In the first week of May, we headed to Santorini for some sun and relaxation! This was the most relaxing destination we have been in Europe. Most of the other places we’ve been have been filled with sightseeing and not much relaxing. Santorini has some of the most breathtaking views and seriously the most amazing sunsets that I have ever seen. Gorgeous scenery, relaxing atmosphere, and delicious seafood made for one of my favorite vacations. We will definitely be back!
Santorini is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Different towns in Santorini have different vibes. Where you should stay in Santorini depends on whether you are wanting privacy and the opportunity to truly relax, or if you would rather be in the middle of bustling streets and nightlife. Oia is the most famous with it’s white houses stacked on the hillside and blue domes scattered throughout. Oia is breathtakingly gorgeous and supposedly has the best view of the sunset in Santorini. It’s also filled with restaurants and shops. The only downside is that it gets really crowded during the day, especially when a cruise ship is nearby. In the middle of the island is Fira – it also has some great restaurants but is not quite as picturesque as Oia. Fira is a great place to stay if you’re looking for more privacy and relaxation.
After talking with some friends who had recently visited Santorini, we decided to stay in both Oia and Fira! We were in Santorini for one week, so we spent the first half in Oia and the second half in Fira. We absolutely loved both of the hotels we stayed at and I am so happy we split our trip up this way! Each town is so different, and I feel like we got a great experience by staying in each rather than making a day trip. For example, it was so fun to stay in Oia where all of the action was, but then move onto Fira for more quiet and relaxation. One thing about Oia that many people complain about is the crowds. Because of where our hotel was we really weren’t affected by the crowds too much. The only time it felt crazy was when we were walking from our hotel to the hiking trail and a cruise ship had recently ported. This was around noon and the small streets were wall to wall people. But the nice thing about staying in Oia was getting to experience it in the mornings and evenings, which were very peaceful. We got up early each morning to walk around and basically had the entire town to ourselves. We were also there in early May, which isn’t high tourism season yet. The concierge at our hotel told us it’s unbearable in late June, July and August in Oia, especially during sunset time. People come from all over the island to Oia to watch the sunset and traffic can get crazy around sunset time.
WHERE WE STAYED IN SANTORINI
In Oia we stayed at VIP Suites Oia, which we loved. This was a cave hotel, which are very popular in Santorini (and Oia especially). Cave hotels are rooms and suites that are built into the cliffside to form a cave. We had the most beautiful view of Santorini and the caldera. Check in was in the main town center area and the cave rooms are quite a bit away from the check in area. They take care of your luggage for you which is really nice, because the path to the cave rooms includes a lot of steps. Our room had a big terrace with loungers and a table with chairs which is where we ate breakfast most mornings. VIP Suites doesn’t offer breakfast, so we went to the nearby grocery store and bought some local Greek yogurt and honey for breakfast. We had a refrigerator in our room, which was perfect for storing our Greek yogurt. I really loved the local honey we bought there, it came with almonds and walnuts mixed in it. Perfect for adding to plain Greek Yogurt. I miss having breakfast with this view!
In Fira we stayed at Mythical Blue Santorini, and this was SUCH a relaxing hotel. We had a cave room here also and loved it. We especially loved the pool and hot tub at this hotel. Mythical Blue Santorini also has an onsite bar and restaurant. Breakfast is included and you can have it delivered to your room for no extra charge or you can eat in the main dining area that has beautiful views. It’s in a calm part of Fira, high above the main town center but within walking distance to some of the best restaurants. Because it’s higher up it has some of the best views in Fira. As soon as we checked in, we ordered drinks and hung out at the pool. I still can’t get over this view!
WHAT TO DO IN SANTORINI
Hiking: One of the best things to do while in Santorini is the hike from Oia to Fira (or the other way around). We hiked from Oia to Fira and it took us about three hours, but I’m sure you could do it much faster as we are not expert hikers and we stopped for lots of pictures along the way. It’s a very beautiful hike and the path is along the caldera.
Boat ride: This was one of my favorite things we did in Santorini! We did a catamaran sailing cruise with Captain Ted’s Santorini Sailing. Meal and drinks are included, and the meal we had was amazing! The guides on board were very knowledgeable and we really enjoyed learning more about this history of Santorini and the caldera. I don’t think it gets more relaxing than sailing around Santorini in the sun while enjoying some local Assyrtiko wine. We basically had the entire boat to ourselves because there was only one other couple on our trip and they both fell asleep in the back of the boat. The crew told us that the boat holds about 20 people and during June, July, and August each tour is completely full.
Visit a winery: Santorini has some amazing wines! Because of the volcanic soil, the wine from Santorini was very different from anything else I’ve tasted. Assyrtiko is the most popular variety and is used in most of the white wines. Some great wineries to visit are Sigalas and Santo.
Ammoudi Bay: Ammoudi Bay is Oia’s small port and is mostly known for it’s charming seafood restaurants that sit right on the water and incredible cliff jumping spots! We had some of the best seafood I have ever eaten in my life at a restaurant called Dmitri’s Taverna in Ammoudi Bay.
WHERE TO EAT IN SANTORINI
We honestly did not have a single bad meal while we were in Santorini. Here are some of our favorites:
Dmitri’s Taverna (Ammoudi Bay): Dmitri’s is in Ammoudi Bay which is below Oia. We had lunch here one day and I would definitely go back here if we are ever in Santorini again. Probably the best seafood of my life! It’s right on the water so if you make a reservation or get there early you can get a table literally on the water’s edge. The guy at the table next to us actually dropped his silverware into the water (which I’m surprised didn’t happen to me!).
Ambrosia (Oia): Definitely on the pricier side but Ambrosia is the perfect setting for a romantic meal. The view is great, but I would only go here if you can get a reservation for the upstairs patio at 7pm. They do two seatings, 7pm and 9pm and the 7pm slot is when the sunset occurs.
Argo (Fira): My favorite meal of the trip! Amazing service, food, and ambiance! Try to make a reservation for the upstairs patio here too, but honestly the food is so good that I would still go here even if you can’t get a table with a view. I thought the view here was better than Ambrosia in Oia because you can see more of the sunset. Argo is not as fancy as Ambrosia but I thought the food was way better. We went here on Patrick’s birthday and they brought out a special dessert with sparklers and sang to him 🙂
Lucky’s (Fira): Amazing gyros! Perfect for a quick and cheap meal. These were the best gyros we had in Santorini and we tried a few places.
Roka (Oia): Off the beaten path in Oia, Roka has amazing food and a great wine list.
To and from airport: We took a taxi to Oia once we landed and also from our hotel in Fira to the airport at the end of our vacation. I think each ride cost about 30 euros and the ride to Oia was thirty minutes and Fira was fifteen minutes to the airport.
In between towns: There is a bus that runs in between Oia and Fira about every twenty minutes. It cost us 4 euros for two people one way and I think the ride was about 20 minutes.