Santorini, GREECE – ever since I saw the movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Santorini has been on my list. When Dmitriy and I were choosing a honeymoon destination, our decision was unanimous and it included this popular Greek island.
Our stay: 4 days / 3 nights
Oia or Fira? When deciding where to stay in Santorini, we recommend the town of Oia (pronounced [ˈi.a]). Here you will find the picturesque caldera views, romantic ambiance, and sleepy nightlife. It’s also more expensive, but worth the short walk to fine dining and boutiques. The town shuts down around midnight which was perfect for us to rest up for the remaining part of our adventure. We only went to Fira once, but it seemed to be a younger crowd with more bars and vendors.
Watch Out: During high season, cruise ship passengers flood the town to watch the sunset = congestion, small streets and pedestrian traffic jams. To avoid the crowds, chose an Airbnb facing Amoudi Bay so you can have a private viewing of the sunset.
Weather PSA: It gets HOT in Santorini. Mr. Weather Man will tell you the temperature will be in the 70s or 80s, but it feels like 100. It’s sun dresses and shorts all day long here. Don’t forget to bring a hat, travel with water + Gatorade, and reapply sun screen. The sun is no joke and we thought we were used to the heat in Texas…
Best time to visit and avoid tourists = May or September
Hector Cave House – By far the best Airbnb we ever stayed in! This house is carved into the caldera cliff and allows you to cool off in the private pool while you soak up those gorgeous views. Our only wish was that it faced toward Amoudi Bay so that we could watch the sun set from our terrace. Added bonus included daily housekeeping (which is typically not included on Airbnb), shuttle transfer coordination, and help with luggage through the stairs of Oia (trust me, you’ll need help). At €350 per night, we felt it was well worth the price.
Fun fact: it was originally used as a wine cellar for more than 250 years.
Honeymoon Hats-custom made hats, perfect for Santorini
Rent an ATV – the highlight of our adventure in Santorini! Leave the tourist behind and explore the island on four wheels. We made our reservations in advance, but you can pick up an ATV at any Motor Rental for about €30/day.
Hike from Oia to Fira – HIGHLY RECOMMEND! Start early at 8am before the sun peaks, and hike 10 km to the town of Fira. Here you will experience the caldera views like nowhere else. We felt like we were the only two people on the island. Duration: 4 hours
Bring tennis shoes and work out gear for this hike and be prepared for steep inclines half of the way.
Travel with two liters of water + Gatorade. Don’t worry, if you run out half way like we did, there are a few local shops where you can rehydrate.
We opted to hike into Fira, pick up our ATV, then ride to the black sand beach.
Red Sand Beach – follow signs to the ancient village of Akrotiri and you’ll stumble upon this red sand beach. Tucked away from civilization, it’s a smaller beach that remains untouched by travel corporations. We arrived around 3pm and there were about 100 people on the beach, making the experience much more exotic. About 45 minutes away by ATV.
We parked our ATV in a lot nearby – the beach is a short walk away. Wear comfortable shoes since you have to climb up and down rocks to get there. Not to mention, the red volcanic soil gets hot on your feet.
Fun fact: you can take the local Santorini “Bus Stop” boat and it will transport you from the black sand beach, to the white, and back to red for €10.
Perissa Black Sand Beach – after our 4 hour hike, we headed to the beach! We were hungry and tired so this was the perfect place to relax.
We ate at The Magic Burger Bus – my sister’s recommendation from her trip two months prior. The owners speak perfect English and are super friendly. As a special honeymoon gift, they set up us on the first row of lounge chairs closest to the beach. Best thing is that they offer food and drink service to the cabanas so you never have to leave!
Domaine Sigalas Winery – MUST VISIT! We shared a flight of twelve wines. We would have ordered two flights, but the staff was great to suggest that one was enough. They provide healthy pours, or how Dmitriy and I say..”Chelsea pours”, so it was perfect for our pre-lunch visit. Try them all and, decide you favorite, order a glass, and soak up the beautiful vineyard views outside!
Note: Sadly they no longer ship to the U.S. as of June 2017.
Wine Flight at a Glance – predominately white due to the volcanic soil environment
7 White, 1 Rose, 2 Red, 2 Sweet/Dessert Reds
Typically, white wine leaves me with a sugary headache, but not these! They are unlike anything else you’ve tasted and perfect for a hot Santorini day.
Top Picks = Santorini (White), Santorini Barrel (White), AA (White), and Mm (Red)
Added Bonus: Cats!
Fino – this restaurant was excellent! There are no caldera views, but the food was so good we went back twice!
Sea Bass and Lobster Risotto = menu favorites! Plus, you can grab a glass (or bottle) of the Domaine Sigalas Wine, straight from the vineyard!
Katina’s – hands down best meal in Greece! Take the stairs down to Amoudi Bay and find a table near the water. The servers help you make your fish selections by inviting you to see what was recently caught. The first day we chose Sea Bream and Sea Bass the following day – delicious! We ordered 0.8 kilos to share which will run anywhere from €55 to €75.
Note: the calamari rivaled the “chocos” in Spain..and that’s a bold statement.
Floga – fine dining with romantic views and good food.
Melitini – Grecian tapas – check it out for lunch or sunset dinner so you can enjoy the view! We ordered the pork stew with oregano and potatoes, grilled octopus, and the pork sausage. Washed it all down with a liter of wine!
Tip: In the busy season, the sun sets around 8:30pm so make sure to call a few days in advance to reserve a table outside in advance.
Next stop, Mykonos!