Santorini is the crown jewel of the Cyclades, known for its striking beaches, friendly locals, and romantic sunsets. It's easy to see why Santorini has remained a staple European summer destination. I recently visited Santorini for the second time which reignited my love for the island.
Staying in the heart of Fira was essential to accessing each of the 'must see' sites across the island. I stayed at Loizos Stylish Residences, which was an affordable choice considering the ideal location- a mere street back from the beautiful bars and resturants that adorn the clifftops of Fira. The hotel itself was clean and modern but still retained its Greek 'small town' charm.
With so much to see and do on an island that is geographically so small, it can be difficult to know where to start. My starting point was Fira. It's easy to get lost in the many boutiques, resturants and bars and I'd strongly encourage you to do so. You'll find some very unique jewellery, often hand made, which make Santorini an ideal spot to pick up some new gems.
One quirky charm gracing the city is the plethora of mules embellished with striking decorative reigns, chauffeuring eager tourists up and down the 600 steps surrounding the city. I wasn't too keen on this idea, however I was more than happy to give them a pat and take some pictures (which the handler seemed perplexed but unbothered by).
If theres one reputation preceding Santorini, it's the sunsets. Oia is 'the spot' to view the sunset, but personally I find Fira sunsets just as striking. PK Cocktail Bar is the perfect spot to have a drink and watch the sun go down. We went here most days as the view is nearly unparalleled and the drinks are delicious. If you want a front-row spot you'll need to book, however the venue is deceptively large and it won't be too difficult to snare a table if you're willing to be flexible with where you sit.
The bus depot in Fira makes it easy to venture away quite economically and efficiently. If you're planning to day trip a lot, a quad bike may be a good choice for you (I can't drive and figured that the winding cliff roads probably weren't the best place to start). Amoudi Bay, Oia and Perissa/Perivolos rank highly on my 'must do' list for day tripping, each providing a unique flavour of what the island has to offer.
Oia is a beautiful town up north featuring beautiful whitewashed houses and winding little streets to keep you exploring for hours. The town is strikingly beautiful and undoubtedly one of the most idyllic photography settings on the island. Be wary of the overabundance of tourist shops selling linen clothing, jewellery and handicrafts. Be sure to shop around and always compare prices before buying on a whim.
Amoudi Bay is nestled down below the beautiful town of Oia. I opted to take the stair walk down to the bay which is long, steep, and paved in uneven cobble stones but definitely worth it. The walk is slightly challenging, but come prepared with water and slip-resistant footwear and enjoy the gorgeous views along the walk down. Once you arrive the resturants offer delicious fresh seafood making it a perfect pit-stop for lunch. The water is also crystal clear and less crowded than some other beaches, albeit you will need to climb some small barriers to get down to the water and take a dip.
To see a completely different side of Santorini, take a bus down south to Perissa or Perivolos and admire the beautiful black sand beaches that starkly contrast the rest of the island. There's definitely a more relaxed atmosphere and a declined tourist presence which provides a nice alternative. One major perk is the notably cheaper dining prices (particularly in Perivolos) where food is fresh and authentic and the owners are incredibly hospitable.
The island falls somewhere in the scope of culturally traditional and hospitably modern. Despite its popularity with tourists, Santorini has managed to retain its authenticity and charm making it an instantly cherished destination, and one where I hope to return many times in the future.