Santorini is a lovely, lovely place. It is hard to put into words because there is a level of peace and tranquility that exists here that I’ve rarely experienced. In Santorini, all roads lead to the sea. The sea view is vast and majestic. I’m still thinking about it….A few things you should consider when visiting…
- The season – I visited the first week of April and think it was a great time to visit. Low crowds, easy reservations, but enough activities to keep you busy. And while technically chilly (think high 50s, low 60s), the sun heated it up quite nicely so that we could swim. The sun in Santorini does not phone it in. Be prepared. The obvious drawback is none of the beach bars were open (most open late April/early May).
- The sunset – Speaking of the sun, behold the most glorious sunrise and sunset of your life. When people tell you it’s magical, they ARE NOT KIDDING. Don’t be a cynic. Get yourself to a patio/balcony and watch the world move you. (I tend to think people overstate the fact that Oia is THE place for sunsets – I saw it in Imerovigli and it was stunning). Where people have missed out is equally touting the sunrise. Drain that Ouzo from your blood and get up!
- Ouzo/Melitini/Fava – Ouzo is an anise flavored liquor that has risen from the volcanic ash. I kid. But it burns. You’ll be fine. Melitni is a delicious little sweet cookie filled with soft cheese. It’s an Easter treat so I’m not sure if it’s a year round treat but I hope for you it is. Fava is, shockingly, not a bean. It’s a split pea purée that is better than hummus and has an “I could eat all of this in one sitting” quality. Have all of these things.
OK, now this is what you came for (in my best Rihanna voice)…
Hype level: 5 stars
Real Score: Delivert (That means 5 stars :))
Canaves is a Santorini hotel known for its luxury. It has one table on its panoramic balcony. I discovered this restaurant through Santorini Dave (who served as one of my bibles while planning this trip). Here’s what Santorini Dave says about this place: “Reserve at least 17 years in advance at firstname.lastname@example.org.” Well, we made it! Splendid indeed. I mean, I could explain it but just see photos. It was a magical sunset and the ambiance was wonderful.
Hype level: 3 stars
Real Score: 5 stars
This restaurant does not get its glory. Athenian House, let the people know you’ve arrived. Athenian House is in Imerovigli – which is between Oia and Fira. From the reviews, I got the impression that Athenian House was a good restaurant with nice views. My takeaway was a great restaurant with breathtaking views. The food was Greek with a clever twist (think Baklava filled with peanut butter whipped magic and pistachio) and the service was fantastic. The owner of this restaurant is one of my favorite people in Santorini.
Love, love this place.
Roll your sleeves up and let’s get things going. This is an outdoor, takeout gyros spot that will hit all of the spots. This is the hidden gem of our stay. PitaGyros is a small hole-in-the wall yet traditional kebab house. They have pita gyros (obviously), platters, and Santorini’s famous donkey beer. The donkey beer is three flavors: white (pale ale), yellow (super hoppy) and red (amber ale). The meat is sooooo perfect. My husband makes fun of me because I make the slicing effect with my hands when I want gyro but if you like gyro, you understand. The shawarma is a sacred tool. A beloved friend. A true confidant. So maintain respect.
The outdoor seating is also super cute and warm.
I realize it’s different to list a cruise as best food but hear me out. In Santorini, every boat cruise includes a BBQ. What does that mean exactly? Well, I’ll tell you. Most catamarans advertise appetizers and drinks and you get things like chicken skewers, small sandwiches, and veggie platters. No! Not on this boat. The staff turned on a grill on the back of the boat and began to fire up chicken and prawns. Then we heard the crackling of oil – fried grouper on the way. The meal consisted of Greek salad, chicken, prawns, grouper, spaghetti, tzaziki and local wine. It was unexpectedly amazing.
The catamaran is also the best way to see the island. This one took us past the white, black, and red beach. At the red beach, people got out to swim at the thermal springs. The catamaran is not to be missed.
Amoudi Bay was one of my favorite adventures in Oia. It has everything: wine, seafood, cliff diving, and views. You obviously want all of that. To get to Amoudi, you take approximately 230 steps down towards the sea. The steps are more like a series of ramps – long, uneven, and somewhat slippery. They are also covered in remains from your donkey friends. While you definitely should wear sneakers, it’s not the worst walk (up or down). The views descending are amazing and after being on top of the island for much of the stay, it was great to go “beachside.”
Amoudi has a number of seafood restaurants right on the water. We didn’t try the restaurants but stopped for a quick drink. I have friends who’ve been and say the restaurants are worth a shot but our walking tour guide warned us that not every place touting “fresh fish” really has fresh fish. He said, “there’s only so much fresh fish.” Ha, fair enough.
After a drink, the real fun began. First off, Santorini doesn’t do a lot of signs or instructions so there’s no “swimming” or “cliff jumping” signs. In true American fashion, my husband and I asked if we could swim and where. In true Santorini fashion, they said, “yes you can swim…umm…wherever you like.” So we walked to what looked like a possible cliff to jump off of (meaning one you can climb down and get back up) and took a dip. There is scrambling involved but it was a great experience. The water was cool and refreshing and being able to look out to the whole bay was lovely. Definitely recommend this as an Oia activity! Even if you don’t want to swim, the area is worth exploring.
Wine is an adventure. Have we met? Venetsanos is in Megalochori. It is a lovely vineyard with spectacular views. The vines in Santorini are grown on the ground in a “basket” method that protects them from strong winds and sun. The soil is a mix of volcanic ash, pumice stone (yes, you read that right) and lava solids which gives the wine low PH but high acid. PH balances are important for good health. Drink some wine.
In a nutshell, Santorini is glorious. If you can, visit more than just the town you’re based in. Oia, Fira, Imerovigli, Pyrgos, and Vlychada are all worth a visit and offer something different. No matter where you stay, you can’t go wrong.