Tourism, as expected, is declining significantly this year in the whole world. Most Greek islands have only a few travellers. Especially the islands that welcomed tourists from countries, like the USA, Russia and England, are almost empty, giving us the opportunity to rediscover them and have a great time away from the crowds.
With that in mind, I travelled to Santorini in July. The island was almost empty, but without being depressing. The dazzling beauty of the Caldera and the cobblestone paths of Fira and Oia are enough to blow your mind and enjoy every moment on the island. Everything was moving at a more human pace, there was no traffic on the streets, the villages were very clean, the shopkeepers were relaxed and willing to serve you.
In addition, everything was much cheaper than in other years and of course the two main things that concern us: accommodation and car rental in Santorini. So, I was able to stay longer on the island, enjoy my walks and discover places I did not know they existed.
With the comfort of the car, I was able to safely explore the island, without being afraid that someone will cough next to me in the bus. With such low prices, it really was not worth the risk. By car, I went to places I had not been when I had visited Santorini many years ago and although I thought I knew the island well, I was pleasantly surprised.
So, if you also choose the island for an unforgettable and relaxing vacation and decide to rent a car in Santorini, apart from the places that everyone knows, I have the following secrets to share with you:
• Below Oia, about 5 minutes drive, is a small bay, Ammoudi. There, there is a small beach to swim and a beautiful as well as traditional small village. This has particularly good taverns to eat seafood. His great asset is that it overlooks exactly on the side where the sun sets. So, you can enjoy the famous sunset of Oia away from the crowds (yes, even in the empty Santorini of the coronavirus, Oia at the time of sunset was very crowded).
• One of the most impressive beaches of the island is Perissa or otherwise Mavri Paralia (Black Beach). The beach is literally black, because its sand is mixed with lava! If you have a car, I suggest you go a little further, to see its continuation called Perivolos. From the beginning to the end of the beach, there are modern restaurants for breakfast, food and drink that are worth trying.
• Kokkini Paralia (Red Beach) in Akrotiri is probably the most famous beach of the island, because it is impressive with the rock dominating the scenery and its original red colour. However, from where you will park the car, you have to walk about 10 minutes on a very rugged path, which needs attention and is impossible to achieve it, if you wear flip flops.
• After swimming in Kokkini Paralia, it is a great opportunity to visit the archaeological site located right next to it, Prehistoric Thira in Akrotiri. It is an entire settlement that was buried under the lava of the volcano and has remained intact. A great asset of the archaeological site is that it has a canopy, whenever the relentless sun of the Cyclades will not burn you!
• At the edge of the Caldera, on the exact opposite side of Oia, is the Lighthouse of Akrotiri. It is an impressive spot, to gaze at the whole Caldera, to take wonderful photos and to see the sunset. The car easily gets there and then you only need to walk a few meters.
• On most beaches, the sun will hit you mercilessly. If this is something you do not like, then you should definitely visit Koloumpos Beach near Oia. The landscape takes your breath away with the rock standing imposing from above, something that also has the positive of the natural shade.
• A beautiful village, which however does not see the Caldera, is Pyrgos. It is ideal to walk in its alleys and eat in one of its taverns at much cheaper prices compared to Fira and Oia.
• The wineries of Santorini are known all over the world and are worth visiting. The most famous are Boutari, Hadjidaki, Venetsanos, Sigalas, Gaia Oinopoiitiki and Santo Wines. Some overlook the Caldera, while others are inland. However, the sure thing is that a wine tasting tour will be unforgettable.