One Day in Santorini | Private Excursion and Van | 3 Weeks in Europe with 3 Kids | Day 11

Hello again fellow explorers, and welcome to the Santorini chapter of our whirlwind European vacation with me, Alex, my wife, Erika, and our three lively kids, aged 7, 5, and 1. Our adventure took us through five countries in just three weeks – from the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre to Venice’s canals in a private water taxi and now a Greek island paradise.

With this blog and YouTube series video we hope to provide a sneak peek into our travel highs (and lows), practical tips, and the nitty-gritty details of our itinerary. If you’re toying with the idea of a similar journey, hopefully we can help with some ideas! Or if you’re just along for the entertaining ride, we’re happy to have you!

Disembarking at Santorini

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We start the day docking in the port of Santorini, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. After being cooped up on the cruise ship for the last day and a half, everyone was eager to stretch their legs on solid land again and the mood was jovial aboard the tender. We disembarked at the old port of Santorini (Skala Pier) and immediately headed for the cable cars.

Six Facts About Santorini
1. Santorini, a Greek island in the Aegean Sea, is famous for its iconic white-washed buildings with blue-domed roofs. The buildings are painted white to make the houses cooler and the white paint contains limestone which doubles as a disinfectant
2. The island's breathtaking sunsets, witnessed from the charming village of Oia, are considered among the most beautiful in the world.
3. Santorini is the only inhabited caldera (a large volcanic crater) in the world. The island was round before the volcanic eruption of 1600 BC, which is thought to be the largest in recorded history.
4. Many believe that the legendary island of Atlantis, mentioned by Plato, was actually Santorini, having disappeared after the volcanic eruption.
5. The local Assyrtiko wine, cultivated in the island's volcanic soil, is renowned for its distinct taste and is a must-try for wine enthusiasts.
6. Fira, the capital of Santorini, boasts a vibrant nightlife, with numerous bars and restaurants overlooking the Caldera.

Santorini Cable Cars

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Santorini Cable Car2

We made a beeline for the cable cars, which took us up the hills to Fira, the main city in Santorini and the first stop of all cruise passengers arriving at the old port. There are alternatives to the cable car to get to Fira – mule rides up the hill are available and the more adventurous can even walk the winding hillside paths taken by the mules. Bear in mind it is a tough hike up-hill, recommended for the physically fit. The cable car trip itself offers breathtaking views of the island and the surrounding caldera sea, as you can see from the photos above.

Santorini Travel Tip - Avoid the Queues for the Cable Cars!
When arriving in Santorini via cruise ship tender, I recommend boarding the cable cars as soon as you hit shore to avoid the lengthy queues that inevitably form. Don't be distracted by the restaurants and souvenir shops in the old port itself, make your way to the cable cars as soon as possible. The cars will take you up-hill to Fira, from where you can explore the rest of the island.

Meeting Our Tour Guide in Fira

Once we made it to Fira we met our friendly travel guide, Amani of Golden Ibex Tours, who was waiting for us. Tour arrangements had been made in advance online and we immediately started the tour after introductions with the tour guide were out of the way. Booking in advance is highly recommended especially when travelling with a group who may have different needs. Erika’s parents, who were with us on this vacation for their 50th wedding anniversary, had limited mobility. Because we booked in advance our tour guide had the time to fine-tune the tour to cater to their specific needs. This extra attention is something you will never get when hiring a random tour-guide off the street on your cruise ship stop.

Santorini Map
Santorini Travel Tip - Arrange Guided Tours in Advance
Guides offer valuable insights, historical context, and local knowledge, enhancing the travel experience. Arranging travel guides in advance saves time, reduces stress, and allows for a deeper exploration of the destination. Pre-booking also guarantees availability, especially during peak seasons - it can even save you money on occasion! 

Amazing Views of the Santorini Caldera in Oia

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We kicked off the tour with a minivan ride to Oia on northern tip of the island. Oia showcases the beauty of the Santorini Caldera. Amani shares details about the island’s size, population, and its unique geological features. The charming town of Oia with its white-washed buildings and narrow streets overlooking the caldera sea is the image that always comes to my mind whenever I think of Santorini.

As we walk towards a vantage point in the street that perfectly shows off the ‘C’ shape of the caldera the Santorini islands make. We obviously stopped to take plenty of photos amid this stunning panoramic backdrop. Some of the vantage points were jammed with tourists so we picked a few spots that were not as busy and still offered some great views.

Santorini Travel Tip - Beware Overpriced Tourist Shops!
Seafront shops in Santorini, while very picturesque, are considered relatively expensive. The island is a popular tourist destination, and the shops in the most popular areas, such as Fira and Oia, cater to high-end tourists. Prices for souvenirs, clothing, and other items can be significantly higher than in other parts of Greece. Budget conscious visitors to Santorini can save a bit of money by dining and drinking in the non-seafront facing establishments across the street.

Taking a Break & Enjoying Homemade Ice-Cream

And now the part of the tour our kids liked the best: an ice-cream break! Our guide brought us to a homemade ice-cream establishment to cool down and sample some of the local frozen delights. Amidst the laughter and banter, we dig into various flavors of coconut, strawberry and chocolate and recharge our batteries for the next leg of our Santorini tour. Needless to say, we had such a fantastic day in Santorini I not cover everything in one video/blog. Stay tuned for part 2 of our Santorini adventure!

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