Oh Santorini, how I love thee. Most of us are familiar with this little Grecian island in the middle of the Aegean Sea and if you haven’t yet visited it, you’ve definitely become victim to numerous stories from your well-travelled friends and scrolled through countless photos on your Facebook or Instagram feed, as this beautiful little isle is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination. Ever since Mamma Mia! was rumoured to have been filmed here (which it wasn’t by the way) I have been eager to visit as I swiped through picture after picture of their stunning white churches with their bright blue rooftops, on a crystal clear ocean backdrop. Last week, I was fortunate to finally holiday there, and I fell in love at first sight. If you’re keen to visit Santorini, or have a upcoming trip planned, here’s why you’ll have the holiday of your life…
The beaches in Santorini are very unique. Santorini is essentially what is left after a volcanic eruption devastated the island in the 16th century, therefore most of the beaches there are formed of solidified lava and the colour depends on which layer is being exposed. The beaches found in Perissa, Exo Gialos and Kamari have black sand, but there is also a white beach and (my personal favourite) the red beach, both in Akrotiri. I’ll be honest, the beaches are quite a painful experience as rather than soft sand, they’re made up of small volcanic pebbles. Not the most pleasant when getting them stuck between your toes! However you can’t venture to Santorini and not visit the beaches with their crystal blue seas and cliff tops towering over. A word of warning – the red beach in Akrotiri is not the easiest (or safest) to get to, as it is only accessible by a rather unsteady footpath round a clifftop. Admittedly I’m not the most confident with heights anyway, but bear this in mind particularly if you have elderly or very young companions with you. You may be better off paying a small fee for the boat that flits between the white beach, red beach and black beach of Akrotiri and makes an appearance every 15 minutes or so. I’d fully recommend visiting the secluded red beach of Akrotiri before you jump on your flight back home, whether you decide to access it by boat or brave the rocky footpath!
The Sights and Tours
Santorini is, without a shadow of doubt, the most beautiful place I have ever been to. The views from the mountain top are just breathtaking, and you just can’t stop taking photos… Not that they do the views justice in any shape or form. We hired both a quad bike and a buggy for the 5 days that we holidayed there and it was a great way to see all of the island as you can get round most of it within an hour or two. WARNING – If you have long hair, do not get on the back of a quad bike without having tied it up first. Queue a lot of Tangle Teezer’ing and a lot of crying. I’d highly recommend booking yourself onto one of the excursions that the tour guides on Santorini have to offer, and viator.com have some great offers if you book in advance (which I suggest you do as they get very booked up). On our second day we did the ‘Santorini Full Day Tour’ which saw us travelling by coach up to the highest point of the island where the Monastery of Prophet Elias sits 550m above sea level. Being up so high did make my knees go a little weak, but the outstanding views made it worthwhile. We then travelled onto the traditional little town of Pyrgos with it’s stunning little back alleys filled with handmade souvenirs and Cycladic architecture. From here, we took the coach to Athinios Port and boarded a huge boat aptly named King Thiras and sailed to the nearby volcanic island of Nea Kameni. Make sure you’re wearing properly suited hiking attire, as you will embark on a 90 minute hike up this active volcano to the top of the crater, and back down again. In October it was still warm and I got very sunburnt, so in high season it will be scorching. Ensure you’re prepared. After hiking the volcano we boarded the boat once more, and via our journey to the island of Thirassia we made a pit stop to swim in Nea Kameni’s volcanic hot springs. This is a surreal experience but probably best left to the stronger swimmers as it will require you to swim 60m or so from the boat to the springs (which, by the way, are well worth the added exercise). Boarding the boat once more, we stopped off for lunch and an ice cream at the nearby island of Thirassia which is laden with seafood restaurant upon seafood restaurant on its bay. Once filled with calamari, the boat took us to the gorgeous town of Oia, where we took endless pictures of it’s little white buildings along the cliff face before taking our place to watch the world-renowned sunset. This is a must-see with an alcoholic beverage and was the perfect end to an unbelievable day.
Nea Kameni, volcanic hot springs
Nea Kameni, volcanic island
View from Pyrgos
Byzantine Church in Pyrgos
Nea Kameni, volcanic island
The Food and Drink
I will be writing another post on my favourite restaurants in Santorini so this will be relatively brief, however I couldn’t not include a section of the delicacies that Santorini has to offer. I ate a lot of halloumi. A LOT OF HALLOUMI. And mushroom risotto. I actually had halloumi to start and mushroom risotto for three nights in a row, which is kind of ridiculous considering we were only there for 4 nights, but I’m not sorry in the slightest. I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but Ollie had the “best shrimps of his life” whilst in Santorini whilst I drooled over their feta cheese and Tirokroketes (if you haven’t tried this, you are missing out. It’s essentially deep fried sweet cheese balls. A bit like a cheesy doughnut. Heaven!). We weren’t disappointed with the size of the food portions either and could never normally clear our plates. Both Ollie and I are huge foodies, so this struck up major brownie points for us both. Wine is a huge deal on Santorini, and they normally only offer the island’s finest… It’s just a shame that neither me or Ollie really drink it. Good news if you are a wine lover though, Santorini won’t be seeing a shortage of it anytime soon!
The General Atmosphere
The nature of the Santorinians’ lifestyle is infectious. They all seem so calm, relaxed and care-free, worlds away from our hectic and fast-moving lives back home in London. Everyone we met on the island greeted us with a smile on their face, whether it be a local on the street or the waiter bringing us our food. It almost forces you to relax which I was extremely grateful for, as working full-time, studying a degree and running a blog never allows for any downtime back home. The way the Grecians go about their daily lives has always fascinated me. They never rush (or make you feel rushed, expecting you to take hours to eat your evening meal) and they go out of their way to help. Not once did we feel we were being ripped off and our hotel staff even let us stay an extra half a day whilst we waited for our flight home. I applaud the Grecians for setting a good example for how we should all strive to kick back a bit more.
This is really just scratching the surface of our time on the beautiful island of Santorini, so make sure you are signed up to receive my posts by email and/or are following me on social media as more will follow. If you want to know my favourite restaurants in Santorini, the best things to do and a full review of our resort, then make sure you don’t miss my next posts!
Have you been to Santorini? What did you love most about it? Tell me in the comments.