Can't Apollo-gize for all these views!
Santorini is the dreamy, instagrammable, drop-dead gorgeous bucket list location that should be on everyone’s list. Think white stoned homes with blue domes, endless Aegean Sea and gorgeous sunsets covering the whole island. The perfect destination for a romantic get-away or just soaking in some sun and island vibes with your best friend.
My best friend and I visited Santorini right after Mykonos (blog coming soon), and it was refreshing to take a break from all the partying to visit this breathtaking island. Seriously, when I say breathtaking, I mean your jaw will drop in absolute amazement that Mother Nature created such a gem.
The best way to island hop are the ferries, I was seriously impressed with how easy, clean, air-conditioned and fast the ferries were. It took us 3 hours to get from Mykonos to Santorini and from there we had a shuttle pick us up to take us to our Airbnb. Greece has 3 main locations: Perissa, Oia and Fira, it takes about 30 minutes to get to each location via the bus—which I highly recommend taking because the transportation on these islands are insanely expensive and catching a cab takes 30 minutes. Our Airbnb was located in Perissa but I personally didn’t like how far it was from Fira and Oia, so the best thing for first-timers in Santorini would be to try and stay at one of the cave homes in Oia (hard to find but beautiful) or somewhere near Fira—I would have honestly rather stayed at a hotel in Santorini because the infinity pools are gorgeous.
So without further ado, below are my top six things to-do in Santorini along with the great, good and bad of my trip:
1. Santo Winery - Wine Tasting
Anyone who has ever gone to Greece always raves about Santo Winery, at first when I walked into the winery, I thought “this doesn’t look that impressive”, but as soon as I walked down the stairs near the entrance, I thought “holy crap, this is gorgeous.” Set atop a cliff overlooking the Aegean Sea, the winery’s restaurant and tasting room is mainly situated on a long outdoor terrace offering a panoramic view. Mind you, it was insanely hot and there wasn’t much shaded seating, so plan to get a little tan but hey, at least you’re getting tan with a view. Santo Winery tastings start from 4 wine flights to 8 wine flights to the whopping 16 wine flights. Originally, when we made reservations, we asked for the 16 wine-flights but one of the waiters explained to us that getting the four-wine flights and a couple bottles of the wine we liked from our tasting is more worth your money. This ended up being WAY worth it because more wine and roughly same cost, even though the 16 wine-flights would have made for good Instagram aesthetics.
Other’s recommend taking the wine tour but we really enjoyed just sipping wine, talking and obsessing over the view in our own little corner. The waiters did a good job explaining to us the background and history behind the wines we tasted, so we didn’t find the tour necessary.
2. Santorini Caldera Cruise
One thing I absolutely recommend scheduling during your stay is a day cruise. We took the Santorini Caldera Cruise via Viator, you have the option to pick the day or sunset cruise, we ended up picking the sunset tour because it was much cooler and again, the sunsets in Greece are everything. You’ll have to set aside at least half a day for this cruise, but we got to sail through the Aegean Sea with snorkel spots along the way. This cruise also takes you to the White and Red Beach to soak up some sun and then to the hot springs by the Nea Kameni Volcano. Also, you get to eat a full Greek meal on the cruise and unlimited wine/beer throughout the whole experience!
Fun Fact: The Nea Kameni volcano is an active volcano that erupted last in 1950, the lava from that eruption is what created the hot springs. Since it’s been so long since it last erupted, it’s gone from “hot springs” to “luke warm” springs. The springs are legendary for their healing and rejuvenating minerals—try and see if you can see a “N2” on one of the rocks ;)
Traveler Tip: Do not wear white clothing or any silver jewelry to the hot springs, they will turn orange from the sulfur and iron contained in the water.
3. Fish Spa & Massages
When strolling through the town of Fira, make a stop to get a fish therapy treatment for the hands or feet at a fish spa. Full disclosure, I saw an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians where Kim went to a fish spa in Greece, so I knew I had to go too (#KeepingUpWithNehal). You stick your toes inside a tank filled with tiny Garra Rufa fish and they gently suck away the dead skin leaving them smooth as silk. I was actually freaking out for 5 minutes because the fish made me queasy, but then after I put my feet in, it felt like a million fishes were kissing my feet with a soothing vibration pattern. Many of these spas also offer massages, so bargain for a good package deal on both.
Traveler Tip: Don’t stare at the fish directly or you will not stop laughing.
4. Watch Sunsets from Oia to Fira
Santorini sunsets are ranked #4 on the most stunning sunsets of the world list, but finding the perfect location to the sunset can be quite difficult. The most popular location is Oia (classic blue dome houses), make sure to secure your spot early because it gets insanely crowded with tourists by the time the sun sets around 8 PM. We got really lucky and met some people at the fish spa who were staying in Oia and told us we can watch the sunset from their house so no crowds. Bottom Line: Make friends for da views.
Other people we met on the island told us they did the Oia to Fira hike during the sunset so they could capture different parts of the sunset at different locations. Hiking and heat didn’t really sound all that appealing to us, so had to give a hard pass on that.
5. Eat Delicious Greek Food
One of my favorite food places on this whole trip was Lucky Souvlakis in Fira, it is the GO TO place for the best souvlaki/gyros in Santorini. The gyros were crispy and made to order, the tzatziki, tomatoes, and greens were so fresh and in perfect proportions. But, the best part was their spicy orange sauce that I just drowned my pita in. While Lucky’s is a fast food stop for a quick bite, two restaurants that are on the fancier side are Volcano Blue and Naoussa. Volcano Blue was a recommendation given to me by a coworker, it’s location is perfect for watching one of the infamous Santorini sunsets—make sure you make reservations in advance and check what time sunset is. Another amazing restaurant is Naoussa, which is located in Fira, aside from the views and food, this is one of the few restaurants that participates in the traditional plate throwing. We had so much fun yelling OPA and breaking plates—pair that with a few crates of wine and live music and boom, you got yourself an incredible night. Lastly, for all my sweet tooth lovers, must try the greek frozen yogurt at Chillbox!
6. Dance the Night Away
The most famous bar in Santorini is a bar called Two Brothers. Two Brothers reminds me of a college bar—think Top 100 hits, people dancing on bar tops, random steam and edm lights, and crazy shot names (ex. helmet shot). If you’re lucky and traveling with your gorgeous best friend, you’ll get invited to the VIP area where you can sit up top and laugh at the drunks below while smoking some hookah on the house. If you’re not as lucky, might as well join in the craziness and relive your college days for a night.
- Great: The Caldera Sunset cruise was by far the highlight of my whole entire Greece vacation. Yell "Who's from the U.S." on every activity to find a dope squad who you can meet up with in the states. This cruise was worth the money because we got to check off a lot of our Santorini bucket list since they take you to many of the main attractions.
- Good: The night life to me was average, but keep in mind we’re coming in fresh out of Mykonos so nothing can really compare to that anyways.
- Bad: I can’t stress how horrible transportation is in this city, I highly recommend renting an ATV out for your trip at a flat rate so you can easily get across the island instead of relying on public transportation. We got super unlucky with this because a new rule in Greece says you must have an international driving license if you’re from the USA or Canada in order to rent an ATV/car so make sure to get your international license. Another kind of frustrating thing was that the Airbnb we stayed at was super old school, I’m talking like 1800’s India because you had to turn the boiler on 15 minutes before you showered and the boiler and AC couldn’t be turned on at the same time. Safe to say, I was not meant to "rough it."
Overall, we enjoyed each and every moment of this trip because it was so incredibly special and breathtaking. I can’t express how amazing and kind Greek people are, they’re so hospitable and helpful to foreigners. We were stressing out on the last day about how to get to the airport since our flight was super early and buses weren’t running, and one of the restaurant owners heard us talking and arranged his employee to pick us up in a car for our flight the next morning. We also got treated like queens at the bars…but that’s because Greek men love Indian women from America (I’ll save those stories for my Mykonos blog ;)).
I hope this was helpful to those of you planning a trip to Santorini and gave some inspiration to those who aren’t. If you have any questions, shoot me an email or DM on my Instagram account (@nehaltenany).
I’ve attached my itinerary below along with prices! Happy vacay!