Santorini is an island that every year hosts 2 million tourists (pre-COVID) between May and October. It’s a small place where only 20 thousand people live permanently, so this impressive wave of travellers brings joy, money (let’s be honest) but also some issues. These are small tips for you, do’s and don’ts, and if you follow them you will be loved by locals!
Santorini Don’ts – What NOT to do
Don’t enter private properties: I know you’ve seen on IG that picture that you want to have as well, but Santorini is not Disneyland, there are people who are actually living here or people who paid a lot of money to stay on that terrace for their holiday. You don’t, so you actually have not the right to jump on that roof or enter that courtyard for a quick photo. No-one tolerates this action because it is just for a quick picture. Especially in Oia, you will find many signs around the village with a clear statement: It’s your holiday but it’s our home.
Don’t jump on churches: same goes for churches. Social media are full of pictures of people sitting on the blue domes but hey, they are churches! I am not a religious person but I think this is still a matter of respect. I know it’s tricky because you’ve seen thousands of people doing it, I have to admit that I did this mistake as well on a couple of shootings at the beginning because my guests really wanted it, but this is also the reason why I usually don’t accept shootings anymore, unless at my conditions. And, in my opinion, wouldn’t it be much more exciting to have a different shot, unique, that mixes your portrait and the landscape without staying in line for that Blue Dome?
Don’t ride a donkey: I hope this doesn’t need an explanation especially if you are over 6 years old. Walking is the way to go, to enjoy the magnificence of Santorini and to lose that extra pound or kg you gained indulging on Greek food.
Don’t rent a quad: quads are not meant to go on a road-going vehicle. They are not the safest way to explore the island especially when you’re not on a dirty road. They are also very slow and I have to tell you a secret, the cars behind you won’t wish you a happy holiday. And wear a helmet! Do you wear your helmet in your country? Why not in Greece? The danger of an accident and its consequences are the same as when you are not on holiday.
Don’t take pictures while driving: you are on holiday, just stop and don’t put yourself and others in danger.
Don’t use a lot of plastic: this is not an easy one, even for myself. But try to limit the plastic consumption: take a reusable cup with you for your coffee and ask for ‘no straw’ because yes, it’s possible to drink a Freddo Espresso without it.
Don’t waste water: we live on an island but water is so important. Try to make logical use of water and for example, don’t leave your air conditioner on all day because this has a huge impact on the delicate environment of the island.
Santorini do’s: Nice actions to take
Tip the porter: PLEASE DO. The porter is the person who’s carrying your luggage up and down and this is probably the worst job you can do in Santorini, on the caldera on a hot day (even cold). I know what I am talking about, I used to manage one villa on the steps that go down to Ammoudi and a couple of times I did it myself. It’s a very tiring job and I think that a small tip is a good thing to do.
Tip the waiter: it’s a good habit anywhere in the world. I always tip, even friends! Think about working 15 hours, under the sun, walking up and down the beach with drinks and food (try to walk on the sand for more than 30 minutes and tell me after), these guys need a cheer up!
Buy local products: always try to buy and support locals. Some of the things you can buy are food products like fava, sun-dried tomatoes, preserves, so that when back home you can still feel in Greece. Around the island, you will also find local designers, potters, artisans that sell unique handmade products.
Visit small museums: besides the Archeological Site and Ancient Thira, there are lots of small traditional museums that you will find around. They are a collection of paraphernalia from the past and they will show you a nostalgic Santorini.
Drink wine: wine is the thing in Santorini. It’s worth doing a wine tour or some wine tastings. Try to visit both contemporary winery and smaller winemakers, this will give you the full picture of this old tradition of the island.
Visit Thirassia: if you are staying for more than 4 days, you should include a visit to Thirassia, the island in front of Oia. This is a place where I highly recommend to book a tour, it’s not so easy to move around the island and you usually have 4-5 hours in order to come back with the ferry.
Walk: the island is full of hiking paths! The most famous and must-do is the Fira-Oia but there are so many others that will take you to the most unknown spots of Santorini.
Feed the strays: in Santorini, unfortunately, there are quite a lot of stray cats and dogs. To be honest it’s not a good idea to feed them under the table of the restaurant but in the villages, you will find some stray ‘stations’ with food containers and water buckets. Consider buying some food and leave it there. Or support one of the local projects that helps stray cats and dogs.
My general advice is to act as if you were at home. Being on holiday does not change the general rules of good manners and respect. I know that the beauty of Santorini is so impressive that it could make you lose your mind but think rationally and if you follow my tips you will be beloved by locals!
On the 5th of March I will host again a Context Conversation about Santorini. Click on the image and join us!