If you’re planning a trip or just swooning over some serious travel inspo, you’ve probably thought about Santorini more than once. With its romantic atmosphere, beautiful beaches, and breathtaking sunsets, Santorini is undeniably the ideal location for a summer vacay. After talking with Molly Greathouse, our Digital Marketing Manager who just took a trip to Greece, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks for your next stay on the Greek island:
Getting to Santorini on your own (i.e., not a cruise) can be a little difficult, especially if you are going straight from the USA to the Greek island. There are two options for travelling here: you can either take the ferry out of Athens (or Crete, Cyclades, or Dodekanisa, if you’ve already made it to another island) or you can hop on a quick, 30-minute flight out of the Athens airport. They are both about the same price, so if you’re aiming for comfort on this trip, take the flight there and back.
Where to Stay
The El Greco Hotel located just outside of Fira
Santorini has a total of 15 towns, only 4 of which are perched atop the crescent-shaped cliff where all the gorgeous photos of the island are taken. However, there are only two main towns that provide tourists with many sites to see: Fira and Oia. Fira is the more commercialized of the two, while Oia is the more traditional (yet much, much more expensive). Most tourists will stay in Fira because of the price and convenience of having (most of) the comforts of home on-hand, but if you really want to splurge, Oia is where to go.
- The El Greco Hotel: The El Greco Hotel’s architecture is inspired by the traditional Santorinian homes: small, whitewashed huts. The El Greco stands just a short 5-minute walk out of Fira, making it just close enough to the hustle-and-bustle while remaining a relaxing place to kick back after a day of sightseeing.
- Notos Therme & Spa: Situated on the black sand beach, each of Notos’ suites has its own hot tub on a private veranda. Enjoy the open-air bar overlooking the ocean or relax in the hotel’s spa which includes a natural thermal pool and hot tub.
- Katikies Hotel: This hotel’s bright white, minimalist rooms each have a private balcony with a hot tub for the ultimate romantic stay. Enjoy the candlelit rooftop restaurant for dinner or call the hotel’s private butler (!) to bring you delicious room service.
- 1864 The Sea Captain’s House: This boutique hotel is located in the heart of Oia (right on the caldera), among many other small, boutique hotels with killer views, but this one stands out because of its authentic feel. Every morning, you are brought cooked-to-order breakfast as you look out on the gorgeous caldera. As an extra bonus: the hotel will pick you up and drop you off at the airport, and your luggage is delivered to your room via the island’s donkeys!
Where to Eat
Sunset at Kastro restaurant
- Mama’s Kitchen: Located in Fira, this is where the locals go when they want some authentic (despite the English name), delicious, Greek island food. Have a plate of fried eggplant or try moussaka, a true Greek dish. Complete with great prices, Mama’s Kitchen is where you should go for lunch before a day of sightseeing.
- Kastro: This high-end restaurant is in the best location to watch the sunset in Oia. Grab one of the small tables on the patio, order a glass of Santorinian wine (or two) and any of their delicious meals, and get ready for one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life.
- Galini Cafe: This quaint spot located in Firostefani -- just outside of Fira -- is a quiet place to grab a cheap and delicious lunch with amazing views. Located on the caldera and overlooking the Mediterranean, Galini Cafe provides a relaxed ambiance where you can truly unwind and maybe take an Instagrammable pic or two.
- Brusco: Found in Pyrgos, a small town of 800 people and 60 churches, Brusco offers a delicious collection of meals for brunch or lunch. The people of Pyrgos are dedicated to keeping their city as authentic as possible, so you won’t find the typical tourist stops here that you’d find in Fira or Oia. Locals describe this town as having “more churches than houses, more wine than water, and more donkeys than men.” Try the bouyiourdi -- no, not named after the chef -- which is a huge chunk of feta cheese topped with tomatoes, onions, and herbs, and then baked in a small bowl. Pro tip: get lunch here before or after visiting Akrotiri, since it is so close (and so good).
What to See & Do
- Swim in the Mediterranean: One thing you must do when on Santorini is to visit the clear blue ocean of the Mediterranean. Take a dip in Oia at Saint Nicholas’s shrine, where you can easily climb up a small, rocky hill and jump off. For the less adventurous, dip your toes in the water on the coast of Oia.
- Akrotiri: Ten times larger and almost 2,000 years before the Pompeii explosion was the explosion of Santorini, which covered the advanced city of Akrotiri. Much like Pompeii, the city is preserved; unlike Pompeii, all of the people of Akrotiri left before the explosion (most likely due to feeling tremors beforehand). The Minoans who settled Akrotiri were a very advanced civilization, as they had two-story buildings, a subterranean waste system, paved streets, and even flushing toilets. The city also has many beautifully painted murals depicting their way of life, animals, and lifelike women, but no murals depicting war, and only very basic drawings of men. This would suggest that Akrotiri was a society run by women, making it that much more fascinating.
- Hike from Fira to Oia: If you want to see the entirety of the island, the only way to do it is to hike along the caldera between Fira and Oia. But this “hike” is really more of a walk, with stores and restaurants alongside it, so you can take a breather whenever you wish.
- Wine Tasting: Santorini is known for its unique wines, so what better way to taste as many as possible than with a wine tasting? We suggest Santo Wines Winery, as they provide a comprehensive taste of the island in one sitting.
Wine tasting at Santo Wines Winery
Taking a trip to Santorini is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you should make the most of your time on the island. By following our guide of tips and tricks, you’ll be able to have a fabulous, relaxing, and beautiful vacation.
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