Seven Things You Must Do in Santorini
I’m up to my neck in book revisions this week, with a deadline looming up faster than the Grande Prix finish line. This location-rich tale of fiction which has stolen my attention from blogging, takes place on the sexy Greek island of Santorini. White washed architecture, cave dwellings and a smoldering volcano. How could I resist?
I’ve explored Santorini a couple of times. Once on an epic-fail honeymoon, where my new fella spent the evenings drinking and the daylight hours sleeping in recovery. I should have taken that as a sign at the time, as a relationship doomed, but luckily I had my faithful 35mm Minolta camera to keep me company, and though it didn’t talk my ear off, we toured the neatest places together. My second adventures were with my sister Sandy, who popped over to Greece on hols. We had a Planes, Trains & Automobile adventure, where we tried to ride as many different modes of transport as possible. We even rode donkeys!
One of the most unique islands in Greece, Santorini (known as Fira) is a destination not to be missed. A heaven for photographers, artists, epicureans and historians, there are island adventures for everyone. So, inspired by my travels and this manuscript, I made a list: The Seven Things You Must Do On Your Santorini Stay. Enjoy & have an incredible week!
Seven Ways to Rock Your Santorini Stay
- Sleep in a cave. You don’t have to be a hermit to sleep in a cave. Many rental studios around the Caldera are carved into the rocky mountainside and a far cry from caveman dirt floor dwellings. Some of the most luxurious rentals boast amenities that would make a hobbit drool with envy- from cool marble floors and private terraces to hot tubs and infinity pools, all with killer views! Though the cave-dwellings (Oia is my fave) tend to be pricey, they are worth the splurge, at least for one night! With white lime-washed interiors and cute verandas over-looking the sea, you don’t need to worry about air-conditioning. The only downside is bathroom privacy- as everything echoes…but if the echo-effect turns you off- there’s a nice windmill studio in Oia for rent too.
- Watch the sunset in Oia. My novel opens during the sunset in Oia, which is the highlight to everyone’s visit to the island. Tourists and locals alike pop out of the woodwork and head over to the castle ruins in Oia to watch the sun setting over the Aegean. Be warned, it gets crowded! Don’t get stuck perching on a wall (though that’s not too bad either), instead plan ahead and book a table at one of the cliffside taverna’s for dinner with a spectacular sunset show- you have to go early, so order a kilo of the local wine (or two) while you wait! These sunsets are a photographer’s (and artist’s) dream- with the light and sky colors bouncing off of the white buildings.
- Climb a volcano. You don’t have to go to Hawaii to walk a volcano. Check out Nea Kameni- the famous Santorini volcano. The volcano last erupted in the 1950’s, but the main crater still spews sulfurous fumes from a fissure. Smells like rotten eggs. Check out my post about Santorini’s volcano for more information about Nea Kameni.
- Snorkel among floating rocks. One of the neatest places to check out is the black rock fishing village of Perissa. Located at the base of a mountain, tavernas line the beach, giving it a touristy atmosphere, but the best part of Perissa is under the water. Grab a mask and dive in (near the mountain base) and check out the floating pumice stones. You can exfoliate at the beach or take some home. Perissa is short on daylight hours, as the mountain casts its’ shadow over the village early, so go early. You can always take a water taxi to the resort on the other side of the mountain (Kamari) to extend your sunbathing time.
- Climb to Ancient Thira. Towering above Perissa and Kamari lingers the ruins of Ancient Thira, the original settlement of Santorini. My sister and I visited off season, so we had to hike up the mountain to get there, but during the tourist season, you can usually catch a bus up. Carved reliefs and the most incredible view of Santorini make this place unforgettable. If you think Fira is windy, try it from the top! Switchback road can be a harrowing ride for motorbikes, so be warned. Also the Ancient Thira Archeological Site is closed on Mondays.
- Climb down to the red beach. Santorini has several different colored beaches: black, white & red. The red beach, though incredibly rocky, is definitely a sight to remember. My sister and I took the goat tracks to the beach- rocky and slippery, but you can get there easier these days. Bring a camera and drinking water!
- Hike the Fira-Oia Hiking Trail. Two and a half hours of wandering from the picturesque villages of Fira & FiroStefani and Imerovigli to Oia, with fabulous views of the Caldera and Nea Kameni. Take your time. Bring a Camera. Santorini is a rugged and magnificent place that is best enjoyed on foot. I spent days wandering around these places. It can be windy and downright chilly at times, so dress accordingly. Watch the kids by the cliffs! Eat at one of the tavernas and catch a local bus or grab a taxi back to Fira.
What about Akrotiri? Akrotiri is the long-time archeological park near the Red Beach. Likened to Pompeii, archeologists uncovered an entire town, the dwellings & food urns still intact (no people though) beneath volcanic ash. Beautiful painted friezes on the walls. You’ll see the Fisherman and the Two Boxing Boys fighting on every postcard rack on the island. I am still wondering why no one made a big deal about the blue monkey fresco. Yes, seriously, blue monkeys! If you are into archeological sites, by all means, go.
More Santorini Tips for Travelers
- Do try the wine. Santorini produces some of the best wine in Greece. Must be the volcanic ash.
- Don’t drink and drive. Seriously. These are cliff hugging roads. Catch a bus or taxi instead.
- Don’t get embarrassed about the art. Art is naked in Greece, at least in ancient Greece. If you are bringing kids, a quick lesson beforehand is a good idea. Especially before visiting Akrotiri.
- Do ask locals where they eat. Don’t be afraid to talk to the locals. They can tell you the best places to eat, favorite beaches and cool wineries.
- Do try the seafood. Fresh fish, squid & octopus. Yum! Check out the fish restaurants by the sea in Amoudi.
My post was written from personal experience, but you can find more information about Santorini and other parts of Greece at Visit Greece, the official website for Greek Tourism.
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