The Greek island of Santorini is known for its tranquil vibes and breathtaking views. Not only that, it’s a well-known honeymoon destination. But who could blame it? It’s like wanderlust, stepping into an exotic destination with scenic views and unique architecture that make you want to take all your belongings and call it your new home. Everything in Santorini is themed, it’s like Instagram coming to life. The colour scheme is magnificent: white, blue and turquoise. And all the buildings depict these colours. This makes it an outstanding place for photo taking, but also makes for an amazing and unforgettable view. Santorini is not one you can just see in pictures, but one you have to experience. I got to share this wonderful trip with my sister, and I wouldn’t trade it for any other! We had the best time ever. If you are fantasising about a trip to Santorini or planning to go, here’s a list of my favourite experiences throughout my trip, and I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!
1. Go to the Volcano island
The volcano tour is one for the nature lovers. You get to walk on an actual volcano, and see the crater upfront. Pretty cool if you ask me! It’s also a great trek up, so for all my fitness fiends and hikers, you can wear your hiking shoes and have a little bit of a cardio workout walking up the volcano. Don’t wear slippers (I made that mistake) as you will probably trip (made that mistake too).
How to get there: The only way to get to the volcano is by taking a ferry from the city, Fira. There are lots of tours to see the volcano all throughout the week, and you can find an available tour around little shops all over the island. So just pick one, book a place on the tour the day before, and you’re good to go!
2. Take a dip in the Volcanic hot springs
This one is definitely dependent on the season. We went during Spring, which the locals call their ‘Greek winter’. The waters to get to the hot springs are absolutely freezing cold. But, I took a plunge in anyway. Once you reach the hot springs, the temperature increases much more. But it isn’t that particularly hot, as we expected. But still, you don’t want to swim back to your boat cause it’s all nice and warm! And, they say that the clay in the water is really good for your skin, because it’s so high in minerals. And they told us to rub it all over our bodies. So we did. Yay to natural skin care!
3. Ride on a donkey in Fira
So this one was definitely NOT planned. We were actually supposed to go on the volcano tour and we were LATE. Yes, we were. This is not new… Plus, we had to take a ferry there at the dock. And if we missed the boat…. *cue dramatic music*. The boat would leave without us! So then, we were told it would be a 10 minute walk down some steps to get to the dock. And once we reached those steps, we saw this…
*Cue dramatic music, again!* 10 minute walk? We had to walk all the way down those steps to get to the boat. And a local said it would take 10 mins.. Probably for them, but not for us! So a local man approached us asking us if we wanted to ride a donkey down. And we said sure. Also, you can take the cable car down for 5€. But going on the donkey is much more fun.
When we were done with our volcano tour, we decided to walk up those stairs. It was my idea. Because of course, I always love challenges. I told my sister that we could do it, since we’re such fitness fanatics. I’m sorry guys, these steps are not for the faint-hearted. There are 6000 steps! By the end of it, I collapsed on the floor. I could not move. And my calves were on fire for 3 days. But overall, it was great to know that we conquered 6000 steps. Definitely one for the books! If you feel up for the challenge, give it a go. But you have been warned…
4. Drink some Greek coffee
This is for all my coffee lovers out there. Santorini has really great coffee. Smooth, rich and delicate. It does have a different aroma and taste to it than normal coffee. And you can tell, it is freshly made. Also, they don’t do lattes in Greece. Only cappuccinos or Greek coffee, which is similar to Turkish coffee in the way that it’s made. I suggest you give it a try. You will not be disappointed!
5. Then, eat some frozen Greek yoghurt
As you can tell, by that time I was very happy to have some frozen yoghurt. It was really scorching during the day. Strangely enough, even though it was Spring. And one of the locals even called it their ‘Greek winter’. Which surprised me. I wish winters in England were like this. With some sun! So you know how you can get Greek yoghurt at your local supermarket? Well here, this is where the actual Greek yoghurt is made. And frozen too! The frozen yoghurt tasted really sweet and tangy, and you get a wide selection of fruits and toppings. Worth every penny! We got ours from Louyo. Louyo makes hand-made frozen yoghurt from scratch. So, you know the taste was irresistible. I’m still getting foodie dreams about it… You can find frozen yoghurt mainly in the city of Fira. We tried looking in other places like Pyrgos (where we stayed) but there was none, sadly. So get some in Fira! Louyou open from 9.00am to 8.00pm or you can get some at Chillbox, which opens until midnight, just in case you have night cravings.
5. Have some fun in Fira
Fira is the city of Santorini, and it has many shops, cathedrals and restaurants. This was my favourite place overall, because there was so much too do, but so little time. Many shops here sell souvenirs (check out my friend’s souvenir shop, called Orion!) and you’ll find lots of great restaurants and cafes.
We had lunch at Naoussa restaurant. Ok, story about that giant bruise on my arm: We got the wrong boarding gate for our flight. So out of desperation, we went full on sprint mode. I was pulling my hand luggage, and honestly did not even realise my arm was hurting because of all the adrenaline pumping through my body. And also, I had a random cut on the back of my heel from my shoe, and I was bleeding all over. Total crime scene, indeed. So, we finally made it to the right boarding gate and… our flight was gone. We literally sunk to the floor. But, 6 other passengers missed their flight as well. So, we all teamed up together and made a plan. Got the next flight at another airport, and we all laughed about it. Oh well, things happen. But we weren’t letting it spoil or holiday! At least we were all fine, and all safe.
Naoussa restaurant was honestly the best restaurant we found. The food was fresh, authentically Greek and tasted so fresh. It reminded me of my mother’s cooking so much! Very Mediterranean-like, and their seafood is divine. We were given some dessert on the house too.
I asked the owner what this was called, and he told me to tell you guys it was called the ‘special dessert’. So yes, it is the special dessert. So delicious! It sort of tastes like baclava and banoffee pie had a baby. I can’t even describe it, you have to taste it! Heaven on earth.
6. Play with the animals
For all you cat lovers out there, Santorini is filled with cats roaming around the island. We found alot of cats in the city of Fira, and basically stalked them for at least an hour.
Apparently, all these cats were owned by the Pope in Fira, and lived in his house. During the day, they would roam around and then return back home. We had a fun time trying to play with them! Though, they did appreciate their own space. We came across two dogs who the locals called ‘best friends’. They would always stick by each other, and would always be seen roaming around the streets of Fira together. How cute is that?
And such a bonus that he and my sister were matching on that day. Black and white is so in.
7. Explore the village of Oia
I know… The sunset in Oia is a typical tourist attraction. But, Oia is the seriously most scenic and beautiful village in Santorini. If you want to catch the sunset, you have to come early because it will usually be packed with people. Nonetheless, it is a wonderful sight to see. There’s a public bus you can take that stops at multiple places around the island, and it comes about every hour or so. So, we managed to get there in time for the sunset. It was breathtaking. If there’s anything you do in Santorini, it’s to come to Oia for the sunset. You will not believe your eyes when you see it.
That was my reaction when I witnessed the sunset. Magnificent.
We had some time after the sunset to roam around Oia. Honestly, it’s so much fun to walk down steps and explore the place. Some steps that you walk down lead to a dead end, and then you have to walk back up all over again. It’s like a maze. So, it is great fun! Also, you may come across some little hidden treasures: We came across a little house there for sale. And we were thinking… Can we leave everything behind and live here, right now?
8. Take a peek in Pyrgos
Pyrgos is one of the quieter villages in Santorini, and also where we stayed. This place is bang for your buck! Meaning, food is way cheaper. In Santorini, you don’t only pay for the food, but for the view as well. So places like Oia and Fira will be much more expensive. If you’re looking for less crowds, more tranquility and better and cheaper food and coffee (because, the food here is the bomb), then Pyrgos is for you. The city of Fira is about 15 minutes away by bus and 10 minutes by car, so if you’re planning to rent a car, then you can basically stay anywhere on the island and everything is about 30 minutes away or less.
And of course, coffee. I find the coffee in Pyrgos really good. We especially love their cappucinos. Yum! Thumbs up if you’re coffee addicts like us!
We came across this quaint little restaurant called Mythos Grill and Tavern and we ate the best stuffed peppers we have ever eaten in our lives. The food was delicious! Also not to mention, we were given free dessert and coffee. To be honest, Greek people are so friendly and hospitable. We kept getting free food! Can I stay longer, please? Which brings me to number 9…
9. Check out a traditional Greek house
Ok, so this one was really random. We were talking to the owner of Mythos Grill and Tavern restaurant (which you have to visit guys, the food is superb!), and asked him if all houses in Santorini looked like the ones we saw in hotels. And he said, “No, those are for tourists. Real Greek houses in Santorini are so much different.” So his two little daughters suggested that they bring us to see their grandfather’s old house, that was not too far from the restaurant. So off we went!
The little girl even gave my sister a flower! How cute! I was not given one. Sadly.. But, we got to see this really cool old Santorini house. And it honestly gave me so much interior decor inspiration. Decor-spiration?
As you can see, it’s shaped like a cave. This system sort of keeps cold air inside, and hot air outside, according to the owner. So the inside of the house was pretty cold. All the cave-inspired hotels and houses you see in Santorini were actually adopted from traditional houses in Santorini, and this design started up to 500 years ago! Cool, huh?
Hello to cool, vintage doors! This house has not been lived in for at least 50 years. It felt like our very own, private museum tour. Cheers to random, new, and interesting finds!
9. Eat SEAFOOD in Pyrgos
We tried restaurants all over Santorini, and I can guarantee you that the best seafood I have tried was at Cava Alta in Pyrgos. I cannot even explain my overwhelming adoration for this dish.
Cuttle fish ink pasta. I have personally never tried cuttlefish ink, squid ink, or any kind of ink. I gave this a random try, and it was such a good choice. The best dish I’ve had in Santorini by far! The waiter even told me not to add salt to it, because it was naturally salty from the sea. I don’t think it gets any fresher than that. So if you’re in Santorini, it is a MUST to stop in Pyrgos and have this dish. I promise, your taste buds will thank you.
10. Explore, explore, explore
You are an adventurer. Explore hidden parts, mysterious areas, places that have not been seen or heard off… But, I urge you to walk around and explore! Talk to people, and see what you can find. You never know, a little unknown island treasure might be waiting around the corner. And by treasure, I mean an unforgettable experience.
A place with friendly, warm and welcoming people, the most gorgeous scenery, and the freshest seafood. I hope you guys got a glimpse of my time in Santorini, and get inspired to go to experience the wonderful culture and sights it has to offer. Believe me, you will be amazed at how wonderful a place can actually be.