Travel Blog

Photography, travel, and self-reflection

Solo Travel: A Relaxing Week on the Greek Island of Santorini

The small Greek island of Santorini (Thira, to the Greeks) is known for its bright whitewashed and blue-domed architecture set along a towering caldera in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a dreamy landscape that I’ve always hoped to visit.

Getting to Santorini

In early May, I took my first trip to Greece on a flight from Amsterdam. From midair I could see tiny islands speckled across the water. White puffy clouds clung to each land mass, like some sort of surreal fantasy.

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After a quick stop in Mykonos, we descended towards JTR airport. Santorini is so small, you’ll get a sweeping view of the whole island from your window seat.

Arriving in Perissa

At the airport I caught a bus to Perissa, on the southern side of the island. Bordered by steep hills and a long black volcanic beach, Perissa is a more remote destination than the tourist traps of Fira and Oia. It allows for a peek into the authentic life of a true Thira islander.

A photo posted by Hillary Fox (@hillaryfox) on

In Perissa I discovered the laid-back island life. The locals were easygoing and kind. The energy was relaxed and unrushed. Even the internet was refreshingly slow—encouraging me to unplug and enjoy the sun a bit more. There are plenty of beachy open-air restaurants and low-key nightclubs along the shore. I had the best moussaka of my life in Perissa, and a delicious fruity drink overlooking the sea while I wrote for awhile. It was the perfect getaway.

A photo posted by Hillary Fox (@hillaryfox) on

A photo posted by Hillary Fox (@hillaryfox) on

Further inland, Perissa is quiet and peaceful with open spaces, tall grasses, and mountain views. I loved the rural feel and the slow pace. The locals were friendly, necessities were cheap, and just down the main road was a 24 hour bakery. Twenty-four hours! Perhaps this little patch of Earth really is the best place, ever.

A photo posted by Hillary Fox (@hillaryfox) on

Getting Around

Along the main road, you can rent four-wheelers, scooters, and motorcycles for cheap day rates to explore the island unencumbered. I tried, but they required a motorcycle endorsement, which I wouldn’t have for another few months.

I ended up traveling to and from the major villages by bus, which was easy and reliable. I was happy to sit back and enjoy the view from a cushy motorcoach, even if it was crowded sometimes. Rental cars and taxis are also widely available.

On Traveling Solo

Santorini is an ideal destination for a solo traveler. It was easy to navigate (one could argue it’s impossible to get lost on an island) and I felt very safe, even at night.

I love traveling solo because I’m able to focus 100% on my new environment and explore or take pictures at my own pace. Solo travel also makes you more approachable. I chatted with other photographers and travelers, and even befriended another solo female traveler in Perissa. We spent a great night out ending with drinks and dancing at the beach.

Exploring Fira & Oia

Fira and Oia are where you go to take in those gorgeous postcard views. It’s also where you battle the crowds. Even a few weeks before the start of the season, it was often a tight squeeze to catch the right shot, especially in Oia where the most iconic scenery is found.

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I was photobombed again and again. If you come to Santorini to take pictures, bring plenty of patience and allow for extra time to make your shot.

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Even with the crowds, it was so worth it to visit the island. Never before has a view actually taken my breath away, as cliché as that may be. I gasped when I first saw the view in Fira overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s simply unlike anyplace else.

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It requires some maneuvering to get your shot. The villages are accessible by a maze of winding cobblestone pathways and stairs, and there are plenty of paths to wander to discover the best viewpoints. In Fira, it was by chance that I stumbled into the white-domed church seen below and was able to capture it (along with my requisite half-selfie) as the sun set.

I spent a few more days exploring and shooting, enjoying the warm weather and the scenery.

A photo posted by Hillary Fox (@hillaryfox) on

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Santorini - Oia - by Hillary Fox

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In all, my working holiday to Santorini was fantastic, and I would recommend a visit to anyone. I plan to go back again as soon as possible—and before the tourist season.

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