Santorini is the most beautiful Greek island! 🇬🇷
The whitewashed buildings, romantic sunsets and panoramic sea views are what dreams are made of. The volcanic cliffs are a reddish brown hue, layered with clusters of sparkling white villages and in the evening, the lights twinkle ✨ so beautifully like glittering diamonds against the navy night sky.
Before I get into the my tips and tricks, I will give you a brief background on Santorini.
THE ISLAND SHAPE & NAME CHANGES
Santorini was first known as Strongili, which means round in Greek. Strongili was the victim of an enormous volcano eruption 🌋. The eruption was so strong that the centre of Santorini sank, and the many earthquakes that followed destroyed a big part of the rest of the island. Since this, the island has changed many shapes due to a series of volcanic eruptions, all of which have shaped the island to what it looks like today. Santorini is an active volcano, the shape of the island resembles a croissant 🥐, providing an open view of the caldera and the Aegean sea.
The Phoenicians named the island Kallisti meaning the most beautiful, they were the first people to reach the island and were mesmerized by its beauty
The Spartans named the island Thira in honour of their leader, King Thiras after the legendary settler founded the island and then settled on the island
The Venetians named the island Santorini, St Irene derived from Santa Irini, the Basilica of Agia Irini located at the base of the mountain of Mesa Vouno
Now this beautiful island actually goes by two names, Santorini and its official name Thira. The capital of the island is Fira. The name derived from corruption of the word Thira.
History lesson over, let’s get to the concierge advice.
Santorini is synonymous with natural beauty, romance, sunsets, gorgeous food and luxurious hotels. So lets get into it…
Santorini is the one destination I have visited the most! And every time it has always been during the summer (June and July), which I really like! A word of advice though, as I’m sure you can imagine, it gets extremely busy as this is the high season – peak season is August. I would advise against visiting during the winter months as most places will be closed, not to mention the weather can be cold and very windy.
Oia is the place to be! I always stay in Oia, its has the best hotels, restaurants, shops and picture postcard moments!Leoni
For me, Oia is the ultimate place to stay, it has the best views of the island and there is a coastal footpath that leads you straight into the town centre. When staying in Oia, be sure to know that Oia overlooks 2 different views, one is the sea with the caldera and white cliff tops (this is the view you are wanting) and the other is a view of the land and the sea is in the distance (this view is ok but the ultimate view is of the caldera, there is just something so captivating and it is unlike any other view). If you choose to stay at a hotel located on the cliffs then pleeease bear in mind that there are very steep steps to access the hotel and whilst these hotels are stunning, the location is comprisable so just be prepared as climbing these steps with your Louboutins 👠 and Louis Vuitton luggage 💼 is not fun. There are lots of beautiful places to stay in Santorini, I have composed a list of my top picks:
The island gets extremely busy as tourists are constantly arriving from the cruise ships. To avoid being in these crowds try to venture off early in the morning; if you are an early bird then this should be a breeze for you, but if you love a lie in I suggest you put your alarm on ⏰ (as annoying as it can be) wake up early and get to Oia way before midday. As when 1pm rolls around you will see a sea of people all wanting to get to get to where you are wanting to go. Oia also gets extremely crowded around the time of sunset, between 8pm – 9pm the streets are filled with people all waiting to watch the sun set. The best tip I can give is to make restaurant reservations just before sunset for around 7pm, this way you can enjoy the scenery over a glass of wine and delicious meal from the comfort of your table without finding yourself crowd surfing.
Santorini is the perfect backdrop for a photoshoot, and my advice for photo opportunities is the earlier the better because the streets are clear of tourists and you will get some amazing shots! 📸
Finding the perfect spot is a piece of cake, trying to take a photo with no one around is not so easy. Most of the time people are waiting around, trying to get the same pose and photo as you, which puts pressure on you and makes you feel like you’ve got to hurry up (but ignore them and let them wait because you’re there to take a great photo). If you’ve noticed, which I’m sure you have, all of the Instagram photos of these Greek side streets with the colourful doors or the photos of the white buildings and the sea, there is only ever one person in that photo and that is the blogger – and this is down to getting there first and when it is quiet. My tip is, have a walk around and explore Oia, look out for scenic spots that appeal to you for a photo opportunity and try to remember where exactly they are, take a picture too and then, set aside one early morning for your photo shoot. This way you know where exactly you are heading, you have planned your outfit, your hair and makeup is done and all you have to do is pose for that perfect shot! And you don’t have to be traipsing around town all day looking like a hot mess because of the heat and big crowds! (lol)
Best spot for food is Ammoudi Bay, here you will find authentic Greek food that is loved by the locals. Ammoudi Bay has several restaurants to choose from. Ammoudi Fish Tavern is really nice because it has a very shipwrecked vibe where you feel like you are on a boat. My personal favourites are Fish Tavern Katina, and Sunset. Begin your meal with tomato koftes, fried eggplant, bread, salad and fava, and for main course the best things to order are grilled king prawns, fried calamari and grilled calamari, grilled octopus with fries . I like to enjoy my meal with a glass of sangria too🍷! Try getting to Ammoudi Bay before sunset so you can see the sun set.
Located on the most central spot in Oia is Thalami, a restaurant overlooking the volcano with fantastic views and food. Book this place in advance so that you can enjoy your meal whilst gazing at the sun setting. The best gyros in Oia is found at Pitogyros. For those that may not know what gyros is, it is a Greek kebab, (not to be confused with souvlaki), made up of slices of either pork or chicken with tzatziki, tomato, onions and fries all wrapped up in a flat bread, it is so tasty! Honestly, I have tried many and nothing beats here! They are so delish, they make a great lunch time meal and the price is so reasonable. The kitchen is open which is great because A). the kitchen looks really clean which is an absolute must for me B). Its pretty cool seeing how the cooks prepare the gyros which is fun. So head here for the best gyros in town!
There’s only one place for ice cream🍦and that is Lolita’s Gelato, their ice creams are made fresh everyday with the purest ingredients and what I really love about this ice cream shop is that you can see the gelato being made right in front of you! The selection of flavours are wonderful and the cherry on the top is how inexpensive this place is! A bonus is the cute courtyard where travellers take the famous shot of their ice cream with the Lolita’s logo in the background. Skip all the other ice cream places and head straight for here. For a beautiful culinary experience I highly recommend dining at Catch, this restaurant is simply stunning and is like no other. The menu is a fusion of traditional comfort food classics combined into the form of fine dining dishes. The interior is refreshing and built around bringing the outdoors inside with green foliage, ambient lighting and an open roof, providing a very relaxing atmosphere with the soft sound of live jazz music played by extremely talented musicians. Catch exudes a sense of magical charm – Catch is a good catch!
Shopping in Santorini is one of my favourite things to do! When I travel I love to take a piece of the culture away with me, so I will be on the look out for items that a destination is renowned for. I love looking for Greek jewellery with the famous evil eye 🧿 which you will see so much of. The evil eye is an iconic Greek symbol that is worn to protect and ward off jealousy. Grecian white cotton clothing and leather sandals are the go-to pieces I would recommend anyone to shop for and are also the key wardrobe staples for that Santorini style. My advice for shopping is don’t rush and buy from the first shop you visit, as chances are you will see the same item over and over again but the price will be significantly less throughout your shopping trip. Also try to barter when you can so that you can get the best deal. One of the most beautiful bookshops in the world can be found in Oia, Atlantis Books, it has received international attention in the literary sphere for its impressive collection of rare first additions. This is a must for book lovers!
Santorini will meet and exceed your expectations!
I hope you have enjoyed reading this and will find my recommendations helpful. Please share with me your Santorini stories.