If you only have one day in your life to see Santorini, then you must go. This is especially true for people who arrive at Santorini by cruise ship doing a quick hop through the main islands of the Greek Aegean Sea. Santorini in a day is possible, but you’ll only be able to enjoy a couple of the villages. Santorini is paradise and there’s no other way to describe it. This is a place where you will be back for more.
For a quick tour, be sure to see Oia and Fira or Fira and the ancient ruins of Akrotiri. Consider going to Fira at the end of the day because this will be your departure point from the island and then add one other place on your one day visit to Santorini. You won’t have any more time to explore more and enjoy yourself and if you’re a older traveler, you won’t want to exhaust yourself. Another reason is that if you have a cruise ship waiting for you, time is limited and you will have to return to Fira to get back to your ship. Funny thing is, most cruise visitors arrive back onboard at the last moment because it’s so, well, fabulous and nobody wants to leave. This results in the some of the longest queues you’ve ever seen for the Santorini cable cars which will take you back down to the Old Port for departures.
Another method of going up the cliff of Santorini is by the donkey path. Generally, it’s 5 euros a ride but arrange the price before you hop on. If you’re adventurous, take the route up, but don’t take a donkey ride down – Donkeys have been known to stop suddenly, throwing the rider off.
Transportation around Santorini is by taxis (a limited number of them), private and public buses and boats. If you’re adventurous, you can travel on the back of a donkey up the path of the caldera for only five euros. The footpath is zig-zagged, long steps of cobblestones.
If you chose to go to Oia, there are two ways to get there. One method is by the Santorini cable car and the other way is to transfer by motor boat. Personally, I found the transfer by motor boat most enjoyable and the price is reasonable. The boat transfer takes about 15 minutes and the bus ride to Oia village – another five to ten minutes. Once you arrive at Amoudi Bay, the rest of the journey is by bus that waits for you at Amoudi Bay to transfer you on to Oia.
Oia is the most splendid village on the island – where all those wonderful photos of Santorini you see everywhere are taken. Best thing to do in Oia is take a leisurely stroll through the village, soak up the breath taking views, take plenty of photos, stop off for lunch or coffee, by a gelato icecream. There are plenty of souvenir shops which sell where you can buy folk art, clothes, sandals, leather bags, pottery in bright colors, high quality gold and silver and reproductions of traditional figurines, and vases. Oia has been an inspiration for artists and you’ll find plenty of galleries around if you’d like to buy some art. Hungry for a snack? Highly recommended is a gelato at Lolita’s Gelato. Absolutely heavenly!
To get back to Fira, take a bus. Ask where the buses stop, people are very friendly and will show you where to catch the bus.
If you are interested in history, visit the excavation site of Akrotiri and take a tour of the ancient Minoan Bronze Age site. The site was buried by a volcanic eruption and is well preserved like the Roman ruins in Pompeii. Frescoes, pottery, ancient drain systems and even three floor building can be seen.
End your day in the village of Fira, the capital of Santorini where you can do more shopping, eat a leisurely late lunch in one of the restaurants or cafés with a view overlooking the caldera. You’ll find the food is absolutely splendid, traditional Greek food – locally grown offering up a sweet delicate taste. Sip on some local wine – a glass or two. Fira is the town for shopping and eating, with Venetian and Cycladic architecture, flower filled balconies, churches, monasteries and art galleries. No need to mention the views. Visit Theotokopoulou Square or the Folklore Museum or the nearby Prehistoric Museum if you have time.
Leaving Santorini. If the queues are too long to get back to your ship, walk down the donkey path, where you might have to fight for space among other people on the path and the local donkeys. Turn your knees in to the wall when you pass the donkeys if the donkeys seem to close for comfort. It will take about 25 to 30 minutes to walk down the path from the heights of the caldera of Santorini to the Old Port.
If you only have one day in Santorini, it’s guaranteed, you’ll end up very enchanted with the Island. There’s no doubt that you’ll return for a longer stay next time in this paradise of the Aegean Sea. Santorini in a day is just not long enough time to explore this wonderful island of Greece.