Santorini is truly a magical island filled with so much charm and beauty. The island was formed by a series of volcanic explosions through time, resulting in a beautiful steep cliffs with breathtaking ocean views. The beautiful hikes, picturesque villages, and iconic sunsets will not disappoint. The pastel colors set in the white buildings and blue domes scattered throughout the island is something you can’t get anywhere else. Santorini holds a special place in my heart. It’s a place you have to visit and experience with the natural beauty and iconic architecture, and you will fall in love with this island. Santorini was much more beautiful than I had ever imagined, and more. After spending an unforgettable few days here, find out the best places to eat, stay, and do on this beautiful island.
WHERE TO STAY
Breathtaking, picturesque, unreal are all words I can describe during my stay at Ifestio Villas in Oia, Santorini. When visiting paradise in Santorini, you want to make sure you get to soak in the true magic of the island with its great views. Stay in Oia on the north coast for one of the most spectacular views and sunset. There are other towns like Fira and Imerovigli, but you can’t beat Oia’s white marbled streets and beautiful sunsets.Enjoying breakfast every morning on our own private balcony overlooking the beautiful deep Aegean sea.
Where: Nomikou str. | Oia center, Oia 84702 | Greece
Website: Tripadvisor | Ifestio Villas
Ifestio villas is an incredibly special and unique boutique villa that offers a charming cave suite, each with a private patio overlooking the white washed villas of Oia out into the deep blue sea. Staying at Ifestio Villas not only exceeded my expectations but Katerina is truly one of the sweetest hosts who will welcome you into her arms like family. It is worth staying in Oia to truly experience its beauty in the heart of the villas. Read here for my more in-depth review!
THINGS TO SEE
1. Walk around Oia
Oia is truly one of the most picturesque and charming towns I have ever visited. The steep and windy paths lead you to unexpected views to finding your typical touristy souvenir shops to special and colorful architecture everywhere you go.
Friendly cat in front of a cute bookstore.
The donkeys were used for transportation back then and are a huge tourist attraction now. However, look out for any donkeys that may look abused or overworked.
You get endless ocean views as you walk along Oia.
Everywhere you pass, you will see the beautiful blue domes.
2. Tour around Santorini
When you have a short amount of time in Santorini Greece, there’s nothing better than to do a day tour around the island. We booked a half-day tour with Santorini Private Day Tours with Kostas and decided to pay a visit to the Akrotiri, red sand beach, and many scenic stops along the way.
Red Sand Beach
Akrotiri SANTORINI PRIVATE TOUR WITH KOSTAS
Kostas is very personable and engaging and when you first meet him he greets you like a true friend who is excited to show you around the Greek Isles. He truly wants you to have the best and most authentic experience of the island and so he is willing to mold the tour to meet your specific interests. He has an encyclopedic amount of knowledge not only about the island but about Greek history, pop culture, etc. As a native he is privy to a lot of information you couldn’t get from people who only do the tour business but live in the cities such as Athens. Instead, Kostas seemingly knows every person on the island and they know him as well. Kostas is also a fine driver so he was able to swiftly take us to various sights. If you want to take a longer time to take pictures, Kostas can do that or if you want to go to the next destination he is more than happy to have the Mercedes Van ready to go. For more details, visit here.
3. Hike Oia – Fira
I was initially hesitant about doing this 6 mile 3 1/2 hr hike due to lack of time but this is possibly one of the most beautiful coastal hikes I have ever done. The hike has an amazing, cliff-top walking with the deep blue Aegean sea stretch for miles. However, we had an unexpected and scary encounter with 4 wild dogs along the way! Nonetheless, it is such a great way to see the Island from all different angles and truly soak in the natural beauty of the island. Most hikers will start from Fira and end up in Oia with rewarding views. We started out from Oia and worked our way past the beautiful villas.
Endless infinity pools amongst the white caves overlooking the deep blue sea.
It took us awhile to find the path from Oia until we saw this tiny little sign “Fira.”
Friendly cats along the way!
You will really start to get a sense of the trail once you can see you have left Oia behind.
The hike itself was absolutely scenic but at moderate difficulty but doable if you go at a nice pace and hydrate. Be prepared for many steps and walk on uneven grounds, be sure to wear appropriate hiking gear!
This is about half way point with a truly special view of the island. On the way, there is a little shop on the side for some drinks and a small bite to eat. Get their fresh squeezed OJ! The crescent shape of the island allows you to see the ocean on both sides and the views of the other end of the island, truly a special view.
About over half way through, we saw four wild dogs far away in the fields. They started charging and barking towards us really quickly. It was a very scary moment where I literally tried to run for my life. Keep in mind it is downhill and on dirt with nowhere to run or hide behind. With not much escape available, my bf turned around and yelled at the dogs and started to charge towards them. Luckily, it worked! Whew. This was an unexpected and scary moment I would never anticipate during such a gorgeous and scenic hike. However, you just never know. We ended up taking the taxi the rest of the way to not risk anymore which I was slightly bummed about because the hike is so beautiful. Nonetheless, the trek was still absolutely incredible and you get a real taste of the Aegean experience—if you’re going to hike in Santorini, this one is not to be miss.
Warning: Watch out for wild dogs (bring hiking sticks for protection).
Bring: Water, sunblock/hat, appropriate hiking shoes.
4. Catch the world’s famous Sunset in Oia
Oia is most known for its famous sunset, some say one of the best in the world. It will really be a hit or miss depending on the weather that day, but the beautiful light on Oia’s stacked villas makes the town’s buildings change colors with the blue sea reflect against the sky. The views is perfect where you can watch the sun dip down below the horizon as the skies turn into beautiful pastel colors. Be sure to check what time the sun sets that day an arrive at least 1 hour earlier.
As beautiful the sunset may be, be warned there will be plenty of tourists holding their spots! April was just the right amount of people but summer will be very hectic. There are two different areas to catch sunset at the end of Oia, try out each area for a different experience. Better yet, you can sit at a cafe and enjoy sunset.
WHERE TO EAT
Get Seafood at Amoudi Bay
Seafood is a must when you are visiting Santorini with its prime location next to the ocean.
Location: Ammoudi Bay, Oia 84702, Greece
Reservations: Email Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org
After dining at the restaurants up on the hills of Oia, I can say Dimitris Ammoudi Taverana is above them all despite its location literally on the ocean shore. But being right night to the ocean offers a view and experience you couldn’t get being so high up on the island and I liked it. Being able to be so close to the ocean is serene and tranquil and the experience is only enhanced by the incredible and authentic seafood based cuisine that Joy offers. Read more on my experience at Dimitris Ammoudi Taverna here.
Eating a traditional souvlaki is a must when in Santorini! Lucky’s Souvlaki was one of my favorites. Lolita’s gelato is another huge favorite in Oia with their delicious and creamy flavors. It was so good we went two days in a row!
Santorini was such a magical experience and there is still so much more to see and do! However, the #1 must do in Santorini is to relax. Sometimes you just need to not do anything and be on vacation.