Black sand beaches. Donkeys. Fish pedicures. Sunset catamaran boat tours. Eating cliff side overlooking the Aegean Sea. Relaxing in your own private infinity pool. Watching the intense sunset over looking church bells and blue domes. Convinced yet? Good..you should be! Santorini, Greece should be on everyone’s bucket list, and I’m so grateful to have finally checked it off of mine!
I had the pleasure of visiting the beautiful Greek island just a few weeks ago with my hubby and son. This was the furthest I had been away from Texas but I never felt more at home. I can honestly say that the Greeks are the nicest people I have ever met in my life, and again I’m from Texas which is a very friendly state! The food is delicious, the instagramable spots are endless, but the absolute best thing about this island are the gorgeous views. There are many beautiful places in the world with great views, but I guarantee you none of them can top Santorini! So if you’re thinking about traveling here soon, and you definitely should be 😉 below is a travel guide with my personal recommendations.
This luxury hotel is five-star and located in Imerovigli. The staff is absolutely 100% accommodating. The grounds are beautiful and the restaurant is not to be missed if you want that quintessential cliff side romantic restaurant experience. If you can do it, splurge for the infinity pool suite.
This hotel made the best first impression. It’s located in the charming village of Oia just off the main pedestrian walkway. We stayed in the Sea Suite which I highly recommend. We had a king size bed with windows that opened up with views of the blue domes, a church bell, and the caldera. If you stay here you can say you stayed in a cave…bucketlist!
Tramonto All Day Lounge
This restaurant has the best atmosphere and a nice view too. If you stay at Canvas Suites you can enjoy free breakfast here every morning. Order a pizza, a drink from the bar, and enjoy the sunset view from the upper glass patio. Tip: Check times because the kitchen closes before the bar does. Instagram tip: There’s the cutest photo opportunity for your feed at the entrance to the restaurant 🙂
Kastro Oia Santorini
This is the spot if you want front row seats to the world famous Oia sunset while dining. After the sun sets you can expect a round of clapping and cheering. Book several months in advance especially if you are traveling during high season because it’s a popular restaurant. Oh and don’t forget your camera and tripod for a time lapse video.
Famous local spot for both gelato and instagram photos! We got lucky and stopped by about 30 minutes before closing and practically had the entire place to ourselves. I had the vanilla. John had the cookies and cream. The baby had both!
What can I say…stopped by here twice. It was that good! Don’t expect a fancy restaurant, but it is the best gyro I’ve ever had and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg. There’s an outdoor seating area across from it where you can eat, but every time I went it was full.
You MUST make time to experience Amoudi Bay while in Santorini. Amoudi Bay is a small fishing port just below the town of Oia. It’s picturesque, charming, and another popular spot for sunset watching. You have several options to get to it. You can ride a donkey, take a cab, or trek down the 300 something stairs. Then, once you’ve made it down you can enjoy sun-dried octopus and other fresh sea food at one of four restaurants right on the water. We chose Ammoudi Fish Tavern. Just note that if you choose this restaurant the sunset can only be viewed from the deck.
This is one of the many black sand beaches in Santorini. That’s right.. because Santorini is a volcanic island the sand is more like pebble rocks so make sure to bring walking shoes. The beach is lined with restaurants to eat at… better yet sit on the beach under the umbrellas for free just by ordering food or drinks from one of the many restaurants. The only thing I did not like about this beach is that there are people who come by every 15 minutes trying to sell you something. Not cute!
If you google Santorini or look at Pinterest the majority of the photos are from Oia. The town is so quintessential Santorini and absolutely has breathtaking views of the Caldera. When strolling through the town you will feel like you are in a story book with marble paved pathways, blue domed churches, winding streets full of flowers, boutiques, and beautiful restaurants. Most people head to the castle for one of the most famous sunsets in the world. Please note though that the town can get very crowded during the day with all of the cruise ships and day-trippers choosing Oia as their one stop of the day. The cruise ships dock two to three times a week. So you can plan your outings around that if you don’t like crowds, otherwise I found the town to be very peaceful in the morning and later in the evening after sunset had passed. Trust me when I say you will not be able to stop taking photos here because around every corner is another beautiful view.
This is the capital of Santorini. We only visited one time but I highly recommend checking it out because it’s a very different feel from the other towns in Santorini. Fira is much bigger, busier, and has a city center area with a lot of shops. Also, we were told the nightlife is more lively here compared to Oia and Imerovigli, although we personally did not experience this since we were only there during the day but that is something to keep in mind if you are traveling with friends or looking to have a fun night out.
This is another small town about 10 minutes away from Fira and about 20 minutes from Oia. We stayed here at Astra Suites for half of our vacation. The town is beautiful and worth a visit. It’s a lot more quiet and secluded then Oia and Fira, and as you can see from this photo you can get a pretty cool shot with Oia in the far distance. If you come here just walk around, take in the views, and book dinner reservations at the Astra Suites restaurant. Be prepared for lots of steps!
If you’re looking for a unique experience, or if you are a beauty fanatic like me, then I definitely recommend getting a fish pedicure. There are several places to choose from but Kissingfish Santorini is probably the most popular one located in Fira. It’s very reasonably priced and last about 15 minutes. There’s no pain and afterwards your feet feel very smooth! Just step out of your comfort zone and try it! If you don’t like it you never have to do it again 🙂
Sunset Oia Sailing
There are many different catamaran boat tours to choose from which you can find on TripAdvisor and Viator, however my research led me to choosing Sunset Oia Sailing and I’m so glad that I did! The crew was absolutely outstanding. The sunset tour specifically is an all day affair that stops by the Red Beach, volcano, hot springs, and ends with a delicious BBQ dinner prepared for you by the crew as you watch the sunset. While in Santorini I definitely recommend seeing the island from the sea so that you can see all of its beauty from a different frame of reference. After sunset the boat overlooked Amoudi Bay from the sea and till this day that is by far one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen in my life (just like the first time you see the Eiffel Tower twinkle at night). Just imagine the town of Oia lit up above Amoudi Bay… absolutely beautiful.
When I was researching and planning my trip to Santorini I knew that I wanted to do some kind of walking photo tour for all of the best Instagram spots. I found Santo Photo Tours which is a local photographer who lives in Santorini and it was everything that I was looking for! I highly recommend this tour for some great quality photos at a reasonable price.
Their so darn cute! I couldn’t bring myself to ride them, but I did get video and photos and you should too! If you have kids they’ll love seeing them!
Well..if your headed to Santorini soon I hope this travel guide helps you out. Or, if you are thinking of visiting Greece, I hope my experience has inspired you to make it happen! A few more things to mention worth checking out are Atlantis Book Store, Pyrgos, a local winery, the Monastery of Prophet Elias. Several of which were on my to-do list, but sometimes plans have to be adjusted with a one year old. Next time!