Of all the Greek Islands, picturesque Santorini is probably the one most people imagine when they hear the word “Greece”. Santorini is a place where you will find red cliffs, black beaches, white churches, and the blue domes that adorn so many postcards (and let’s face it, are all over social media!).
We thankfully made our way to this island (which is not exactly your typical island as I learnt when i got there! Continue reading for a fun fact of what this heavenly place actually is) at the end of June and avoided the hordes of tourist that I dread in every place that I visit. We were told by the locals that tourist season begins in July so we just missed it by a few days. The weather was absolutely wonderful and not too hot! So if you are thinking of making your way to Santorini I would probably hold off until next June so that you can enjoy the place in it’s full serenity.
Fun Fact #1: Santorini is essentially what remains of an ENORMOUS volcanic eruption that destroyed the earliest settlements on a formerly single island, and which created the current sea-filled geological caldera. This massive volcano is thought to have ended Minoan civilization on Crete!
Fun Fact #2: Due to its volcanic past, Santorini has white, black, AND red beaches. The beach sand and pebbles are made of solidified lava of various colours. The water at the darker coloured beaches is significantly warmer because the lava acts as a heat absorber.
Where to stay? There are plenty of hotel and guest house options all over Santorini. We stayed in Aqua Luxury Suits based in a village called Imerovigli which is adjacent to the island capital Fira. Imerovigli is famous for its beautiful sunset, that it is called the “balcony to the Aegean”. Its houses are built amphitheatrically around the caldera and it is crossed by narrow, paved paths made up of beautiful white buildings and churches.
Our suite was lovely and had absolutely amazing panoramic views of the ocean overlooking the caldera! (see photo below). The staff at Aqua Luxury Suites was friendly and helpful, and happily assisted with all of our needs (transport, restaurant bookings, etc.)
The only down side of staying in Imerovigli is the walk from your hotel room back to your car as all of the rooms are located down the cliff which includes A LOT of stairs. I went to Greece with my family and my father made a point of saying that once he leaves the hotel room for the day he is not coming back until the evening because there was no way he would be making the trip of walking up those stairs several times a day. So if you suffer from weak knees or mobility issues I would probably not recommend staying in one of the hotels down the cliff (I must say that even I may have huffed and puffed a few times!)
Fun Fact #3: The reason there are so many white homes/buildings with blue roofs is the significance of the colours. Blue and White represent the colours of the Greek flag. White represents purity, and blue symbolises the sky and the sea.
Fun Fact #4: Despite a harsh, dry climate, Santorini has a flourishing wine industry. There is so little rain on the island of Santorini, that wine in more plentiful than water.
Where to eat? Metaxi Mas is hands down the best restaurant in Santorini. I was generally not very impressed with the food in Santorini compared to the other places we visited on our trip to Greece but Metaxi Mas was absolutely amazing. It is a beautiful traditional Taverna with great food and amazing views from the valley above. Every single dish was delicious and the cheesecake is unmissable.
Fun Fact #5: Before it was called Santorini, this Greek island was known as Kallístē, which means “the most beautiful one”
Fun Fact #6: A fun theory about this island is that one of the locations on the original single Santorini Island (which was destroyed by the volcano eruption), now dubbed as ‘Akrotiri’, is possibly the lost city of Atlantis, a Greek-originating legend, that was described by Plato.
Things to do: with such incredible views it is so easy to just sit on balcony overlooking the caldera, sipping a cocktail and relaxing. But in the case that you do want to go around the island, some suggestions include: shopping in the narrow streets on the cliffs of the capital Fira, sightseeing in Oia (a village known for it’s beautiful sunsets), boat trips around the island, water sports, the three beautiful beaches (red, white, and black), visiting ruins, and hiking.
We rented a car, which is a great way to get around the island! If you would like to go shopping in Fira, however, i would suggest taking a hotel shuttle as there is nowhere to park.
Santorini has a special beauty and is the perfect holiday spot for those looking for a relaxing holiday (such as honeymooners). If you are planning a trip to Greece it is a must see destination (3 days are probably enough). Santorini will most definitely live up all of your expectations of a Greek island!
This is not a sponsored post and all views are my own.