Why Santorini ? Because of the white-washed buildings with blue dome against the deep blue sea. That’s enough to inspire us to see it for ourselves.
Our flight to Santorini originated from Istanbul. We flew from Ataturk by Aegean Airlines. This flight transits in Athens and we were required to exit arrival hall and proceed to domestic departure for our onwards connection to Santorini. Boarding pass to Santorini has been issued at Ataturk and check-in begs tagged to Santorini accordingly.
There is no direct flight from Istanbul to Santorini. Your alternative carrier would be Olympic Airlines that also does a transit in Athens.
The flight from Ataturk to Athens takes one hour twenty minutes with a transit time of 70 minutes. The onwards flight to Santorini takes only ¾ hour compared to 5~7 hours by ferry from Prius Port, Athens. We left Athens at 19:10 arriving Santorini at 19:55 in the evening.
We were met at the airport by our hotel pick-up van. We stayed at Antonia Apartments in Fira town about 5.5 km away and travelling time was about 15 minutes. After checking-in, we walked to Fira town centre which is only a few minutes walking distance away.
Boarding pass to Athens & onwards to Santorini ready. Flight by Aegean.
Where is Santorini ?
Snack pack for the late afternoon flight.
The ½ full A320 flight from IST – ATH. The seats are comfortable with spacious leg room.
Seats by Recaro.
Descending into Athens.
Athens International airport. Since boarding pass to Santorini has been issued in Istanbul, you just need to proceed straight to departure hall.
Waiting for our baggage in Santorini airport.
Map of Santorini.
Fira town centre. Less than 3 minutes walking from our apartment.
We stayed in Fira town at Antonia Apartment. We had made our reservation thru booking.com By the time we arrived from the airport it was already dark and check-in was quick.
This property also has a hotel section adjacent to the apartment but due to the off-season, it was closed. The apartment consists of a large room with double bed, bathroom and a kitchen cum dining area. The kitchen has sufficient utensils and cooking equipment. Even in mid October, in the late evening and night it’s rather cold. The room however comes with a heater/air-cond. Free wi-fi available but weak signal in some spots.
The location of this apartment is very close to Fira town square, just off the main road but quiet at night for a good night’s sleep. There is a sundry shop at the main road where you can buy mineral water, eggs, bread, cooking oil, vegetable and the like for you to cook in the apartment.
We’ve booked a rental car thru santorini**li**ycars.com to be delivered to us at the apartment at 10:00 am. However by 10:45 am when no car arrived we asked our apartment to inquire. To our disbelief, the rental company said the car supposedly for us was involved in an accident. There is no car for us. They did not even bother to inform or apologise. Luckily no payment has been made.
We than turn to our apartment to arrange one. Within 30 minutes, the car was delivered to us. We signed all the papers at the apartment. The return of the car was also at the apartment. The car rental personnel didn’t even come to pick up the car. We just left the keys at the reception.
Sunrise in Fira from our apartment balcony.
The Hyundai Atos we rented for two days.
The ‘unimpressive’ look of Hotel Antonia from the main road. Our apartment is adjacent to it.
The closed section of the hotel during off-season. Small pool available. In mid October, that water will be chilly.
Hotel section. Our apartment is behind us.
Location of Hotel Antonia & Apartment in Fira (Thira) town.
Hotel courtesy van. Most if not all hotels provide free transfers. Santorini is not a big island.
Quick links : Athinios PortKamariSantorini AirportSanto WineryPerissaPerivolia The first location we drove to is Santorini International airport. On our day of arrival, it was already dark hence we took this opportunity to have a look-see of the airport. It’s a small double storey airport with the 1st floor occupied by a cafe and toilets. I wonder how they cope with the many chartered flights during summer. It basically has one carousel for arriving baggage and the departure hall has barely sufficient seats to cater for all A320 passengers.
Santorini International airport. About 5.5 km from Fira town.
Santorini ATC tower adjacent to the terminal.
From the front of the airport, we went around to the back and south of approach runway 34, and arrived at Perivolia. Here the pebble beach (no sand) is just by the roadside. The wave hitting the pebbles create a thundering sound and quite intimidating. There were no tourist when we arrived.
The beach at Perivolia, south of approach runway 34 of Santorini airport.
Clean pebble beach.
The intimidating sound of the crushing wave.
From Perivolia we drove on without any specific itinerary or GPS assistance as I’m confident we wouldn’t get lost in Santorini. We drove pass the country side and reached Kamari beach. Here the sand is black and Kamari beach is one of the well-known tourist spot with hotels and food outlets.
Santorini country side.
Isn’t as impressive compared to a European county side.
Black sand Kamari beach.
A popular tourist spot, Kamari beach.
Onwards, we passed the country side again before proceeding an uphill drive to cross to the western side of the island. Atop of this hill, we can clearly see the airport and the Aegean sea. Crossed to the other side of the hill, we stopped by the car park of Santo Winery for the magnificent views of the caldera.
Residential houses and hotels by the hill-side.
Santorini airport and plane taking-off.
View from Santo Winery overlooking the caldera.
View from Santo Winery.
From Santo Winery, we took a turn leading to Athinios port where ferry from Athens disembark their passengers. From the top of the hill, it’s zig-zag all the way down to the port. To cater for the tourist, there are car rental companies and travel agents down at the port.
Athinios port from atop.
Car rental, tourist information centre, cafe, etc at the port
Road leading to Fira atop the hill.
Last location of our drive is Perissa, another well-known tourist and beach spot. Like Kamari, the beach too has black sand. I would say Perissa is much larger and happening than Kamari. On the way into Perissa, there’s a Carrefour outlet where you can get more varieties of whatever you require.
Perissa beach. No one swimming .. the water is chilly. Just sun bathing. Another black sand beach.
Relaxing by the beach.
Menu at beach restaurant.
We started our morning drive a 10:30 and we got back to our apartment by 14:30. Google plotted our driving distance is 45km and a total driving time of 1 hour 26 minutes. I suppose if we started earlier in the morning, we could also cover the northern part of the island too all within a day.
Day 1 driving route. I later found out there is a red sand beach at Akrotiri. You may want to google and read more. So, Santorini has white, black, red and pebble beaches !