If the Greek Islands were a jewellery box, Santorini would be the prize diamond. Glittering brightly with white houses spread like pearls across the hillside, emerald blue seas and sparkling golden sunsets. I visited several of the Greek Islands as a child, and Mr S and I stayed on the fellow Cycladic Island of Mykonos about four years ago…but Santorini stands head and shoulders above the rest as my favourite. Here’s why:
1. The Caldera
A volcanic eruption in 1600 BC gave Santorini it’s unique circular shape and led to the formation of the island’s gorgeous caldera. An area that covers 32 metres, it is one of the largest calderas in the world and beautifully scenic.
We stayed in Oia which is on the Northern tip of the island, known to be one of the most beautiful villages in Santorini and one of the more quieter areas. Oia is where you’ll find some of the top luxury hotels, most beautiful sunsets and some fantastic restaurants. The capital city of Fira is also located along the Caldera with fabulous views. There is more choice in terms of hotels, restaurants and shops in Fira but it can get very busy.
Firostefani and Imerovigli are quieter neighbourhoods along the Caldera and both also boast breathtaking views. While you can stay at the beach, it is the Caldera that makes Santorini truly special and it really is a magical place to be.
Santorini is one of the most beautiful, romantic places on earth and a honeymoon spot. That being the case, there really is no shortage of luxury hotels.
We totally fell in love with our home for the three nights, Santo Maris Oia Luxury Suites & Spa, with it’s beautiful cave-like rooms, private pools, incredible food and sunset views. It was around five minutes walk to the centre of Oia so it was as private as can be whilst still being ideally located.
We also went for dinner at Canaves Oia Suites, a stunning hotel, with white-washed walls and panoramic views of the Caldera.
The beautiful restaurant, Petra is located right on the cliff by the hotel’s infinity pool.
3. The Food
Greek food has to be one of my favourite cuisines and it also known to be one of the healthiest. The Santorinian tomato is the most famous product and unique to island, growing in the volcanic soil without any extra water. They are incredibly delicious and a must try. The fava, caper and white egg plant are all indigenous to Santorini and another famous product is the Chloro cheese which is a rich creamy goat’s cheese in limited production. The island’s fresh seafood is another must try paired with a delicious Greek or Santorinian salad.
4. Incredible Restaurants
We absolutely loved the restaurants in Santorini with their hearty cuisine and friendly staff. Apparently you need to be a little weary of restaurants with a view of the Caldera as they can be over-priced with less than spectacular food. However we discovered a few exceptions (READ MY POST) including Ambrosia, Petra and Apisthia.
For gourmet food with delicious fresh, local ingredients, we loved Alios Ilios at our hotel Santo Maris Oia. And for a gorgeous setting, friendly staff and great authentic Greek food, we really loved Karma.
Elsewhere in Oia we were told about 1800 and the best restaurant in Fira is apparently Archipelagos. Selene in Pyrgos is also recommended for special occasions. Head to Ammoudi Port for super fresh seafood.
5. World Class Wine
The wine in Santorini is totally unique and is unlike any other due to the distinctive volcanic soil and climate on the island. Assyrtiko is the signature grape on the island and to be classified a Santorini wine, a blend must contain 75% of these grapes. The island is famous for it’s beautiful wineries which offer tours, tastings and sometimes cookery classes. Santo Winery is the largest on the island, located on a beautiful spot on the island and offering comprehensive tours.
We loved Domaine Sigalas, a small and newer winery in a beautiful location serving delicious wines.
One thing that makes Santorini really stand out on travel Instagram accounts is that beautiful Cycladic architecture that is just so recognisable. White walls, cube houses, blue domed churches and cobbled streets that make the island almost like a fairy tale! Apparently the colour scheme represents the white foam of waves on the Aegean Sea and the blue of the Greek sky but also the white colour reduces sun absorption making the walls cool to touch.
Windmills are also characteristic on the Santorini skyline though technology innovations means they are not actually in use. I also love how the occasional painted door or the bright pink flowers add such a stark colour contrast to all that beautiful white.
And of course, I love the colour palette so much that I match my entire travel wardrobe to fit the theme!
‘See a sunset in Santorini’ was an item firmly placed on my bucket list after hearing how totally beautiful they were – I’m a sucker for a good sunset! Oia is a fantastic spot to see the sunset – the most famous vantage point being the castle – though you may want to avoid the crowds and stick to your hotel or a restaurant.
We didn’t make it out of Oia to see the sunset but other recommended locations are the Lighthouse of Akrotiri, the Monastery of the Orphet Elias and Vlychada Beach. There really is something wonderful about the golden glow of the sun descending on the clear Aegean sea with the back drop of those beautiful white washed buildings.
8. Scenic Walks
Ok, so scenic walks weren’t exactly at the top of our agenda for our relaxing three days in Santorini but we did discover that it was pretty easy to walk everywhere. With our hotel situated so conveniently in Oia we didn’t need to hire a car or taxis and could just walk into town for meals and shopping.
The most famous walk in Santorini is a breath-taking the two and a half hour hike along the Caldera path that connects Fira to Oia. In Santorini you’re better off leaving the heels at home due to steep hills, cobbled path ways and lots of stairs – I bought a pair of lowish wedges which were perfect for wearing in the evening.
You can do some seriously stylish shopping in Santorini from jewellery, to art and design to hand made or designer clothing – there’s something for everyone!
Being the biggest village, Fira has the most shops but you’ll find plenty in Oia too including the famous Atlantis Books, Nammidi Art Shop and Poniros for jewellery. Check out the Santo Maris blog for more shopping tips!
Great food, private hot tubs, golden sunsets, beautiful hotels and incredibly scenic views. Santorini is quite honestly the perfect place for romance.
I would seriously recommend in for a honeymoon, anniversary or even for your wedding!
With only three nights in Santorini, we still only scratched the surface of what there was to do on the small island but I suggest this blog by Santorini Dave as a resource for planning.
Check out my Santorini travel vlog!
Do you have any top tips for Santorini?
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