Close your eyes, picture Greece. I’m sure you’re seeing the whitewashed buildings on a hilltop with a sun-kissed Aegean sea. This paradise will probably be a photo you once saw of Santorini which never fails to stick somewhere in your head.
Santorini holds a special place among the Greek islands. It’s the perfect, picturesque destination for couples, families, solo travellers…really anyone who’s captivated by the spirit of Greece. It can be a little daunting trying to compile the greatest hits into a single trip, especially as a day-tripper. But I’m here to tell you that it’s possible to tick it all off and guide you through our day in Santorini.
*Cue the Mamma Mia soundtracks*
Whether you’ve arrived by boat or plane, you won’t be far from our first stop, Thera. Thera (also known as Thira or Fira) is the island’s capital, and is actually the Greek name for the island. It’s a pretty town on the middle of the western edge, with an array of cruise ships waiting to drop off the other day-trippers! Grab an ice cream (you’ll be needing the sugar today!) and wander down the intimate cobbled streets, browsing market stalls and buying trinkets. The best way to see the island is from the sea, so descend to the docks and hop on a boat trip (these can be a little pricey, so it might be best to avoid a private tour). It’s a fantastic way to get around and we’ll spend a lot of this trip aboard, so if you’re someone who gets seasick easily, then I’d recommend at Catamaran for smoother sailing. Or, if you’d prefer to avoid the water completely, you’ll need to switch up this itinerary! Most boat trips will cover off all of our next few stops, and usually last up to five hours with lunch included.
One thing that sets Santorini apart from its siblings is that it used to be a Volcano (you can still see the centre of the volcano as its own island, but more on that later) so the island is made of volcanic rock. This brings us to the first of two unique beaches: a black sand beach! You can either go to Perissa or Kamari beach. Kamari is usually busier and can be a little compact, whereas Perissa is a longer, calmer stretch of beach. Both have sunbeds, bars and restaurants, but Kamari has a more buzzing vibe, and Perissa is the perfect quiet place to relax.
The Red Beach is renowned for its snorkelling and, of course, the red sand/hills it’s surrounded by, which were left by the Caldera. It’s usually very busy as it’s the only red beach on the island, but it’s a sight for sore eyes, and you might have thought you’d walked onto the set of a Greek version of Star Trek.
By now, I hope your crew have broken out the picnic full of local foods and wine, hopefully with a bottle or two from the Santo Wines Winery! It’s time to stop off at Nea Kameni (the volcano), but before you head up, have a dip in the hot springs. The lush warm water’s healing properties from the iron, manganese, and sulphur will keep you forever young. Its therapeutic powers are also a wonder. It’s a little murky and brown though, so make sure you don’t wear white swimwear!
Towel off and get your hiking boots on, we’re going up an active volcano. Smell the sulphur, feel the heat, taste the salt of the sea in the air. It’s a little bit of a trek, but the views from the top are worth every step.
A trip to Santorini wouldn’t be complete without visiting Oia, home to one of the most stunning sunsets in the world. Like Thera, Oia is a town built into the cliff-face that’s full of restaurants, shops and hotels, all in the traditional white and blue you’ve been dreaming of. We’ve had a fun journey and packed lots in, but the trip isn’t over yet…you didn’t think we’d come all the way to Santorini and skip over the food, did you? Sit yourself down at a cosy taverna or one of the many restaurants with a panoramic view over the sea and volcano.
Using the last of our Euros on a ‘My friend went to Santorini and all I got was this lousy t-shirt’, we sadly have to say farewell. Skipping through the streets of Oia which ring with joyous echoes of ‘Honey, Honey’ (or maybe I still have ABBA on repeat), we turn for a final glance. Laying eyes on the golden glow as the sun sets on a day to remember.
So, have you been to Santorini and wish we’d added something you did into our greatest hits trip? Drop us a line in the comments to let us know!