My trip to Santorini is one of the most memorable of all my travels, and I’ll definitely go back…in October when it’s cooler and less crowded. But this trip had to be in June when crowds are the worst. Add to that the fact that it was the hottest summer in European history and…well…yeah.

Still, as I always do, I made the most of the trip and found ways to get around the crowds. If you visit Santorini, Greece in the summer, I hope these tips help you.

1. Go to Oia and Fira Early

fira santorini

Oia (pronounced ee-ah) and Fira are the most popular villages on the island, and the crowds prove it. Each day, cruise ships dump hundreds of travelers into the towns, making it miserable for everyone.

I learned this the hard way in Fira, so by the time I visited Oia, I had a strategy: go early. I took a bus from Perissa Beach around 9 am and got to Oia by 10:30. The heat hadn’t completely melted everything, so I chugged around the city as fast as I could, taking photos of the Cycladic buildings before people ruined them.

I had an early lunch (order the Santorini salad if you see it on the menu!) and was back at my hotel by early afternoon.

2. Stay Somewhere Quiet

megalochori

I fretted over where to rent an apartment for the first part of my visit to Santorini. On the map, towns like Oia and Fira seemed right in the middle of the action. I had this fantasy that I’d do the 3-mile hike along the caldera between the towns, but once I realized it would be in the high 90s each day, I nixed that plan.

Accommodations in Santorini can be cheap…or really expensive. Because I saw places for $40-100 a night, I didn’t want to pay more for the pleasure of being where everyone else was. I wanted a traditional Cycladic home, and those were pricey on the coast.

So I opted for Megalochori. Such a good decision. Not only was my vacation rental affordable (around $120/night), the town was so quiet and removed from the touristy areas.

I know myself, and if I’d stayed in the busier towns, I would have been miserable.

Even Perissa Beach, where I stayed for the second half, was remarkably quiet for a beach town. There were more people, but I never felt crowded.

3. Rent a House

cycladic house

For me, part of being in Santorini, Greece was experiencing living in a traditional home. I adored my rental. I had the sweetest patio, where I ate my breakfast each day, read, and painted. Being able to cook a meal or two, or just reheat leftovers, removed the stress of having to go out for every meal.

And because I was nestled at the back of a dead-end path, there were no people walking by or keeping me up at night. Bliss!

If I can help it, I don’t travel in the summer. But I have to admit, once I got a strategy, it wasn’t terrible!