Famous for its white-washed buildings and blue-domed churches, the romantic island of Santorini is high on many people’s bucket lists. Anna McGuire says the picturesque island is the perfect destination for a long weekend away.
As an avid traveller, Santorini was always one place I dreamt of travelling to. The beautiful Greek island is now one of my favourite destinations after visiting this summer.
Santorini is one of the most popular places in Greece with over two million visitors every year. With regular flights, cruises and ferries operating throughout the summer months there are plenty of options to choose from.
The best places to stay
The historic volcanic eruption of Santorini created the caldera, now famous for its cliffside whitewashed villages. Home to many locals, the caldera is the perfect place to base yourself.
My top three picks would be:
Imervogli is a luxury village on the highest point of Santorini and is dotted between Oia and Fira overlooking the Aegean Sea. Offering a mixture of bars, restaurants, hotels, and views of Fira and Oia on both sides, this idyllic location was where I enjoyed my stay.
My hotel, like many others, was built into the caldera cliff and was quintessentially Greek – blue shutters, white walls and the most breath-taking view.
Quieter than neighbouring Oia and Fira, Imervogli provides the peace and quiet of village life yet with plenty to do – perfect for those who don’t like crowds.
Another luxury hotspot is Oia, famous for its sunset and boutique hotels it has an array of restaurants, tavernas and shops. Despite being one of the most touristy parts of Santorini, the high-end, romantic location remains highly sought-after with its Greek charm and narrow streets.
The capital of Santorini, Fira, offers a wide variety of accommodation for all budgets from luxury to basic, plus the hustle and bustle you would expect from a capital.
Fira has a lively nightlife and a great mix of bars and restaurants overlooking the caldera. Alternatively, you could venture just outside to the village of Firostefani which is within walking distance but has a quieter, more relaxed vibe.
The best things to do
Santorini is jam-packed of fun things to do so don’t forget to pack a comfy pair of shoes for all the walking. Activities include visiting the volcano, taking a sunset cruise, hiking from Fira to Oia, stopping by the ancient village of Akrotiri and enjoying the open-air cinema in Kamari.
My top three picks:
Visit a vineyard
Due to the volcanic soil, the wine in Santorini is unique to other European countries providing a full-bodied taste. A trip to a vineyard means you can learn about the wine-making process, have a guided tour and indulge in the all-important tasting.
Vassaltis Vineyard is a modern winery and one of the youngest on the island offering a more private experience. Other popular vineyards include Domaine Sigalas, Venetsanos Winery and Santo Winery.
Climb Skaros Rock
Located on the tip of Imervogli is the protruding national rock formation, Skaros Rock. Delivering some of the best views in Santorini, it’s a popular hiking route – opt for a morning or late afternoon hike to miss the midday sun and don’t forget that water bottle!
Watch the sunset from Oia
The attractive village of Oia is renowned for its famous sunset with travellers from across the globe flocking there.
From Oia castle to the famous windmill there are plenty of places to watch. If you are seeking something more peaceful and don’t mind tackling 300 steps, then venture down to Amoudi Bay – indulge in seafood by the crystal waters whilst enjoying the sunset.
The best places to eat and drink
Santorini has an incredible offering, from casual gyros to fine dining – you’re sure to find something that suits your budget.
My top three picks:
Set back from the main street, this restaurant serves up fantastic Greek tapas including tzatziki, grilled octopus, baked feta, vegetable fritters and stuffed chicken.
A hidden gem providing great value for money.
The Wine Bar, Imerovigli
The Wine Bar is above the Heliotopos Hotel, so you may not even realise they have a restaurant but behind the doors, there is a small yet sophisticated outdoor dining area serving up delicious Italian food. The staff were also super friendly and knew the menu inside out. If you love stone baked pizza and cheesecake, then you will want to dine here.
PK Cocktail Bar, Fira
Located across three levels, this bar is in a great spot. With an extensive cocktail menu, this place is great to sit back and enjoy the view with a mojito or two. PK Cocktail Bar is open all day so you could pop in for an early drink before dinner or watch the sunset here – either way make sure you book a table.
If you want the long weekend of a lifetime, get planning now!