Santorini is one of those magical places where it actually looks like photos do -- no filters needed! It's so picturesque that photos probably don't even do it justice. It's a great spot to go for a relaxing trip with amazing views. The island is so small that it only takes about 30 minutes to drive from end to end the long way. We were in Santorini for 2 full days and nights, and pretty much got to see everything on the island! We were mostly on the go, but I'd love to go back some day and just relax, take in the views, and drink some wine at one of the resorts in Oía.
Download this city guide (with GPS maps) on your smartphone here to have it handy for your trip!
Santorini is broken out into three main areas: Ancient Thira, Fira, and Oía. I definitely suggest renting a scooter, car, or ATV to get around the island, in which case it doesn't matter where you stay! Oía is famous for its amazing sunsets, which you MUST see, but it will also be the most expensive. I recommend doing a day or half day in each area. With a vehicle, it's easily doable!
A rocky headland called Mesa Vouna separates two popular beaches Perissa Beach (the black sand beach) from Kamari Beach. At the top of Mesa Vouna lie the ruins of Ancient Thira highlighting the ruins from a variety of periods: Roman baths, Hellenistic shops, remains of the Byzentine wall, and more. It has one of the most amazing views and you can pretty much see the entire island from up top. It's quite the hike up, but you can drive up as well. If you're interested in hiking, check out this blog.
View of Perissa Beach with black sand
Fira is the main city center of Santorini. You'll find restaurants, shops, stores, galleries, etc. In Fira, we just walked around and shopped. We also got a fish spa therapy from a salon called Kissingfish, which was such a new experience to all of us. I am extremely tickilish so it was pretty hard to relax! You essentially have your feet in a tank of water with small fish without teeth who swim around and remove dead skin cells by exfoliation from your feet and legs. Although it was very weird, my feet felt SO soft after!
Photo from www.kissingfishsantorini.com
Santorini is also known for its wine and olive oils. We went tasting at the Sigalas Estate near Oía. The wine was great! You can wine taste at a few of the wineries, and the vines look very different than what I was used to seeing in California. They look more like little bushes instead of vines growing in straight lines. Close access to the sea air, along with soil rich in volcanic ash, gives Santorini's wine the refreshing acidity its known for. Here is a good resource if you're looking to explore more of the wineries in Santorini.
There is also one brewery on Santorini: Santorini Brewing Company (formerly called The Yellow Donkey). They will let you do beer tastings and teach you about how they make it. The staff here is so friendly and nice! They have a lot of cool gear as well, which we all stocked up on for our dads and brothers. They said they sell their beer at one spot in Alameda, which we are yet to find. Let me know if you see it anywhere!
My Santorini To-Do List
download it here!
Things to see:
Walk around Fira
Visit shops, take photos and view the sunset in Oía
Hike or drive up to Ancient Thira to see the ruins and amazing views
Get a fish spa therapy
Perissa Beach (black sand)
Red Beach (red sand)
Beer and Wine Tasting:
Santorini Brewing Company (The Yellow Donkey)
Pitogyros in Oía (great for a quick bite!)
Katharos Lounge in Oía
Melitini in Oía
Meltemi Bar in Perissa
V Lounge Cafe and Cocktail Bar in Fira
Salt and Pepper in Fira
Honestly, you can just walk around and find plenty of great restaurants anywhere on the island too. All the food is so fresh in Greece so you can't go wrong!
Next, check out more about Crete, Greece! It's only a 2 hour ferry ride from Santorini and is amazing!