We paired our trip to Greece with Croatia (Dubrovnik and Hvar itineraries linked) and while it appears to make sense geographically, there were not a ton of great flight options between the two countries. But that didn’t temper our excitement to visit to Santorini! We had only ever heard raving reviews of the island and had purposely invested more in our stay here than in any of our other destinations during this trip.
July 12, 2016 – Arrive in Santorini
We arrived in Thira via high speed ferry a few hours later than schedule which is, apparently, the standard operating procedure in Greece. Note: Thira is the only port on the island of Santorini.
We chose to stay in Oia because of the amazing sunset and caldera views. We were also looking for a more relaxed stay here and Oia is said to be one of the more quiet and romantic towns on the island. While we enjoyed those aspects of Oia, the one downside is it’s proximity to the rest of the island. Oia is located on the northwestern tip of the island and a healthy drive to the port, island vineyards and other towns.
Our first meal in Santorini was at Lotza which has great views of the sea and Caldera. Eating here feels a little like eating at your grandparents house – comfortable, traditional and good, home cooked food.
July 13, 2016 – Wine Tasting & Amoudi Bay
We woke up early to walk around Oia before it got flooded with tourists for the day and had the best time exploring the town. It’s so easy to get lost in and seems that every turn and staircase leads to another stunning view of the whitewashed buildings clinging to the caldera cliff. Note: A good spot to get pictures of that famous Santorini view and the blue domed churches is by the Art Maisons Aspaki Hotel.
After enjoying a giant breakfast spread on our private patio back at the hotel, we took a trip out to Domaine Sigalas, the only vineyard in Oia, to do a little wine tasting. The full tasting consists of 11 wine pours (26 EUR/person), all delicious and many of which can be found in restaurants stateside. Note: there is also a dedicated wine tasting tour that takes you to three different wineries around Santorini for 95 EUR / person.
When we returned to Oia, we walked to the far west side and down the many stairs to Amoudi Bay. There are so many steps that they even have donkeys you can ride back up on. Kevin and I took pity on the animals so we sucked it up and took the stairs both ways.
Amoudi Bay is along the water at the base of Oia. It is quite small with just a few restaurants that all boast fresh fish and seafood. We had lunch overlooking the water at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern, that came highly recommended from friends. We tried the grilled octopus that hangs at the entrance drying in the sun and hand-selected fresh grouper – both were amazing!
That evening we braved the Oia crowds to get a view of that famous Santorini Sunset. We definitely underestimated the amount of people that turn out for this event and despite leaving our hotel 30 mins early, we had difficulty finding a spot to stand with an unobstructed view of the sunset. While it isn’t the most romantic sunset I’ve seen it’s certainly beautiful and worth the effort.
July 14, 2016 – Sunset Catamaran
Started our day hiking the Fira Trail that goes between Oia and Fira. If you do the entire hike, it takes about 3 hours, one-way. We only hiked up to the church at the top of the first hill, about 45 mins, and back. The views are amazing and the hike itself isn’t difficult but there is no shade so make sure to bring water (we didn’t and I literally thought I would die).
That afternoon we were booked on a semi-private, sunset catamaran trip through Sail Away (150 EUR/person). We showed up at the meeting point and that’s when our vacation miracle happened…we got upgraded to a PRIVATE sunset catamaran trip at no additional charge!!!
The trip was incredible and included transport to and from Oia, a private boat with captain (Panos) and skipper (Chris), dinner and open bar. They took us to visit the Red Beach and White Beach which both match their names. Next, we went to the Hot Springs where the water is about 86 degrees. Beware of wearing white though, the red clay water in the hot spring does stain!
Back on board the boat, we enjoyed some Greek wine and tzatziki with sesame sticks on our way to the Nea Kameni Volcano. This is where we dropped anchor for a bit to swim and relax in the sinking sun while Chris grilled and prepared dinner. Dinner was served on the back of the boat overlooking Santorini and was Kevin’s favorite meal of the trip – Greek salad, giant shrimp, grilled chicken and pork souvlaki, pita bread, more white wine from Santo Winery (note: we heard great things about this winery and the wine was delicious) and to finish, we had fresh honey dew melon!
Our final stop of the trip was to watch the sunset which is debatably more beautiful from the water. All in all, we had an amazing time exploring Santorini and the Caldera by water.
July 15 – 2016 – Pool Day
We spent the entire day just lounging at our hotel’s gorgeous infinity pool that overlooked the Caldera and Volcano. We only left to grab our first gyro of the trip (we’re crazy and dumb, I know) at Pitogyros. Had I known how good these gyros are, I probably would have eaten here every day. Sadly, we left Santorini for Crete (via Hellenic Seaways) that night so I wasn’t able to go back to that spot but it was just the beginning of my gyro obsession.
Accommodations & Country Specific Details
We actually switched hotels mid-stay in Santorini and loved both hotels! Would recommend either and below is a little more about our experience at each.
Alta Mare – Centrally located with clean, modern rooms. We had beautiful views of the Caldera and Aegean Sea from our private balcony where we enjoyed breakfast each morning. We also had a private Jacuzzi that we relaxed in each evening. The hotel provided a bottle of wine and local fruit tray upon arrival and were extremely helpful with planning our excursions.
Perivolas – I was sold on this hotel as soon as I saw the infinity pool. It is probably the swankiest hotel I’ve ever stayed in with cave-like rooms and amenities. It was about a 5-10 min walk from town but it is very private and peaceful with beautiful views Caldera and Aegean Sea views. Perivolas provides complimentary welcome drink, wine and pickup/drop off at the port (Alta Mare charged us 70 EUR for pickup).
To Santorini: By high speed ferry through Sea & Sky Travel from Mykonos.
Around Santorini: We attempted to rent another ATV or scooter but were told we needed an international drivers license (strange since we didn’t need one in Mykonos). For that reason we didn’t leave Oia much but when we did it was through car service (either provided through our excursions or paid for per trip).
Currency: Euro (EUR)
Language: Greek but had no problem finding English speakers.
Outlet Adapter: The standard voltage is 230 V. The standard frequency is 50 Hz. The power sockets that are used are of type F.
Passport/Visa Requirements: U.S. Passport valid for at least six months from date of travel. No visa for visits under 90 days required.
Weather: We visited Santorini during July and it was HOT. Sunshine everyday, no rain or clouds.