Santorini, Greece is a place I have had on my bucket list for years. I can say after spending a week there that is truly as picturesque and beautiful as all of the pictures you see. I had so many moments while we were there that I just stopped and thought, “Is this real life?” If I had one word to describe this island it would be magical. While my husband and I had discussed island hopping, in the end we decided to spend the full week in Santorini and we were so happy with our decision. With that being said, I learned a lot and have some great tips for any future trip you might have to Santorini.
Getting to Santorini:
We flew into Athens where you have two options to get to Santorini. You can take a quick twenty-minute flight from Athens to Santorini or you can take a ferry. If you take a speed ferry it will take you around 5 hours to get to Santorini. The biggest and most popular ferry is Blue Star Ferries and it will take you about 8 hours to get from Athens to Santorini. We chose to fly, which I highly recommend, because it got us to Santorini so much quicker. We flew Aegean Airlines and they were a wonderful airline. If you are on a budget, the ferry will be the cheaper option but if you book your flight early enough (3-6 months out) you can get a pretty great price.
Picture from Emmanous Studios
This map does a great detailed job of showing major places on the island and is good reference for when I mention places.
Where to Stay:
We broke up our trip and stayed in two villages, Imerovigi and Oia. We spent our first three days in Imerovigi at Astra Suites. Our hotel to picked us up from the airport and it was a quick twenty minute drive to the suites. Astra had impeccable service and the views were stunning. We usually found ourselves laying by the pool in the afternoon or hanging out on our deck just soaking in the surroundings. We were served breakfast out on our patio every morning, which was included in our stay. The staff was so friendly and would go over and beyond to bring you anything you needed. For our last two days we stayed at Canaves Oia Hotel in Oia. This was another stunning hotel with a more cave like feel. They had a beautiful infinity pool with a cave including a chandelier. I was clearly obsessed with it! It had the true Santorini feel with the crisp white walls and Bougainvillea. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at both hotels and are glad we stayed in both areas.
- Imerovigi is more centrally located so it made it easier for us to explore the island.
- Imerovigi is known as a honeymoon area so it is not very kid friendly. A lot of the hotels in this area are adult only.
- Imerovigi has a TON of steps. I would say from our hotel room to the top of hotel it was around 100 steps. To get up the top of village it was probably an additional 100 steps. I definitely got a work out in climbing all of those! We did enjoy being down so far in the hotel because you had more privacy. I would request with your hotel to not have a room on the caldera path otherwise you will have people walking by your room all day.
- Oia is STUNNING and has the typical feel of Santorini with the blue domes and white buildings. It is more touristy then Imerovigi and can get very crowded mid day when the cruise ships arrive.
- Oia is at the very tip of the island and you have to take a windy road up hill to get there. You are pretty secluded once you get up there and we did not feel comfortable trying to drive on our own to go explore more of the island so we just stayed in Oia.
- We spent more money than we normally would on hotels because we knew we wanted to relax by the pool and would spend more time at the hotel then we normally do on vacation. I figure we won’t be going back to Santorini anytime soon so YOLO right?
- Oia is less windy than Imerovigi. While Oia still has a breeze the island blocks some of the wind. In Imerovigi you don’t have the island to block a lot of the wind and I almost lost a hat with a big gust of wind.
What to Do:
Rent a Four-Wheeler
We rented a four-wheeler two of the days we were in Imerogivi and loved using it to get around the island. There are only 25 cabs or so on the island so if you want to explore you either take the bus or rent a car or four-wheeler. It was quite the experience whipping around the island that way and the drivers are all pretty tame drivers unlike an area like Rome.
Hike to Fira and see the donkeys
You can hike from Oia to the capital Fira on the caldera path. The full hike is around two and half hours but the views are stunning which makes you forget you have even walked that far. We hiked from Imerogivi to Fira, which is about a twenty-five minute hike. I would suggest to not go mid day because it gets hot! Start early in the morning or go later in the afternoon. We spent the morning in Fira walking around and checking out the donkeys. While we did not ride a donkey down to port we did go see them and I loved all their colorful embellishments. Some of the donkeys did chase us when their hoarder was trying to move some of them down to port. I bet we looked pretty funny running from side to side of the stairs trying to not get trampled by donkeys!
Go to Santo Winery
On one of our afternoons exploring on the four-wheeler, we stopped into Santo Winery. We took a brief twenty-five minute tour of the facility and learned that through the use of gravity and levels this winery doesn’t use pumps, which creates their high quality wine. There is a stunning view of the caldera, where we enjoyed an 18 wine flight of all of their wines they produce.
Visit the Beaches
Make sure to check out the red and black beaches. We stopped by the red beach for pictures but did not spend anytime there. We spent the afternoon at Perivolos beach, which has black sand. It is the biggest beach has a ton of options for restaurants, water sports and sun chairs. We rented chairs and lounged for the afternoon. Make sure you have sandals or water shoes because the sand gets HOT since it is black.
Take a Ridiculous Amount of Pictures
Where to Eat
I don’t think we ate a bad meal the whole time we were in Santorini. There is so much delicious fresh fish (my favorite) and traditional Greek food. Make sure to make reservations because places fill up quickly for sunset views and due to their small sizes. Below, is a list of some of the restaurants we ate at and I highly recommend!
Avocado – Imerovigli
Mezzo – Imerovigli
Grace Santorini Santoro – Imerovigli
Argo – Fira
PK Cocktail Bar – Fira. Awesome cocktails with a view.
Seaside by Notos – Perissa
Pitogyros – Oia. AMAZING gyros with french fries in them!
Dmitris Ammoudi Tavera – Oia (Ammoudi Bay) The BEST and freshest fish and mussels I have ever had! You pick your own fish from the counter in the kitchen and they cook to your liking.
What to Pack
Flat shoes are a MUST! We did a bunch of walking and climbing stairs and it would be very difficult to do so in heels or even wedges. I also suggest bringing a hat or two to keep the bright sun off your face. A great SPF is also needed and I reapplied multiple times a day to protect my skin. I packed a lot of lightweight and easy clothing items such as maxi dresses and jean shorts with breezy tops. You of course will need a couple of swimsuits for the pool and beach.
Santorini was definitely a trip of a lifetime and the most amazing place I have visited to date. If you are planning a trip and have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me! I can talk about Santorini for days. I hope one day I can go back to relive the magic!