Santorini

Sunday, 15 July 2018


The world-famous Santorini was our last stop on honeymoon. We flew in from Athens (read my post about Milos and why not to take the fast, Sea Jets ferry) and landed in the small, overcrowded Santorini airport. Driving from the airport to Oia, I didn’t realise how much bigger Santorini was than I had imagined. On Pinterest and Instagram, I had always seen white washed villages built into the rugged red and black cliffs with these majestic views so instinctively thought it would all be like this, but that is only a small stretch of Santorini.  The rest of the island is made up of vast open spaces, winding roads and unique villages scattered across the island.

WHEN TO GO

Late May / early June or September. We went at the end June and boy was it hot hot hot!


Oia Santorini, what to do in Oia Santorini
Oia, Santorini

WHERE TO STAY

If this is your first time in Santorini, stay in the village of Oia. You don’t want to travel all the way there and then not be in the main, iconic section that you see on Pinterest and probably have saved to your bucket list. We explored the rest of the island and this was by far the nicest area to be based in. We stayed at IKIES Traditional Houses which is a beautiful, luxurious boutique hotel where each room had its own unique layout and private terrace. We stayed in the most gorgeous loft style room and were served breakfast on our balcony each morning overlooking Oia and the Aegan sea. I don’t think I have stayed anywhere more romantic than this. IKIES Traditional Houses is located just at the edge of Oia which is ideal because you don’t have every tourist peering down onto your balcony as they walk past. Due its size, the service was incredible, and they made you feel like you were the only guest.


Santorini views breakfst on balcony
View from IKIES Traditional Houses


Ikies traditional houses, Santorini
Our loft style room at IKIES Traditional Houses



honeymoon hotel Santorini
Left - Our loft style room at IKIES Traditional Houses & Right - View over Oia from IKIES Traditional Houses


DOG FRIENDLY

I saw a couple with their French bull dog, but I don’t think Benji would have quite liked Oia. It is too hot and too crowded, and I think dogs would be miserable in the heat, the walking on the hot pavements and weaving amongst the crowds, unless you hired a villa or somewhere outside of Oia or they were happy to spend most of the time at your hotel pool or in an air conned room.


Santorini blog, what to do in Santorini
Oia

WHAT TO DO 

  • Venture up to ancient Thira where you will be able to see the ruins and take in the most gorgeous views of the island.
  • Hike from Oia to Fira. Leave early in the morning otherwise you will get fried to a crisp in the afternoon sun. Pack a hat, water bottle and sunscreen. I did this hike in sandals and a cute summer dress so you don’t need to be a seasoned “hiker”. Although in hindsight I should have worn better shoes! There is a kiosk selling ice tea and cold water about half way along so you can also stop there and get refreshments. We caught the local bus back so there is this option too.
  • Shop at Comment in Oia. This was my favourite store for woman’s clothing and accessories.
  • Watch the sunset. Buy a bottle of wine and some snacks, head to a lookout point (there are so many as you walk around) and watch the sunset. There is a round of applause as the sun goes down and I thought to myself, “these people have never seen an African sunset”, but it was still a nice thing to do.
  • Go wine tasting. We booked an afternoon wine tour through Santorini Day Tours and went on the Santorini Wine Adventure with Aggelos which was such fun.
  • Book a Luxury Catamaran Day Cruise. There are so many to choose from here
  • Swim at Ammoudi Bay: Walk down from Oia to the Ammoudi port. At the restaurants turn left and walk along the water’s edge for about 5 minutes. Jump off the rocks and swim out to the small island small island. This was one of my favourite places, you have to see it.
  • Don’t ride the donkeys. They are kept standing in the sweltering sun with no water and looked so miserable. I couldn’t bring myself to ride one so instead walked my lazy ass up those hills.
  • Have an ice-cream at Lolitas
  • Rent a car Explore the beaches:
    • Perissa and Perivolos beaches (which are essentially the same beach: Perissa is the north part, Perivolos is the south part).
    • Kamari Beach
    • Red Beach


swimming in Santorini, best beaches

Santorini honeymoon

Santorini honeymoon, durban blogger

WHERE TO EAT & DRINK

  • Nectar & Ambrosia: Modern Mediterranean food.
  • Pelekanos: this is a place you will want to go to more than once.
  • Pito Guros: Traditional greek street food. Order the souvlaki from here.
  • Roka: Simple décor and unassuming but great food!
  • Karma: Charming, friendly restaurant with some of the best dishes in Oia. Reservations recommended.
  • Ambrosia: Book far in advance if you want to go somewhere romantic and extra special.
  • Melitini: Brett’s notes on this place just said “Insta-Lunch Tapas” and apparently that’s all you need to know!
  • Franco's Café: Great cappuccinos and Bellinis. What more could you want?
  • Lucky’s Souvlaki: Cheap, delicious and no reservations needed!
  • Aktaion: It doesn’t get more traditional than this 80-year-old taverna.
  • Athenian House: Go here for the best sunset views in Santorini.  
lolitas ice cream Santorini
Ice-cream at Lolitas

TOP TIPS

  • Stay in the nicest hotel that you can afford with a focus on the pool area as this is where you will want to spend most of your time. It gets extremely hot and crowded. There isn’t a beach that you can easily walk to as you’re based on a cliff and the streets are narrow, but you have the crowds from the cruise ships all trying to squeeze past or take pictures during the day, in 35 degrees heat. Take pictures before 9am, come back to breakfast on your balcony, perhaps explore another part of the island, swim until dinner then head out just before sunset to explore the town. The sun sets really late and most of the shops close at 11pm or later so you will have plenty of time to walk around when it’s not so busy (and your makeup isn’t melting off)

Santorini was good to tick off the bucket list, but I don’t think I would go back as I personally feel it was one of those places that has been overhyped. I would choose Positano over Santorini for experiencing a village on the cliff and in hindsight I would have preferred to stay in Mykonos longer. Next time we go back to Greece I would love to explore some of other islands. Where is your favourite place to go and what should add to our bucket list?


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