When you see a jaw-dropping image depicting Greece, it is most probably a picture that was taken in Santorini (officially Thira). This stunning island is one of the most impressive Greek landmarks, and rightly so. One of those magical places where the splendor cannot be captured in photographs. For me the views of the caldera from the charming cliff-perched towns are unique; they literally take your breath away.
Also check what interesting things this expert on Greece says in her 25 Truths about Santorini.
Staying at Pantelia Suites was one of the highlights of the trip. The six-suite, cave-style hotel is perfectly located in the heart of Fira (Santorini’s capital). Although it is just a 3-min walk to the hustle and bustle, the lodging is quiet and secluded.
The staff was incredibly nice and helpful; and the rooms were very comfortable, spacious, and impeccably clean.
Breakfast is served on your room terrace with the best scenery you can possibly wish for. Of course, it includes freshly-squeezed orange juice!
The views are just spectacular all day long. You do not need to go anywhere else! Enjoy the best of Santorini from your room.
- The hotel can arrange reliable airports transfers, car rentals, and boat excursions.
- If you need beach towels, just ask at the reception.
Before we start talking seriously about food, these are the two rules that I try to follow when in Greece:
(1) Look for tavernas rather than restaurants. A taverna uses tablecloths and covers them with paper before you eat … Here is where you will most likely get an authentic meal!
For our first dinner in Fira we went to Ampelos, a taverna with a roof terrace, serving Greek and Mediterranean dishes, just a few steps from the hotel. We were not disappointed. The dishes were simple but really tasty, especially the artichokes salad and the fava dip.
Cliff-perched, bustling Fira
We had the Lobster Spaghetti, it was excellent!
- Note that this restaurant opens April 20 th – October 30th.
- Be aware that sometimes you can smell how close the donkey station is … It is a good idea to book a table on the upper terrace.
Our first time in Katina was about 25 years ago … At that time the owner, a fisherman himself, grilled for us the most delicious catch of the day. We wanted to repeat the treat, and it was again fantastic. Katina is now a busy taverna run by the same family, and certainly it is THE place for fresh fish and seafood right next to the sea.
- Oia (pronounced /ia/), in the north of the island, is another cliff-perched town worthwhile visiting. Contrary to what most visitors do, avoid to be there at sunset; you will find it awfully crowded! To enjoy Oia go in the morning for a placid stroll. You can take a bus from the bus station in Fira, which is very close to Pantelia Suites.
- From Oia get down the steps to the charming old port of Ammoudi, eat at Katina, and after a little hike, you will find a wonderful swimming area with crystal water and a small cliff for a refreshing dip.
The Savvas the Popeye taverna is at Aghios Georgios in Perivolos—a long, nice, black-sand beach. A good place to have a break during a beach day in the south. We had a light lunch here with mezes, and we liked it.
Have a peek to the three sightseeing spots that I recommend to visit in Santorini. More popular ones are listed in most travel guides.
- Akrotiri – 12 km from Fira, archeological site of prehistoric settlements (3,500 years old!). It is covered with a new roof since it re-opened to the public in April 2012; this makes the visit much pleasant.
- Akrotiri Lighthouse (1892) – The Faros (in Greek) offers great views.
- Prophet Elias Monastery” (1712) – The highest spot of the island (567 meters).
The peak season in Santorini is Jun to Sep. To really enjoy your time in this superb island, avoid going in Jul and Aug.
There is no better way to win the Greeks’ hearts than knowing a few words of their language. Here some useful Greek basics:
Kalimera (Good morning!) will open you many doors! Introduce yourself in Greek, and people will love it.
Ya sou (Hello+Goodbye!, informal)
Kalispera (Good evening!)
Kalinixta (Good night!)
Ton katalogo, parakalo (The menu, please.)
To logariasmo, parakalo (The bill, please.)
Gia Mas (Cheers!)
Καλό ταξίδι! (Kaló taksídi!) = Have a good trip!