One of the top things to do on Greece Holidays is visiting one of the beautiful Greece islands. Santorini is one such gorgeous Greek islands located in the southern Aegean Sea. The whitewashed buildings crowned with blue domes perched on the cliff overlooking the perpetual blue sea is a postcard-perfect picture.
The sublime vistas and mild Santorini weather have made the island a tourist paradise and one of the best honeymoon destinations. Some of the super hit Bollywood songs of Salman Khan in ‘Wanted‘ and Hrithik Roshan in ‘Bang Bang‘ shot in these locations have pushed Santorini to the top of the bucket list of every Bollywood fan.
Fira and Oia are the two major tourists towns of Santorini. Fira, the capital of Santorini is the cultural and commercial center and is a bit touristy and Oia with a laid back experience in the north of Santorini is best known for its breathtaking sunset views and the picturesque cobblestone alley exuding a tranquil aura.
How to get to Santorini
We were visiting the Greek capital Athens and visiting Santorini was easier for the options of both flight or a ferry from Athens. Santorini airport is only 10 minutes ride from the town of Fira. We chose to travel by ferry which was a different experience altogether. Sailing amidst the never-ending blue expanse, the sound of waves crashing and the fresh chilled air to respire gives us an immense feeling of rejuvenation.
We embarked the ferry early morning around 7 am from Piraeus port in Athens. We had booked the tickets for the ferry online and collected the tickets early morning from their office at the port. To reach Piraeus port, you can either book a taxi or choose to travel through the metro. Metro line 1 (green line) serves you to the Piraeus port and as soon as you come out of the station you will see the port. (Gates E5 and E6).
Ferries are definitely time-consuming we reached the Athinios port in Fita at around 12 in the noon.
Where to Stay in Santorini
Fira is always the first choice to stay for the choice of hotels, restaurants, and nightlife. We were looking for a relaxed trip and hence we booked a room with kitchenette in Oia. Our host had arranged for a pickup on request and a vehicle was waiting for us on arrival which took us around an hour to reach. There are frequent buses running from Fira to Oia which isn’t much frequent so a pickup was the best choice.
Things to do in Santorini Island
1. Oia Town Sightseeing and Famed Sunset
We freshened up, had our lunch and planned to do some Oia town sightseeing. Our host guided us through a tourist map of the Oia town center, which was just a km away from our hotel. Luckily his wife was driving to Oia and she offered to drop us.
We wandered through the cobbled stone alleys lined with whitewashed buildings, souvenir shops, taverns, and cafes. The town of Oia with its houses, churches and the restaurants painted white and blue is perched on a cliff with awe-inspiring views over the caldera. We could spend hours watching the snaking boats leaving white trails in the deep blue sea.
2. Dinner with a View
One of the unmissable things to do in Santorini is to watch the whitewashed houses on the cliff enveloped into a golden glow as the sun dips into the horizon.
The best vantage points are always crowded, other option would be to book a table in one of the wonderful restaurants which offer a view of the caldera and the famed sunset.
3. Oia to Fira Hiking
There are many places of interest around Oia and Fira. You can do it either by renting a car or by hiking. Oia to Fira hiking is considered one of the best things to do in Santorini. The hiking path along the edge of the caldera which takes around 3 hours has unbeatable vistas of the caldera and the deep blue sea. One can also explore the nontouristy villages of Firostefani and Imerovigli which fall on the hiking route. The route also has few shops and restaurants where you can take a break and soak up in the heavenly vistas.
4. Catamaran Tour
The Sunset catamaran tour is one of the best ways to spend the Santorini holidays. Unfortunately, as we had our ferry back to Athens in the evening and hence the only option we had was to book a morning tour with lunch included. The sunset tours have complimentary dinners.
Our tour was a semi-private tour where we had 3 more couples joining us. A shuttle picked us from our hotel in Oia and dropped us at Amoudi Bay for ferry pick up. Sailing on the azure waters of Aegean Sea and enjoying the spectacular vistas of the whitewashed towns perched on the caldera cliffs and Santorini beaches was a euphoric experience.
Oia also has a small port, Amoudi, which can be reached by a set of 300 steps leading down and has some of the best swimming spots. To behold the best sunset view possible you may need to reserve a table in one of the restaurants as the best vantage points will always be crowded with the tourists waiting there well before the sunset.
We returned to our room after the sunset. Had our dinner and retired to our bed. There are many places of interest around Oia and Fira. You can do it either by renting a car or by hiking. We had only one day at hand and had to take a ferry back to Athens next day evening hence the best option for us was to do a catamaran tour.
5. Santorini Red Beach
Our first stop was supposed to be the red beach which we could not make due to the high tide but our captain promised to make for it by stopping at one of the swimming spots near Amoudi Bay.
Red beach is considered to be one of the most beautiful Santorini beaches. The beach isn’t sandy but is made up red and black volcanic pebbles. If you are visiting by road the beach is some 15 hike down the mountain through rocky path.
6. Hot Springs Santorini
We headed to the Hot Springs, which is the major proof of the strong volcanic activity present even to this day. While few of us chose to remain on deck and take pictures others chose to swim through and soak in the volcano’s hot springs.
Our cook on board was now ready with a delicious lunch and freshly prepared barbecued chicken.
While we all devoured the yummy lunch our captain sailed us back to the port with a shortstop near the Amoudi Bay.
7. Amoudi Bay
The swimming spot had surreal crystal clear waters surrounded by rocky cliffs. The spot is close to the Amoudi Bay which is a small port in Oia and can be reached by a set of 300 steps leading down. We could see tourists climbing up the huge rock in the midst of the waters and diving into the waters. The spot can be reached by 10 minutes walk along the cliff from the Amoudi Bay.
After some half an hour we sailed back to the port. The whitewashed houses of Santorini on the edge of the cliff looked like a fresh snow shower on the slopes of the mountain.
It was a well-organized and a fun-filled tour, and a memorable experience to cherish for the lifetime.
8. Ancient Akrotiri
If you are intrigued by the history of Santorini then Akrotiri is a perfect place to answer all your questions. One can hire a guide who can walk you through the historical site. Exploring the archaeological site of Akrotiri is the best way to learn about the history of Greek islands and if you are keener make a visit to the Greek island Corfu which offers much more for the history buffs with its old town, castle, and ruins.
9. Volcano Hike
Hike to the island’s active volcano Nea Kameni is a popular Santorini activities for adventurists. There are several boat tours that will take you to the small island and from there it is some 20 minutes walk along the path dotted with several sulfur vents. You can also choose the catamaran tour which includes the hike to Nea Kameni along with the beaches and the sunset tour.
The cobblestone alleys of Oia and Fira are lined with small shops selling jewelry, beach commodities, colorful clothes, paintings and wine stores.
Santorini was a wonderful experience. Though we couldn’t explore much we look forward to returning someday and explore other parts of the gorgeous island.
Like all good things come to an end so did our Santorini trip.
Have you visited Santorini or any other Greek island? Do share with us your experience in comments.
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