Whoever said, “don’t believe the hype” was definitely not referring to Santorini. As a seasoned traveller, I approached my journey to the Greek island with trepidation. I have seen so much information about Santorini that I had the idea that it was overrun and spoilt with tourists. Instead, I fell totally in love. It really does live up to the hype.
Wrapped up in Blue
With a flight time from London of a little more than three hours, the journey certainly feels like you are getting away from it all. As soon as we exited the airport, we could feel the magic.
Santorini is such a special place that is just as beautiful as the photos, if not more. Landscapes stretch as far as the eye can see with white houses, churches with blue roofs and bright blue skies that drop into deep ocean vistas.
Iconic in Every Sense
We stayed away from the crowds at Oia and chose to stay at the Iconic Santorini in Imerovigli at the centre of the island. This gorgeous boutique hotel featured rooms scattered across the cliff and an exquisite interior design scheme with attention to detail like nothing I have ever seen before.
The food was stunning – which we soon discovered was true for all of Santorini. When we chose to dine away from the hotel, the Athenian House restaurant in the town offered traditional food with a gourmet edge and a gorgeous atmosphere.
We loved the exclusive feel of the hotel but we also enjoyed relaxed lunches and evening cocktails with incredible sunset views at the neighbouring Grace hotel. It was the best of both worlds.
A Beautiful Journey
One of my favourite features of Santorini is that the journey is as beautiful as the destination, wherever you go. Our walk from the hotel to the capital, Thira, was just 25 minutes and took us down a paved path on the edge of the cliff. Stunning views stretched over the volcano and deep into the caldera. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Thira is a buzzing centre that is bursting at the seams with world-class seafood restaurants and authentic shopping opportunities. I loved the blue and white linens that seemed to be such a fitting way to take home a little piece of the Santorini colour palette.
There is a cable car that goes down to the port but it gets very busy so I would suggest choosing your times wisely to avoid the crowds.
We spent a day traversing the cliff path from Imerovigli to Oia, winding our way through different villages on a wonderful nature walk. Oia is a legendary destination with bundles of Greek charm located at the tip of the island.
The tourist crowds and high-end boutiques took away a little of the authenticity but it was still a beautiful place to visit. We ate a delicious seafood lunch on the terrace at Pelicanos with 360-degree views.
After sharing a lovely bottle of crisp rosé between us, we didn’t fancy the two-and-a-half hour walk back! Instead, we took a bus along the winding roads. The bus service on Santorini is very reliable with regular routes – I recommend it as a way to experience an authentic slice of local island life.
Santorini is a wonderful place to embrace your inner explorer. We took a day trip to the ecological site at Akrotiri where the old town from 600 BC is buried under volcanic ash. It’s incredibly well-preserved and you can see the streets and settlements laid out just as they were in ancient times.
The preservations are also situated right by the sea, so you can take a pleasant stroll down to the shore for lunch. We ate authentic Greek food at the Cave of Nikolas which had a beautiful rustic ambience.
There are plenty more opportunities for adventure on and around the island with boat trips, sunset cruises, day trips to the volcano and hot springs. You may have also heard of Santorini’s volcanic black sand beaches which are well worth a visit.
Activities aside, Santorini is also the perfect place to just chill out, wind down and enjoy time with your loved one in a romantic location with the most stunning views in the whole of Europe. I would recommend a five-day trip here to make the most of all the island has to offer – or longer if you fancy spending some long, lazy days in the sun.