Between Mamma Mia and countless Instagram posts, Santorini has gained quite the buzz. As I was planning my trip, I dreamed of seeing the beautiful white buildings, laying on the beach, and watching the sunset over the ocean. However, after spending several months in Greece, I learned that Santorini is NOT worth the hype.
I went to Santorini twice -- once in April and once at the end of May. While I’m incredibly grateful to have visited this beautiful island, I believe it has been overhyped and is now crawling with tourists like a scene out of the Walking Dead. This is significantly worse in the summer, so if you do choose to go, opt for the spring.
If you don’t believe me, listen to the Greeks. People from Greece avoid Santorini and opt for other islands. There are literally hundreds of options.
More than that, the tourism is straining the island, making it more difficult for locals to live there. Even the donkeys that give tours are mistreated and overworked. Small islands were not made to hold this many visitors.
Here are my reasons not to visit Santorini this summer.
1. The beaches in Santorini suck
If you are imagining yourself tanning on the beach, Santorini is not the island for you. Santorini’s “best” beaches are Red Beach, Perissa Black Sand Beach, and Kamari. There are so few beaches that they are completely overcrowded in warmer months.
Red Beach is rocky and difficult to access. Perissa is easier to get to, but the black sand is scorching hot in the summer. Kamari is by far the most popular, making it impossible to lay out and relax.
None of these beaches can even compare to other islands. There are so many superior beaches in the Mediterranean.
This brings me to my next point.
2. Instagram ruined Santorini
Over 2 million tourists go to Santorini each summer, and it is not a very large island.
All of those sunset spots or blue churches that you see on social media are monopolized by influencer wannabes, and they are only available with 30-minute wait times. Many of them are also blocked off by locals. People are piled on top of each other at popular photo spots and literally shoving each other to get the perfect shot.
The crowds also make it impossible to get reservations, and they take away from the whole island vibe in general. They make it impossible to walk, take decent photos, or eat at any of those overpriced restaurants.
The excessive crowds have attracted more scammers. Touristy places in general tend to have more tourist-centered scams (think London, Barcelona, Rome). During my trip, we got our credit card information stolen at dinner and someone tried to buy a boat.
If you still decide to go to Santorini after reading this, make sure you get charged at your table and they don’t take your card into another room. It’s customary (and I believe mandated by law) for them to do it this way in Greece, but just be careful. Learn more about what to do in Santorini.
3. Everything is more expensive
Santorini’s popularity has also driven up the prices. Whereas the price for a souvlaki can be as low as 2 euro in Athens, it’s 5 to 10 times the price in Santorini.
The drinks are also far more expensive as are souvenirs, clothing, etc. You get the picture.
As for hotels and accommodation, you’ll only be able to find anything decently priced on the South side of the island, which is nothing like the idyllic image you had for your trip. More on that in point 7.
Yes, it still may be more affordable than say Paris or Rome, but prices are far more reasonable on any of the other Greek islands or on the mainland.
4. You’re not going to meet your Mamma Mia husband
It sounds harsh, but I’m saying it as your friend. If you’re looking for your Greek boo, odds are they are anywhere else in Greece.
Of the millions of masses in Santorini, only a tiny percentage are actually from Greece. You’re more likely to meet an American Chad than a Greek Adonis.
5. It’s way too hot
The temperatures get insane in Santorini over the summer. July is the hottest month, reaching the high 80s. Those beautiful white buildings and streets reflect the sun, making it blinding and sweaty.
As I mentioned before, everyone will be crowding the beaches (which aren’t even great to begin with). While the black sand of Perissa is nice in spring or fall, it will cook you like an egg in the summer.
You will be squashed against rando tourists, sweating, and paying far too much for a water bottle.
6. The food isn’t as good
Greek food is spectacular. However, it is far tougher to find a decent, authentic taverna in Santorini.
On my trip, we ended up just getting Chinese food because the Greek food was nowhere near as good as our favorite restaurants in Athens. You will be paying far higher prices for worse food.
One of my favorite parts of traditional Greek dinners was that they were so long and cozy. In other parts of Greece, you’ll chat with your servers, take your time eating, and nurse your food coma with wine and long conversations.
This is not the case in Santorini. Any of the famously good restaurants will be booked weeks in advance, and you’re really just paying for the views. Everyone will be rushing around and everywhere will be crowded.
7. It’s difficult to get around
Due to how expensive and popular Santorini is, odds are you will not be staying in Fira or Oia. You will instead be on the South side of the island in Perissa or Kamari. From here, walking is definitely not an option.
While there are buses to help you get around, I found them super unreliable and difficult to figure out. My friend is fluent in Greek and still had a tough time navigating it.
They also stop running by 10pm, so you won’t be able to take them home if you want to stay in the main cities after hours. In the summer they are full of sweaty lost tourists.
The roads are crazy, so renting a car also isn’t a great option. You won’t be able to find parking and the traffic will be nuts. You'll waste time renting and returning your car that could be spent exploring the island!
We opted for taxis when it was too late or we were just too fed up with the buses. The island is small, so they weren’t crazy expensive in April. However, in summer they are harder to find and can also get stuck in the traffic to or from the main cities.
8. Santorini’s ruins don’t compare to the rest of Greece
If you were hoping to see ruins of old temples or other culturally important sites, Santorini is not the island for you.
Ruins may not be on your list of things to do in Greece, but they should be. These sites are so unique to Greece, and visiting them is magical. They are fingerprints left by the creators of Western culture.
9. The boat tours are just meh
I too imagined myself tanning on a catamaran and boating around the Mediterranean, but Santorini’s tours were just meh.
On my tour, we went to the warm springs and the Santorini volcano. Yes, it is super cool that Santorini was formed by a volcano. No, it is nothing worth seeing. It’s a tiny island with a huge pile of dirt on top, and it was way too hot to enjoy even in May.
The warm springs and other stops were also nothing spectacular. The real site is just Fira and Oia, nothing outside of that.
10. There are literally hundreds of other islands in Greece
Santorini is beautiful, but so are Naxos, Paros, Crete, Corfu, Ios, Rhodes, and Milos, just to name a few of the hundreds of other islands.
There are more than 2,000 islands in Greece, of which around 170 are inhabited. There is an island for every trip mood. Looking to party? Dance the night away in Ios. Want to check out some insane ruins? Look no further than Rhodes.
Greece is a wonderful and unique country that benefits from tourism, but there is much more to it than Santorini. You don’t have to have the same cookie-cutter trip as everyone else. Have your own Greek adventure.