Let’s get one thing out of the way…. Santorini is STUNNING. Like stu-NNING. I’ve seriously never seen views so beautiful in my entire life. It’s an Instagrammers paradise. HOWEVER here’s the thing about our trip to Santorini… it was my favourite part of the trip, but it wasn’t my favourite city. Let me explain.
Santorini Travel Diary
The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants tricked me into believing that Lena’s sweet Grandma and Bapi lived in those charming white, cliff-side buildings. I envisioned locals roaming the winding streets of Fira and Oia, popping in and out of restaurants, local markets and visiting their friends – whom I also just assumed lived in said charming white, cliff-side buildings.
I expected rich Greek culture… lots of it.
Well unbeknownst to me… those pretty white buildings are all just actually hotels. 4,000 of them to be exact. And the only things roaming the streets are the hordes of tourists whose cruise liner just came into port. Fun fact: during high season, Santorini is potentially home to TWELVE cruise ships per day… tripling the island’s population. What am I getting at? The tourist thing doesn’t bother me (I’M A TOURIST for heaven’s sake lol), BUT I wasn’t expecting ONLY tourists. Santorini is pure tourism. While we DID experience killer views and sunsets, we really wanted to experience Greece… and I think we would have experienced Greece had we gone to a different island.
So here’s my hot tip: if you’re also a victim of The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants… adjust your perspective. Go to Santorini for the most beautiful views and sunsets you’ve ever seen, stunning scenery, incredible hiking trails and a super fun adventure. Go to a DIFFERENT island if you want to experience how the locals live. I honestly think I would have LOVED Santorini if I came in with a different perspective. Capiche?
Image Via: Ifestos Villa
We stayed at Ifestos Villa just outside of Fira – the capital of Santorini. Andrei and I really loved this hotel. Accommodations in Santorini are typically SUPER expensive, but the prices at Ifestos Villa are incredibly reasonable.
Ifestos Villa recently underwent renovations so the grounds and rooms are all updated and really quite pretty. After a day of jetting around the island, it was so relaxing to come back to this pool, and lounge in the sun with a pina colada in one hand and a book in the other. Pure bliss.
Not to mention… the owner is INCREDIBLY helpful. Andrei loves striking up conversations, and one night he just so happened to get into it with the owner of our hotel. He gave us really GREAT food recommendations… which I’ve outlined below!
- The Dolphins – Situated ocean front, this restaurant has INCREDIBLE seafood caught fresh daily.
- Lucky’s Souvlaki – We pretty much had this souvlaki every single day… it’s a tiny spot – blink & you’ll miss it – but the food is incredible & the price is AMAZING!
- Ampelos Greek Restaurant & Wine Bar – Incredible views of the cliffs of Santorini. We didn’t eat here, but we grabbed a Carafe of wine for 5-6 Euros (I honestly can’t remember… but it was cheap!) & watched the sunet. If you wan’t a killer sunset view with wine… but don’t want to pay insane prices… this is your spot!
- Aēdáni – A traditional family Greek restaurant off the beaten path. No sea views here – but the food is absolutely amazing! Grab the zucchini strips for an app & the moussaka as your main. You will not regret it!
Rent an ATV!!!!! This tip is HUGE. Everyone does it, and it’s truly a fantastic way to see the island. We rented an ATV for the entire four days we were there and it really took our trip to a whole new level. We’d be driving down the road, ocean views on either side of us & I had to pinch myself a couple of times… so surreal. We wouldn’t have been able to do as much as did had we NOT rented ATV’s.
The open air cinema is absolutely incredible, and is a one hundred percent must if you visit Santorini!
It’s on the list of top ten open air cinemas in the WOLRD according to CNN Travel & I’m here to one thousand percent back that claim up. Order cocktails, popcorn, chocolate, nachos and watch a movie under the stars in Greece. Tip: you need to arrive at LEAST one hour before show time – the line is huge… but it’s worth it.
We were surprised by how many great hiking trails there are in Santorini! Come with runners & be prepared to trek… the views are stunning! Not to mention, you can eat as much tzatziki as you want guilt-free knowing you’ve just hiked for a couple of hours. You can find some stellar hiking trails HERE!
The beaches in Santorini are volcanic so they’re quite different… Black and red beaches are VERY pretty & interesting to look at, but they don’t bode well for lounging/tanning. I’d definitely recommend a visit & a dip in the sea (the temps are perfect), but definitely do not expect white Caribbean sand (I’m told you CAN find this at other Greek islands though!). Regardless – I never went to Santorini with the expectation of a great beach vacay – I was there for the views… & they delivered!
Okay – all done for Greece! Next week…. Italy!