Santorini is a destination I have had on my list of travel destinations ever since I watched Alexis Bledel explore this beautiful island, in a little film called the ‘Sisterhood of the travelling pants’. Seeing it on film took my breath away, and finally this year I got to witness this beauty up close and in person. I know every blogger, and her insta husband has probably been to Santorini at some point in the last few years, but this trip for me was special for a few reasons. Not only did I brave my fear of flying, and get on an airplane, this was also my first holiday in over 5 years. Santorini, was always a dream destination for me and after coming back, it’s a dream I’m not quite ready to wake up from.
This post is a little recap of where I visited and a few tips and recommendations for anyone wanting to visit Santorini in the near future.
Let me begin with Kamari, which is where I stayed during the week I was in Santorini.
Kamari is probably the flattest part of Santorini. You may be use to seeing the beautiful white buildings scattered high along the mountain tops, but if you are staying Kamari, you will be happy to know it is quite flat and therefore easy to walk along. It’s main appeal is the proximity to the beach, which for myself in particular was 5 minutes away from the hotel. The beaches in Santorini are black, and many actually pebble rather than sand. This is not too much of an issue as the beach itself it beautiful, even to look at from the comfort of the many beach front restaurants on offer.
Along the beach front the restaurants are a little more expensive, but with the views they offer, you can understand why. If you are on more of a budget, you can venture up a little further to restaurants with a much more budget friendly price range, or even take advantage of the take away Gyros, which are a favourite of mine. I found that no matter where I dined, or anywhere I explored in Kamari, the people where always, always lovely. Our hotel staff where wonderful in advising us where to visit, what best to see and even how much a taxi should be to ensure we would not be paying more than we should! The friendly people, were great in making the holiday that much better, and in ensuring we always felt very safe.
Whilst there is no shortage of beautiful restaurants throughout Kamari, there are also a myriad of shops offering everything you could want in terms of food, souvenirs and novelty t-shirts. Kamari is a perfect place if your main holiday goals are to lounge by the pool, enjoy the beach and dine out. If you are looking for the more classic Santorini views, you will have to branch out further a field. Luckily this island is small, so travelling to one place or the next is not a long journey at all. Myself and my holiday members travelled to Fira on the bus, for only €1.80, and this was no longer than a 20 minute bus ride I would say.
Ahhh Fira, were can I begin! This is a must see place in my eyes. Fira is beautiful, in its scenery and it met all my expectations of the classic Santorini I was eager to see. I actually travelled to Fira twice. The first time passing through during a hike to Oia, and the second time in the evening to watch a firework display take place. During the first visit, I arrived in Fira quite early in the day. It was filled with bustling traffic, many people and beautiful little shops line the streets at every turn. In contrast to Kamari, Fira is much more up hill, and the streets are pretty much all cobbled, so be advised a good pair of trainers or pumps would be best when exploring. As lovely as a pair of heels would look, they will not get you far at all.
Fira is most definitely a place to see from above. The views that it offers overlooking the sea, are amazing. Travelling further and further up for the hike, I was in awe of the scenery, and it truly is a view your eyes will never tire of. As the capital, you will find more to see and do here than Kamari. The shops have a little more to offer, and it is very social. There are restaurants located in the perfect spots for getting that perfect sunset view, and I highly recommend spending some time in Fira during your time in Santorini if possible.
Oia is probably the most well-known part of Santorini, and arguably the version you see on the many postcards, posters and advertisements for visiting. As mentioned, we decided to hike our way to Oia, taking the bus to Fira and walking just under three hours to Oia. If you are planning on hiking, all I will advise is to go as early as possible, to avoid the midday heat, and be prepared. A backpack will be your best friend, as there were times when I really didn’t want to be holding anything to affect my balance, lots of water is needed and trainers or hiking boots essential. It is a tough hike, and whilst the views are stunning, I think it is a one time only event, that I won’t be repeating. I am very glad to have done it as I got to see beautiful views not only in Fira but during the entire hike, and seeing Oia up close was also a great experience. This is the place where many cruises will dock, and a popular visiting place for many, so be warned that it is busy.
One of the main draws of Oia is seeing the incredible sunset, and whilst every sunset during my time in Greece was beautiful, the Oia sunset was definitely my favourite. Though it will be a rush of people around you also trying to get pictures and video, it is worth seeing for sure. Whilst any sunset is pretty, I found in Kamari and even Fira there were more clouds and mist, in Oia the sunset was warm, orange and stunning.
Whilst I did not see much in terms of the shops or restaurants within Pyrgos, I must mention one place in particular. At the top of a pretty epic hill in Pyrgos, lies a beautiful and spectacular place I think should be on every must see list when travelling to Santorini. The amazing ‘Santos Wines- Winery’. Recommend to me by one of my best friends who also visited Santorini this year, I was told the view was amazing, and I cannot begin to describe how perfect this place is.
Most definitely the highlight of my trip was experiencing the wine tasting as Santos Winery. We travelled up by taxi from Kamari which was great at only €15.00. Arriving around 6pm, and getting settled in time to watch the sunset. Though again a little hidden by the clouds, the view was amazing and this was an absolutely perfect evening, so much so I plan on going back there when I return to Santorini next year, for my previously mentioned best friends wedding. I cannot sing the praises of this beautiful winery enough. The wine tasting experience is a fantastic way to end your time in Santorini with many options to choose from. I decided to go with only 6 different wines, which also came with cheese, bread, olives and dip. Each wine was lovely, tasty and a completely new experience for someone who does get a little complacent with her Rosé wine!
Santorini was more beautiful than I had imagined, and I cannot wait to go back next year. Everything from the people, to the sites is wonderful to experience. Though the only thing at times I struggled with was finding good vegetarian options for meals, that is by no means a criticism. If you look around a few menus there is always something to enjoy or even adapt the menu to suit you.
This is place I would happily return to again and again and I am so happy that this is where I got to experience my first holiday in a very long time!
I would love to hear from you in the comments if you have been to Santorini and any further tips you could offer. Or if you are looking to go, ask any questions below.