Whether you’re here because you like the idea of an island with pristine white cities floating on a cliffside by the sea, you really like Greek food, or you just watched Mama Mia! get ready for an amazing experience that will leave you wanting to ditch your country for this one, even though it has a terrible economy.
How to Get There
There are two options to get here: fly directly to Santorini or fly into Athens and then take a ferry to the island. Flying directly there is typically more expensive, but the ferry takes four to five hours crossing the Aegean Sea to get there. Let the constant internal battle between time and money ensue.
Sidenote: Be wary when dealing with Greece. It’s beautiful, but it’s also a hot mess. When my friends and I visited, we were forced into a third option to get to our destination. We flew into Athens only to find out that the ferries were all on strike for the next few days. So we had to buy a last-minute flight to the island. Seriously, it was the absolute last minute possible because the airport was going on strike the next day. HOT. MESS.
However, it’s just as wonderful as you would imagine once you get there. Just keep in mind that you have to get there.
Rent ATVs to get around the island! It is the best way to see everything, the easiest vehicle to park, and all the cool kids are doing it. There are shops all over the place, so just take your pick.
This is the classic white city dotted with blue domes that you picture when you think of Greece. Your expectations from seeing Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will be met, I promise. It’s on one of the tips of the crescent-shaped island, and it’s pronounced ee-ya. Your welcome.
While you’re in Oia, you have to find the long staircase leading down to the Amoudi Bay. This is probably the most picturesque port of Santorini, and is definitely worth the long walk down. It’s not worth walking back up, but I’ll get to that next.
Once you’re down by the water, walk to your left and you’ll find a makeshift path leading around the rocks to get to the other side. Ask any of the locals around if you can’t find it and they’ll point you in the right direction. Pretty soon you’ll run into a clearing that will most likely be filled with a small crowd. Out in the water (just a short swim away) is a little island that has a perfect perch for cliff jumping! There’s a tiny church up top, so there are even stairs taking you up to the jump point. This was definitely one of my favorite things that I did in Greece. The view of the island is beautiful and the jump is so fun! Do it. I dare you.
This is one of those touristy things that you should do because it is so fun, will be a great picture, and when else are you gonna get to ride a donkey? Also, the climb back up the stairs is a brutal one…so it’s a win-win! There will be a little Greek man with his donkeys lined up at the bottom of the stairs and a ride is only €5. Seriously worth it.
Have you ever heard of Shakespeare and Company? If not, it’s a famous bookstore in Paris where Hemingway and Fitzgerald used to hang out. Make sure you visit if you ever find yourself in Paris, which you definitely should because it’s the best place you’ll ever be. Go read my guide for it if you don’t believe me. Anyway, this is basically a smaller version of that on a tiny Greek island. The settings couldn’t be more different, but the vibes are the same. Stop in when you’re in Oia if you’re in the mood for authentic charm and a good read.
This is another really cute town on the island, but it doesn’t have the classic white and blue buildings like in Oia. There are some really cute restaurants and shops though! I bought some jewelry, a pair of leather sandals, and an amazing gyro. So hop on your ATV and head over!
Red, White and Black
The island is home to some pretty colorful beaches! We saw the Red Beach and stopped to tan for a while at the Black Beach, but they’re all beautiful and pretty unique, so go grab your sunscreen and get out there!
This has to be one of the coolest wine tastings around. This winery is located in the middle of the island’s crescent on the water’s edge, and their outdoor terrace overlooks the entire thing. The wine is amazing. I did a flight of six, but they have options for more. Make sure you try the dessert wine. Oh my goodness. So good. They also have some pretty amazing food if drinking in the sunshine by the ocean in Greece works up your appetite like it did mine.
So there’s a volcano on a smaller island in the center of Santorini’s crescent, which people can go visit and walk around on. It’s dormant (obviously) so it’s just a lot of volcanic rock. I didn’t go out to see it…but definitely go if you’re into that sort of thing! There are also hot springs that are apparently more lukewarm than “hot.” I’m not trying to sway you against going, I’m just relaying what I heard that convinced me not to go. So maybe don’t go. Or do. Whatever.
The Cave of Nikolas
You’ll find a lot of great places to eat on the island, but make sure to save one night for this amazing restaurant! My friends and I went to dinner here on our last night, and it was such a great place to end our time in Greece. It’s been on Akrotiri Beach since 1967 in a small, traditional cave, built by a man called Uncle Nikolas with his own hands when he was young. The food is caught fresh every day and is just delicious. We sat next to a table of about twenty old, Greek men, and they were hilarious. Laughing loudly with each other and sending us wine throughout the night, they made it clear that this really is a place loved by the locals.
Enjoy your time on this beautiful island! And just jump, okay?