I’VE been lucky enough to experience the playfulness of Disneyland, the warmth of equatorial tropical paradises and the beauty of ancient Roman cities, but nothing compares to the romantic magic of Santorini.
My only regret is … we didn’t stay long enough!
Santorini is one of the beautiful Greek Islands that is a short flight from most European summer hot spots and can also be accessed by fast (or slow) ferry depending on your budget.
This unique volcanic island has found its elegant form by being partially swallowed by the sea, exposing only the rim of the volcano where the beautiful towns wind their way from peak to peak.
You are never short of pristine ocean views, Cycladic architecture, cobbled pathways and plenty of great restaurants with service to match.
The two major towns that people stay and visit would be Fira and Oia (pronounced EE-ya).
Fira clings to the clifftop, offering a vast selection of cafes, tavernas, hotels and shops. Oia is a slightly less busy town to the north, known for its sunsets. This is where we set up camp and I fell in love!
I’m not sure if the Greek economic situation has had any influence on morale there but I was pleasantly surprised with just how personable, friendly and helpful everyone on the island was. Well, nearly everyone, apart for our hotel manager who made very little effort to fix a broken air conditioner in our room. But hey, if you still think this place is the bees knees while you’re sweating bullets at night with a broken air con then there must be plenty to make up for it right?
I would actually still recommend staying at our hotel, Villa Mare in Oia as it had new but classic cave style rooms with a private breakfast, small pool and daybeds you share with a small group of people. But most of all, it had great views! (especially the sunset)
THINGS TO DO
One of the most well known beaches would have to be Red Beach. This beach is a truly unique sight, with red dirt and rock meeting crystal clear water. It’s a slightly tough trek to reach it with a slight hill climb, and a tight path looking over the sea. The reward at the end makes it all worthwhile though and you get to burn off a couple of holiday calories.
As an easier option, you could visit Perissa — A very nice town, with well-organised beaches and a plethora of Greek fish taverns.
Another cute little spot that we stumbled upon was Ammoudi Bay. Its the small little bay area with a few cafes you can reach at the foot of Oia. We followed a path through the restaurants and headed south for a five minute stroll and found a cute little swimming area to satisfy that saltwater craving.
You can walk down and run up like we stupidly challenged ourselves to do, but that just ended in a puddle of sweat and bright red faces. Afterwards, the donkey taxi did seem a better option but I couldn’t help feeling sorry for them working hard in the heat and opted to use my own two capable legs.
You can hire a quad bike and explore the different parts of the island and this is probably the best way visit the different beaches and townships. But only attempt this if you are confident on a quad and make sure you wear a helmet and take it super easy!
There are also plenty of daily boat tours and planned day trips if you like to have someone do the organising for you.
Places to eat
It’s hard to go wrong and part of what makes your experience in a restaurant so great is stumbling across it. So that is exactly what I’d suggest you do.
However, if you do stumble across Terpsi in Oia for lunch … have the baked fish!
THINGS TO NOTE
To get to and from some of the villas, there can be quite a few stairs and a decent walk. Be prepared to tip your bell-man or bring your fitness with you!
It’s quite easy to island hop or make your way back to Athens on the fast ferries. This can be cheaper and sometimes quicker. You can book them a day or two before at travel agencies which you can find in the little towns or even as you arrive if coming from a ferry.
If you don’t like big crowds, maybe aim for June or late August to miss peak season. Flights are also a little cheaper at that time.
I hope you have the chance to visit and fall in love with Santorini just as I did!
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