The island that most honeymoon, wedding photos and romantic getaway Pintrest boards are made off. Yes, I am sure you have heard of Santorini or at least seen pictures of this beautiful Greek Island in the Aegean Sea. When you read about Santorini, Oia is not so far behind. Oia is the picturesque cliffside town with white-washed Cycladic cave buildings overlooking Caldera. Luxury sea-facing boutique hotels, art galleries, clothing and jewellery boutiques, wineries and restaurants serving up mouth watering Greek food to endless beaches. Tell me why it took me this long to visit Santorini! Although Oia is the most famous of the island's towns, I would highly recommend you also take the time explore surrounding towns like Akrotiri, Fira, Perissa to name a few.
It's easy to understand why people flock to Oia, with its labyrinth of alleys and narrows streets to easily get lost in, the beautiful and iconic blue domes, the magical sunsets and beautiful atmosphere the blue hour creates as the lights from the town's cliff-side buildings start to flicker on. If you are lucky enough to be staying in a hotel offering uninterrupted views of the Caldera then that can help beat the queues for a prime spot to watch the sunset over the Aegean's horizon. If you are staying in Oia while visiting Santorin then you can scope out the best spots to watch the sunset without crowds of hundreds all rustling for the same spot. If simply visiting for the day then stake out places earlier as it can get pretty hectic as people start to rush to the edge of the island just before sunset.
Below is visual diary of our stay on the island exploring Oia with my sisters with links(below) to more posts on the blog of our explorations of Akrotiri, Santorini's beaches, sailing around the island as 7 Reasons Why You Need To Visit Santorini.
7 Reasons To Visit Santorini
1. Santorini's Magical Sunsets By The Caldera
The magical sunsets alone draw enough crowds to Santorini, in comparison to those that come for the white-washed cave architecture. Yes, Santorini's sunsets are just as magical where ever you happen to catch them, whether that is when sailing around the island, on the edge of Oia, along Akrotiri's quieter view points. Many people will flock to Oia when they visit the island. In that case you will need to scope out the best spots early when you visit the Oia or head to your chosen spot at least 30 minutes before sunset. Even better if you can grab yourself a glass of wine and take in the sunset in style, over a glass of bubbly.
2. Santorini's Beautiful Church Domes
Many have dreamed of having blue dome churches as backdrops to wedding, engagement, honeymoon photos or in my case Instagram photos. Who wouldn't want to explore the islands many blue domes that are scattered around Santorini, amid its white cubic architecture? Just not that most of these are hidden behind little alleyways, so if you see a lot of people disappearing into little alleyways then its highly likely they thats where they are heading.
3. Greek Food and Local Wines
If you are on a diet then you are on the wrong island because, even Greek salads come with delicious Greek Feta cheese. The island has plenty of restaurants to cover all budgets gourmet restaurants serving up mezze platters, freshly caught seafood, locally sourced wines and topped off with Greek phyllo desserts and more sinful amounts of wine while coming up with reasons why you can't just move to Santorini for a life time of island living. Don't be fooled into believing you have to head to Amoundi Bay for get great seafood, Santorini is littered with plenty of options.
4. Luxury Shopping
Santorini among many Greek Islands is one that is know for its luxury and expensive hotels, and with that there are plenty of luxury boutique to test your bank manager's patience. For those with bank accounts that don't seem to match daydreams of being draped in diamonds there are plenty of shops to cater to you. I fell in love with many a jewellery shop and walked away wit more earrings to add to my crazy collection. While we are on the subject of shopping do leave the island without testing some of the delicious gelato, or checking out the cute souvenir shops on the island.
5. Santorini's Volcanic Mineral Beaches
Red sand beach, black sand beach, white sand beach and "normal" coloured sand beach, you will them all in Santorini. There plenty of beaches to keep even the fussiest of beach goers like myself who prefer the less crowded beaches. From well organised beaches with rent-able beach lounge chairs to those that require a boat ride and your own picnic basket in tow. Check out my post on a guide to Santorini's Best Beaches.
6. Santorini Sights and Activities
For a small island it's actually pretty packed with activities to keep you entertained. Aside from those mentioned above; Donkey rides up and down the island, take the cable cars (you can just about see them in one of the pictures with the donkeys above) to not only take in the sea views but quickly get up and down the island, Sail Around Santorini, take wine tasting tour, rent a quad bike and explore the island, visit Akrotiri's archaeological site, hike the Fira trail or even scuba dive. There are plenty of activities to choose from on the island.
7. Experience Island Living in Santorini's Cave buildings
Another draw to the island is the beautiful cave style buildings that Santorini is synonymous with. In terms of accommodation there are many options. From camping, hostels, hotels both budget and luxury. You also don't have to pay a ridiculous amount to get the views and experience Greek cave style buildings with seas of cobalt blue seas to wake up to. Check out my post on why you need to Stay in Akrotiri instead of Oia.
Getting to and around Santorini
If travelling from the UK like I was, you have 2 options. You can now travel directly to Santorini from London or travel to Athens then fly to Santorini. You can also take the ferry from Athens which is range from 4 hours for the fast service or 7+ hours for the budget service. Getting around the island I have found to be a hit and miss. There is public transport but from what I have heard buses are never on time. You can also rent quad bike for about € 20 a day but if there are 2 or more of you I have found renting a car far more comfortable and economical. Parking is also free in many areas on the island.