Santorini - Top 10 Things to Do + See
First of all its worth mentioning that this blog post is rather late *ahem understatement* , however being a person who likes to try seek out the positives it turns out that waiting a year to write this has its positives. Who wants to read about the perfection that is a Greek Island holiday when your freezing your tits off in the middle of winter anyway?!
So here we are, just over a year later and back around to the perfect time for those of you who will be heading to Santorini this summer, or to inspire you to do so in the future! Santorini is a beauty!
For obvious reasons Santorini has been on my hit list forever, the iconic pink Bougainvillea flowers growing upon the crisp white buildings, and that perfect vivid blue of the domes with a crisp Methos beer and fresh Greek salad… mmmmm I’m undeniably convincing myself to go back the more I type!
So whether you’re heading there soon or its on your wish-list, I hope you can find a little inspiration in my Top 10 Things to See + Do in Santorini.
Get lost in Oia
pronounced ‘ee-aa’, if you’re going to read this you may as well pronounce it correctly, it was a good few days before I realised i’d been saying ‘Oi’ a lot :)
Lets start with the obvious, I’d say its pretty much guaranteed that if you’re planning on heading out to Santorini then visiting Oia is way up on your to do list… and it does not disappoint. Those instagram images you’ve been cooing over, it’s exactly like that.
Get your comfiest sandals or trainers on and go get lost down the winding cobbled labyrinth of quaint streets that is Oia.
We got lucky, either that or we chose an amazing time to holiday there. We went early May, the weather was perfect early 20°C’s. The best part was, it wasn’t crowded at all. I’ve seen so many video clips over the last year since going and it seems this place can be a claustrophobic nightmare if you go peak season. Tens of thousands of people show up daily when the cruise ships are in which does not look so fun. I’d definitely keep that in mind if you are planning but haven’t booked yet.
We went for a whole afternoon and every corner you turn is like a picturesque little haven, just stunning. Walk a while… grab a chilled beer. Walk a while more… grab a fresh greek salas. Walk a while more… grab an ice cream… heaven!
2 - Visit the Black Sands of Perissa Beach
We stayed at Perissa Beach down in the South East of the island. It was a beautiful quaint peaceful escape from the madness that ensued Oia, but still with the island being as small as it is we were close enough to be able to take a short drive to the more touristic spots. There were nice bars and restaurants, cute bohemian stores and Perissa has a cool volcanic black sanded beach.
Our hotel Veggera was great, small typical white Greek rooms, lovey little pool area with bar and restaurant, and access directly to the beach.
3 - Sunset in Stunning Thira
Thira is absolutely stunning, and as far as I could tell it’s pretty much the less hectic but equally picture perfect sister to Oia. We went at night to enjoy sunset as opposed to joining the crowds that head to the walls of Oia. We wriggled our way down the winding little stepped streets and found a lovely little bar with awesome views. I don’t remember the name but this whole area is pretty much Instagram-land. those photographs you see of the private rooms with pools and the perfect white rooftop views of the sun setting, it’s here and its glorious!
4 - Eat all the Greek food… and local drinks
Duh… for me this goes without saying, if you’re anything like me the first thing you’ll be thinking about when travelling is trying as much of the local food as possible… oh and drinks too. There were many chilled Mythos enjoyed along with something i’ve never tried before… Fava.
The Fava bean is one of the most special and traditional products of Santorini. A kind of pea with yellow color, it comes from the fruit and is cultivated exclusively in Santorini and Anafi, a small island next to Santorini. They say the volcanic soil is probably the reason why java beans are cultivated only in Santorini throughout all of Greece and it’s considered the most traditional product of the island. It’s something like a hummus, delicious and wasn’t nearly as expensive as I’d imagined it was going to be after reading some blog pages before going, plus we ate it in the very centre of Oia… super fresh and much recommended!
5 - Rent a Car and whiz around the Island
There were a lot of people riding around the island on quad bikes, it seemed to be a pretty popular way to get around for the holiday makers but with their being four of us we opted for renting a car.
Fair enough, we rented from a local guy and the first car we took broke down after 15 minutes but we did choose the cutest little yellow convertible Fiat Punto on the lot. After being rescued by our guy with a new car, he knew what mattered to a bunch of women, the colour of course! We wound up with the same car, in red!
We had the car for 4 of the 7 days and it was perfect. I drove, it was a breeze. If I could pick at something I guess I’d say i’d have preferred an automatic just for the hills on the windy little roads in Oia etc, but being a Brit I was used to a manual car anyway so it made no real difference. I’d definitely recommend renting a car versus a quad - room for all your stuff, not freezing cold and covered in deserty dust and not pissing off all the other road goers with your slow ass quad bike is just polite :)
6 - Massage on the Beach
Sooo so good. Our hotel had two small canopies on the beach with beautiful white linen curtains blowing in the soft breeze with the sand beneath your feet and the sound of the waves in the background… ahhh. This was the luxe version, I also had a massage from a local because, well… I was on holiday, and if theres ever a time to spoil yourself and have two massages in a week, its then. All about that self-love, treat yourself!
7 - Pop into Atlantis Books in Oia
One of the most famed little spots in Oia, this place is like a tiny hideaway filled to the brim with books galore. It’s a really cute place to have a little browse and take some pictures. They carry books in a whole array of languages, as well as antiquities and first editions, they even have their own bookstore cat… adorable!
8 - All the pretty Windows and Doors
What it is about all the quirky coloured doors and windows in foreign lands that pushes my buttons, I don’t really know, but Santorini has a lot of it and I am all about soaking in this rustic paint peeling beauty.
9 - Visit quaint little Amoudi Bay
Amoudi Bay is a gorgeous little area down below the main town of Oia. You can take the steps down, down, down from the top or, as we did on one of the days when we had the rental car, drive there :)
Known for its amazing sunset views, from here you can take a sunset cruise out onto the water or enjoy one of the little old restaurants based here. Small fishing boats come in throughout the day bringing in that just caught seafood for the freshest fish and lobster ever.
The peaceful quaint buzz with the water lapping up right by the tables edge was lovely during the day but I imagine at night, with stars and moonlight would be incredible. Some day, I’ll be back for exactly that!
10 - Go Wine Tasting
If there is ever an opportunity for wine tasting when holidaying, it’s fairly safe to say it will be up there on my to do list. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no connoisseur, but wineries, vineyards, the whole aura of anything to do with such is right up my alley. It’s almost the experience for me as much as it is the wine, you’re always guaranteed great service and views and then the nibbles and wine to go with that, it’s essentially my heaven.
Santo Wines Winery in Santorini lived up to it all. Those views!!! Half way between where we were staying in Perissa on the south of the island, and Oia in the north, Santo Wines is nestled away a top the cliffs with stunningly perfect views across the water. We went for a 6 wine taster menu, and soaked in the panoramic scenery whilst nibbling on delicious Greek olives, bread and cheese… everyone deserves a little luxury, get this place up there on your list.