Santorini and Things to Do There
Apr 10, 2023
My love affair with Greece started with Santorini. Of course! I remember flying all night long to Athens, then changing planes, taxi from Santorini airport to Oia where we were met by a bellboy, handsome as one of those Greek Gods, chiseled profiles of whom have been stamped in my memory since Ancient history studies in middle school, who put one of our suitcases on his shoulder as if it was an ancient vase, as light and as precious, and then… a few steps into the walking part of Oia and we were outside of our hotel room built in the Caldera. That very first impression of Santorini that immediately brought me to fully awake mode I will never forget! Boy, was it a room with a view! Could it even be real? If there is heaven on earth it must be it. Those were my thoughts while I was trying to gulp in all that surreal beauty.
Years have passed and I still think fondly of Santorini. Prices have doubled if not tripled since my first visit and so have the crowds. But whenever I am asked about Santorini and if it is worth going to – the answer is always a YES. Some become visitors on a yearly basis – it is hard to resist coming back for more of that beauty and romance, some say once is enough, but visiting Santorini inevitably creates memories of a lifetime.
For those of you who are planning to go to Santorini this summer these would be my suggestions for your to do list:
- Santorini is all about sunset, an event that over the years escalated to the stage of almost being worshiped. Believe it or not, your appreciation of it is different depending on where you are watching it. There is a public pool in Oia that is one of the most popular places in Santorini to watch a sunset. Great spot and it’s free. What I like about it is actually the crowd, crazy as it may sound. Of course, you can easily enjoy it being tucked away at that very special table of a nice restaurant, the place to see and not be seen, and we know quite a few restaurants in Oia that do offer fantastic views over a sunset that is another great option to “celebrate” the magical sunset of Santorini. However that public pool in Oia reminds me of a theater where everybody has come for the same performance and it gives you that feeling of a unanimous joy and happiness that comes as a thrill upon everyone around upon the act completion.
But come early as this way you can grab a seat “in the first row” and will have enough time to order a glass of prosecco to add to the magic of the act.
- Another great thing to do is, of course, a boat trip around the island. I love the one on a catamaran leaving from Amoudi Bay, 300 steps down from Oia, a great place to have lunch or just a swim. However, if you are going on a catamaran trip from there, you don’t need either. You can swim off the boat in the clearest waters of the Aegean while on cruise and the food they serve you is amazing (hot as well as salads and starters). And what’s more amazing is watching a sunset (yes, again!) from the water. When I was first recommended that cruise, I was told that watching a sunset from the water in Santorini is a totally different experience and I attest that it is so much true. These catamaran trips are usually half a day and I certainly recommend taking the afternoon one for the sunset experience.
- A hike from Oia to Thira. I posted probably my longest review on TripAdvisor on this quite a few years ago. An absolute must do. We hiked from Oia to Thira and took a public bus from Thira to Oia as we found hiking roundtrip a bit too much for us. Also, if you don’t start very early in the morning it does get hot later in the day. This hike is all about Santorini – the views! They are some of the best you are going to see anywhere in the world. Start early. Take some water with you. Have comfy shoes as it might get slippery in certain parts of the hike, but it’s not that difficult and doesn’t require any experience. I had a feeling though that doing the hike from Thira to Oia is a bit easier as you go down more than up in that direction, so if you are not into hiking it might make sense starting it from Thira. In the middle of the hike there is an orange stand where they make fresh squeezed orange juice for you, often a so much needed refreshment. And there is only one place to eat on that route. It is a very low-key family run place that is very different from a plethora of posh and expensive restaurants throughout the island. However, it’s homemade food and souvlaki is cooked right in front of you and for you. The best fava and souvlaki as well as the rest of their offerings, I am sure. It might be hard to believe, but we had one of our best meals on the island in that little place.
- A visit to a winery. There are a few in Santorini where some of the best Greek wines come from.
A few more things to mention. If you have never been to Santorini before and are trying to decide where to stay, my choice would be Oia. This is the most photographed village in Santorini and most images of Santorini you have ever come across are those of Oia. Imerovigli is also nice, but there is a lot of new development there as compared to Oia that is mostly very old. Thira would be another choice to stay at, but it is where the airport and the port of Santorini are and thus it gets very crowded during the tourist season. Overall I don’t find the village itself as nice as Oia.
As much as I love beaches, especially Greek ones, with the clearest waters I have seen anywhere in the world, I have never gone to a beach in Santorini. Honestly, they are not that great compared to the famous beaches of Milos, Paros and Naxos. When in Santorini I felt I could easily pass on beaches for my favorite pastime there – sitting outside my room with a view and enjoying a glass of wine accompanied by some local cheese and asking myself for the hundredth time: “Could this possibly be real?”
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Victoria, the Founder