Time for one of my favourite places now. Honestly I dare you to read about Santorini and check out the photos and try not to book a holiday. It was a struggle to write this and not book my own holiday.
The tiny port of Amoudi Bay is located a whopping 300 steps below the town of Oia. The descent will be slightly challenging, but you will be rewarded with breathtaking views along the way and quaint tavernas for refuelling at the bottom. You can also make a popular pit stop at 39 Steps cafe for a frappe, water or Donkey beer, you’ll need it.
Here you can cliff jump into the beautiful Mediterranean waters. The waters are surrounded by striking cliff faces of Santorini. The swimming spot at Amoudi Bay is one of the best things traveller have come across while in Santorini. Here you can swim straight off the rocks, or if you want you can climb the stairs of the massive boulder in and dive in.
While you are here head down the steps from Oia to Amoudi Bay to one of the waterfront taverns. Here you can feast on some of the freshest seafood imaginable- you can basically watch the fisherman catch your meal.
TO GET HERE: This spot is actually quite hidden and requires a bit of stair climbing, but I promise it will be worth it! Basically, from Oia, look for the big set of stairs that go down to Amoudi Bay. Once you reach Amoudi Bay, walk left along the cliff face. Keep walking over the rocks and eventually you’ll spot paradise (and lots of people uncomfortably sun-baking on the rocks).
Hike the Fira Trail
If you want to have an awesome photography session seeing some of the best sights in Santorini then you must do this hike. It goes from Fira to Oia and is about three hours long (of you are taking a leisurely pace to take in all of the sights). The best time of day to complete this hike is at sunset because it wont be as hot at this time of day and it will provide some of the most beautiful photos. With the path taking you along the picturesque caldera, you will definitely want to take some breaks for photo opps. Be sure to wear proper shoes as the path has some cobbled stones and loose gravel areas. When you arrive in Oia, reward yourself with a nice lunch or cocktail…or both.
Sleep in a Windmill
At Windmill Villas in Imerovigli you can sleep in a newly-built luxury windmill equipped with a private pool, hydro-massage jets, terrace and a panoramic view to the Aegean Sea. Though each windmill can accommodate five people, you may want to just keep it romantic and add it to your private Couple’s Bucket List instead.
The Akrotiri lighthouse is located on the Southern peninsula of Santorini island. The lighthouse itself is not as much of an attraction as the views from it. This is another beautiful spot to bring a bottle of wine and catch a perfect sunset.
Akrotiri Lighthouse | Lighthouse road, Akrotiri, Greece | Map
There is an amazing place called Caveland that is a lovely hostel that you can stay in for part of your visit. The hostel itself felt wonderfully Grecian- think traditional, white-washed cave-style buildings featuring bright blue doors framed by fuchsia flowers. Complete with a pool, super friendly and helpful staff, and even morning yoga classes, it was incredible as far as hostels go (not to mention a total bargain)! On the downside, the location was quite isolated and was a fifteen minute walk to get in to the main town of Fira. If you are looking to be in the centre of all the action, your best bet is to actually stay in Fira, although you may pay a little more to do so.
Eat a Santorinin Salad
No doubt while in Greece you will eat plenty of traditional Greek food including salads, but while in Santorini indulge in a delicious Santorini salad. This salad is a version of a Greek salad that uses the ingredients that Santorini is known for: capers, sun-dried tomatoes and cucumbers. You can find a delicious one at Salt & Pepper in Fira.
Hire a quad bike
If you want a unique way to explore the island drive around Santorini on a quad bike. Here it is surprisingly cheap and only requires a standard license. It’s a great way to get to parts of the island that the buses cant get to. If you do not want to drive them on the roads, try driving them on them on the back on the beaches at Kamari and Perissa. There are a few transportation options for getting around the island of Santorini and one of the most popular (and fun) is renting an ATV. For about 45 euros a day you can be cruising the roads with the wind blowing through your hair. It’s fairly easy to find a rental shop, every towns main street has one or two, which you will spot by the line of quads parked out front.
Take a Cable Car Ride
There are three ways to get from the town of Fira down to the Old Port (or the other way around) in Santorini: take an overworked donkey, walk the almost 600 steps or take the cable car. I opted for the least smelly and strenuous of them all, the cable car, which comes every twenty minutes and costs 5 euros each way. At this port you will find souvenir shops, restaurants and agencies that sell tours to the nearby volcano or hot springs.
Hot springs and Volcanoes
Join a boat trip to explore the cool Mediterranean ocean. While traveling you can swim in the sea, you can dive off the boat and enjoy the cool water and swim about twenty meters and suddenly the water changes colour and temperature as you swim into a hot spring. This is another unique experience parts of travelling in Santorini.
Everyday, boat tours leave from the Old Fira port which take you to the hot springs and also to the volcanic island of Nea Kameni, where you get the opportunity to hike around an active volcano.
Nea Kameni is the volcanic island in the centre of the Santorini caldera that you can hike to the top of. Boat tours can easily be purchased at the old port in Fira. They will bring you to the crater and here you can take a steep, rocky climb to the top passing incredible lava formations, smoking craters and fantastic views. Not something you get to see everyday!
A meal with a view
Many of Santorini’s restaurants overlook the beautiful caldera and one of the most romantic things you can do is have a candlelit dinner at one of these eateries, especially if you are able to catch the sunset during your meal.
There are several restaurants to choose from, but here are a few recommendations:
Assyrtico Wine Restaurant | Ipapantis 40, Fira, Greece | Website | Map
Archipelagos |Fira Santorini – 84700 Cyclades Greece | Website | Map
Fanari | In the steps for the old port, Fira 84700, Greece | Website | Map
Or you can eat at Volcano blue this is a reasonably-priced restaurant along the water at Fira with a priceless view. If you book around sunset you can have an incredible view while you eat amazing food. While you eat here you don’t just get a view of an amazing sunset but you could also have a beautiful view of a spectacular view of a firework show over the volcano.
Black sand beaches
Check out the black sand beaches of Kamari and Perissa, within seconds of stepping on the hot sand in summer your feet will feel the amazing heat. Here you can rent sun loungers and parasols to help shade you if the heat becomes unbearable. While there I would recommend dipping your toe in the sea and walking up and down the beach for more photography chances. If you need refreshments there are many restaurants lining the beach that you can check out for stunning food and thirst quenching drinks.
Swim at a Red Sand Beach
The Red Sand Beach in Santorini is located next to the ancient site of Akrotiri. This small beach features varying shades of read that can easily be seen from the headlands if you decide to not take the rocky path along the mountain to reach the beachfront.
Red Sand Beach | Akrotiri, Greece | Map
Where best to get one of those Iconic Santorini sunset shots.
Sunsets in Santorini are known for being some of the most stunningly beautiful in the world. Catching one from the Oia’s Byzantine Castle ruins is one of the most popular spots on the island, but the sunset view from the Akrotiri lighthouse, Santo Winery or at a restaurant overlooking the caldera would be perfect too.
Best Santorini Sunset Spots
- Promenade in Fira- The short promenade along the cliff edge in the southern area of central Fira near the Cathedral is also a popular sunset viewing location. It offers many cliff-clinging bars and restaurants; get there early to assure yourself a seat for sunset. Some places may require reservations. Depending on the time of year, the sun may be setting beyond the island of Thirassia across the caldera – and this means that your sunset will be a little earlier than those watching off the tip of Oia
- Oia, Santorini- The town at the northern tip of the crescent of Santorini is Oia, generally considered to be the best sunset viewing location on the entire island. Unfortunately, this also makes it by far the busiest sunset viewing location on Santorini. If you find crowds stressful, or the sound of three hundred cameras clicking away simultaneously annoying, it may not be the best choice for you, especially in the busiest summer months.
- Santo Winery – This winery located in about the middle of the Santorini crescent has a long terrace with tables providing a great view of the sunset, mingled with the opportunity to have wine and hors d’oeuvres or enjoy a wine tasting in the small bar. It’s a dramatic, photogenic spot with a full view of the caldera and the volcanic islands of Nea and Paleo Kameni.
- The lighthouse- Located at the bottom of the island of Santorini, this lighthouse is picturesque in its own right, but also offers a nice place for sunset viewing. Be prepared to park where you can and then walk on down to to the lighthouse. On the way to the lighthouse, you’ll also encounter an old windmill base which also provides a great spot to see the sunset.
- Southern Santorini- The coastal road through the southern portion of Santorini heading toward the west has a number of spots providing a great view of the sunset over the caldera.
6. Profitis Ilias, Meso Vouno and Ancient Thira- The highest point on the island of Santorini provides a gorgeous view of the islands, dramatic at sunset but remember the drive back down the mountain in the near-dark may be challenging for some. The parking area for Ancient Thira, located farther down the mountain can provide a pleasant sunset-viewing spot, though the ruins themselves will be closed at that hour.
7. Thirassia- This village-topped island offers a different sunset, since it is not seen looking across the caldera as in the other locations, but you’ll see many of the Cycladic islands in the distance. You can also look back at the island of Santorini. Depending on the conditions, the distant white buildings painted pale pink with the sunset can be seen. However, before you rush to Thirassia, make sure you have arranged a place to spend the night. Sunset comes too late to let you catch a boat back to the main island of Santorini, and there are only a few rooms available. This is one case where a spot in Greece can be truly “sold out”.
Open air cinema:
With the incredible Santorini weather, going to an outdoor movie is a perfect thing to do in the evening. Kamari Village located on this popular Greek island boasts one of the best open-air cinemas in the world with director’s chairs, tasty cocktails and, of course, popcorn.
Explore an Archaeological Excavation site
This archaeological excavation site in Santorini features ruins from the city of Akrotiri, which was buried by a volcanic eruption in 1700 B.C., though the first habitation dates from the Late Neolithic times (4th millennium BC). For just €5 you can explore the massive visitor-friendly site where walkways lead you around the entire perimeter. There are not many placards or informational pamphlets, so if you would like the complete history during your visit hire a tour guide.
Akrotiri 84700, Greece | Map
Eat at a Classic Taverna
You just can’t possibly leave Santorini or any city in Greece without indulging in a meal at a classic taverna, a small restaurant serving Greek food. If you are looking for a place away from the hustle and bustle of one of the bigger towns, try Taverna Aeolus which you will find by itself on the road to Akrotiri Red Beach and the lighthouse. Looking for something a little closer to town? Stop by Salt & Pepper in Fira for their fried tomato fritters and deliciously fresh Santorini salad.