Actually picture perfect – Postcard pretty
I think I was born for island living. Man do I ever love being on a beach, working on my tan, drying off salty water, cocktail in hand, snack on the way… Pure bliss.
After spending 2 weeks in Greece I seriously thought about moving there, and we all know my track record with an idea like this… I could easily spend a year in Greece, hop on and off ferries to every island, and eat Greek food until I’m sick (the feeeeeeta!! To die for!). This trip is without a doubt in the top three that I have been on.
Greece, I truly, fully, wholeheartedly LOVE YOU.
While I was there, I visited three places; Santorini, Athens, and a small island called Hydra. I’m just going to focus on Santorini this time, or this will get waaaay out of hand…
SO welcome to Santorini!!
Here is a little cheat sheet map of my trip and the places I’ll mention to give you a better visual!
Paris > Santorini
I flew to the island with my parents and Elijah from Paris, which was where I was living at the time. It was a super easy flight that only took 3 and a half hours. We didn’t have any transportation arranged and we couldn’t be bothered to figure out public transportation yet, so I wandered over to a taxi and bargained my way to good deal to our hotel.
Once we arrived at our homestay in Karterádos, not far from the airport and centrally located on the island, we were greeted by the lovely family who owned it and shown to our air-conditioned (thank god) apartment. We still had plenty of the day left and I was dying to hit the beach! So, we finally braved the busing system and headed down toward Perissa beach for a little dip and dinner with the sunset.
Day 1 and I’m already in love.
Santorini Tip 1:
Like I said, we chose to get into a taxi on arrival – It was the easiest option. If you can, inquire about a transfer with your hotel, it may be cheaper or even complimentary. Santorini has not great public transportation… It’s doable if you are on a budget, but was not nearly fast enough for my new Parisian lifestyle mindset. Aside from the first beach journey, the next few days included rentals to get from A to B(eaches). We got a small car one day for the 4 of us, and loved the freedom to go wherever whenever. But the best, and my favorite, way to get around the Island is by ATV.
They are available everywhere and are perfect for beach hopping and seeing all that Santorini has to offer. Shop around a little and find the best deal, you should be able to negotiate due to high competition. Put your bargaining skills to the test!
Good morning to our first full day in Santorini! This is the morning we discovered Zotos, our local bakery/café, which we frequented every morning for the rest of our stay. The pastries were too good to resist and I am a coffee addict…
After caffeine and baked goods, we all decided we wanted a little couple alone time, so Mom & Dad went off on foot to walk through Oia while Elijah and I went on a mission to find an ATV! Long story short, he is a MUCH better bargainer than I am…
Santorini Tip 2:
Where To Stay
Depending on budget and your chosen form of transportation, this will change. For classic Instagram worthy hotels (with a price to match) you’ll want to stay in Oia, which is pronounced EE-AH, or you can look for a water facing property in Thira (also known as Fira).
We stayed right in the middle of the island. In my humble opinion, this was the best place to stay for our kind of trip. We had authentic local food around the corner, a 10 minute walk from Thira, not a lot of tourists around, and a local bakery/café for the mornings.
When making a decision, just be aware of which end of the island you choose, and which beaches you have easy access to.
Okay, back to day 2!
Elijah and I spent the day zipping around the island beach hopping and sightseeing. We drove up the Ancient Thera roads, which are windy AF, to see some amazing views.
But, we spent most of our time driving around and relaxing at Perissa & Koloumpus beach.
Koloumpos was a little more secluded and we opted to pay for a beach bed with a much needed sun umbrella.
To round out the day we had an amazing dinner at the local Karterádos restaurant called Katerina’s, run all by one family in the area. I would 10/10 recommend this restaurant, the food was incredible and the wine cheap. Perfect combination! Also, this is when we discovered Greece sells wine by the pitcher. Oh, I forgot to mention Dad and I are the only ones who drink it. Oh no….
Since we still had the ATV until noon, we woke up with the plan of a sunrise swim at Perissa Beach (can you tell what our favorite beach is yet?) to start the day. The early morning didn’t disappoint.
After breakfast with the parents, we decided to brave Oia in the 35+ degree weather. While Oia is beaaautiful, it is HELLA busy. So many people everywhere. And when you are that hot in the blazing sun, sweating nonstop (cute right?) all you want to do is jump in the water somewhere. So, we abandoned Oia after half an hour on the hunt for a place for a cool down swim.
Enter Ammoudi Bay. One the prettiest places I have swam at. You cannot go to Santorini and not swim here. Seriously. Don’t skip this spot. Just look at this water.
There is also a jumping ledge when you swim out to the rock that is really fun.
After drying off in the sun (didn’t take long in this heat…) we walked down to the docks to have lunch and a cold drink in the shade. At this spot there a few restaurants and they do amazing fresh dishes – especially fish and Greek Salad. I could eat those cucumbers and feta aaaaall day. After a nice glass of rosé and some snacks, it’s time for some much needed relaxation in the Air-con back at the apartment.
Poor Elijah got some mean sun stroke from his burns (remember my suncream on the ATV advice…) so Mom, Dad and I decided to go and watch the sunset from the famous Santo Winery. I would do this again in a heartbeat. We had delicious sparkling rosé (surprise surprise) and watched the boats with the sun setting over the water from a glass balcony. Unforgettable.
With a new long sleeve to cover Elijah’s forearm burns, we are off to the Vlichada area.
Anyone that knows the Lutzmann family knows we are into Ketchup. I’m not going to go into detail about it, but if you know, you know… Don’t judge us.
SOOOO did you know Santorini has a tomato museum?? I know what you’re thinking. “THAT’S SO COOL AIDEN”. Knew it.
Well back in the day Santorini was tomato central, and local farmers would sell them to the factory where they were made into paste. They also made the cans onsite too. A booming industry at the time. And the building itself is really beautiful.
After taste testing and a tour of the factory with all it’s old school equipment, we walked down to the beach were we enjoyed a fresh Greek dinner on the water. Post lunch included swimming and lounging on Vlichada beach. Another warning: this is a black sand beach and DAMN does the sand get hot. We were literally running from the water to our chairs. All good fun ha!
But relaxing and reading was more than enjoyable. I will never tire of this routine.
To finish the day Elijah and I walked to Thira (10 minutes from our accommodation) to explore. Thira is very similar to the iconic Oia, but with a fraction of the people. White buildings hanging off cliffs and sparkling water below. Do a little shopping here too and avoid the inflated prices of Oia.
Santorini Tip 3:
Invest In A Day Sailing Tour
This is a little bit of a splurge, but this is by far worth it. You can do everything pretty cheap on the island, but this is such a memorable experience. I don’t even have the words to describe how much I loved sailing around the Sea of Crete. I’m going to do my best by telling, and showing, you all about it now in Day 5.
My family has always loved being on boats and on the water. This was my moms activity of choice and I am so glad she chose to take us on this tour, because it ended up being my favorite day of the whole trip. Boy, is that saying a lot…
In the morning, we were picked up at our local café after coffee and breakfast by the tour company and brought to the harbor at Ammoudi Bay to board our Catamaran. Door to door service – so convenient.
We got to see so much of the island, and some spots that you con’t get to without a boat. We were served unlimited wine, beer and soft drinks, as well as a home cooked lunch and BBQ off the back of the Catamaran. It was so yummy.
The itinerary highlights included:
- Palea Kameni – Volcanic Hot Springs
- Red Beach
- Black Beach
- White Beach
- Multiple swim stops with snorkeling off the back of the Catamaran
- Sunning over the rushing water on the netted beds
Santorini > Athens
It was time to say goodbye to this beloved island… BUT hello to Athens and heaps of Greek history!! A story for next time.
I hope reading this rudely awoke your travel bug as much writing it did for me. You’re welcome.
Currently booking flights to Europe…