Imagine a whole island coated in white stone and blue dots where the white stone buildings and scenic views are reflected in the crystal blue waters.
Give yourself about 4 days here (more if you can) and adventure up a volcano to see the amazing beauty, cliff jump in Amoudi Bay, gorge at a traditional taverna as if every meal is your last, look for old cave houses in Emporio, cycle along roads for miles without seeing another person or the stereotypical, yet enjoyable ride on a donkey!
Hop on a plane from Athens to Santorini – a 45 minutes flight and then take a bus or a taxi from the airport to Fira (3kms), the capital city of Santorini. Make this a base to visit the nearby islands, including Mykonos and Skopelos (this is where Mama Mia movie was filmed) by ferries.
Beach Hopping: Since the beaches (black, red and white) get all the attention, you might as well start with some beach hopping. Go to Ruby red beach to sunbathe, Perissa’s famous black beach for lunch, and explore Vlychada’s white beach for some tough surfing. Better still, discover the secret beaches near the airport – not leaving any hints… you are on your own!
Winery Tour: To know where the Greeks get their zest (for life) from, taste their wines. To get as many as possible tasted in a day, go on a winery tour to Santorini’s best vineyards. Most of the wine producers on the island have tours of the wineries with tastings at the end.
Cable Car Ride in Fira: There is another reason why you absolutely must visit Santorini’s capital: the breathtaking cable-car ride down to the old port. The cable car soars off the edge of the volcano and floats down 1000ft! It is considered one of the wildest rides in Europe.
Akrotiri of Thera: Go see the town that was frozen in time – a 3000 BC settlement discovered during the 1960s. The city is believed to be one of Aegean Sea’s most significant before earthquakes and a volcanic eruption destroyed it. The buildings and their content are still intact – preserved by the volcanic materials, just like at Pompeii.
Hike from Fira to Oia: Take the scenic hike from Fira to Oia. Oia is the most attractive village in Santorini – the ultimate Greek Island village – all-white houses and domed churches tumbling over magnificent views of the Caldera. The village’s converted peasant houses on the very edge of the crater and spectacular sunsets draw coach parties from across the island.
Hotel Atlantis: Located on the South end of the main strip of the Caldera, it’s the town’s smartest choice of stay (affordable). Get a room with a balcony and watch the sunrise with the cruise ships pulling in as you eat breakfast. The hotel is conveniently located – so restaurants, shopping and party places are all within walking distance.
Vedema Resort: Vedema Resort comprises of a beautiful cluster of traditional free-standing villas and houses. This luxury collection hotel was built around a 400-year-old winery and was extensively renovated in 2008. The rooms – better described as apartments – are spacious with sparsely decorated, white-washed interiors with private pools or Jacuzzis.
The breakfast buffet they serve might very well be the best on the island. If you wish to see more of the island, 10-minute transfers to Fira and the beach at Perivolas operate throughout the day.
Porto Fira: People say the famous Santorini Sunset seems much more spectacular from Porto Fira. And when the Sun isn’t in sight, you still have a panoramic view of the Bay of Fira, the Old Port, and the Volcano.
Perched in a residential area, it’s a perfect spot for those looking to stay away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In fact, if you come during the winter months, you’ll be rubbing shoulders with writers and artists – who come to capture the island’s spirit in its tranquility.
Metaxi Mas: Tucked away behind a big church, it may not be easy to find this place but it’s worth making the effort. They serve Greek-based cuisine focusing on Cretan and Santorinian dishes. The Pork boneless steaks in orange and honey sauce served with traditional Cretan jacket potato is everyone’s favorite!
To Psaraki: To Psaraki is considered one of the best not just for the food but for the magnificent sea view. The owners’ emphasis is on simple, quality ingredients and using locally produced products. This is also a child-friendly place – nowhere near to being a jungle gym but enough play equipment to keep your kiddos happy while you enjoy your meal.
Pyrgos: Formerly located in Fira, this upmarket restaurant moved to Pyrgos village in 2010. Try the sea urchin and artichoke salad. In case that’s too intimidating, try a dish that includes the local wild capers.
Nikolas Taverna: For authentic, local food, always ask around and find out where the locals eat. In Fira, it’s Nikolas Taverna! Have the ‘catch of the day’ fish while watching the boats at sea. The interior isn’t fancy but the food is unmatched coupled with affordable pricing.
Just remember to accompany your dining with the famous Santorini wines.