Flying to Santorini direct or through Athens – pros and cons

Flying to Santorini direct or through Athens – pros and cons

 

The Santorini adventure begins even before you step on the island. Getting here is a quest, especially if you come from outside Europe – embrace the adventure and soak in the most of it! You read the title, today we’ll look at some basic pros and cons for choosing whether to fly directly to Santorini or to the capital Athens first. I’m by no means an expert, but here’s some of my own thoughts sprinkled with some things I’ve heard from the couples I’ve photographed over the years.

 

Direct flight to Santorini

  • Many times these end up costing more money, the companies know that Santorini is a hot destination so they adjust their airfare accordingly.
  • Flying direct you obviously save some time spent in the airports
  • These days airport worker strikes might occur – these people are fighting for better payment terms and that’s fine but you might get caught in the middle. So if you choose to fly direct, you minimise the chance of being stuck in an airport.
  • The island weather is a bit unpredictable, so you might have a bit of a rough flight if you come from overseas and the landing can’t be scheduled for a later time. Nothing serious, but if you’re not too comfortable with some turbulence, Athens will probably be more smooth sailing.

 

Flight through Athens

  • Well, you get to see Athens! That is, if you plan it right. I would recommend staying there for a day or two, best at the end of your travel – it’s a vibrant city with rich history and you can only gain more from your travels.
  • If you end up doing it, it of course comes with some costs, generally short hotel stays will be more expensive than longer package deals.
  • If you go for a simple layover without staying, you might save some money on the airfare expenses.
  • As said before, you have a bit more risk to get stuck in the airport due to strikes. In this case you could choose ferry for alternative travel option.
  • There’s also a slight possibility that your luggage can be lost. On long overseas flights that happens more often. Nothing is lost at the end, but you might arrive to Santorini and have to wait for your bag to catch up :)

 

So here’s some things to consider. Of course, do your own research for precise dates before choosing, but these should serve as general pointers on what to look out for.

Santorini located photographer Anna Sulte

Honeymoon photo session in Pyrgos village

Honeymoon photo session in Pyrgos village

 

Peggy and William is an amazing couple all the way from Australia. Just married, they came to Santorini for their honeymoon. We chose to go for a sunset photo shoot in Pyrgos. Strolling trough the little streets, alleys and ruins we met almost no one, it felt like this village welcomed us with open arms.

Both of them are medical students and it always surprises me, how Australians get such long vacations :)

I’m glad and grateful to have been a part of their 3 week trip to Europe.

Santorini photographer Anna Sulte

 

The ultimate Santorini Instagram spot list – the best places to level up your profile

The ultimate Santorini Instagram spot list – the best places to level up your profile

 

This small island in the Aegean Sea could be the most Instagramable place on earth – there are small alleys, white church domes, cliffs and lots of other picturesque places and small details literally everywhere you go. But some places are true gems, and today you get the insider knowledge on where to head to take your Instagram game to the next level!

 

Red Beach

The Red Beach of Santorini is the perfect place for your laid back exploring shots while getting your tan on. This is a volcanic island and the red color of the sand is the proof for it – the red sand is literally formed from the elements remaining from the volcanic eruptions that formed the whole island, how cool is that!?

 

Oia Blue Domes and Oia crosses

The Oia church domes and the cross are among the most essential Santorini views. The traditional cathedral has nice views and the essential Santorini architecture look. The most daring even go up to the cross – be careful, this is more dangerous than it looks. The best time to arrive is early afternoon, when there’s not so many people around.

 

Oia Castle

This place is usually crowded in sunsets, and it’s for a good reason! The views from there are majestic. Here’s a pro Instagram tip – instead of lining up with hordes of tourists, get up nice and early and go for the sunrise, it’s even more beautiful!

 

Santorini Doors

Keep an eye out for the unique doors all over the island. It’s a great opportunity to frame portraits and get creative. The best thing is that there are hundreds of them and you can discover new ones every day! Watch these types of details and you’ll be amazed of the little things.

 

Other honorable mentions

There are many other really good Santorini Instagram spots, here’s a small rundown of the remaining essential ones: Amoudi Bay, Imerovigli steps and of course the wonderful small streets of Eborio or Pyrgos. These are some of the top places, but I encourage you to stay curious and look around everywhere you go in Santorini, there are hidden unknown gems everywhere – I live here and I never run out of things to photograph :)

 

Photos by Anna Sulte, photographer based in Santorini

MAGNIFICENT TOWN OF FIRA – THE CAPITAL OF SANTORINI

MAGNIFICENT town OF FIRA – THE CAPITAL OF SANTORINI

Fira is, of course, the gem of the island of Santorini. If the time of your stay here on the island is limited for some reason, you can just visit it and really take in the various opportunities and sights it has to offer. It lies on the caldera opposite the volcano, so you can be sure that the views will be no less than awesome. However, it does not end there – Fira has much more!

The town has loads of museums, galleries and hosts many cultural events. Moreover, it also has the biggest shopping centre and a large choice of places to dine and entertain – this is the place where nightlife is bustling on the island of Santorini.

The town has one of the largest varieties of architecture and variuous cultural landmarks that have preserved from the times when the island was ruled by Turks as well one of the oldest, largest and most scenic ports in Santorini.

If you’re looking for the perfect village for all sorts of activities and want to enjoy a big selection of various restaurants, hotels and places for entertainment, Fira is probably the perfect place for you!

 

Santorini photography by Anna Sulte, Thera based photographer.

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Karterados – the village with beautiful cave homes

Karterados – the village with beautiful cave homes

            Next stop on my Santorini village series is the colorful village of Karterados which is about 15 min walking distance from the capital of the island – Fira.

            This village is quite old and definitely has its own face – the oldest homes are carved into rocks in various caves, the main square has a beautiful traditional windmill, which has become one of the symbols of the village.

It has all the extras you can wish for – restaurants, cafes, a couple of bakeries and even a shopping area with a supermarket as well as a tennis club.

If you walk to the main square and take a left turn after it, you’re in for a treat – this is the start of Steps of Galaios, a small neighborhood with cobble stone streets, beautiful Captains houses and the cave houses for which this village is well-known.

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Mesa Gonia – echoes of an ancient wine capital

Mesa Gonia – echoes of an ancient wine capital

             Time to share the next small village on the Greek island of Santorini (if you’ve missed it, I’m planning to write a blog post on each of the villages of the island for you to get a sense of what to expect). Today let’s take a look at the small rural village just 8 km from Fira – Mesa Gonia! (second name Episkopi Gonias)

            This small village is surrounded by grape wines, and not without a reason. This place used to be one of the highest ranking and important wine tasting places on the island of Santorini, before it was destroyed by a massive earthquake. Some of the past glory still has been preserved – you can visit the Roussos Winery, which is still one of the oldest wineries on the island (it was established around 1836) and it has lots of treats and surprises for all you wine lovers!

            Mesa Gonia is definitely a quiet place suitable for people who enjoy their own space and try to avoid crowds, it’s even quieter than the nearby village of Kamari. As for places to see, there’s the winery and the church of Panagia Episkopi, which is said to be the most important monument from the Byzantine times in Santorini. ‘

All in all, it’s a small and beautiful village with small taverns and beautiful churches – all you can ask for your holiday getaway!

Here are few pictures from Mesa Gonia and  Panagia Episkopi.

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Panagia Episkopi

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Santorini photographer Anna Sulte

BEAUTIFUL EMPORIO VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

BEAUTIFUL EMPORIO VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

            Emporio is the largest village of Santorini, but it has more to it than just its size. It is located around 12 km away from Fira town and yet it has its own vibe and feel to it.

            It is one of the five traditional medieval fortified settlements of Santorini, so it has its own face that can tell a lot about that particular time period on the Greek islands. The look of the village has been very influenced by the tradition to build houses side by side to protect themselves and neighbours from pirate attacks, which were fairly common around these parts of Greece. The placement of the marvellous church of Agios Nikolaos Marmaritis of Emporio is also very traditional – it sits right before the entrance of the village.

            The Santorini village of Emporio can really spoil its inhabitants and tourists with spectacular views, above it lies a mountain ridge of Gavrilos, which hides some mysterious and recently discovered ruins that date back to the Byzantine period. Another rather popular site are the windmills that can be seen when you drive to this village from Fira.

            Emporio is worth a visit for anyone who wants to experience a breeze from the medieval times and how it combines with the modern day island of Santorini. Truly an interesting place with lots of unique views backgrounds for photo sessions!

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PYRGOS – THE HIGHEST VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

PYRGOS – THE HIGHEST VILLAGE OF SANTORINI

            Today as part of the blog post series exploring the different villages of Santorini we are going to embark on a little excursion to Pyrgos – the village that can be found on the highest point of the island.

            The location of Pyrgos is really one of its best assets – there are stunning panoramic views of the whole island nearly from everywhere you go. Of course, the village also has stunning classical Greek architecture typical to fortress settlements of the Cylades, that is why it has been declared a protected settlement in 1995. This is also one of the five places where you can see castle ruins – the ruins of Kasteli Castle. At one point, Pyrgos became the capital of the island (after the Skaros Castle was abandoned in the 18th century and right before the current capital – Fira – was chosen).

            It is no wonder that Pygos has been declared a protected settlement – its architecture is a true gem! The village is full of traditional architecture, remains of neo-classical mansions, it has the romantic narrow winding paths on the hillside, small white houses, galleries, vineyards, churches which are all illuminated by the magical sunsets at this part of the island.

            Every sunset here is a little celebration. I really suggest you head up from the main square in the direction of Zannos Melathron and up – there you will discover a few hillside cafes with great wine – here you can indulge in a quiet meditation and watch as another evening sets over the island from the highest point.

Pyrgos is really worth a visit. This post only scratches the surface of the special feeling you get while being there. Be adventurous, pack your bag and embark on a journey there! Make sure you charge the battery of your camera, because you will want to take some snaps of the panoramic views all the time – guaranteed!

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WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING MARRIED IN A SANTORINI CHURCH

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE GETTING MARRIED IN A SANTORINI CHURCH

The traditional Greek wedding ceremony is truly a beautiful thing full of traditional rituals, which I have explained in my article here. Much has been said about the Greek way of getting married; however little is known about the actual practicalities — arranging everything, handling expenses etc. I taught I could give you few tips about this today.

  1. First of all, I must say that there are really many chapels in Santorini, but only a few do wedding ceremonies. If you have chosen your dream spot for your perfect day, it is worth enquiring if they do these type of ceremonies. Few Santorini chapels to check –here.
  2. Leave the planning for professionals. Santorini has some of the most experienced wedding organizers out there, so don’t be afraid to look for help with the arrangements for your special day. They will approach it in a practical manner, suggest venues, calculate pricing and stick to your budget!
  3. Prepare all the necessary documents! Wedding in Santorini has its legal details — you should really find your wedding planner before arriving to Greece, so that you would be absolutely sure of the documents you need to proceed with your plans, have them translated etc.

These are some of my remarks to help you along the way — I find that handling all the practicalities get a bit confusing sometimes, so I hope this helps! But the most important thing is — let yourself go and enjoy this amazing experience in Santorini!

I’m working on mini-series of posts on Santorini villages.  There are 15 villages on the island and plenty to explore/choice from for.

Here I add link to my previous blog post about Greek wedding traditions and here.

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Santorini portrait photographer Anna Sulte, based on the Island of Santorini.

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THE VILLAGES OF SANTORINI — IMEROVIGLI

THE VILLAGES OF SANTORINI — IMEROVIGLI

The Greek island of Santorini has several villages and each one has its unique face and vibe. Today I would like to write a bit about the village of Imerovigli that is located up to the North from the capital of the island — Fira. Imerovigli is a village located on the famous and iconic Sanorini caldera. Since it is in a high place, it was used to overlook all of the surrounding sea. This was done during the times when pirates where raiding these seas. That’s how it got its name; in Latin vigilare means to guard or to act as a look out and imera means day in Greek.

There is a lot to see in this village. First of all, of course the caldera is amazing and you will be amazed at the beautiful views and the way the village sits perfectly atop these rocks. The village is the perfect place for views of the volcano, breathtaking sunsets and tranquillity. A very large part of Imerovigli was destroyed in the volcano eruption of 1956, so parts of the village have been restored and now house some of the most beautiful hotels and traditional houses on the island. Here the traditional and modern have found a way to live nearby. It’s probably due to the clear cut laws regarding building in the village — since it is a Traditional settlement, there are some rules regarding the types of buildings allowed. I must say, this has worked out very well for the village.

As for the historical places to see in Imerovigli, here’s a list of a few: the Skaros rock, Church of the Panagia Malteza (it has a wonderful interior with icons depicting the Old Testament), the Chapel of Panagia Theoskepasti, the traditional hillside cave settlements along the Caldera and the main square.

When going to these, try to soak in the local vibe as well. Just take a moment to sit down somewhere on the busy narrow streets and slow down — Imerovigli and other Santorini villages are best enjoyed slowly.

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SANTORINI FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS YOU MUST NOT MISS

SANTORINI FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS YOU MUST NOT MISS

Hello, all! Every once in a while I get questions about the things to do on the island of Santorini, and many of the questions relate to various festivals, celebrations etc. that are organised here. I thought I might provide you with a small list of the celebrations, which you should not miss, if you’re visiting the island at the right time!

Let me start by saying that most of the festivals take place during the summer months,  for example, the Santorini Jazz Festival in Kamari (10 km from Fira) lasts for three days in July and is known all over Greece. This is something you must absolutely experience, you can hear performances of Greek and international musicians there. It is a very special vibe, I think you’ll love it.

Most of the other festivals are connected with the church and religion in one way or another. Easter is very special for orthodox Greeks as well as 15 August — the feast day of the Holy Virgin, which is the largest celebration held in Santorini. The feast is held on the church of Panagia Episkopi. Preparations are done a day before, when traditional food and wine is distributed to the people.

These are the two biggest celebrations — one of artistic nature, the other one religious. You should definitely experience them, if you have the chance. There are some smaller festivals and cultural events, which you can explore: 29 May (feast of Agia Theodosia), 1 July (feast of Agioi Anargyroi), 24 June (feast day of Agios Ioannis), 8 September (the feast day of the Holy Cross), Festival of Megaron Gyzi (in August), Ifestia Festival or the Volcano Festival (August) and the International Music Festival.

Here you go, that is your starter pack of information about the Santorini religious feasts, festivals and cultural events. Be sure to check out all the detailed information about them, as well as ask about the cultural events happening in Santorini in your hotel when you arrive — they will gladly inform you about the hottest events! :)

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Old and new Santorini in one picture by Anna Sulte, photographer located on Santorini.

WEDDING CHAPELS IN SANTORINI

WEDDING CHAPELS TO CHECK OUT IN SANTORINI

Hi, all! This is just a quick list of some of the wedding chapels you absolutely must check out before making your final decision about getting married in one of them! First of all, you should probably decide if you’re going to have a Greek orthodox of catholic wedding. Here are some great Greek orthodox chapels that will amaze you:

Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. This is the most widely known church in Santorini, which is located in the centre of the island. It has an incredible view of the caldera, the landscape is really special there.

Santa Irini Chapel. It is said that the name of the island originates from the name of this chapel — when pronounced fast, it really sounds like “Santorini”. The chapel is amazing night or day. Chapel is located near the Fira town,

Panagia Katefiani. This church is located in Perissa. It is very tiny but it has its own unique charm.

Panagia Episkopi Church. One of the oldest chapels in Santorini. It really stands out in terms of size and authenticity.

If you’re catholic, your options are limited:

St. John the Baptist’s Cathedral in Fira. This is a really grand church and definitely one of the best choices. I have to say that there have been some rumors circulating that it is planned to limit or prohibit foreign couples from getting married there, due to commercialization.

You should definitely enquire about the possibilities before planning something serious in any of these chapels. I hope this list is a good start :). Good luck with planning and see you in Santorini!

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Santorini post-wedding session in Santa Irini Chapel.

HIGHLIGHT of 2015

A Look Back in photos 2015.
So many amazing new friendships with the couples I was lucky enough to capture. A huge thanks to everyone!
It’s all about you!

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We had sessions all around Santorini, at Oia, at the Santorini heart, Firostefani, Fira, Imerovigli and more.

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Some little known fun facts about Santorini

SOME LITTLE KNOWN FUN FACTS ABOUT SANTORINI

Although it is the most well-known of the Greek islands, Santorini still has a lot to amaze you! First of all, it is rightfully sometimes called the “postcard island of Greece”, it really stands out from all the rest of the Greek islands (and there are VERY many Greek islands). Its red cliffs, white windmills, crystal clear blue water and blue church domes really are a treat for the eyes!

Today I thought I might share some of the lesser known fun facts that I have heard about the island over the years:

  1. The island sits in a water-filled caldera of a massive volcano (you all know this by now, of course) BUT the eruption is thought to have ended the Minoan civilization on Crete!
  2. Before it was called Santorini, this Greek island was known as Kallístē, which means “the most beautiful one
  3. Santorini is one of the few places on earth where you can visit white, black AND red beaches. This is because of the volcanic past of the island.
  4. Although its climate is very special (rather harsh and dry), Santorini actually has a very flourishing vine industry! The vine here has a characteristic, unique taste to it due to this.
  5. The name itself – Santorini – was invented in 1153 by the Venetians and was told to the Arab geographer Edrisi. It is the pronunciation of the words Santa and Irenene (Saint Irene), which was taken either from the name of the church in the valley of Therassia or from the name of the early Christian basilica in Perissa (which is not preserved).

Of course, the list goes on and on and on. Visit this place and discover more on your own!  Actually, off season is the time to do such discoveries, as the ticket prices go down and there’s more time for exploration of the history and cultural places of Santorini! Trust me, this Greek gem will surprise you (and it will continue to surprise me, without doubt).

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Santorini portrait photographer Anna Sulte

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OCTOBER COUPLE PHOTO SESSION

OCTOBER COUPLE PHOTO SESSION

Santorini/Greece.

Santorini has its beauty in October, and I’m glad I had the chance to share it with this amazing couple. I was totally on it already from the time when I received the e-mail from Angela. As it sometimes happens, I had the feeling that something special is about to happen. And I was not mistaken. It was really a pleasure to work with such a loving couple. Although the days in Santorini were a bit gloomy, they were illuminated by the love share by this couple. Together they really warmed up the air around them, and I hope that I was able to capture at least a fraction of their special beauty.

We decided to head to a location with three churches in the background. The place truly has a unique look to it, and I thought that Angela and her loved one blended really well in it. The place and the couple together formed this magical moment that I had the honor to freeze in my images.

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Photo session by Anna Sulte, photographer on the Santorini island, Greece.