At 9 am Saturday morning, we walked up to the front desk (Hotel Anatoli – amazing service!) to ask about recommendations. We were presented with the idea of taking a bus tour through NST Travel – this would save us a lot of time to see more in such little time. We only planned a weekend in Santorini and we both wanted to maximize our experience.
When presented with the idea of this tour, I hesitated because we are not fans of structured tours and taking part in group tours (we love to explore just the 2 of us). I looked at the hubby to get his opinion– he would be the one getting us around if we opted to explore on our own after all. Unlike me, he has a keen sense of direction and is my king navigator. Yes, we do get lost from time to time, but he is pretty amazing in getting us around. He looked at the map and I could see a bit of uncertainty in his eyes. We looked at each other and we decided “what the heck, let’s do it!” The wonderful woman, Lea from the front desk, was able to secure a few spots for us for the 10:30 am tour.
Here is a recap of our tour:
We were picked up by a very nice woman from the tour company right from our hotel. It was about a 5 minute drive to the bus. We immediately got on the bus and there were about 20 of us. It was quite cozy.
Our first stop: Akrotiri Excavation site
We did have to pay an additional 12 Euros for this experience. We were going to opt out of it, but we were too embarrased to be the only ones in the group not to do it. We are so glad that we did. We got to see the ancient city buried under volcanic ashes. We saw fragments of interesting artifacts including beautiful pottery and vases. It was quite an interesting site. We spent about an hour here.
Next stop: Red Beach
This was quite a breathtaking view. To the suprise of many, this is not an actual beach where you lay out and jump in the water. We were told that it is quite dangerous to swim here and the beach is actually closed. This was a quick 15 minute visit to capture the beauty of the scene, admire the red rocks and reddish volcanic sand.
Next stop: Small local village
We took a 30 minute walk through a local village to admire the architecture of the town. We both loved the colorful doors and narrow pathways.
Next stop: Perissa Beach (black sand beach)
By this point, we were starving. There were a number of great options. The tour guide recomended lunch at Aquarius. This was perfect. We got to enjoy a delicious meal overlooking the beautiful and scenic black sand beach.
After some rest and relaxation, our next stop: Wine tasting at Venetsanos Winery.
We enjoyed 3 different wines and had some time to snap some pictures of the picturesque island.
Final stop: Oia Sunset
The bus dropped us off at Oia right before sunset. We had the opportunity to walk through the corridors and pathways, take pictures with the stunning back drops of the blue dome churches and find a spot to enjoy the sunset.
Absolutely no regrets, the tour was perfect – it flew by and we got a glimpse of much more than we anticipated. If you are pressed for time and want to experience the gems of Santorini in a day, this tour is worthwhile.