With bright white Cyladic houses lining the terraced cliffs, the blue Aegean Sea, a majestic caldera and an unforgettable sunset, Santorini has pretty good reasons to be considered a dream destination.
Sophia Luxury Suites
Located in Imerovigli, Sophia Luxury Suites is close enough to be the main action of Santorini, but far enough to be immersed in serenity that suits the breathtaking views. As an exclusive boutique hotel, the suites embrace traditional whitewashed cave living and combine it with minimalistic modern elements and conveniences. The result is a true masterpiece, an elegant sanctuary for your once-in-a-lifetime experience.
With some of the most awe-inspiring swimming pools, Katikies Hotel is widely known for its dreamlike design. Each uniquely designed suites and rooms, original and Cycladic in form, serve as your personal vantage point to enjoy the sublime view of Oia. The intimate 4-table restaurant is a nice addition to the whole experience, or you can always ask the food to be delivered to your private Jacuzzi.
This café and patisserie in Oia is reachable through a narrow set of steps that serve as its entrance. Downstairs, the small bakery with its tiled floor feels charming and inviting with traditional treats and other popular delicacies including ice cream and cakes. Regulars and tourists alike always seem to crowd the place, be it for a quick peek, takeaways, or coffee and tea breaks. There’s also a terrace area overlooking the sea, complete with sunset view.
For a more filling meal, Thalassia in Oia serves delectable Greek flavors with emphasis on quality raw ingredients, including fresh fish and local products, complemented by traditional wines. It differs from the rest by putting twists into the cuisines, making it original without tasting foreign. The restaurant also has a section overlooking the sea and caldera, but you’d be lucky if you can get a seat without a reservation.
Located in Fira, the low-fat, hand-made frozen yoghurt is prepared with Greek yoghurt and milk along with fresh raw materials. Even with no crystal sugar, it tastes naturally rich and delicious. For the flavor, you can choose from Classic, Mango, Strawberry, Vanilla Madagascar, Peanut and many more. It doesn’t stop there, because there are a variety of 26 toppings to garnish your yoghurt, including fresh fruits, crushed biscuits, cereals and nuts.
On the corner of a crossroad in Firostefani, around fifteen minutes walk from Fira, the Aktaion tavern still stands since the Roussos decided to start the place nearly a century ago. Now, two generations later, Vangelis Roussos continues to serve authentic Santorinian cuisine with the finest raw materials grown in the Santorini soil. The space is quite limited, so be prepared to queue if you didn’t book ahead.
Handicrafts and Trinkets
If you’re looking for something to bring back home, the alleys in Santorini’s capital town of Fira is filled with shops that provide anything you want, from handcrafted accessories with gemstones, Greek wine, ceramics, small souvenirs to t-shirts or flowy beach dresses. It can get quite crowded during the high season, but you can always scoot to the cliff side and enjoy some fresh sea breeze.
Apart with the compulsory generic gift shops, the Oia Village is renowned for its designer boutiques and original crafts by local artisans, selling items that are hard to find elsewhere. There are also several art galleries exhibiting Greek and international artists. Don’t miss out the one-of-a-kind, photogenic Atlantis Book where you can see or purchase rare and unique books especially curated from independent bookshops all around the world.
Walk through the Past
Discover the prehistoric settlements of the Aegean at the Akrotiri archeological site. The Minoan civilization that dwelt in the city was hit by a huge volcanic eruption, but the excavation unearthed the structures, drainage systems and pathways. The objects found here, including potteries, statues, wall paintings and figurines, are mostly housed in the Museum of Prehistoric Thira, Fira, which can be your next destination after a visit to Akrotiri.
Visit the Beaches
Santorini’s numerous beaches range from the touristy to the barely explored, but they are all unique thanks to the volcanic nature of the island. On the harbor of Oia, Ammoudi is perfect for spending the day before you hunt for sunset. The combination of black pebble and sand at Kamari is decorated with neatly lined, colorful beach loungers. There’s also the Red Beach with impressive red rock formations that is worth the long trek there.
Hike Up the Volcano
You’ve seen the volcano from the distance. Now you can try to hike Nea Kameni. Only a short boat ride from Fira port, the national geological park is a combination of scorching sun and a long trail up on unstable terrain. No one will judge you if you don’t make it all the way up. But there’s also a sense of satisfaction when seeing the sweeping views of the surrounding area from up top, including the familiar villages of Santorini.
Soak in Hot Spring
Not far from the Nea Kameni, there’s the Palea Kameni, easily recognizable with a Greek Orthodox chapel and the yellow, sulfuric area on the bay. The boat usually stops around 100 meters away, then you need to swim until you slowly feel the water turning warm. The hot spring actually feels more lukewarm than not, but it’s a nice spot to relax and enjoy the mud bath, especially if you arrive after a trip to the volcano.
Photos by Cita Arsita Farani, Sophia Luxury Suites, Katikies Hotel, Thalassia