Travel Guide: Santorini

Santorini is one of the most romantic picturesque cities and hottest destinations in Greece. The beautiful postcard photos you see on social media, is truly how beautiful it looks in person. The food is so tasty I could eat Moussaka any day of the week. The lovely street music just makes your experience all that special. I can't wait for you guys to visit this wonderful city. Therefore, I decided to create an extensive travel guide to get you through this amazing place.

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TRANSPORTATION

Local Bus

They call it the local bus, but it is really just for tourists. The bus system is so easy, there are signs where you need to catch the bus on the side of the street. You can take the bus all around the island of Santorini. You can also find the bus stops just by asking near by. The bus driver lets you know whats the next stop, so you really can't get lost. It's also super cheap about $1.50-$2.30 one way. The price also depends on how far you are heading but it is definitely cheaper than a taxi.

ATV

ATV seems to be the most popular way around the island. Lots of tourists go this route, just keep in mind you'll need an international license which is fairly easy to obtain and should be done before your arrival. I've personally had bad experiences riding scooters and mopeds. I just don't think they are safe. When it comes to renting bikes, moped's, or an ATV, I also think about if I were to crash it or scratch it how much would I have to pay out of pocket? It's something to keep in mind but don't let it stop you from having your ATV experience. Costs can range from $25-$30 a day.

By Foot

Walking is always the best way to explore anything. There's a lot of hidden streets with gorgeous views. You'll find the cutest little cafes and other hidden gems. The only problem with walking is it's fairly hard to get from one city to another as they are too far apart to walk.

Taxi or Rent a Car

Renting a car or taking a taxi is the most expensive option, but you're also able to explore off the beaten track. If you decide to go with the taxi route, keep in mind where you are going and if they will have taxis there for your return. Sometimes, if you are off to the beach or a more rural area there might not be taxi's in sight. Make sure to ask when you're headed to your destination.

My Favorite Option

Local bus! Honestly, I'm the type that I'd rather take a taxi to be sure I'm going to the right place and not get lost. This time around, I decided to give the local bus a try, man was it super easy. I had the hang of it after the second day. The bus takes you from city to city and even to the beaches, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and enjoy the view.

ACCOMMODATIONS

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Hostels

There are hostels located all around Santorini, but they are a little further from the main areas which means extra walking, riding the bus, or waking up earlier to get to where you want to go, but you'll definitely save money. Prices range from $30-$150 depending on how low budget or fancy you want the lodging to be.

Airbnb

Do some digging on Airbnb and you'll be sure to find one in a great location. An entire home will set you back between $80-$150 depending on what your desire may be. Private rooms will be cheaper.

Hotels

You can find some great hotels that have a loft area and kitchen almost like a little home. In a great location for $150-$200 a night in Oia. The further you go from the main cities the cheaper it will be. I found one in Oia, literally across the street from the main road with all the tourists for $150 a night and had everything we needed.

Luxury / Cave Hotels

Luxury hotels are obviously amazing! They have gorgeous views and you can relax by the pool, eat and sunbathe. Pricing varies if you stay in Oia during the off season, you can find a great hotel on the caldera for about $250-$300 a night. Compared to high season $1,000+ a night. In Imerovigli, another gorgeous city with great views but less crowded, can range in the off season from $100-$250 a night compared to high season $700+ a night.

My Favorite Option

A combination of both a luxury hotel and budget hotel or Airbnb. When i stayed in Oia, I wanted to experience a luxury hotel by the caldera with a gorgeous pool and view, but knew I wasn't going to be spending $1,000 dollars a night. Nooo wayyyy! So I booked a room for a week which included a living room and kitchen, located across the main street of Oia and the caldera, it was a 2min walk for $150 a night. Then for 3 days I booked at a luxury hotel on the caldera. The cheapest I was able to find was $370 dollars a night, this was off-season. It had a great view, amazing service, private jacuzzi and pool. So worth splurging a bit and I had a great experience without breaking the bank.


High Season - June-September
Off season - November-March. Although it's the off season in Santorini, it still stays sunny, fresh and hardly ever rains. All you'll experience is some high winds at night. Plus off-season has become very popular and a lot more hotels and restaurants are starting to stay open all year long.

SAVING MONEY TIPS

#1 Ride the bus and or walk everywhere.
#2 Eat twice a day. I find it really weird that when I travel I tend to eat later in the day around 2 pm therefore I only have lunch and dinner and dessert in between.
#3 Skip the fancy dinners and maybe just splurge on a fancy dinner one of the nights.
#4 Visit in the off-season. You’ll save money on flights, accommodation and food.
#5 Book your ferry ride early. Try to book your ferry ride months in advance as they get more expensive the longer you wait. Also try and book overnight ferries they tend to be cheaper.

SAFETY

When I first thought of visiting Greece and the islands, I wasn't sure what to expect at all safety wise. There has been a Greek financial crisis and related protests and strikes. After experiencing it for myself, let me tell you its pretty safe! From the city of Athens to the island of Santorini, I felt safe the whole time. People walk the streets at night and are super helpful when you are lost. Just be as cautious as you would be anywhere else. Of course, there are still pick pocketers, but you find that anywhere you travel. So don’t worry, it's really safe and you'll have a blast.

TOP THINGS TO DO

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Spend the day in Oia

Oia is one of the most popular cities in Santorini along side Imerovigli. The city is so small all you really need is a day to explore. You can walk the little city in about 15-20 min. If you make multiple stops it can take about two hours or more. To get those insta-worthy photos you see everywhere, I'd suggest to either stay in Oia for 2-3 days or visit really early in the morning, 8 am before the cruise tours arrive. There are so many cute shops, restaurants and little alleys to explore. Visit the Oia castle and the windmills towards the end of the island.

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Hike from Oia to Fira

This hike is beautiful and you'll get some amazing caldera views. It's about 6 miles long and can take you around 3 hours to complete. I would only suggest to do this trail during cooler months, if done in the summer you can over heat. Remember to wear comfortable shoes as you'll come across loose gravel and rocks. If you get too tired to hike back you, can take a taxi or the bus back to Oia.

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Visit Red Beach

From Oia you can take the local bus to Fira (30min) and from Fira (20 min) transfer to Akrotiri and it will leave you at Red beach stop. Once you arrive you'll question where is the beach? You'll get off the bus and if you are facing the water head to your right, away from the restaurant on the corner. The beach is stunning, it has black sand and red volcanic rocks. The beach is pretty small, you are able to pay for a sunbed or you can find a perfect spot to layout on the sand. From Red beach, you can also access black beach and white beach. There's a small boat advertising trips back and forth from red beach.

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Have Gelato at Lolitas

After so many hours of walking, shopping and taking photos. Make a stop at Lolitas Gelato, it's the cutest little place. Their flavors are super yummy and you can even take a cute picture by their painted wall.

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Take a day trip to Ios island

Wake up early to enjoy your day and hop on a ferry to Ios island. It will take you less than one hour to arrive. You'll be able to explore the beautiful island that has crystal clear waters and cliffs you can jump off of. Ios is also known for its nightlife and attracts a younger crowd ready to party.

 Photo Credit: @Haylsa

Photo Credit: @Haylsa

Watch the Sunset

This is a MUST DO in Santorini. Seriously I was never a sunset person until I witnessed the sunset in Santorini. It's truly beautiful and nothing like you've seen before. It's suppose to be one of the best in the world. You can watch the sunset from many places on the island. One of the most popular is from the Oia castle ruins. If you plan to watch it from the Oia castle, make sure you arrive 2 hours before sunset to get a good spot as it will get extremely crowded.

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Stay in a cave hotel

I know cave hotels can be a bit expensive, but if you can stay one night it's totally worth it. If you visit during the off season, you'll find some great deals. It's such a memorable experience, the views are breathtaking, the amenities such as a private jacuzzi, infinity pool etc. are amazing.

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Visit Ammoundi Bay

Ammoundi Bay is a small fisherman's village with a few traditional buildings surrounded by red cliffs. You can either walk 300-400 steps down, take a donkey ride down or you can take a cable car ride. Have some fresh yummy seafood while your down there too.

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Go on a Catamaran

Catamarans are always fun! You can find some good deals online and you'll spend the day at sea sailing around the island. You can also dive in the water as well as enjoy some yummy treats.

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Visit Imerovigli

I'd say Imerovigli is a baby version of the city Oia. The city is just as small, beautiful and a bit less crowded. I will say there are more hotels than shops here. If you stay in Oia and want to go to the pool, some hotels in Imerovigli have pool bars where you buy a drink or some food and you can enjoy their pool. Imerovigli is also a great place to watch the sunset as it is the highest point on the caldera. You can also take a stroll around the little city and simply enjoy.

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Thank you guys so much! I hope you guys enjoyed reading! If you liked my post don't forget to hit the like button!

XO, THEHAUTEGAL

24 hrs in Athens, Greece

Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and is very rich in History. Since I wanted to spend most of my time on the island of Santorini, I only stayed in Athens for 24 hours. There’s so much exploring to do that it is hard to cover the city in just 24 hours, but with a little planning you can still see the most amazing sights. The city is very large and many of the sightseeing is in the area around the Acropolis. Athens has the best gyros and there are lovely street artists and music to enjoy. Here are some highlights and must-see sights that can be experienced in just 24 hours.

I started my morning around 8 am and made my way to this beautiful hidden gem called Little Kook. It’s a cute decorated little alley with dessert cafés on both sides. If you have time to enter one of the cafés, please do, the desserts are decorated beautifully and so much fun. The easiest way to find this place is by Google Maps; just enter “Little Kook”. It’s close to Monastiraki square and the city center. Arrive early if you want to get some Insta-worthy pictures.

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After checking out Little Kook, I made my way to the Acropolis . To get here, walk towards Plaka along the ruins of the Ancient Market and the Roman Market. The Acropolis looks so close but is very far; my walking journey ended up becoming my hour workout because the route was all upward through the hills. I actually enjoy walking; you get to explore more of the city and find some of the cutest alleys and the tastiest gelato. We ran into two Spanish speaking tours and learned so much without it costing a dime. Once we arrived, holy moly, the crowds of people were insane! Luckily, my mom and I were standing in line and an older man gave us free tickets to go in. We cut to the start of the line and made our way through! Yay! Here is the view from above.

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I wasn't kidding when I said crowds haha..

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From a distance we admired the Parthenon, built in 447 BC for the Greek goddess Athena. First, I’ve never seen anything so old, and second it was incredible to see and touch (yes I touched it even though it said not to: ha ha).

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Being extra as always!

 Outfit Details: Hat - Brixton / Skirt - Showpo / Top - Na-kd fashion / Jewelry - Theseaandme

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The beautiful Erechtheion temple. It was built to house the ancient wooden cult statue of Athena and generally glorify the great city at the height of its power and influence. The Erechtheion temple has suffered a troubled history of misuse and neglect, but with its prominent position above the city it remains one of the most distinctive buildings from the acient past.

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After a couple of frozen lemonades to cool off from the heat and some souvenir shopping, we headed back towards Monastiraki square and found the most darling outdoor café to have lunch and enjoy some Greek music.

Another fun activity to do, is to visit the metro station right next to the Acropolis. They call it the metro museum; at six of the stops you can see ancient artifacts found when the metro station was built underground. It is fascinating that history can be discovered everywhere in the city.

After resting our feet for a while, we decided to switch gears and rent bikes to visit our next destination, The Temple of Olympian Zeus. The Greeks left the temple unfinished because they believed it was too big and symbolized the arrogance of people who believed they were equal to the Gods. This sight is certainly underrated, it’s worth a visit, plus you have no crowds to contend with during the day.

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My mom and I <3

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We ended our day at the A for Athens Hotel with a gorgeous view of the Acropolis, Monastiraki square and the city where we enjoyed a cocktail. There are plenty of awesome rooftop bars and restaurants to enjoy the picturesque view. Check out The Travel Porter for some cool spots https://thetravelporter.com/blog/2016/5/10/top-best-rooftop-bars-athens I had the best 24 hours in Athens and can't wait to visit again.

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Thank you guys so much for reading, hope you guys enjoyed! Don't forget to like and comment below :) Until next time...

Nara Deer park, Japan

I love to take advantage and sight see wild animals whenever I get the chance.  I took a 1 hour train ride to Nara Deer Park from Kyoto station. This is home to thousands of wild roaming deer. My first thought was how do they not roam into the streets? There are no fences and its incredible these little guys don't ever leave. They are tamed and friendly. You can buy rice crackers to feed them and you'll see a couple of them bow for food, its pretty funny. The park is huge and there are other attractions in and around the park. They have temples, museums, and gardens. If you decide to make it a full day activity, I would bring some food and snacks and set up a picnic under the cherry blossom trees. FYI cherry blossoms only bloom during a certain time of year. If you go on any other season I believe the trees are bald haha.

Pondering on the train ride to Nara Deer Park..

Well hello Deer!

This guy was nibbling on my shirt like it was food. LOL

Twirling around all the Sakuras.

Until my next adventure guys...

XO, TheHauteGal

Arashiyama bamboo forest & Monkey Park, Japan

My boyfriend and I have been planning for our Japan trip since last year. We just got back from the trip two weeks ago, and it was incredible! It’s sad to be back home to reality. Japan was so unique to me it made me feel right at home. The people were so friendly and helpful and the food; my goodness it's on another level.

On our trip we rode a bullet train 2 hours south of Tokyo to a very peaceful city called Kyoto. Kyoto is known to be traditional; you'll see traditional buildings, alleyways and temples. You may even spot a geisha. I think the town itself is very quiet, but at night everyone is out and ready to party.

We spent 4 days in Kyoto and stayed in a cozy Airbnb. The Airbnb was a mixture of a traditional Japanese and modern style home with tatami floors and sliding doors (you like how that rhymes LOL!). We did plenty of sightseeing around Kyoto. Here is part of our journey to the Arashiyama Monkey Park and Bamboo Forest...

Arashiyama Monkey Park

To get to Arashiyama Monkey Park, one has to endure a 30 min hike up a mountain. Once you get to the top, you'll have a fantastic view of the city especially on a clear day. I went on a foggy day, so I did not get much of the panoramic view. When I arrived, I was very surprised to see so many monkeys roaming freely. They were playing with each other, walking around, posing for you and waiting for you to feed them. There was also a little shack where the monkeys climbed. It was pretty crazy how close one could get to the monkeys and they were not fazed.

I was a little scared obvi.

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How you zooing? I think this little guy watches the Wendy Williams show ;)

Monkey's are so wild yet so cute!

When you walk inside this little shack you can safely feed them without being attacked.

After finishing up at the monkey park we headed towards the Bamboo forest. On the way we spotted this beautiful scenery.

Bamboo Forest

After spending some time at the Monkey Park, we left for the Bamboo forest where we arrived at 4:00 pm. The Bamboo Forest is one of Japan’s most photographed and visited attractions, and thus I would recommend one to visit in the early morning to get some good shots with no one around. Plus, you will enjoy more being in the middle of the Bamboo forest without tourists bumping into you.

No photograph can capture the feeling of standing in the depths of the Bamboo forest.

You can see the amount of people who were walking through, gah so many!

Getting that side angel LOL. At this point my pants where so muddy from hiking (you can't see) and my hair was frizzy from the misty air. No cute photos here guys just keep on moving.

Spotted some cute girls dressed up in kimonos on our way back to the Airbnb.

Hope you guys enjoyed until my next adventure...