Santorini Travel Guide
Santorini is just one of those places that travel dreams are made of. As our ferry was approaching, I wasn't sure what was so special about this island. It did not seem to have the clear, shallow water or the white sand beaches of some of the other islands. Honestly, it just looked like a bunch of rocky cliffs.
It was only after we arrived at our hotel to the most stunning view I have ever seen that I truly understood. From the iconic buildings decorated with blue domes, windmills, and blooming bougainvillea to the absolutely breathtaking royal blue velvet water set against the caldera backdrop, every corner of Santorini is made for postcard worthy photos.
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For this reason, Santorini is packed with tourists even in the shoulder seasons. This can be annoying for any traveler. However, I recently learned that the Greeks helped set a precedent for tourism as we now know it.
While traveling for leisure has been documented throughout history, the Hellenic Greeks defined the original Seven Wonders of the Ancient World as themata or "things to be seen" which spurred the wealthy to travel to these destinations for leisure and for pride to say they had been there.
So while you may be frustrated with the crowds of people in these destinations, just think about how lucky you are to be participating in an ancient tradition that used to only be accessible to the very wealthy, but can now be shared by such a beautifully diverse travel community.
Still, the island is so photogenic and everyone there wants to be an Instagram star. We saw people climbing over rooftops and shoving past people just to get the perfect shot. Please, do not be that traveler. We can all take turns to get the perfect photo while respecting the people who live there and our fellow travelers.
Now, you may be wondering what all this caldera talk is about. One of the amazing things about Santorini is that it was formed by a volcano. When you visit this island, you are literally exploring what was left of the mouth of the volcano post-eruption. If you are nerdy like me, I found this article about the volcanic activity around Santorini fascinating!
While there are some great beaches you can explore around the island, including a black sand beach in Fira, we felt like we had already enjoyed enough beach time on Milos (see here). We only had a couple of days in Santorini, so we stayed in Oia to enjoy the amazing views. Every corner of Santorini is photo worthy, but there are a few iconic spots that are worth sharing with hundreds of your closest travel buddies.
First, is the classic view of the Oia windmill from the top of the Byzantine castle ruins. After you get this shot, there are a daunting set of stairs that will take you down to the water. Don't worry you don't have to make the trip unless you are looking for a great waterfront seafood restaurant or a sailing trip. Instead, at the top of the stairs, look for the classic peach (often photoshopped to look pink) building with blue trim. Boom, Instagram gold.
The third and most popular Santorini photo is of the iconic blue domes. Basically, follow the path from the monastery until you see a small alley (and a huge crowd) on your right leading to a door with wrought iron hearts. To the right of the door, you will see a path that you can explore to get different angles of the blue domes.
Finally, the best thing to do in Santorini is to eat all of the great food! We loved wandering into the different restaurants and cafes serving meat pies, baklava, gelato, and Greek coffee with a view. However, our two favorite restaurants did not have a view at all.
For a classy, traditional Mediterranean meal, check out Karma. The ambience of the outdoor courtyard seating was so romantic, and the food was amazing! I am always embarrassed because we like to order several dishes just to get a taste of everything, but we're never able to finish it all!
For our last meal in Santorini, we found this trendy cocktail bar called Fino which is known for their sliders of all things. While the rest of the menu looked amazing, as well, we both had the sliders which totally lived up to the hype. I wish we had found this place during the day because the interior design is so cute, I would have loved to take photos here!
I can't wait to get back to Greece, since there is still so much I want to see! Check out our last stop on this whirlwind Europe trip here.