One of the Cycladic Islands off the south-east coast of Greece, Santorini is the home of the white-washed, blue domed paradise that springs to mind whenever I think of the country. The island itself is tiny so it doesn’t take more than a few days to visit the main attractions here and would be perfect if you were island-hopping or on a whistle-stop tour of the Mediterranean. I went for one blissful week away to unwind.
Main Places to Visit/ Things to do
This is in fact the original name for Santorini, but today Thira is the island’s capital. Here you can find the main shopping, museums, churches, bars and restaurants – the perfect place for some serious people watching from behind those brand new sunnies! Thira offers a maze of streets and it’s fun to get lost in this small city and stumble upon some great little places or make your way down to the port. You can walk the 850m or 587 steps down but trust me you may want to invest in a donkey ride for the way up!
Boat trip to the Caldera and Climb the Volcano
Jump on a boat and set sail for the volcanic Caldera. This trip offers amazing views and the chance to climb a volcano (how often can you say you’ve done that?!) followed by an excursion to the hot springs to chill out after the trek. Good walking shoes are a must – embarrassingly enough I attempted this in a pair of flip flops and had to cadge a lift from my boyfriend to reach the top! Interesting to note that the volcano here is said to be the eruption that caused the apocalyptic plagues in Exodus.
Metaxy Mas (Between Us)
This amazing restaurant is tucked away in the tiny village of Exo Gonia. Not only is the food to die for but it’s well priced and friendly service.
Oia (pronounced ear)
Head to the north of the island for its famous breathtaking sunset. At dusk this gorgeous town with its winding streets and higgledy-piggledy buildings that seem to cling onto the cliff face becomes an ant-hill of people flocking to grab a speck to watch from. My tip is to get there super early to get the best views, take a book and wait for the sun to set. If you’re feeling like splashing some cash, grab a seat in one of the many restaurants that advertise “sunset views”. Pricy, but a great way to spend an unforgettable evening.
This was a pretty big factor for us, as we neither of us wanted to be the designated driver for the week. Thankfully I didn’t need to worry as there are buses a-plenty. In fact they’re actually air-conditioned coaches which speed you around the island and are fairly frequent, so not bad at all. However, with hindsight, hiring a car is probably a better idea as it allows for more exploring.
What to pack
The island retains a sophisticated atmosphere and is a wonderful place to get away from the more questionable tourist locations in Greece. For this reason style here is chic and minimal. Be sure to take either a light cardigan or a Pashmina when visiting the churches here and leave the high heels at home as almost all the streets and roads are ridiculously steep – it’s just not worth a broken ankle! As mentioned above, sunglasses are a must for people- watching (a sport I pride myself on!) – I spotted a few famous faces stepping off the various yachts dotted around the island.
My Overall Thoughts
I couldn’t have asked for a better week away. Granted the place is tiny and the airport is laughable (baggage reclaim is the size of my conservatory and our flight home was delayed as ground staff shut the airport down and had gone home, forgetting about the last flight of the day!!) and at times this place is expensive, but in return you enter a dream world. If you can find a quiet spot to sit and take in the views, you feel like you’ve reached heaven itself. The stillness makes it the ideal escape from the madness of everyday life and a wonderfully memorable destination.