Island Living: Santorini, Greece
After watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, I was so excited to be headed to Santorini! All the houses painted blue and white and surrounded by Greek men? Yes please! It took two plane rides; first stop was Athens, then a smaller plan to the beautiful island. When we arrived, our Airbnb had a driver sent to take us to our room. I was really grateful for this because I was extremely confused on how the island worked. There was only a handful of roads in total and people would just pass each other left and right. There was not much rhyme or reason nor did we see any police, but that did not deter us. Once we settled in, we really made this island our home. So what exactly did we do?
- Oia. At the most northern point of the island stands Oia (pronounced EE-YA). This is where you will find all the romance and marriage proposals. Most restaurants are set for two and you are surrounded by couples. It is also drastically more expensive than other parts of the island we visited. But that is not to say there isn’t things for travelers to do who are on a budget or not with a significant other. In regards to shopping, you must go to Atlantis Books! You walk down some stairs and enter what feels like a cave. There are books lining the walls all the way to the ceiling! Perfect for any book lover like myself. My other favorite thing in Oia was Ammoudi Bay. The water is clear down to the rocks at the bottom; it’s a sight I’ve never seen before. The best way to access this area is by ATV, otherwise you will be taking hundreds of steps down and then back up. There is a cliff, not terribly high, that you jump from and a lot of area to swim. You’ll find places to eat on your short walk along the water until you arrive. And there are tons of nooks to hide your things in, so go ahead and bring your phone!
- Thera. This is where we spent most of our time. The town center is a perfect place to do some shopping and exploring! The area is more of the typical Greek streets that you would expect: very narrow and made of large pebbles cemented in the ground. Christina and I would go here multiple times by the local bus or by our ATV. It was a pretty short ride for dinner or dessert. The best gyros on the island are located here at Lucky’s Souvlakis and great places to get frozen yogurt or gelato. If you want a good workout after eating all that food, there are two hikes in Thera. The first (and shorter one) is to Skaros Rock, but fair warning that there are a lot of steps. You’ll see really beautiful views of both the north and south ends of the island as well as the volcano. The longer hike is from Thera to Oia. We almost did not go through with it, but ended up pushing ourselves. This hike is a good five or more miles but really awesome views that you could not get anywhere else.
- Parissa. Christina and I only went here two times. The first was in the late morning where we laid under cabanas on the black sand beach and were brought drinks and lunch. It was amazing! The best part was that there was no extra charge to be served under the cabanas by the water. Later that night we returned to check out the night life but were disappointed by the lack of options during the time we went.
- Akrotiri. Our little Airbnb was located in Akrotiri. This is the most southern area of the island. There is a lot of historical remains and you can visit the ancient town of Akrotiri. There is a lighthouse that is a beautiful view of the volcano and Oia as well as red beach! Now I will go ahead and let you know that red beach was not your average beach. There is little to no room to sunbathe, and there is a small hike but totally worth it.
A few tips:
- Walking into the ocean is not the same as most other beaches. Rocks line almost the whole island so be sure to bring water shoes so that you don’t cut your feet or fall trying to get in and out.
- The island is not open year round. When we went in May, the island had just opened up so it was more calm than usual, but the water was still very chilly. The locals said the best time to come is at the end of tourist season around October.
- The island gets over 2 million visitors during its few months that it is open, so be sure to take that into consideration when getting tickets and a hotel.
- The bus ride from Thera to Oia will really get you if you are easily car sick. The roads are terribly thin and very windy, so be sure to bring along to medicine.
- Bathrooms are not free most of the time, so carry change with you.
- The local bus only takes euros, but it is not very expensive. It can take you anywhere you need to go on the island.
- If you rent an ATV or other car, be sure to ask about the rules of the roads.
This post could go one forever and will most likely never capture my love for the island. We really made Santorini our home and I cannot wait to return some day! For those of you thinking about making the trip, do it. I can promise you that you will not regret it, for the people and the atmosphere of this island is like no other.
Click here for our Airbnb.