How it [REALLY] was like to travel solo in Santorini

It was 7.45pm and my Aegean Airlines flight finally landed in Thira, Santorini.

The sky had already turned dark. I peeked out of the plane window to check out the small airport building a short distance away, glad to have reached Santorini after 26 hours since I left home in Singapore (due to longgg layovers at Doha and Athens’ airports). I grabbed my trusty backpack from the overhead compartment, and descended down the steps from the plane, where airport buses were waiting to send us over to the building.

Konstantina, a lady from my hotel, along with her partner, were waiting for me after I collected my suitcase and stepped out of customs. Her partner took my suitcase and we got into a car. Along the way,Konstantina introduced a littleabout Santorini to me. In the far distance, I noticed dim lights and generally, a darkness about the island. I don’t know what to feel about this, but deep inside, I wondered if it would be a wrong decision to come to Santorini alone.

We reached the hotel shortly. The guy parked the car while Konstantina checked me in officially, before leading me to my room.

The quietness of the night at the hotel was rather overwhelming.

The rooms looked dark through their windows. That was when Konstantina told me I’m the only hotel occupant for the night, but she’s expecting more rooms to be occupied the next night onwards. Inside of me, I was surprised by this news, feeling rather cheated by Booking.com’s claim of “Last room available!”. Thankfully, Konstantina walked further on to show me that she and her family live together in one unit, within the hotel property grounds.

Santorini hotel – Dream Island Hotel • The Petite WanderessFinally, I got to settle down in what would be my room for the next few nights. After ensuring all windows and doors are locked properly, checking that no one’s hiding in the closet or under the bed, that the room safe is secured, testing that the toilet bowl works and the shower dispenses hot water duly (you never know), I unpacked, realising I had not eaten dinner but didn’t feel hungry. But I needed water and there were no complimentary bottles of water provided. Santorini’s tap water isn’t good for drinking. Although it was just 8+pm, I don’t feel that secure to venture all the way out of the hotel to buy water. The drinking water I had was the water remaining in my bottle from Singapore, which shall do, even though there was something impurity floating inside (this trip was before I installed a water-filter at home).

After a shower, in no time, I was fast asleep on the queen-sized bed. My adventure as a solo traveller in Santorini had just begun.

Santorini is for couples.

Santorini's shades of blue • The Petite Wanderess

So it seems, or has always been marketed to be.

Indeed, I don’t know of anyone who has travelled solo to Santorini. Heck, I don’t really know many people that had visited Santorini. Santorini is a place for couples, for wedding shoots, honeymoons. Not for friends, nor family, and definitely not for solo-travellers. Those, too, had been my impressions of Santorini. It didn’t help that my trip was impromptu, booked a day before flying. Certainly it didn’t help that I’m the classic Introvert, easily feeling overwhelmed by crowds, too much small talk, or activity going on around me. Before coming to Santorini, I had felt worried and nervous. I’d questioned myself:

“Am I doing right by going to Santorini? Am I really going to enjoy doing this on my own? Will things really be ok? Will I feel awkward? Is it all going to be couples everywhere?”

Fortunately, it was winter in Santorini, which means very little crowds.

Over the next few days in Santorini, I was to:

  • Have good meals and Greek snacks
  • Feel welcomed by the warmth and hospitality of Greek shop-owners, restaurant-owners and my hotel people (hotel review here). Be them young or old, no one batted an eyelid each time I ask for a table for one customer
  • Make friends with another solo traveller, who also happens to be a designer
  • Visit museums including a wine museum and taste different Santorini wines
  • Experience different weathers of Santorini, from gloomy rainy mornings to perfect sunny days
  • Watch the Santorini sunset
  • Sit and take in the quiet air and mesmerizing beauty of the caldera, with barely anyone else on the roads
  • Take a walk to another village with no one walking along the road like me
  • Take the cliff road on a big coach bus, in daylight as well as in the darkness of unlit roads
  • Wonder if I had been cheated and robbed, or will be murdered and never found again (blogpost here)
  • Acquaint a dog which followed me around everywhere in Oia. He even managed to find me and get INTO a restaurant where I was having lunch! And sat at the base of my table beside my feet, as if to protect me. It was a very odd, but rather heartwarming feeling.
  • Have a good time taking photos to document the beautiful blue skies, roofs and doors of Santorini (blogpost here)

(View the posts I had written about Santorini)

I did not:

  • Receive strange looks from people for asking for “Table for one” when I needed to eat
  • Get harassed by locals or foreigners, at all
  • Get robbed even though I was carrying hundreds of euros (all the cash I brought) in my camera bag one afternoon because I’d forgotten to leave them in the hotel safe
  • Have anything stolen from me

I have yet to:

  • Take the cable car down to the old port (it operates just a few times a day in winter)
  • Check out the lighthouse and the ancient excavation site
  • Visit more villages such as Pyrgos and Perissa
  • Visit the red and black beaches

Which means I should visit Santorini again!

Santorini (Oia) is one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever seen. By a stroke of good luck, I came to this island in off-season, when there were very few crowds, which made my trip more special and less overwhelming.

If you think you’ll never visit Santorini until you have found The One or saved enough money, I hope this post can help convince you otherwise. Those are perceptions and destination-labelling. There ARE solo travellers in Santorini. When you stop feeding yourself a certain way of thought, you realize, you’d only been trapped by your own limits and others’ perceptions.

The world is awaiting your exploring.


 


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32 comments

  1. Firstly, your photos are incredibly beautiful! Makes me want to book a trip for tomorrow! I’m planning to visit Santorini and was unsure whether I should go by myself or not but this helps to give me the confidence to just do it! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thank you Katie! It was a really last-minute trip for me so I didn’t really get to choose the season though. Depending on your travel style, will be good to check out whether it’s peak or shoulder or low season to do the solo trip! All the best!

    1. Thank you Katie! Someone commented on my other post in the site that it’s amazing there were no humans in my photos at all, ha. It was indeed that quiet! Hope this doesn’t change 😉

  2. Hi,
    After looking at the pictures, I am literally feeling envious of you.
    How do you manage with so much of happiness and above all with a smiling face?….lol

    Do share the secret too

    1. Hope you get to go soon, Agness! (ps: just don’t go during summer as I’ve heard horror stories about the crowds.) I haven’t been to Crete though!

  3. This post was an awesome read!! I’ve actually been looking at booking a flight to Greece for a couple weeks (it looks amazing)!!! but I’ve been too afraid of going alone. This may have been the push I needed, thanks!! 🙂

    1. Thanks Eryn! Choosing the right season helps, at least for me. I can’t imagine doing it in peak season. Navigating crowded restaurants is really something I don’t fancy, *gulps*. All the best for your travels!

  4. Ah, looks like you had a great time in such a gorgeous island after all Kristine.

    Yes, i totally get it that its a destination for couples and newlyweds but being by yourself is also good!

    Trust me on this one, being with someone else for a long time can take its toll and some alone time is a big relief

    Its the complete opposite in Asia where i loved for 2 years in Seoul. I had no choice but to eat alone and travel solo but i grew so much and am truly grateful for that.

    Being restless and adventurous, I’d definitely go after what i just read! Beautifully written! Well done.

    Will catch up with the series now

    Happy travels!

    1. Agreeing with you, Karla, that being with someone requires a different set of skills and energy ;)) Everything in its time, that’s what I believe. Thank you for coming by. Happy travels too!

  5. Like you, I always thought it was just for couples. So like Maldives, I put it in the backburner but your post made me rethink. Maybe I don’t need a partner to visit Santorini after all. Thanks dear! and lovely photos!

    1. Yes Darlene! It’s something like Maldives, which I still don’t have the guts to do it solo… yet. Maybe one day, maybe. Thank you for the compliment!

  6. Your pictures are beautiful and makes me want to plan a visit soon. I have never been on a solo trip but after reading your experience, I shall definitely do it at least once.

    1. Ooohhh, I could go on and on about doing solo trips. If you try it one day, I hope your first solo trip will be awesome as well!

  7. I haven’t been to Greece yet. It’s on my long list of places to visit. But your lovely pics remind me I have yet to get there. Great that you visited on your own. It’s always good to break boundaries.

  8. I appreciate your honesty in sharing your experience. I knew it couldn’t be too bad for solo travel once I saw that dog in the leadoff photo 😉 It looks so beautiful though!

  9. It os nice to know that santorini is also oke for solo travellers! I also want to visiy it, but I think I would rather keep ot so go with my partner one day. Lucky you were in low season, I’ve seen pictures when it’s busy, so crazy!

  10. Your pictures of Santorini are beautiful! I have always wanted to go but somewhat avoided it because it’s looked at as a couples destination so thank you for busting that myth- I’ll definitely be planning a trip there one day 🙂

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