Santorini, Greece is one of those idyllic vacation spots that seems to be on everyone’s bucket list. It was definitely on mine. We went for 3 days and 2 nights during our Greek Babymoon and it was the perfect amount of time. I know some people think Santorini is overrated compared to other Greek islands due to the overwhelming amount of tourists, but we just happened to go when there weren’t a lot of tourists. It was absolutely stunning and truly amazing. I highly recommend spending a few days in Santorini!
Getting There – By Ferry
We started our Greek vacation on the island of Crete (read more about that here), and took the ferry to Santorini. It is very easy to get from Crete to Santorini and back because there are multiple ferries each day, and the trip is less than 2 hours. Ferryhopper.com was the easiest way to compare our options and book our tickets directly. On the Ferryhopper app, we were able to check in online and get our boarding passes.
*Due to the timing of our trip, masks were required for the duration of the ferry ride. We also had to print and fill out a health declaration form, and our temperature was taken before we boarded.
Where to Stay
Most people that visit Santorini choose between staying in Oia or Fira, the two most popular villages. Fira is the island’s capital, it’s close to the airport and the port where the Ferry drops you off, and is known for its nightlife. Oia (pronounced EE-yah) is known for its iconic blue domes, picturesque views, luxury shopping and romantic restaurants. We ultimately decided to stay in Oia and loved it.
When deciding where exactly to stay in Oia there are so many options. There are cave houses vs. boutique hotels, and you can stay in the heart of Oia, or a little further away. I am the type of person that prefers staying somewhere more unique and local to the area (e.g., riads in Marrakech) so we decided to stay in a Cycladic cave house right next to the blue domes. Cave houses in Santorini were originally built for the poor workers, and they were carved into the Theraic earth and mixed with limestone. It’s so interesting that these tiny homes for the poorest of the poor have now become the expensive tourist accommodations on the island.
We stayed at the Sophia Oia View. It is right in the heart of Oia, tucked away behind a restaurant. Our room had a little terrace and an outdoor plunge pool, and it was truly amazing to wake up everyday to that view.
Again, I absolutely loved staying in a cave house in our location for two nights. However, cave houses are really tiny and I do think two nights is probably the maximum you should stay in one. If we were to spend more than a few days in Santorini, we’d probably stay in a boutique hotel a little further away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Oia. We were lucky there weren’t as many tourists as usual, but because we had such a great view of the blue domes, there were frequently strangers taking Instagram pictures right outside the entrance to our area. I can see how that would get super annoying after awhile.
The company that owns our cave house also owns more locations in Santorini. They have a boutique hotel a short 10 minute walk away from where we were staying, and we ended up going there before our Ferry ride back to Crete. The Sophia Boutique Hotel is so cute and has a pool with a view of the sunset, an outdoor bar with delicious food, and each room has its own plunge pool. This is probably where we’ll stay next time we go, and if you are staying in Santorini for more than a few days I recommend it!
What to Do
I know I’ve already said this, but Oia truly is so beautiful and there’s a reason tourists flock to see it. I recommend waking up early and beating the crowd to see the views and get the pictures you want. Then spend the rest of the day wandering around the narrow alleys, exploring the shops and the restaurants. Make sure to venture off of the main walking street because the back alleys are filled with hidden treasures.
The Byzantine Castle Ruins
This castle, or the Castle of St. Nicolas, dates back to the 15th century. The castle was built for protection from pirates, housing the wealthy, and storing crops. Nowadays, the castle ruins are really just a great spot for the views of Oia, the caldera, and the sunset. It is the perfect area to take panoramic photos of the iconic Oia windmills and the cave houses of Oia. This is also a popular place to watch the sunset (because it’s free), so claim your spot early if this is your plan.
One of my favorite parts of Oia was going down to Ammoudi Bay for lunch. It is an easy walk down from the main area of Oia, but it is definitely a hike back up (~300 steps). Still, it was worth it. Ammoudi Bay is a little fishing village, lined with tavernas serving fresh seafood by the water. We ate at Ammoudi Fish Tavern – 100% recommend! They sun dry their fresh octopus for 2 days and it was so delicious.
Also, there is a cliff jumping area down by Ammoudi Bay. Walk to the left past all of the restaurants and you’ll see people swimming and diving into the water.
Since Oia is known for its beautiful sunset, I recommend having a plan for where you are going to watch it. If you are going to be at a restaurant, make reservations a few days in advance! We ate at Elinikon, which is right by the windmills, and we were able to enjoy the view and eat amazing food. If you are spending a few days in Santorini, a sunset cruise is also a great option one night (see below).
Everywhere we ate in Greece was amazing (I love Greek food), but there are two breakfast spots in Oia I want to highlight. Thalami is open for breakfast, and their savory pancakes were life changing. Their stack of pancakes is layered with cheese, bacon, cream cheese and fried egg. Plus, the views of the ocean are amazing!
On a smaller alley in Oia, there is a cozy cute restaurant called Karma that serves healthier options. Their lunch and dinner menu looked amazingggg but we only had time for breakfast. I recommend the Speak the Truth (avocado toast) and Karma Soda.
You really only need one day to see all of Oia, and there are so many smaller charming villages in Santorini to explore. We decided to spend half a day in Megalochori, a cute picturesque town and one of the most traditional villages on the Island. Megalochori is filled with white-washed buildings, and it’s the perfect escape from the more tourist-crowded areas. We loved wandering around the narrow streets, admiring the old mansions, and stopping into the cute shops. There are also endless amounts of pretty blue doors and gorgeous pink flowers.
Megalochori is also known for its wineries. We decided to stop into the Galavas Winery, a traditional family-run winery. Galavas is one of the oldest wineries in Santorini. Timmer did the wine tasting, and I learned all about Greek wines. Unfortunately, being pregnant, I could only smell his wines, but I could tell which ones I would like. I am really excited to try the Santorini (in the blue bottle) and the Voudomato post-pregnancy. If you have time during your few days in Santorini, we definitely recommend visiting a winery.
A fun fact about the vineyards in Santorini: due to the nature of the Island (strong winds and intense sunlight), the individual vines are shaped into spirals, where the grapes grow on the inside and are protected by the trunk and leaves. So they don’t look like your traditional vineyards at all!
During our few days in Santorini, we knew we wanted to do some sort of boat cruise around the island. Our hotel was able to book one for us at a discount. Our sunset cruise through Santorini Luxury Yachting was so perfect. The crew was amazing and so so nice – they went above and beyond to make sure I was comfortable. The food was amazing! Five courses, all of them delicious, plus unlimited beer, wine and cocktails (mocktails for me). We even ended up making friends with some fellow cruise-riders.
Our cruise included sailing past the well-known Red Beach, White Beach and Black Mountain of Santorini. We swam in the water; it was so refreshing! Then we cruised to the island of Thirassia, and used their stand up paddle boards to explore the coast. We stopped by the sulfur hot springs by the volcano for people to swim in. Finally, we watched the sunset. It was beautiful! Overall, 10/10 we had so much fun and can’t recommend Santorini Luxury Yachting enough.
Fira is another popular destination in Santorini, so we stopped by for dinner after our sunset cruise with our new friends. We didn’t end up going until later at night, and it was packed with both locals and tourists. The main street in Fira is lined with restaurants, bars and shops, and it looked like an awesome place to grab drinks and people watch.
Overall I loved spending a few days in Santorini. It is the picture perfect destination, the food is amazing, and the people are so nice. Try to go when tourist season is low, or at least wake up before the crowds so you can have the island to yourself. Until next time, ya mas (cheers)!