our pros and cons. It’s worth the visit just to experience the views!

  11. What a beautiful place to share and I’m so glad you shared your view on the donkeys. I couldn’t agree more, so very sad to see.

  12. Santorini is on my bucket list. I love how you laid out both the pros and cons. It’s good information and I found it very helpful.

  13. Santorini is on our bucket list – love how you listed the pros and cons. Will stay away from the Greek wines for sure and the donkey rides.

  14. I agreed with you on a few points. Imerovigli is the perfect Oia alternative minus the crowds! We had an awesome AirBNB within walking distance, but if my hubs liked swimming, I wish we would have splurged on a place with a wonderful pool view. 🙂 I was unimpressed with the Greek wine and loved the saganaki, as well! Not what I had imagined, but glad for the experience.

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