It has featured in lists named like “Top 100 things to see in your lifetime” or equally click bait sounding titles from prestigious travel magazines. Half a volcano submerged, leaving a magically enchanting scenery which is truly breathtaking. But spending more than a day or two on Santorini is simply stupid. Here are the things worth doing, they all fit in a day:
- Of course the sunset at Oia overlooking the caldera is magical. Unless there are too many people which is of course what happens at sunset. In fact it happens all day long at popular Instagramable photo spots. And try not to notice the rubbish which is everywhere even off season, you would think somebody would care but they don’t. In fact there is a huge rubbish dump with the same view!
- The paths from Pyrgos to ancient Thira and Perissa, preferable with a sunrise included as they look East. Everybody raves about the sunset, unfortunately the idiots that run archaelogy in Greece keep sites closed instead of making it a thing. Signage is mediocre and the local buses a joke if you want to get back to where you started somehow. But you will get to see Pyrgos and Emporeio which are pretty and slightly less destroyed by tourism. (Which isn’t saying much.)
(Sure you can walk along ancient paths in Santorini. So do idiots that hunt little birds with no repercussions or control.)
Here are the things NOT to bother with:
- The pathetic boat trips to the pretty miserable “volcanic” island. A desert rocky walk with a few smelly gasses and an equally disappointing swim in cold water which is slightly warmer here and there.
- The famous Akrotiti buried ancient city. An incredibly important site which would be interesting if they hadn’t completely ruined it with the new cover and structure. I was lucky enough to walk in it with the older arrangement and it was infinitely more exciting. Now you just look over it and we weren’t even allowed to go down to the old city level “due to lack of staff”. If you do go, make sure to go to the equally disappointing museum of Prehistoric Santorini first so you at least get to see all “the good stuff” which they didn’t leave at Akrotiri. Strange how Greeks keep going on about the Elgin marbles being in London as they do exactly the same thing to all their antiquities, sending the most important finds to Athens or other more central museums.
- Pretty much anything else anywhere on this horrible island. Terrible roads run through a poster child of how tourism completely destroys an area. Complete anarchy with rooms, villas or any other description of places to stay a night thrown anywhere they can, rubbish everywhere and a barren scenery with none of the magic of the Cyclades.
(Donkey dung, rubbish and one hell of a view: Santorini in a nutshell)
I would not put Santorini in my Top10 best Greek islands to visit before you die. Probably not even the top20. It is an environmental disaster with no water or power supply of its own, no infrastructure for the huge amounts of rubbish or other waste. In fact power and water outages are common in the summer. A day excursion from a cruise ship is more than enough to see the caldera. Move on after that to somewhere worth your money and time, somewhere without people that have such a short term approach to tourism. In many ways Santorini is the perfect illustration of modern Greek tourism. Everyone we spoke to, over worked, underpaid employees crammed into terrible housing and getting paid 600-700 euro a month, marvel how the tourists keep coming. A small dose of tzatziki can set you back 9 euro or more and room prices are even more crazy.
The whole premise of visiting this island hangs on a shoe string thanks to it’s one saving natural grace, the only thing they can’t destroy. So come see it before they find a way to ruin even that.