Santorini is one of those places where you always see on the Internet. It's instantly recognised around the world for its unique white buildings and blue roof top churches. My last stop on my study abroad was Santorini, and I couldn't have thought of a better way to end this fairytale dream of mine. Travelling around Europe has been such a humbling and great learning experience. I got to see so much more of the world than just through a computer screen.
I landed in Santorini late at night from Athens and went straight to my hostel. My friends and I stayed at this hostel called The Caveland. The Caveland is in Karterados, which is just outside of Fira. You can walk to Fira in 30 minutes from the hostel, or drive in under 10 minutes.
The hostel was super cute and welcoming. The design was very local - it had a set of whitewashed cave dorms and colourful, antique decor.
If you're planning to visit Santorini, I recommend for you to find accommodation in either Fira or Imerovigli. These villages are a lot less touristy and have more reasonable accommodation and food prices. It's just a 20-minute drive from the infamous village Oia.
How the Island Works
The island of Santorini is a big C surrounding the caldera, an active volcanic area. The infamous Santorini pictures you see are from the village Oia. However, there is much more to see on the island than just Oia. You can visit Fira, the capital of the island. I personally found Fira to be more entertaining.
Santorini also has a number of beaches around the whole island including Kamari, Red Beach, Vlihada Beach, and Monolithos. However, the beaches are not what you normally experience. The beach shore usually has bigger pebbles and rocks, and it's not as comfortable sun bathing on fine sand. The best way to travel around the island is by ATV. You can travel and see the whole island in a day. Renting ATVs are super simple, you just need a valid driver's license and a credit card. If riding an ATV is not for you, you can also take the local bus around the island.
Things to Do on the Island
During the day, you should definitely take a walk along the caldera edge and admire all the pretty sights along the way. When I finally got to the cliff, I was in awe of how beautiful the panoramic view of the island was. Blue is by favourite colour, and I also love the shade white, so I was in heaven. Walks along the edge of Fira are the most breathtaking, specifically heading north to Imerovigli. They have a nice path for you to walk along the edge.
If you wish to go swimming or bathing on the island you have two options: 1) To go swimming in your hotel pool or 2) Go to the beach which is further out from the villages. You can also take a dip in the water from your boat if that's something that fancies you.
In the evening, make sure to catch Santorini's romantic sunset from any water-front seat. The best place to see the sunset is in Oia. Thousands of travellers visit the island to admire and applaud the sunset, literally. I saw the sunset on the last day, and when it disappeared from the horizon, people were clapping. It was such an eye shocker, how beautifully the building rooftop colours changed from the sunset. I was admiring it all till it was pitch black.
Another thing you can do on the island is go wine tasting at one of the many vineyards including Santo Wines, Roussos Winery, and Boutari Winery.
My Trip to Santorini
On the first day, we visited Fira by foot. On our walk there, we stopped by a popular bakery called Cretan Bakery. They had a number of different pastries and bread. It all smelled so good. I would definitely recommend stopping at this place for breakfast or a small snack.
Finally reaching to the caldera edge, I was in awe of how beautiful the view was. Everything looked so picturesque and surreal. We walked along the edge and through the small streets, where it was flooded with small shops and people. It was already afternoon, and I was starving, so we grabbed a bite at the closest Gyro shop. I ordered a Chicken Gyro for only 2.5 euros and it was so tasty. I was so excited to eat Greek food before coming and it really lived up to my expectations.
We continued on the caldera edge, taking the view in a bit more. Then later in the afternoon, we stopped by a rooftop bar along the edge for some drinks. We caught the sunset there but the weather that day was not the best. It was quite cloudy, not something you want to experience on the beautiful island of Santorini.
The Sunset on a Cloudy Day
The next day, we rented ATVs and drove around the island. We planned to visit different beaches before getting to our last stop Oia but ended up just driving all the way to Oia. We were driving on main streets that wrapped around cliffs. It was pretty insane...the experience and the view. Just three girls casually driving ATVs in Santorini. It was even scarier when we had to return from Oia to Karterados in the nighttime. What an experience...We caught the sunset in Oia and it was an absolute dream.
Then out of nowhere, it was my last day already on the island. It was definitely a short stay but I don't think you need to spend too much time on this island. If I were to visit Greece again, I would go island hopping for a week or two and travel by ferry. On my last day on the island, I finally visited the different beaches. It was a beautiful day in Santorini - sunshine and hot weather, just how you want it.
My first stop was Vlihada Beach. It was a very peaceful morning on the beach. Then we visited Ancient Thera which is on a ridge of a high mountain in today's village Kamari. It was a beautiful view from up top, you could see the planes landing at the Santorini airport. Then we visited the village of Kamari and went to the beach there. It was a very zen day. Being the passenger on the ATV is so much nicer than driving, you can take in all the beautiful views along the way. I'm glad I got to experience that on the second day.
For dinner, we went to a local restaurant called Koutouki the Rakomelo
. It was hands down the best Greek meal I've ever had. The food was exquisite and the service was amazing. We were treated with such genuine hospitality and were offered appetisers and dessert on the house. We ordered octopus for our main course and it did not disappoint. For dessert, we were treated with some home made Greek yoghurt with carrot & honey marmalade on top. It was simply the best yoghurt I've ever tasted. It's definitely a must go if you're ever in Kamari.
Then for sunset, we drove to the Lighthouse on the Island for such a beautiful sunset. It was a super romantic moment, watching the sunset there. As I was watching the sunset, there were many different boats and cruises riding by the horizon. Experiencing the sunset on cruises around the island would be an amazing experience too.
Overall, I had the most wonderful experience in Santorini. Even writing about my trip in words lets me experience it all over again in my head.
Thanks again for a beautiful time, Santorini. Until next time...
Thanks for reading,