Fun fact! Santorini is actually made up of a group of islands situated in a crescent shape. The whole complex of Santorini Islands is an active volcano, with a crater that is in the sea. Approximately 12 eruptions have occurred, each one causing the collapse of the volcano’s central part and creating a large caldera.
Upon arrival to the port in Santorini, it is an absolute madhouse! There are hundreds of people disembarking from the ferry, buses are picking up groups of tourists, and there are street vendors in every direction trying to sell products. In all the chaos it is really easy to get separated and it can be overwhelming trying to find a taxi to take you up to your hotel. We did not have a car or bus waiting for us at the port since we did not plan our trip with a tour agency, so we had to make our way around and find a taxi service in a smaller luxury bus that would take us to the steps of our hotel. It was easy enough- but pricy! Try to book something in advance to avoid confusion and maybe save some money.
Our hotel was located in Fira, the capital of Santorini. We stayed at Panorama Studios and Suites which has an amazing location on the cliffside with views of the caldera. I have never gone up and down so many stairs in my life! Our room was at the very bottom of the cliffside, so anytime we left our room it was definitely a journey. The most important thing about booking a room in Santorini is the location and the view, we had the best possible view that we could have asked for and it made the experience more magical! The pool at our hotel has the same breathtaking view that is in the photo above, and breakfast is served right next to it every morning. As for the location, Fira has so many museums, restaurants, and shops located right next to hotels. Oia is another beautiful town in Santorini that would be ideal to stay in, but the prices are higher and the city itself is much busier.
Our first night in Santorini was spent checking out local restaurants and deciding to eat at a souvlaki and gyros stand. SO GOOD! Souvlaki is very popular in Greece, it is basically just grilled meat on a skewer with some yummy seasoning, tzatziki yogurt sauce (which I have a really great recipe for if anyone is interested) and lemon. We ate at these souvlaki and gyro stands almost every day for lunch because they were just so delicious and cheap. The rest of our night was spent lounging by the pool and watching the sunset from our private balcony.
Our first full day in Santorini was packed full with an all-day tour booked with Omega Travel. We were picked up from a spot in Fira, not too far from our hotel and we boarded a large tour bus that would be taking us all over the island. Our first stop was a trip up to Prophet Elias, the tallest mountain on the island for some great views of Santorini. We also visited the Akrotiri excavations, a prehistoric town from 17th century BC. You are actually able to walk through the streets of what used to be Akrotiri and learn all about the history. For lunch, we enjoyed a traditional Greek meal right on Perivolos Black Sand Beach. We had some island cats visit us here as well! After lunch, we visited Santo Wines winery where we tasted three local wines. Santo Wines is the biggest and most popular winery in Santorini and the view is spectacular! We brought home a bottle of wine, but you can also order wine from their website. The tour ended with exploring the town of Oia and enjoying the sunset. We came back to Oia the second day as well because it is the most iconic place in Santorini. This is where you’ll find the famous blue dome chapels and dramatic cliffside views of the sunset.
Our second day in Santorini was spent wandering around town, visiting cathedrals, museums, and doing some shopping. The cathedral that was closest to our hotel was called the Orthodox Metropolitan Cathedral. Every church we visited was so ornate and intricate. We also visited the Museum of Prehistoric Fira – which was home to a lot of the findings we learned about at the Akrotiri excavation site. This museum was beautifully done, a must see when visiting Fira.
Our last evening in Santorini was spent in the town of Oia, taking one last look at the beautiful blue domed churches and enjoying the sunset. We then said goodbye to our perfect hotel with the best view we’ve ever seen and headed to the airport to catch a flight to Athens. A bittersweet moment leaving Santorini behind, but exciting to be on our way to our next adventure.