Santorini - The Island of Perfection
Updated: Jul 20, 2019
Words can hardly describe this beauty, images can hardly capture its serenity. That's right, as the title suggests, I am talking about the breathtaking piece of art that is Santorini.
This island is ideal for a relaxed short getaway or a small honeymoon, otherwise known by millennials as a mini-moon, don't judge. It is most certainly the perfect spot for anyone who loves hiking.
My first ever blog is shockingly not philosophical nor does it explore human psychology, it is a summary of the highlights of Santorni infused with tips on where to go, what to eat and the best spots for wonderful views.
Big disclaimer - if you are like me and love photography, this is absolutely NOT a trip on which you could afford to forget your camera, or almost miss your flight for that matter, both of which I was guilty of.
Onto the useful and hopefully fun blurb.
Imerovigli & Firostefani
Only a fifteen minute walk from Firá (if you are wearing comfortable shoes that is), it is the perfect location to stay in if you want a quiet downtime at the end of a busy day while you're star gazing, or if you're after quiet mornings while you're sipping on your coffee and overlooking the endless shades of blue where the sea and the sky meet.
The best part of imerovigli is its views - jaw-dropping views of the coast, the volcano and an endless sight of the Aegean Sea. If you hike further up to central imperovigli you'll find Anastasi church which is perfect for those who admire local churches minus the big surge of tourists. Along your hike you will see homes of locals, homes of cat ladies, children running around, a small basketball court and you get a beautiful feel that you are in a real Greek island and not a hub of tourists.
My best restaurant award in Imerovigli goes to.......: Avocado!
Fresh food, amazing taste, amazing service.
Firostefani is located south of Imerovigli, a short 10 minute walk that leads to a busy small village filled with a whole host of restaurants, souvenir shops and more fantastic views. I would say Firostefani is a must see on an evening as the restaurants are quiet, hence you get better service and more well looked-after food.
The capital of Santorini, the heart of the island. Hustle and bustle, clubs, little restaurants, big restaurants, jewellery stores (and plenty of those), stray dogs and cats looked after by the local community, you name it, it is all there in Firá.
The main reason why we wanted to see the capital is that it IS the capital afterall, and arguably one of the most delicious restaurants in the island - Argo. It overlooks the sea, the cable car, the mountain. It is a great location to watch the sunset and to enjoy a lovely Greek meal.
Overall, it was my least favourite spot of Santorini as it was a typical busy touristic area.
Old village - check.
Beautiful little lanes - check.
Gorgeous churches with blue domes everywhere - check.
Quiet - check.
And to think we were almost going to skip this village! Definitely my favourite spot in Santorini, it has everything you would imagine when thinking of a Greek getaway that makes you feel like you're part of Mamma Mia, the movie (despite the name, the plot is based in a Greek island, FYI).
It is one of the smallest villages of Santorini, so a morning followed by brunch is more than enough time to spend there. You could also book a really fun cooking class and have a really tasty lunch at Petrino - the staff were really friendly and interactive.
Black Beach & Red Beach
If you have an extra day and want to get away from your teeny tiny hotel pool while sipping on cold drinks and building up a tan, black beach is the place for you. It has a nice beach-y vibe, relaxing music, but that is pretty much it...
Black Beach, as the name suggests, has black pebbles and no sand as far as the eye can see. If these activities don't interest you and/or if you are in Santorini for no more than 3 days, I would give Black Beach a skip.
Red Beach on the other hand.... a piece of beauty! You should definitely include it on your Santorini itinerary, for sightseeing and NOT for a beach day. Dazzling contrasting colours of red and brown lava cliffs followed by white sand meeting the blue sea is a sight you are guaranteed to never forget, unless you get dementia that is.
The reason why I say it should be on your itinerary for sightseeing is that it is quite overcrowded and as far as a beach day goes, Santorini is not the right place for that altogether.
Interestingly, staff from our hotel were not overly keen on recommending a hike through red beach, mainly because of health and safety issues. As you start your hike towards the beach, there are signs everywhere stating there is a risk of death due to landslide. We decided as a result to spend no more than an hour at Red Beach, please visit at your own risk!
Tip: book the very top table on the beach end at Asterias Tavern (lunch or dinner) - mouth-watering food and an amazing view of Red Beach and of course away from all the health hazards. You MUST get the Greek baked feta cheese in phyllo and honey appetizer, it is a God-send; I may or may not have had these 3 times in one day.
Akrotiri is located only a five minute drive from Red Beach. It has a few things to offer and your visit would depend on your taste and interests. It has a village, an excavation site, a lighthouse with an amazing paronamic view of all of Santorini and a castle. We decided to visit the lighthouse and the excavation site, the former was a success, the latter was a bore - sorry archeologists.
I am very interested in history and seeing pre-historic sites where major events have happened, but pre-historic ruins that hardly have any context apart from 'people lived here in the 4th millennium BC', no thanks.
The view from the lighthouse on the other hand, absolutely stunning, as they say, a picture speaks a thousand words.
Last but not least, the very famous Oia - pronounced as Iya. The most picturesque town of Santorini, very reminiscent of Positano in Amalfi (more on that in another post). Here you will find artists everywhere, some drawing the beautiful landscape of Oia, some painting glassware and a whole lot of photographers.
This town is a good place to stay if you don't mind crowds, I only suggest it as it has various little gems everywhere and would need more than a day to be seen properly. The most famous bit of this town is the sunset views - as demonstrated in my photo above. At the tip of Oia at sunset, you will find crowds as many as those in Piccaddilly Circus on a hot London summer day or New York City's Times Square.
Overall, Santorini is a beautiful Greek getaway, it is perfect for relaxation, hiking and a whole lot of food. Be prepared to gain between 5-10kg....
For a personalised itinerary based on your individual taste, reason for travel, length of stay and budget, don't hesitate to get in touch with me!