So I’m going to start this post off by being totally up front with you. Since living in Europe, I’ve actually put off visiting Santorini. Always opting to spend our summers exploring countries that had a little more action and sight seeing like Croatia. Shocking, I know! But I genuinely thought that despite the caldera views, Santorini didn’t have much to offer aside from overpriced food and overcrowded sunsets.
Well I recently visited Santorini and boy was I wrong. There really are no words or photographs to prepare you for how beautiful Santorini actually is. And even when you think you’ve found or taken the perfect photo, it still doesn’t do it justice. Like seriously, look at this view!
Unlike most first timers in Santorini, I opted to stay in Imerovigli as opposed to Oia. Mainly because I found a decent deal on what looked like a great hotel and secondly, given that we were going in June I was hoping to stay away from the Oia crowds.
Imerovigli itself turned out to be the ideal choice. Our hotel wasn’t great, it was incredible and the location was perfect. Unlike Oia, which is situated quite remotely, Imerovigli is only a short walk from Firostefani and Fira and is a great base for the beaches as well. It also has everything you need within the village (restaurants, supermarkets, car/ATV hire etc) so that if you wanted to you’d never have to venture too far, especially if you are not hiring a vehicle.
Speaking of, we hired an ATV for our last two days so we could visit Oia and some of the island’s beaches. Whilst the beaches are no Mykonos beaches, they were a nice change of scenery and beach service (beds, umbrellas, food etc) was also relatively cheap. We visited the famed Red Beach and Perissa Beach.
Fira and Firostefani, both situated on the cliff and caldera just like Oia and Imerovigli, are also two beautiful towns to base yourself in. Firastefani is the smaller and less crowded of the two, while Fira is the bustling, often busy capital of Santorini. Both are abundant in amazing hotels and restaurants with a view.
Note: Franco’s Bar (bottom right corner) is an amazing place to watch the sunset but drinks are very pricey.
Oia is everything you imagine it to be. Pristine white buildings, bright blue topped churches and every bit luxurious and glamorous. From the second we arrived in Oia, you could notice the change of vibe. As opposed to typical tourist shops and cheap Gyros restaurants, the streets were lined with high end boutiques and fancy restaurants.
We intended to watch the famed sunset in Oia and arrived early evening to explore and take photos. In the end, as beautiful as it was, we opted to head back to Imerovigli instead simply because the crowds were ridiculous and the sunset from the privacy of our balcony was pretty hard to beat.
Sunset from our balcony.
One thing we also did in Santorini was go on an all day cruise which we highly recommend. There are a million and one to choose from, ranging from beach cruises to sunset cruises and visits to the volcano. We opted for an all day volcano, hot spring and Therissa (an island close to Santorini) visit. Our lunch on Therissa was one of the best we had in all of Greece.
Watch this space for a more detailed look at Santorini — where to stay, where to go, what to eat and what to do.