Santorini day trip from Crete

Jayne Lomax on 01 August 2023
For years, my Greek bucket list location has been Santorini (hasn't everyone's!?). Those insta perfect photos you see every day of the blue sky, white buildings and blue domes are nothing short of divine. I couldn't believe my luck when I arrived in Crete and found out I could do a day trip to the island, taking in the main tourist destinations of Oia and Fira (or Thera/Thira).

After much deliberation we decided I should make the trip myself, leaving my husband and girls in Crete having a fun filled day to themselves. The (valid) reasons for this were:

The cost of the trip

The trip being a VERY long day trip, with many hours travelling

The heat of the August sun

The expected busyness of the resorts

And as much as I love going on adventures as a family, this was very much the right decision.

My day started bright and early, and the coach picked me up from my resort at 6.40am, in order to make the 8am ferry leaving from Rethymno. It was a large ferry with about 800 passengers, with everyone allocated a seat for the 2 and a half hour journey (but also some outside space if you prefer). There's a couple of takeaway cafes for snacks and drinks too.

On arrival at the port we had to find our coach and began the 45 minute journey to Oia (built on the steep slopes of a water-filled caldera, offering views most can only dream of), following a long trail of tourists searching for the holy grail - that shot that screams 'I'm in Santorini!'.

And boy did we find it, multiple times. The tour guide helpfully told us where we needed to go, and we were left to our own devices for about an hour and a half. Just long enough to find those spots, wait in the queues watching people get that photo for their socials, and make our way back through the small alleyways to the car park (with enough time to stop for an ice cream of course!).

And Fira? The capital of Santorini is just as beautiful, still overlooking the caldera, still pedestrianised alleyways filled with shops, cafes and restaurants, and still with beautiful views at every corner. Here, we had a little longer to explore, and I found a taverna with a view called Fanari, to try some local fava, and my favourite saganaki cheese dish, washed down with a cool local beer. This taverna seemed to have more reasonable prices than those around it, but the food and service was great, it wasn't too busy at lunchtime, and it had the all-important view!

One thing worth noting, prices in Santorini are higher than other Greek Islands - there's no freshwater source, limited crops grow on the island, pedestrianised villages mean imported goods have to carried the last part of their journey, and of course the amazing views, all mean things here come at a premium.

Did it meet my expectations? I'd say yes, the views I found myself looking down on in both villages were just as I'd imagined, my photos not doing it justice. However, the crowds unfortunately did take away from some of the romanticism, but it's August, it's to be expected.

If you do fancy a holiday on the island, this would give you ample opportunities to visit Oia and Fira when the day tourists have left for home, to witness the beautiful sunsets and to sink it all in at a slower pace. The island itself is small, with other resorts to choose from, thus allowing you the option to visit these villages at a time that suits you best.

As for seeing Santorini on a day tour from Crete?

Expect a long day (15 hours door to door for me), almost half of it travelling.

Expect crowds - lots of them - if you travel in high season.

But for the chance to see one of your bucket list destinations - for me, it was worth it!