When we (the royal we…aka me!) decided to visit Santorini in November, I went straight to google to see what to expect as most folks visit the Greek Islands during Spring and Summer. I thought I would share my little insights into what to expect when visiting Santorini in Winter as I did get asked a few times about the weather, crowds etc on social media while I was on the Greek island.
Now you can’t predict the weather even in summer….we were lucky, it was around 20-22 degrees on the days we were on the island in November and there was hardly any wind (something I was warned about). I did feel like I was missing the vibrant blue skies on some occasions but it did depend on the time of the day etc. Overall it was a lovely time to visit as I can imagine it would be hideously hot during the summer months and then having to battle those famous Santorini crowds.
Santorini is famous for it’s sunsets AND it’s crowds! I was pleasantly surprised on how peaceful Oia was; it did get a tad busier with tourists at sunset, maybe 50+ which is nothing compared to the photos that I’ve seen of the crowds during the summer months. There was a cruise ship in on one of the days however there was only a small tour group that ended up visiting Oia so it was all actually rather delightful.
Prices are a lot cheaper in the winter months…our cute little Lovers House was £100 a night however during the peak season the price jumps up to £400-500 per night and sometimes even more depending on what the pound is doing vs the euro! A number of the famous hotels with infinity pools are closed as they do maintenance over the winter months however if you are happy to stay in the little apartments then you will be onto a winner. Be aware that there isn’t a huge selection available however I think as more time goes by, winter will be a popular time to visit Santorini and there will be more options available.
We jumped onto a Ryanair flight ex Athens (weird right…well I thought so anyway!) and then jumped onto the Aegean flight back to Athens; the price of the flights with luggage cost £150pp (£100 more than our Business Class flight from London to Athens!) – it would have been cheaper obviously if we didn’t book a fortnight before our holiday or taken luggage…alas I like to have numerous pairs of clean undies with me. I went with two airlines due to the flight times as I wanted to get the most out of the time that we were on Santorini. We arrived into Santorini just as the sun was rising which was lovely and meant that we had two full days to explore Oia.
There wasn’t a great selection of restaurant options available in Oia during our visit – I think I counted around 5 from my strolls around Oia however there were many more options if you were basing yourself in Thira. Some of these resturants only took cash but there are cash machines dotted around however it’s easier to be prepared before you get there.
There was a supermarket on the edge of Oia so we made a few visits which saved us a few pretty pennies…and it meant I could buy two pairs of shoes in Nafplio later on without feeling guilty. We actually enjoyed having a little picnic on the terrace and we had many giggles over G’s omelette makings skills. The supermarket even had gluten free pasta! We just grabbed some vegetables, cheese (obviously!), eggs, honey, yoghurt and meats…it was enough and it meant we weren’t stuck with only a few restaurant choices which can be an issue if you’re gluten free.
Okay a number of the shops, like the resturants are closed during the winter months. Maybe with time this will change however it meant less spending…there were still a number of souvenir shops open including the one selling willy bottle openers that I’m having total buyers regret about not purchasing at least three of them for mum, Georgie and myself!
So we didn’t get a rental car as I heard it could be hard to park and the roads were busy…alas in November, there were plenty of spots to park and the roads were practically empty. I did wonder about hiring a rental car to take us to Akrotiri but decided to sit down and read my book instead and turn into a prune thanks to that hot tub.
I imagine there are a number of tours on offer during the summer months however there was just one offered each day during the winter months from Oia when I popped into the tourist office; I didn’ t fancy visiting volacanoes, mainly as I come from New Zealand…I’ve seen plenty in my lifetime!
Santorini is famous for all those stunning Bougainvilleas…while there were still a few around, unfortunately a number had finished flowering. There is still a little bit of colour left in November however I can imagine they wouldn’t be around much longer. The colours of the buildings still brings Oia to life!
During the winter months, a lot of building work and maintenance is carried out in Oia especially. While the noise may wake you up slightly early, it’s actually quite fascinating to watch everyone at work…including the donkeys. Weirdly I felt like I was having a very different experience to other tourists to the island due to this…it made my trip feel more authentic rather than Disneyland like.
Overall, I loved visiting Santorini in Winter as it didn’t feel crowded, the accommodation prices were so much more realistic and I had Oia to myself for most of the day so I can wander around to my hearts content. If you don’t like crowds or are on a tight budget then I would highly recommend visiting during the winter months.
Have you visited the Greek Islands during winter…did you still love them?