Santorini was like a dream come true. The architecture, warmth of the people, the weather and the gorgeous natural phenomenons just kept on giving. Are you wondering what are the must-do’s when you’re over? Where to catch the best sunsets and what are the local delicacies? Well, here it is!
If the Caldera view isn’t the first view that comes to your mind when thinking of Santorini, then I don’t know what is. The gorgeous contrast between the white buildings and the blue colours of domes, water and the sky, make it a post-card-worthy shot you’re sure not to forget. You can witness it in Fira, Oia, Imerovigli and Firastefani.
Take a rather scary and shaky cable car down (€6 one way) to the Old Port, to be stunned by the picturesque views of the 400 metres-high cliffs and hang out at surprisingly, one of the most crowded ports in the world. The Old Port is a perfect place to hang out by the water, but can also be a bit of a pain to get up from…
…you have three options. 1. take the cable-car back up, 2. get up the 600 stairs on a donkey, and 3. take up the challenge and hike it up. We couldn’t have missed out on the experience of a zig-zag staircase to heaven (Fira) so off we went. After about 2 litres of water and numerous stops later, we made it, saved some cash and opted out of animal cruelty – all in all, it was a win-win.
Santorini is famous for its wine, and so we couldn’t go without a wine tasting at yet another beautiful spot, Santo Wines. Watch the sun beam at the sea and indulge in a wine tasting – a selection of six wines including snacks cost us €24.99, which I as a student, thought was a great deal! The winner of the tasting was of course, Mr Vin Santo, but don’t trust me, I know as much about wine as I know about physics. And I have failed physics exams before. Yup.
What?! There is an ACTIVE volcano right beside the ISLAND? No way. Well, my dear friends, yes way. Actually, there are two island comprised as result: Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni. Take a cruise to have a casual stroll, see the (very old) craters and witness the openings bursting with sulphur steam. The heat will be real but what a story does it make to be able to say you have walked on an active volcano eh?
Once you’ve taken the trip of a lifetime and checked out that super exciting volcano that felt like will erupt the second you step your foot on it ( 😉 ) don’t miss a chance to swim in the hot springs of Nea Kameni.
Top tip: don’t ask for the depth of the water you’re entering, unless you want to hear it’s over 10 metres deep – not the best thing to find out if you’re not a great swimmer! I never swam this fast in my life, but I couldn’t let my fear prevent me from living that life am I right?
The hot springs are not actually all that hot, apart from a few spots here and there, so you will probably spend more time playing with the red mud than appreciating that warmth. But, it’s not just for fun! Did you know that because the waters contain a large amount of sulfur, they are known for their therapeutic purposes?
I know how much you’ve been all waiting for this… so take a few deep breaths, and enjoy the view…
…it couldn’t get more orange if I painted it with an orange paint. This was the actual colour of the sky. Now, I couldn’t disagree that this was one of the most breathtaking sunsets I have and probably will experience.
Top tip: double check the time the sun sets and arrive at least an hour before to get a good-ish spot to view all of its beauty. You can’t control the weather but you will be disappointed if you visit on a gloomy day – for very obvious reasons…
A hidden gem for all my sunset-lovers out there…
Climb to the top of the Pyrgos Kasteli passing through enchanting, labyrinthine streets, fortified walls and hidden passages for one of the least-spoiled views of the sunset and the island itself.
Speaking of Pyrgos, if a drink with a view in a beautiful boutique hotel is your fancy, then Carpe Diem Santorini won’t disappoint. Situated in a perfect spot with a view of the whole width of the island, you’ll be mesmerized by the twinkling street lights as the sun goes down.
But if an alcoholic bevy isn’t your thing, then head straight down to Perissa beach and take a look into the Tranquilo Bar where you’ll find yourself in a MEGA chilled out atmosphere full of pillows, comfy sofas and relaxing music making it one of the coolest places you can go and hang out in with your buds.
Share an XXL Salad (€11) between three and wash it down with a super dense, fruit smoothie as you forget all the worries and appreciate the beach views. Ahh… just glorious! 😍
To be honest, I had no idea Santorini had no white beaches – they are all either pebbles or black sand (understandably, due to the volcanic activity) – Kamari being the type of beach that will be hell for your feet. Top tip: bring flip flops!
Nothing beats a good-oul book-store. Don’t you think? You’ll find Atlantis Books on your way to the sunset spot in Oia, and you won’t want to miss out on taking a dander inside. Find books written in numerous languages and fan-girl when your book gets a special Atlantis Books stamp at the point of purchase… and you just can’t keep your emotions in when you see little stands with reviews on some of the books… (awww).
Predominantly dogs and cats, on almost every corner. Take a chance and pet the furry friends, it’s therapeutic for both parties! ♥
Last, but certainly not least, some food. You couldn’t do without a cheeky gyros or tomato and white aubergine balls. Don’t worry, if you’re a veggie like me, you can opt out for the falafel filling – not one bit less satisfying (and, it’s budget friendly too!).
Top tips on visiting Santorini:
♥ The buses are very convenient and are a lot more affordable that hiring a car or taking a cab. At only €1.80 one way, you’re able to go anywhere in the island. A pretty interesting concept but it’s really easy to get used to. The tickets can be purchased inside the bus – don’t worry about pre-booking!
♥ Pack a black bikini if you’re thinking of swimming in the hot springs! Unless you don’t mind getting a light-coloured one destroyed by the yellow waters.
♥ Get yourself a straw-hat – it’s not a coincidence I’m wearing it in every photo – sun safety first! 😉
♥ Refer to my 10 Items I always Travel With post to have a swift journey to the island!
♥ Be careful when getting into the water at pebble beaches, you can easily lose your balance and go deeper than you wanted to.
♥ Take care when walking up the 600 stairs from the Old Port – the donkeys stand in the heat all day and might get agitated when you’re passing through.
♥ If you’re a tourist and you’re female, get used to the hoots, beeps and forward compliments from the Greek men – you might find them ‘creepy’ by some standards, but remember the diversity of all of our cultures before you judge, take it easy.
♥ If you’re a little more adventurous, hire a quad and discover the island a little more spontaneously.
♥ Santorini airport is one of the smallest I have seen – meaning, there is absolutely nothing to do. If you have arrived early and have a couple of hours to spare, walk down to the Monolithos beach. It will take you approximate 40 minutes (one way) but what’s worse than sitting an airport while the sun is beaming?
Thank you for an unforgettable time Santorini, I will be back soon ♥ sooner than you think.
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As always, all views are my own.